We love exploring America’s back roads and small towns and finding overlooked gems that the tourist brochures never cover. In a series of weekly blog posts we will be sharing some of America’s lesser-known small town museums, historic sites, and oddball attractions, on a state-by-state basis. We don’t have room to cover each and every attraction in every state, but hope to give you some ideas for places to see your travels.
Boulder: Over 50 vintage Shelby automobiles are on display at the Shelby American Collection Museum.
Boulder: You can take a free tour of the Celestial Seasonings tea company at 4600 Sleepytime Boulevard.
Boulder: The Leanin’ Tree Museum and Sculpture Garden of Western Art features an outdoor park with 25 beautiful bronze life-size sculptures of wildlife, cowboys and Indians. Inside, the free museum displays over 250 paintings and 150 sculptures from over 100 artists.
Canon City: At the Museum of Colorado Prisons, located at the old Women’s Correctional Institute, you can see exhibits of homemade weapons confiscated from inmates, guard’s weapons and equipment, and the gas chamber where eight prisoners were executed.
Canon City: The world’s highest suspension bridge can be found a few miles west of town off US Highway 50. The 1260 foot long Royal Gorge Bridge spans the Arkansas River from a height of 1,053 feet.
Colorado Springs: Visitors can tour the United States Air Force Academy here and learn how our future military officers are educated.
Colorado Springs: The World Figure Skating Museum and Hall of Fame is located at 20 1st Street in Colorado Springs.
Colorado Springs: The May Natural History Museum has a collection of over 100,000 insects.
Colorado Springs: The Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame here recognizes the achievements of rodeo cowboys and clowns with displays of saddles and rodeo equipment, videos, and western artwork.
Cortez: Hovenweep National Monument protects six prehistoric Puebloan-era villages spread over a twenty-mile expanse of mesa tops and canyons along the Utah-Colorado border. Multi-storied towers perched on canyon rims and balanced on boulders lead visitors to marvel at the skill and motivation of their builders. Hovenweep is noted for its solitude and undeveloped, natural character.
Creede: The Creede Underground Mining Museum gives visitors a look at the work of hard-rock miners.
Cripple Creek: Things are a bit tamer now that the Old Homestead bordello has been turned into a museum, complete with mannequins representing the soiled doves who plied their trade here. You can tour the old cathouse, located at 353 E. Myers Avenue.
Cripple Creek: Visitors to the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine can don hardhats and descend to the 1,000 foot level to learn about gold mining in frontier Colorado.
Delores: The Anasazi Heritage Center is a museum of the Ancestral Puebloan (or Anasazi) culture and other Native cultures in the Four Corners region. It is also the starting point for visits to Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.
Denver: The Denver Firefighters Museum, housed in the historic Denver Firehouse #1, built in 1909, displays antique firefighting uniforms and equipment and photographs of early day firefighters.
Denver: At Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum you can see dozens of vintage and unusual aircraft, including a World War II German Luftwaffe trainer, a B-52 Stratofortress, and a rare B1A bomber.
Denver: All American coins are made at the Denver branch of the U.S. Mint. Visitors can take a free tour and learn about the craftsmanship required at all stages of the minting process from the original designs and sculptures to the actual striking of the coins.
Denver: The Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls, and Toys displays some of the finest exhibits of miniatures, dolls, and toys to be found anywhere, including elaborate and antique dollhouses, dollhouse furniture and rare dolls.
Fairplay: The South Park City Museum is a reconstructed 19th century mining town composed of old buildings from throughout the region that have been moved here.
Golden: The Colorado Railroad Museum is recognized as one of the best privately supported rail museums in the United States, featuring more than 80 historic narrow and standard gauge locomotives and cars.
Golden: Buffalo Bill is buried on Lookout Mountain here, and a museum displays exhibits on his life and career.
Greeley: Stroll through history at Centennial Village Museum, eight acres of High Plains history, featuring 45 structures. The Village gives visitors a look at life in early Greeley and the High Plains from the 1860s to the 1920s.
La Junta: Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site is a reproduction of the 1833 trading post William and Charles Bent built here to trade with Plains Indians and trappers. The fort provided explorers, adventurers, and the U.S. Army a place to get needed supplies, wagon repairs, livestock, food, water, and protection.
La Junta: The Otero Museum has an extensive collection of exhibits, pictures, and artifacts which tell the history of La Junta, Otero County, and the surrounding area. The museum complex includes a reproduction of a 1920s filling station, complete with gasoline pumps and a vintage 1927 Star touring car; early 1900s blacksmith shop; the H. L. & Louise Boyd Coach House, which contains an original Concord stagecoach built in Concord, New Hampshire in 1865; a log cabin school, a neighborhood grocery store with apartment overhead; along with displays of farming equipment, a 1954 fire engine and a World War II era locomotive.
Leadville: You can learn all about the work of hard rock miners at the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum here.
Congratulations to Phyllis Frey, winner of our drawing for an audiobook of Crazy Days in Big Lake, the third book in my Big Lake mystery series. Stay tuned, a new contest starts soon.
Thought For The Day – Happiness is good health and a bad memory.