Do you dream of a Western adventure filled with stunning mountain views and outdoor activities? Then you’ve got to check out the fantastic town of Golden, Colorado.
This charming small town is located just 15 miles west of Downtown Denver and is nestled at the base of the Rocky Mountains. It offers a perfect mix of outdoor adventures and historic charm. It’s truly a Colorado town you don’t want to miss!
Here are 23 things to do in Golden CO that you and your crew will love!
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EXPLORE MAIN STREET
You might be surprised to learn that a small town like Golden has a vibrant main street that rivals larger cities. Take some time to stroll through the charming shops and restaurants, admire the beautiful Victorian architecture, and check out the famous gift shop at the Colorado Railroad Museum.
The historic town dates back to the gold rush era of the 1850s, and you can feel the Wild West vibes as you wander through the main street. Downtown Golden is mostly about Washington Avenue, which is where you’ll find most of the action.
Next on the list of things to do in Golden is visiting Boettcher Mansion. This beautiful estate was built in 1917 as a summer residence for Charles Boettcher, a prominent entrepreneur and philanthropist. It offers stunning views of North Table Mountain and Lookout Mountain, along with elegant grounds complete with gardens and ponds.
The state of Colorado now owns the mansion and offers tours, special events, and even overnight stays in historic rooms. If you’re lucky, you might even get the chance to see a wedding taking place in the beautiful outdoor gazebo.
LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN NATURE CENTER AND PRESERVE
Travelling doesn’t mean you have to lounge on a beach all day — sometimes the best experiences are found while being active in nature. That’s where a visit to the Lookout Mountain Nature Center and Preserve comes in. This stunning park offers hiking trails, educational programs, and gorgeous views of the mountains and Denver skyline.
The 110-acre preserve is also home to a variety of wildlife, including birds of prey and mule deer. Be sure to bring your camera for some amazing photo ops! Visitors to the Lookout Mountain Nature Center and Preserve will love the interactive exhibits, and kids will especially love the hands-on play room and observation room.
LARIAT LOOP – NATIONAL SCENIC BYWAY
When moving about the city, take the famous Lariat Loop National Scenic Byway. This 40-mile scenic drive takes you through some of Golden’s most stunning scenery, including several activities in the area, like Buffalo Bill’s Grave, Lookout Mountain Park and Preserve, and Lariat Lodge.
Many travelers choose to base their itineraries around this scenic byway, stopping at various points for hikes, sightseeing, and activities. The Lariat Loop’s website also has a handful of pre-planned itineraries for visitors, so be sure to check it out before your trip.
GOLDEN HISTORY MUSEUM AND PARK
History buffs must add the Golden History Museum and Park to their list of things to do in Golden. The small yet informative museum exhibits everything from the town’s gold rush beginnings to its transformation into a modern suburb of Denver. If pioneer history and the Wild West interest you, you’re in for a treat with these self-guided tours.
Outside, you can wander through beautiful parkland and check out original pioneer cabins and buildings. And did we mention the free admission?
BUFFALO BILL MUSEUM AND GRAVE
Buffalo Bill was a famous frontiersman and showman known for his Wild West shows that traveled all over the world. The Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave pay tribute to this historical figure, offering exhibits on his life as well as the history of Golden and the surrounding area during his time.
Take a stroll through the peaceful cemetery to visit Buffalo Bill’s final resting place, marked with a large monument. Located on Lookout Mountain, the museum and grave offer the picturesque views of the Rocky Mountains you’ll come to expect in Golden.
CLEAR CREEK WHITE WATER PARK
It’s time to get wet and crazy at Clear Creek White Water Park. This series of man-made rapids located on Clear Creek offers the opportunity for whitewater rafting, kayaking, tubing, and more. Over 800 feet of rapids wind through the park, ranging from mild to wild. Some fast eddies and waves can give the faint of heart a thrill, while others are perfect for beginners.
If you’ve never tried whitewater rafting before, the park offers lessons and guided tours for a safe and fun experience. And don’t worry — life jackets are provided. So come dressed to get wet and have a splashing good time!
No visit to this town is complete without a tour of the Coors Brewery. The Golden facility is the largest single-site brewery in the world and offers tours to see the brewing process in action.
During your visit, you’ll not only learn about the history and process of making Coors beer, but also sample a variety of their brews.
The Coors Brewery tour ends at the gift shop, where you can stock up on souvenirs or purchase your favorite Coors swag for later enjoyment.
GOLDEN GATE CANYON STATE PARK
For those seeking a bit of outdoor adventure, Golden Gate Canyon State Park offers over 12,000 acres of beautiful mountains and meadows to explore. Here, you’ll find ample hiking trails, as well as camping sites, picnic areas, and even horseback riding. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife like deer and elk roaming the park’s grounds.
Hunting is also allowed in certain areas, making Golden Gate Canyon State Park a popular destination for avid hunters.
BEAR CREEK HORSE RANCH & STABLES
Speaking of horseback riding, Bear Creek Horse Ranch & Stables offers guided horseback tours through gorgeous mountain scenery. Whether you’re a seasoned rider or a novice, their friendly staff will match you with the perfect horse for your skill level and take you on an unforgettable ride through the breathtaking terrain.
The ranch also offers pony rides for younger children and wagon rides and hayrides for those looking to explore the area in a more leisurely fashion. No matter how you choose to ride, Bear Creek Horse Ranch & Stables will guarantee a unique and exciting addition to your list of things to do in Golden.
HIGHER GROUNDS CAFE
If you’re looking for a quaint, cute spot to grab a bite or some coffee, Higher Grounds Cafe is a local favorite. With fresh, homemade food and locally roasted coffee, it’s the ideal spot to refuel or relax after a day of adventure in Golden.
The outdoor patio is just as cozy as the stylish interior, so stop by for a casual lunch or an afternoon cup of Joe.
SOUTH TABLE MOUNTAIN PARK
The South Table mountains are a unique type of flat-topped mountain called a mesa, and offer stunning views of the surrounding area.
South Table Mountain Park features miles of hiking and biking trails, allowing you to discover the mesa’s topography and wildlife. And at the summit, you’ll be rewarded with a spectacular view of Golden from above.
STATE 38 DISTILLING
If the Coors Brewery wasn’t enough for you, State 38 Distilling offers another opportunity to sample some locally-made alcohol. This time, dive into the spirit-making process with a tour of the distillery. The knowledgeable staff will walk you through the steps of creating their signature vodka, gin, and bourbon. For the heavyweights, they also have absinthe and peat-smoked whiskey.
Finish off your tour in the tasting room, and take home a bottle of your favorite spirit as a souvenir.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN QUILT MUSEUM
For a dose of culture, the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum features stunning quilts from local and national artists.
The museum offers classes for those looking to learn the art of quilting, as well as events and lectures for those simply wanting to appreciate the craft. You can also buy fabric and quilting supplies on-site if you wish to start your own quilting journey.
A town that’s so closely tied to the outdoors doesn’t skimp out on eco-friendly beauty needs.
Spinster Sisters Co. is a locally owned and operated shop that features natural bath and body products, ranging from shampoo bars to lotion sticks. With ingredients sourced from local farms and environmentally friendly packaging, you’ll be able to take care of both your body and the planet.
Get some plastic-free products for yourself, or grab a unique gift for a friend.
GOLDEN MOON DISTILLERY
Known for its beautiful bottles and delicious liquors, Golden Moon Distillery offers a tasting room and tours of its distilling process. They mainly deal in liqueurs and whiskey, with exotic flavors on the menu.
The tour lasts about 30 minutes, and you’ll get to see the distilling equipment and sample some of their signature drinks.
GOLDEN CITY BREWERY
If the big-name Coors Brewery isn’t all that appealing, Golden City Brewery offers a more local alternative for beer lovers.
This microbrewery has been serving up tasty brews since 1993, and its taproom allows visitors to sample several of their rotating options. They also have food trucks outside of their establishment, so grab a pint and some grub before heading out to explore the rest of Golden’s offerings.
COLORADO SCHOOL OF MINES MUSEUM OF EARTH SCIENCE
Next on our list of things to do in Golden is the Colorado School of Mines Museum of Earth Science. This museum offers a unique look into the geological history of Colorado through exhibits of fossils, minerals, and rocks. There are even two Goodwill moon rocks on display, brought back from the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.
A scavenger hunt where you can win a free rock or mineral turns an educational visit into a fun activity for the whole family.
BRADFORD WASHBURN AMERICAN MOUNTAINEERING MUSEUM
By now, you must know that Golden is a mountain town. Front Range, in particular, is a hot spot for climbing and hiking. For those looking for some inspiration for their next outdoor adventure, the Bradford Washburn American Mountaineering Museum offers a thrilling journey through mountaineering history.
This museum honors the achievements of past climbers, including Bradford Washburn himself, an accomplished mountaineer and photographer. You’ll see historical photographs and gear from famous climbs and learn about the scientific advancements in mountaineering.
FOOTHILLS ART CENTER
Tap into your creative side with a visit to the Foothills Art Center. This center is dubbed “Golden’s cultural community hub” and features rotating exhibits from local and national artists.
The center offers classes for all ages, ranging from pottery to photography. They also have an open studio, which allows visitors to use the center’s equipment and materials for their own artistic pursuits.
SHERPA HOUSE RESTAURANT AND CULTURAL CENTER
Experience a taste of the Himalayas at Sherpa House Restaurant and Cultural Center. This Nepalese and Tibetan restaurant offers authentic cuisine, including momos (dumplings), thukpa (noodle soup), and chow mein. The restaurant also features cultural artifacts and traditional clothing from Nepal and Tibet as decor, creating a unique and immersive dining experience.
Their drink menu only adds to the ambiance, with options like Everest Mule and Himalayan Sunrise.
DINOSAUR RIDGE DISCOVERY CENTER
Our last stop on this list of things to do in Golden is the Dinosaur Ridge Discovery Center. Located 10 minutes from downtown Golden, the center offers guided tours of Dinosaur Ridge, where visitors can see dinosaur bones and trackways preserved in the sandstone.
In addition to the outdoor exhibits, the Discovery Center also has an indoor exhibit featuring life-size dinosaur replicas and information about these ancient creatures. Dig areas allow children to uncover fossils, making this attraction a fun activity for the whole family.
DAY TRIP OPTIONS
Although we’ve exhausted all the great things to do in Golden, there are also a few options for day trips from this mountain town. Jefferson County is full of activities for you to explore, including the Red Rocks Amphitheater. This natural amphitheater offers concerts, yoga classes, and film screenings set against a backdrop of red rock formations.
If you’re looking for more picturesque views, head up to Rocky Mountain National Park. This vast national park offers hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing opportunities.
As for neighboring towns, Idaho Springs and Boulder are both within a 30-minute drive. Idaho Springs offers hot springs, historic mining tours, and St. Mary’s Glacier, while Boulder is a slightly bigger city known for its vibrant nightlife and outdoor recreation.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO COLORADO
- YOUR COLORADO VACATION
- HOT SPRINGS: 17 Best Hot Springs In Colorado You Must Visit
- SMALL TOWNS: 18 Small Towns In Colorado Full Of Big Adventures
- RESORTS: 21 Amazing Colorado Resorts For Every Type Of Traveler
- GLAMPING: Glamping Colorado: 20 Amazing Places You’ll Love
WHERE TO STAY IN GOLDEN CO
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