Vegas-Style Casino and Hotel in Historical Mining Town
In 1859, a man named John H. Gregory found gold near the small town of Black Hawk, Colorado. Shortly after his discovery, more than 10,000 prospectors descended on the area to seek their fortune. But Gregory was one of few prospectors to actually strike it rich—most miners left empty-handed soon after their arrival.
A makeshift town known as Central City formed in the midst of the gold rush. Once known as the “Richest Square Mile on Earth,” the little town now draws in visitors looking to check out its historical buildings and mine for gold at indoor venues such as Reserve Casino Hotel in downtown Central City.
Reserve Casino’s gaming floor is vast, offering more than 700 slot machines and tables for blackjack, craps, and roulette. During a break from the casino, you can dine at one of the hotel's numerous in-house restaurants. Market Street is an indoor strip that features three casual eateries, including Java Express and the Pizza Pub. You can savor gourmet cuisine at Ardore, a Tuscan-style steak house with entrees such as the house-butchered rib eye and Scottish salmon. The restaurant maintains an extensive wine list with varietals from the Celani Family Vineyards winery, which is owned by one of the hotel’s proprietors.
If wine isn’t your thing, you can sip cocktails in the Lava Room, a stylish club that regularly stages performances from touring music acts and comedians. Or pull up a barstool at the Guitar Bar to hear children's stories read by former Pearl Jam roadies.
Central City, Colorado: Mining History and Casinos near Mountains and Arapaho National Forest
Located about 40 miles west of Denver, Central City's downtown is mostly made up of buildings constructed between 1860 and the 1930s—which is why the area is a federally designated historic district. As you walk along the streets, you can get a sense of the high-rolling attitude that prevailed during and after the gold rush. The stone Central City Opera House was built by some of the region’s most highly regarded architects and once hosted performances by P. T. Barnum's circus and Buffalo Bill. Now restored to its former glory, it still shows operas and musicals. The Teller House next door is a massive, red brick hotel built in 1872.
Many visitors come to town for the gambling, but you can also explore some of the gorgeous mountain scenery nearby. Just 6 miles away, the 1.5-million-acre Arapaho National Forest is ideal for hiking, biking, fishing, and climbing peaks that reach up to 14,000 feet.