Planning a trip to Colorado and wondering which towns to explore? Well, I’m here to tell you that Golden Colorado, should be on the top of your list. I know that Denver and the mountain towns usually get all the attention. However, there are so many great things to do in Golden CO.
Where is Golden, Colorado
Golden is located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Meaning it has mountains all around and they are a backdrop to the town. It is just off of I-70, and an easy 25 minute short drive from downtown Denver.
Golden is less than an hour from Denver International Airport and 88 miles to Vail, CO. So it’s easily accessible to many parts of Colorado and therefore an ideal place for a day trip destination or even a weekend getaway.
Things to do in Downtown Golden CO
This cute historic town will win you over with its western charm and small town feel. And while this old gold miners town may be small in size, you ‘ll find that is it packed full of things to do. With the beautiful mountain scenery, clear creek river activities, historic sites, Coors brewery, and so many outdoor adventures, you’ll be sure to have a great time! So get ready to explore the town with these 20 best things to do in Golden CO.
1. The Golden Visitor’s Center
Your first stop in Golden should be the visitor center. It is a great place to gather information about the city, find special events and fun things to do.
The information center is located on Washington Avenue just a short walk from the historic downtown. So you can pick up city maps and get information for the walking tours and scenic drives. And make sure you pick up a “Golden Ticket” to receive a discount at participating merchants.
2. Historic Downtown Golden
Part of Golden’s charm is the historic downtown. You can’t miss the arch with the “Welcome to Golden” sign located in the center of town on the main street of downtown. Golden has a great small-town feel with a historic western vibe and filled with so many great things to see and do.
This area of Golden has an array of shops, restaurants, breweries, museums and more all within walking distance of Washington Ave. So put on your walking shoes and get ready to stroll around town and enjoy all the Golden attractions.
3. Golden History Walking Tour
The free self guided walking tour takes you to 16 locations through the historic town of Golden. This one and a half mile walking tour includes: beautiful homes, Coors brewery, stone buildings, gardens, re-created historic farm and more. You can pick up your map at the Golden visitors center, so you can map the locations.
4. Golden History Museum
Golden History Museum is a great stop to learn about the history of Golden Colorado. The museum offers free admission and is filled with a variety of historic points and interests.
Did you know that Jolly Rancher started in Golden CO? There are many fun things to learn about Golden history. Another unique thing at the History Museum is the Golden Mural on the back of the building. This is one of my favorite photo opportunities in Golden!
5. Golden History Park (formerly Clear Creek History Park)
After your stop at the Golden History Museum, it’s fun to visit the Golden History Park which is located just a short walk down the Clear Creek River and across the walking bridge.
The park is a 3 acre outdoor replica of a 19th century mountain homestead. It has buildings such as cabins, barn, a chicken coop and outhouse, all of which you can walk around and some even explore inside. This area is open daily form sunup to sundown. It’s a unique experience to walk through the property.
6. Mines Museum of Earth Science
The Mines Museum is located on the Colorado School of Mines campus and just a short walk from the Golden History Park. This free activity is a must do for anyone who likes gems and stones.
The museum is a showcase of precious metals, gemstones, minerals, fossils, florescent minerals, jewelry, education and mining heritage. This activity is great for all ages, and kids will enjoy it too because they offer a scavenger hunt game with a prize at the end.
7. Clear Creek and Clear Creek Canyon Trails
Clear Creek River runs through the downtown of Golden. You can enjoy a leisurely walk or bike ride through the town with paved walking and biking trials. There are so many trails within the downtown area. Walking is a great way to see the city and you can find little parks and scenic areas along the way.
And if you feel daring, you can rent a tube and float down the river in the summer. On the weekends, the river will be full of rafters. It’s a fun adventure! Just know, the water is cold and its advised to keep your bum up, so it doesn’t get bumped by rocks.
If however, you prefer to get out into nature without having to drive very far then Clear Creek Canyon Park is a great option. Located less than 10 minutes from downtown the Clear Creek Canyon Trail has 2 trailheads with parking. The 1.75 miles trail runs along Clear Creek River. It connects to downtown and continues west to Tunnel 1 located off US 6. It offers beautiful scenery on a nice paved pathway along side the river.
8. Lookout Mountain Nature Center & Preserve
Lookout Mountain Nature Center is located next to the Boettcher Mansion. The nature center is only open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so unfortunately the days are not the same as the Boettcher Mansion.
If you would like to hike in this area, then this a great place to pick up a trail map and explore around Look Out Mountain. Trails range from easy, moderate and hard. So plan to wear your hiking shoes if you want to explore this area by trail.
9. Lariat Loop Scenic Drive & Historic Byway
The Lariat Loop scenic drive is a 40 mile winding stretch that takes you through Golden, Morrison and Evergreen with historic sites and scenic sites along the way. You can also just drive the Golden portion as there are 8 stops along the way which includes the Buffalo Bill Museum, Boettcher Mansion, Lookout Mountain Nature Center and Mother Cabrini Shrine.
It will take about 20 minutes to get from downtown Golden to the top of Lookout Mountain. The drive up is very windy but offers great views of the city on a 2 lane road up the side of the mountain. So, if you’ve never been, you should go. Just be on the look out for mule deer as you drive up the hill, sometimes you can find them standing near the side of the road. http://www.lariatloop.org
10. Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave
To get to the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave, take the Lariat Loop Scenic Byway. The scenic road will get you to the top of Lookout Mountain where you will find the Buffalo Bill Memorial Museum and Grave.
Buffalo Bill was a legend of the west and so much more! Learn about his life, the Wild West Show, how he advocated for American Indians and women’s rights and why he was buried at Lookout Mountain. You can enjoy great views at the top, visit the Buffalo Bill Museum for small entry fee, take a short walk up to Buffalo Bill’s final resting place and pick up a wild west souvenir from the gift shop.
11. Boettcher Mansion
As you leave Buffalo Bill’s Museum, you will see signs for the The Boettcher Mansion. This mansion was a summer home to Charles Boettcher, one of Denver’s great pioneers. The mansion is over 100 years old and has been listed on the National Historic Registry since 1984.
You can access the home and explore the grounds on a free self guided tour available M-Th and other times by appointment. There are many trails on site and resting places to soak up the serenity and beauty of this lovely property.
12. Mother Cabrini Shrine
The Mother Cabrini Shine is located on the Lariat Loop. This beautiful property offers spectacular views, picnic areas, shrine chapel, meditation walk, Sacred Heart statue, Cabrini garden and so much more.
You do not need to be catholic or religious to enjoy the beauty and serenity of this peaceful place. Keep in mind, the walk to the Sacred Heart Statue is steep, so you may want to bring some water and remember the altitude can make it harder to climb, so just take your time.
13. Foothills Art Center
Located back downtown, you can visit the art center for free. Walk ins are welcome although reservations are encouraged.
The Foothills Art Center was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1991 because of its importance to the historic community of Golden. You can also visit the center for special events or even take an art class.
14. Colorado Railroad Museum
Just a short drive from downtown is the Colorado Railroad Museum. If you like trains, then this is a must see. For just a $10 fee for adults and $5 for children, you get to explore a 15 acre rail yard with over 100 locomotives, freight cars, passenger caboose cars while you learn about the Colorado railroad history.
And you can also take a 15 minute train ride round the yard for a small additional fee on certain days of the week. I was definitely impressed by the amount of trains on display, and it was interesting to learn about them.
15. Red Rocks Amphitheater
You can’t visit Golden without seeing the world’d most iconic concert venue! Located just outside Golden in the town of Morrison, Red Rocks Amphitheater is a must see! And if you can get concert tickets even better!
Just to experience the uniqueness of this place is worth climbing all those stairs. Red Rocks is an outdoor amphitheater built into the rocks. It is a favorite music venue because of its near perfect acoustic surroundings. So check off that bucket list and try to find a concert or other event to see here: https://www.redrocksonline.com/
16. Golden Farmer’s Market & Festivals
Start off your Saturday with a yummy burrito or smoothie bowl breakfast at the Golden Farmers Market. The market is open from June to October on Saturday mornings form 8am to 1pm.
Located in the Golden City Library parking lot, the market has a great selection of prepared foods, fresh produce, local meats, arts and crafts and more. It’s a great way to support local businesses in this small town community.
Coors and Craft Breweries in Golden CO
17. Coors Brewery Tour
You can take a tour of the world’s largest single-site brewery located in downtown Golden Co. This tour is 1.5 hours long and you learn about the history and passion of Coors. The tour includes samples with keepsake branded cups. Reservations may be made up to 28 days in advance.
18. Golden City Brewery
This unique craft brewery has been operating since 1993. Golden City Brewery started in the home of two geologists. The brewery still operates in part of their home with the tasting room in an old machine shop and the beer garden in their backyard. It’s a lovely pace to enjoy a craft beer, its like having a beer in your friends backyard.
19. Mountain Toad Brewery
A quaint microbrewery with a great selection of hand crafted creative beers. You can enjoy a your beverage indoors outdoor on the cute patio set up. And also offering a different food truck on site every night of the week.
20. The Golden Mill
The Golden Mill – which is actually not a brewery but they offer a selection of over 50 local Colorado craft beers, wines, cocktails and NA beverages. This community feel environment offers food and drink and even some ice cream with beautiful views of Clear Creek River and the mountains. They are also the only 1st and only rooftop patio and bar in Golden CO.
Fun Day Trips from Golden CO
Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park
If you want to take a road trip to Rocky Mountain National Park, then you should plan for a full day of being out. The park is about a 90 minute drive north of Golden. This year in 2022, timed entrance tickets are required from 5/27/22 to 10/10/22. Rocky Mountain National Park offers a beautiful range of mountain environments with 300 miles of hiking trails and amazing wildlife viewing!
I would also recommend using an Estes Park entrance so you can visit the cute town of Estes Park. The town is know for being home to many elk. They can be found walking through the town and also the historic Stanley Hotel. If you are making the trip to RMNP then making a stop in Estes Park is a must!
Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs
And then located about 90 minutes south of Golden, is Garden of the Gods. Garden of the Gods is a registered National Natural Landmark in Colorado Springs. The park offers beautiful rock formations and scenery with walking trails throughout. And its a FREE activity!
While in Colorado Springs you might want to drive up to Pikes Peak. It is the highest summit in the southern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. But be warned, the drive is more of an adventure than just a drive. Its 19 miles up the mountain with steep curvy roads. If that sounds too intense, you can also take the railway.
Cute Mountain Town of Frisco
But if you prefer a quaint mountain town with stunning views then head west of Golden up the mountain to the town of Frisco. Frisco has a cute downtown offering dinning and shopping with a mountain view backdrop. During the summer they have a summer concert series along with other events throughout the year. So, if you want to see a mountain town, Frisco is one of the closest from Golden. You will need to drive through Eisenhower Tunnel and some steep grades on I70. And if you are really adventurous you can take Loveland Pass up to the Continental Divide.
Best Places to Stay in Golden
- Clear Creek RV Park– If you would like to “camp” in the city, then this is the perfect place.! This little RV Park is located on the river in Golden and is walkable to the downtown area. Staying here makes it so easy to walk to many tourists attractions and the Clear Creek River Trail is just off the park. Reservations can be made 60 days out.
- Golden Gate Canyon State Park – If you prefer more of a true camping experience then this state park is located about 30 minutes from the city of Golden. They offer electric only and dry camping sites. With 36 miles of trails, it is perfect for hiking, biking an horseback riding. Please note cell service is not stable in the area and service may not be available. Reservations may be made 6 months in advance.
- Bear Creek Lake Park is also a great place. It is a nice blend of city vs rural camping as you are only minutes from things to do but have the space and amenities of a state park.This campground offers electric only service with water fill up stations and dump station on site.
- The Golden Hotel is a small 62 room boutique hotel located in historic downtown. They have a restaurant overlooking the Clear Creek River and is very close to everything downtown. This hotel has a 4.5 rating
- Table Mountain Hotel is a Southwestern style boutique hotel with 74 rooms. This hotel is also very close to everything downtown. They have a Cantina with vibrant Sant Fe decor and Southwestern cuisine. This hotel has a 4.3 rating.
Golden Colorado is a great town to visit. There are so many things to do and see. From history to museums, shopping and restaurants, outdoor adventures and road trips. So get ready to explore with this top 20 list of best things to do in Golden CO!