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The Wild West is still alive in Golden, Colorado's territorial capital until 1867. Upon arriving in Golden, you are welcomed with an old-fashioned wooden arch over Washington Street reading: "Howdy Folks! Welcome to Golden!"
Today, it's home to six museums; Coors Brewery, one of the largest brewing facilities in the world; and a downtown filled with shops and restaurants.
The famed Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre is just up the road. If you're looking for outdoor adventure, Golden is also home to miles of hiking trails for all levels, some stellar rock climbing and Clear Creek, which runs through the center of town and offers whitewater rafting and excellent fishing.
With its secluded, small-town feel and plenty to see and do, Golden is a great day trip option from Denver.
Spend the day exploring Golden's fantastic museums, such as the Colorado Railroad Museum, which has the state's largest collection of locomotives, cars, photos and historic railroad mementos; the Golden History Museum & Park, where you can learn about the legends who built the town, see old cabins and a one-room schoolhouse, and feed the heirloom chickens; the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum, where you can see a universe of quilts from antique to artistic along with special exhibits; and the American Mountaineering Museum, where you can walk in the footsteps of famous climbers from Colorado's 14ers to Mount Everest through interactive exhibits and high-tech displays.
Or take a short jaunt up Lookout Mountain to visit the Buffalo Bill Museum & Grave and snap a stunning panorama of the Front Range. You can have a bite to eat at the café in the Buffalo Bill's Pahaska Tepee. They serve buffalo burgers and Duffy's Rowdy Rootbeer. The Mother Cabrini Shrine is a place of prayer and pilgrimage, known for the Stone House that's listed on the National Register of Historic Places and overlooks Denver. Mother Cabrini loved the mountains of Colorado and you can learn about her globe-trotting humanitarian work in the late 1800s and early 1900s. And if you really want to go back in time, don't miss Dinosaur Ridge, a famous natural landmark, located near Morrison. It features famous Jurassic dinosaur bones, such as Stegosaurus and Apatosaurus, discovered in 1877, and Cretaceous dinosaur footprints. A guidebook is available for use on self-guided tours.
Grab a brew and some food truck grub at one of Golden's craft breweries like the unique gluten-free Holidaily Brewing Company. Golden is home to two distinctive craft distilleries, State 38 Distilling, whose name cleverly has something to do with Colorado being the 38th state, and Golden Moon Distillery, which offers tours of its world-class facility.
Take a self-guided audio tour (and sip some generous samples) at Coors Brewery, which churns out more than 13 million barrels of beer a year!
There are lots of great dining options. Here are a few standouts. Nomad Taqueria & Beer Garden serves up traditional Mexican favorites like tlayudas, esquites, and chicharones and peppers. Chart House offers delicious surf and turf options from its hillside location. And The Fort Restaurant is a full-size replica of an 1830s adobe fur-trade fort, serving buffalo, elk, quail, beef and poultry since 1963.
This outdoor music venue is on everyone's bucket list! Make the short drive from downtown Denver or take a shuttle to catch an unforgettable concert under the stars. And during the day, Red Rocks is a free Denver park with hiking trails amidst the ancient monoliths. During the summer months, the venue also hosts non-musical events ranging from yoga and fitness classes to movies shown on the giant outdoor screen at dusk.
Drive the national scenic byway, with an authentic Western experience, located between Golden, Morrison and Evergreen.
There are lots of cushy places to stay in between adventures. The Golden Hotel is located right in the heart of downtown and overlooks Clear Creek and the Rocky Mountain foothills. Also located in downtown is the boutique Table Mountain Inn. For music lovers, it doesn't get better than the Origin Hotel Red Rocks, the famous amphitheater's official hotel. Mountain bikes are available for guests to borrow. Another adventure-ready option is The Eddy Taproom & Hotel, where stunning views meet striking brick buildings.
Golden is home to the Colorado School of Mines, one of the nation's top universities for engineering. Incoming freshmen whitewash the school's signature letter "M" on Mt. Zion at the beginning of each school year.
Along the 1.5-mile gravel Triceratops Trail are several stops highlighting clay mining, as well as invertebrate tracks and traces of dinosaurs, birds, mammals and insects. Plus, there are several sandstone walls full of plant impressions from the tree-lined, delta-like environment.
Explore Golden by bike! Check out a bike at Golden's Bike Library — located at the Golden Visitors & Information Center (1010 Washington Ave.), Thursday–Sunday from 10 a.m.–4 p.m., May–October.
Spinster Sisters Co. has every skincare product you can imagine from bath soap to body lotion and adheres to strict eco-friendly practices. You can check out their products at the retail location in Golden or throughout stores all over the metro area and nationwide
Enjoy community theater at Miners Alley Playhouse, which has been a local favorite since 1989.
Treat your taste buds at any one of Golden's delicious eateries! You'll find every cuisine under the sun, such as Indian, Italian, American and, of course, local favorites like burritos.
Each February, world-class environmental shorts and films are showcased with representatives from local and national organizations.
This weekly market features fresh produce and bakery items.
In July, this old-time Western festival includes a parade, stagecoach rides and pancake breakfast.
Every October, more than 50 chili recipes are in competition for the winning prize, and upwards of 90 beers are available to wash them down.
Experience holiday cheer during this traditional walk down Main Street, candle in hand and singing carols. As the procession continues, holiday lights are illuminated throughout the town. After the walk, enjoy free and festive activities — from roasted chestnuts at the Golden History Park to hot cider with Santa at the Visitors Center.
Take a break from the busy downtown scene in lovely Washington Park - dubbed "Wash Park" by locals. The area has a Rockwellian feel, with…