Golden, Colorado, makes for a perfect weekend getaway destination. This Front Range frontier town sits just west of Denver’s urban sprawl, is near the gateway to the Rockies, and -- by the way -- is the birthplace of Coors beer. There’s plenty for everyone to see, do, eat, and drink in gorgeous Golden!
Things To Do In Golden
Golden is the perfect place to embrace the great outdoors, and if you plan well, you can also include healthy doses of history, culture, and shopping for a weekend you won’t soon forget. Here are a few of our favorite things to do in and around this charming Wild West town.
Get To Know Golden
Golden is proud of its rich frontier history, and there are plenty of places in town where you can learn all about it. Start off at Golden History Museum and Park to discover what pioneer life was really like in this town that came alive during the gold rush. Through artifacts and exhibits, you’ll get to know the people and events that shaped this mountain town. The adjacent park is home to original buildings from a 1910-era ranch, and there’s also a one-room schoolhouse where area children were taught until 1951. When you’re finished there, take a free, self-guided walking tour of the downtown district, and use your cell phone to navigate!
Introducing Buffalo Bill
William F. Cody -- also known as Buffalo Bill -- was a dazzling showman who left his mark on the American West. His traveling troupe toured cities and small towns across America, showcasing the talents of cowboys, hunters, and sharpshooters, including Annie Oakley. Cody’s spectacle was so beloved that Queen Victoria invited him and all of his Wild West performers to England for her Jubilee Celebration. Cody performed many times in the state of Colorado, and when he fell ill visiting his sister in Denver, he told his family he wanted to be buried on nearby Lookout Mountain.
The museum founded in his honor was established just a few years later near the site of his grave. It includes rare objects and artifacts from the Wild West, offering a fascinating glimpse of what life was like for its legendary performers. Make sure to pay your respects at Buffalo Bill’s grave, and save room for a buffalo burger or chili at the on-site cafe.
Road tripping? Buffalo Bill’s grave is one of 10 scenic stops in Kansas, Nebraska, and Colorado that come highly recommended by seasoned RVer Carol Colborn.
Hit The Rails
There’s just something magical about trains. They’re one of our favorite ways to travel, but their role in Colorado history is especially important. While the region is blessed with its mountains, the Rockies presented a huge challenge for shipping and transportation. The creativity it took to eventually build tracks through them -- and in high altitude -- was Herculean.
You can learn more about the challenge at the Colorado Railroad Museum. The Depot Museum traces the role of the rails in Colorado with original documents and rare photos; the roundhouse and railyard are packed with diesel engines, passenger cars, and cabooses. You can even take a ride around the complex in a historic locomotive. This is a terrific spot to spend part of the day.
Coors Brewery Tour
The Coors Brewery is the largest single-site brewery in the world, and it’s been in Golden since its founding in 1873. That’s when Adolph Coors moved to Denver, worked as a gardener for a month, then decided to convert a tanning factory into a brewery in nearby Golden. The rest is history. Take a 30-minute tour of the facility to see how the brewmasters craft Coors, and sample some of their work.
Go Fishing In Clear Creek
Anglers take note (and grab your gear): Golden’s Clear Creek is more than just a scenic mountain stream. It’s home to some incredible trout fishing as well. The water is home to mostly brown trout, but you’ll also find rainbow and brook varieties. Local fly fishers know these waters well, so bring plenty of patience with you as well; you might need to find both a parking spot and a fishing spot. But you might just be rewarded with a terrific catch. Remember: You need to have a valid Colorado fishing license to try your hand here. They are available for purchase at several outdoor stores in Golden.
Get Your Steps In!
There’s no two ways about it: You need to spend at least some of your Golden weekend on the trails. There are many to choose from, with a wide range of difficulty, from easy to advanced. The Clear Creek Trail is a gentle one that will take you along the water, through neighborhoods, and into downtown. For more of a challenge, consider the North Table Mountain Trail. It’s just 1.5 miles with stunning views of the Golden Valley, but you’ll have to work a bit given the trail’s 400-foot elevation gain. No matter where you choose to roam, Golden has plenty of trails to ensure you get those steps in!
Get To Red Rocks
Just eight miles south of Golden is one of the more amazing concert venues we’ve ever visited: Red Rocks Amphitheatre. This incredible spot was built into the massive red boulders for which it’s named and has played host to the biggest names in music. If you can snag tickets to a concert here during your weekend, you won’t regret it. Red Rocks also occasionally holds special events including yoga sessions, and there is terrific hiking on the trails nearby.
Best Places To Eat In Golden
With all of the great things to see and do in Golden, you’re going to work up an appetite. And that’s a good thing because Golden’s food scene is on the upswing. For starters, the much-buzzed-about Abejas focuses on fresh, local ingredients with an ever-changing menu. The Tributary Food Hall is a great spot to wander and sample various cuisines, and the recently renovated Buffalo Rose, first founded in 1859, is worth a visit. The gastropub is a Golden mainstay and has been for more than 160 years.
While Coors is still king here, Golden is also known for its many acclaimed microbreweries, many of which routinely pair up with local food trucks to offer fun fare for patrons. If you really want to pack in the calories, head to Nick’s Cafe for Elvis Presley’s favorite Fool’s Gold Loaf. Legend has it that The King craved the massive bacon, peanut butter, and grape jelly sandwich so much that he once had his private jet fly from Graceland to Colorado to pick one up.
Best Places To Shop In Golden
Golden’s historic downtown district is crammed with galleries, boutiques, and shops. Make it your home base to pick up reminders of your visit to this Wild West town. There are many outdoor outfitters if you need gear, and the town definitely pays homage to its gold rush past with several jewelry stores. To pamper your friends back home, stop into Sweet Earth Botanicals for a terrific array of naturally scented soaps, herbal tea, local honey, and more.
Best Places To Stay In Golden
To stay at a spot where high-end luxe meets small-inn charm, consider the historic Dove Inn B&B. This freshly-renovated Victorian home features exposed brick, a variety of rooms and suites furnished with a funky mix of period and modern pieces, and behind-the-scenes but attentive service. A continental breakfast is left for guests in the refrigerator each morning, and a coffee bar is available at all times. The Dove Inn puts your right in the middle of downtown and within walking distance of many attractions.
The Golden Hotel is another favorite. Located adjacent to Clear Creek, this modern hotel gives guests a mountain lodge feel, and its restaurant proudly features Colorado-grown and raised produce and fare.
It’s old hat for those who live at high altitude, but if you’re not used to the thinner mountain air, you could be in for a rude awakening! To avoid altitude sickness and the unpleasantness it can bring, be sure to hydrate often, don’t overdo the alcohol, and take your time during bike rides, hikes, or any other physical activity in Golden.