More than ever we strive to be intentional in our travel. We want to experience all that a locale has to offer, but also make smart choices with our time. One way we achieve this is through less driving. No, not always what realistically happens (recent WA adventure), but always something we consider and work on.
Take our trip to Golden, Colorado last month. We’re proud to say that we visited Golden, not the “Denver area”. We rented a house steps from downtown Golden, and planned ahead to ensure we would spend the majority of our time in the little mining town.
Why so vigilant?
When visiting one of our old stomping grounds (this one being where Slaed grew up), activities, meet-ups, visits, and even sightseeing can get out of hand. So we made some deliberate choices to combat our prior tendency of spending so much time in the car driving all over the area.
In exchange, I really got a feel for Golden and it’s charm, without the rush, and can share a whole list of our favorite Golden to-do’s:
1. Explore Downtown.
Golden definitely welcomes visitors. I mean, how could you not feel like the trumpets are blowing just for you with that amazing archway? I love taking it slow and stopping to check out all the statues, plaques, and signs that can be seen throughout. My favorite is the “cowboy on his day off” (11th and Washington). It’s definitely a fun demonstration of how Golden is a western town with ranching in it’s history, but especially now, it’s all all about enjoying the outdoors. Tons of cute shops line the main streets including a great toy store (Golden Goods) and several excellent consignment shops.
2.See Clear Creek.
This is no small trickling stream. Especially with the looks of it this summer, to me, Clear Creek is more like a river. It runs across the main entrance of town, and is vital to Golden living. In fact, the water is still used in the Coors Brewery cooling system, and in the past it was the brewery’s natural water source. I like just meandering down the trails along the creek (in awe of how high the water is) and taking in the views. There are several parks and playgrounds too with the biggest being Lions Park (west of Washington Ave.).
3. Eat & Drink.
While I wouldn’t consider Golden a foodie town, there are a lot of great options for dining. One of my favorite experiences was eating outside at the Bridgewater Grill (part of the Golden Hotel). Clear Creek is rushing by you, and we were also lucky to be there while live music was happening. Another top spot for me is Windy Saddle Cafe. I just love the western theme, kids play area, and delicious baked goods, but our local experts (family and friends who have lived in Golden for years and years) prefer Higher Grounds coffee–also a great choice. Other favorites:
- Woody’s Pizza: We had takeout from here. Yum.
- Farmer’s Market (June-October): So many delicious treats to choose from. Bergen devoured cinnamon sugar waffles from one of the stands leaving none for me! I had to settle for one of the best pieces of coffee cake I’ve had ever had (The Bread Box)–too bad for me, right?
4. Experience Coors and other local breweries.
You can’t go to Golden without at least stepping into one of the local breweries. Even if you don’t like beer (or like me for this visit, need to abstain), it’s part of Golden’s history, culture, and livelihood! We skipped the Coors tour for this visit, but I’ve visited several times in the past, and they do an excellent job, plus it’s free with very generous samples at the end. For this trip, we did stop into Mountain Toad Brewing, a newer (to us) spot where Slaed enjoyed a few tastings before our date night at Red Rocks–it’s a laid back spot with super friendly staff.
5. Splash Aquatic Park.
Only for the warmer months, but I had to include the Splash Pool on this list because of the huge amount of fun we had here! Being from Seattle and not used to the heat and high altitude, it was the perfect way to cool off and just relax. Bergen (2.5 years then) was definitely intimidated by the humongous blue bucket that continuously fills with water and then empties into the shallow pool, but after a warm-up period, he was happy as can be splashing around. There are also water slides for older kids (and adults) as well as a regular lap pool and open swim area.
6. Lookout Mountain Nature Center & Preserve.
Slaed had actually never been here growing up, but we stumbled upon this nature preserve while driving up to see Buffalo Bill’s grave and take in the views. We really enjoyed breathing in the fresh mountain air as we winded our way along the short trails, perfect for our little tot. The Boettcher Mansion is also located here and though it was closed for our visit, it was fun to see the amazing flower collections blooming throughout the grounds.
7. Buffalo Bill’s Grave.
To go along with that beer tasting, no visit to Golden is complete either without heading to Lookout Mountain, taking in the views, and paying respects to the local legend, Buffalo Bill. William F. Cody (“Buffalo Bill”) was known for hunting buffalo, and putting on elaborate wild west shows. He died in 1917 and was buried at this location that same year.
8. Golden Gate Canyon Park.
Just 30-minutes or so out of town (but still technically located in Golden) is Golden Gate Canyon Park. A great spot to hike and explore. You can read all about our experience here.
- Red Rocks Amphitheater
The Red Rocks isn’t located in the town of Golden (it’s in Morrison), but it’s so close to town that I had to include it! We were lucky to get to attend a concert here during our latest visit (thanks for babysitting, Grandpa!) and enjoyed an amazing evening. The space is also considered a Denver City Park, and you can also read about our visit a couple of years ago when we were not concert goers.
Spent time in Golden, Colorado? What would you add to the list? We’d love to know!
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