​​Gold lured prospectors west to the Rocky Mountains in the mid-1800s. Nowadays, prospects seek vacation gold. Thanks to a heritage that includes dinosaurs, the Gold Rush, the railway, and cowboys; a vibrant downtown; and a gorgeous natural setting providing abundant outdoor activities, there’s no shortage of things to do in Golden, Colorado.

Located in the Rocky Mountain foothills, roughly a half hour west of Denver, aptly named Golden invites browsing art galleries, exploring historic landmarks, and hiking or biking the trails of Golden Gate Canyon State Park and the Table Mountains

Clear Creek In Winter (credit: Sam Hille)

Clear Creek In Winter (credit: Sam Hille)

Every season brings another performance, a kaleidoscope of color across Mother Nature’s eternal pageantry. Springtime flowers hug the winding trails while summer’s fields of green shimmer under the setting sun.

Come fall, an amber hue joins the party giving birth to layers of iridescent orange and yellow. And then the trees settle in for a long winter’s nap while the snow-drenched mountains take center stage. Don skis and snowshoes and soak in nature’s grand finale. 

Welcome to Golden Sign

Golden preserves its rich heritage

Downtown fun in Golden

Golden’s walkable town makes it easy to discover its rich history, celebrated in its museums. The town’s easy-going culture is evident in the downtown shops, where merchants love to chat about the town’s best restaurants or provide directions to Red Rocks.

Things to Do in Golden Colorado: Take a Coors Brewery Tour

A Coors Brewery Tour is just one of many things to do in Golden, Colorado (credit: Visit Golden)

Just off the main drag, you can’t miss the Coors brewery. The Coors Brewing Company tour highlights the malting, brewing and packaging processes.

But Coors isn’t the only brew in town. Golden is also home to six craft breweries, each with a dog-friendly outdoor beer garden. 

Things to Do in Golden Colorado: Miners Alley Playhouse

The Miners Alley Playhouse

Happy Hour at Lillie’s Saloon opens one hour before the second-floor Miners Alley Playhouse, an Equity theater. And after the show, the audience can mingle with the cast and crew. The theater also doubles as a gallery, so enjoy the works inside, and don’t miss those along the theater’s outside wall. 

Fly Fisherman at Cold Creek (Credit: Visit Golden)

Fly fisherman at Cold Creek (Credit: Visit Golden)

Golden has more than 200 acres of parks and thousands of publicly-owned acreage, and Clear Creek flows through it. Stroll the Clear Creek walking paths, cast a line in pools, rent a canoe or kayak and paddle its waters, or rent a bicycle to pedal paved trails.

Lookout Mountain view of Golden (credit: Visit Golden)

View of Golden from Lookout Mountain  (credit: Visit Golden)

For a great view of the entire city and beyond, visit the Lookout Mountain Nature Center and Preserve. Trails winding through the forest and meadow invite strolling, and tables under the towering pine trees are ideal for a picnic.

Red Rocks: A geological and acoustical wonder

Things to do in Golden Colorado: Visit Red Rocks trails covered in wildflowers

Red Rocks trails covered in wildflowers

A geological wonderland, Red Rocks rests at the epicenter of the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains. This prehistoric park reaches back millions of years to when dinosaurs roamed the land; now, only their footprints and fossils remain, and hikers roam the dusty trails.

For more on the area’s dinosaur history, make tracks nearby Dinosaur Ridge. This outdoor geological and paleontological museum features more than one hundred dinosaur tracks. Follow fifteen interpretive signs or schedule a guided tour to get the most out of a visit.

The Red Rocks Amphitheatre, a National Historic Landmark framed by two 290-million-year-old monoliths, prides itself as the only naturally acoustical amphitheater in the world. Rows and rows of bleacher-style seating, color coordinated with a backdrop of towering clay-colored rocks. The beauty and the acoustics warrant a visit with or without a concert.

Legends such as Sting, The Beatles, U2, and opera stars have graced what many call a spiritual and emotional stage. The show may be at night, but the people begin setting up their tailgating tents and canopies long before the concert starts.

Don’t leave without a wide-angle shot beyond the rocks, capturing miles and miles of jade-colored hills. Look closely as the hills meet the blue horizon of the Denver skyline. 

Table Mountain Inn

Table Mountain Inn (courtesy hotel)

Table Mountain Inn (courtesy hotel)

With its earth-toned colors and southwest décor, the adobe-style Table Mountain Inn fits perfectly in the heart of Golden.

The hotel’s restaurant, Table Mountain Grill & Cantina, features fresh Southwestern cuisine, locally-sourced ingredients, including fresh fish reeled in from the chilly mountain streams, and some of the finest beer brewed with Rocky Mountain spring water. 

The outdoor café pairs lunch, dinner, or cocktails with lovely views. At sunset, it’s a fine place to watch the changing light change the vista. 

Clear Creek (credit: Visit Golden)

Clear Creek (credit: Visit Golden)

What’s appealing to the over-50 luxury traveler? 

  • Although Golden is a small city, it’s packed with scenic drives and outdoor adventures, shopping and family fun, breweries and entertainment.
  • Among many things to do in Golden, Colorado: You can spend a day visiting the many museums in Golden, and take note of the historic buildings and stunning murals throughout downtown. Or get active in the outdoors with a hike, pedal, or paddle.
  • Bring an extra bag or suitcase for a full day of downtown shopping along Washington Avenue. 

Take note

  • Make reservations early. 
  • Take time to chat with the locals. They can offer excellent advice, along with the best deals or places to visit.
  • A car is necessary to visit Red Rocks and other trails.

Photo credits: Deborah Burst, unless otherwise noted.

DisclosureThe author paid for her own travel expenses; hotel accommodations and dinner were courtesy of the Table Mountain Inn


To plan and visit and find additional information about things to do in Golden, Colorado, see the Visit Golden website


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