From the stunning mountains to gorgeous art galleries, Golden offers a high quality of life
Just 40 minutes by rail outside and west of the bustling metropolis of Denver lies Golden, Colo. The vast amount of things to do in Golden helped it land a spot on our Top 100 Best Small Towns 2015 list. Golden, home to the Colorado School of Mines and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory is also a dream vacation, whether you have just a weekend or longer to spend. The city remains incredibly bikeable and walkable, and its outdoor vistas, with clear views of the glorious mesas the region is famous for, make it worth visiting if you want is a magical change of scenery. But there’s a great deal to Golden that appeals to tourists of all stripes.
You can see more about why Golden was picked as one of the best small towns.
Dinner and a Beer
Golden is well known for its growing culinary scene, including a commitment to local food that spans not only restaurants but community gardens and a farmers market from May to October. Make plans to have dinner and drinks at more than one of the many restaurants on Washington Avenue, where a nonsmoking ordinance inside and out means you can enjoy the flavors of your food anywhere.
Of course, Golden is known as the home of Miller Coors, founded by Adolph Coors in the 19th century and still a fantastic tour today. But if your tastes run to microbrews, check out the local scene, including well-known Golden City Brewery, and the smaller Mountain Toad Brewing or Cannon Creek Brewing Company, with several more options. Or, if you’re looking for spirits, try State 38 Distilling or Golden Moon Distilling.
Art and History
Mayor Marjorie Sloan says visitors have plenty of options when it comes to arts and culture.
“We have 10 museums, ranging from history to quilts to art. There’s also the Jefferson Symphony, which is a volunteer organization but absolutely excellent. We also have the Miner’s Alley Playhouse that puts on five or six shows each year.”
Among those museums are the 19th century Astor House, the fossil rich Dinosaur Ridge perfect for lovers of monster lizards, and the Colorado Railroad Museum, with 12 acres of locomotives, cars, rare photographs and artifacts.
The Foothills Art Center is a nationally recognized gallery, with both permanent and traveling shows including recently the work of Ansel Adams and glass artist Dale Chihuly. Music fans trek out for the annual Golden Music Festival, focusing on bluegrass, roots and American music, set in a rustic amphitheater of rock formations and benefiting the Clear Creek History Park.
“The Clear Creek History Park features frontier housing moved up from the canyons – the one room school house is a real gem – all our elementary school kids have a chance to come out and learn about how life was in the frontier West. The park also has a community garden with heritage vegetables along the creek. There’s a lot that goes on here,â€ Sloan says.
The park also offers a working blacksmith’s shop, in-use chicken coops, honey bee yard and more.
Golden is exceptionally walkable, with 24 miles of interconnected trails within the city, and more leading up into the mountains, if you’re looking for a hiking or biking challenge. Of note is the Clear Creek Trail, running 20 miles from Denver to Golden along the Clear Creek with views of the North and South Table Mountains. If you’re burning calories, why not stop at Coors Brewing Company at the end? Several trails go well beyond city limits, some up into the mountains for those really looking to test their skills.
Golden is a city that celebrates the iconic traditions and rugged beauty of the West while elevating its continuing progress. Art, history, music, culinary innovation and exciting brewery and distillery culture all come together in a place that showcases the natural beauty of the mountains.
The Clear Creek History Park features frontier housing moved up from the canyons – the one room school house is a real gem – all our elementary school kids have a chance to come out and learn about how life was in the frontier West. The park also has a community garden with heritage vegetables along the creek. There’s a lot that goes on here.