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(Last Updated On: November 16, 2020)

Located only about 20-30 minutes from downtown Denver, Golden feels like stepping back in time. As Denver’s closest mountain town, there are so many things to do in Golden, Colorado that’ll you’ll have a rough go fitting it all in.

Whether it’s shopping along Golden’s main street with that authentic, small-town feel. Or brewery hopping in the world’s biggest little beer town (yup, it’s true). Golden is a perfect place to experience a mountain getaway from the city, but without the killer drive to get there.

Since I’m still (im)patiently waiting to win the lottery, this post contains affiliate links. If you click the link and complete a purchase, I may be paid a commission (at no extra cost to you). Go you! Thanks for the support.

Portions of this trip were sponsored by Visit Golden, but remember, all opinions expressed are always 100% my own (and I have a lot of them!)

An orange painted sign on a brick wall reads "GREETINGS FROM GOLDEN"

PLACES TO STAY IN GOLDEN COLORADO

First thing’s first – before you can jump into all the amazing things to do in Golden, Colorado you have to find a place to rest your head! Many of Golden’s best attractions are located within the main street core. And venturing out of Golden for nearby recreational activities is easy from anywhere in town (she ain’t that big, after all!).

And like many places in the world, your decision really comes down to a hotel vs. Airbnb. Below is what I suggest.

HOTEL – DOVE INN GOLDEN

The Dove Inn is an incredible B&B (with a twist) located in downtown Golden, CO. It’s located in a charming Victorian home that was built in 1866, and oh my if only those walls could talk! Today it has been beautifully renovated, and they did a fantastic job of keeping historic features intact while blending in modern touches.

They also operate under a very unique service model for a B&B…and I am here for it! They call it the “behind-the-scenes” service model – most things are automated or self-service, including check-in and check-out. In fact, you may never encounter the staff during your stay, but they’re there, making sure you have everything you need behind the scenes.

Step away from the big chain hotels for a minute. This is where you need to stay in Golden!

AIRBNB GOLDEN CO

But if you’re more of an Airbnb person, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered there too!

Golden may be a small mountain town, but you’d be surprised at the availability of awesome Airbnb properties. Everything from downtown historic carriage houses, to modern apartments, and log cabins. But as the self-proclaimed (and humble) Airbnb queen, let me do the heavy lifting for you. Here are my favorite Airbnb properties in Golden:

1. Stay at this incredibly unique, boho chic log cabin that has its own zipline (yup, you read that right)
2. Marvel at the exposed brick and original wood maintained in this updated historic district carriage house
3. Location, location, location at this modern downtown Golden apartment that’s a short one block walk to main street
4. Be one with nature at this lookout mountain cabin with a fire pit and a hot tub
5. Bring the whole family to Golden and stay at this 3-bedroom townhouse with an incredible rooftop deck
6. Walk to all the best things to do in Golden, Colorado from this bright and modern 1-bedroom downtown apartment


INCREDIBLE THINGS TO DO IN GOLDEN COLORADO

A river with a rocky bank and fall colored trees lining it; bridge crossing the river in the background
Nature’s beauty on full display along the Clear Creek Trail

Ok – now that you know where to stay, it’s time to dig in to all the incredible things to do in Golden, Colorado! No matter when you visit, Golden has plenty of year-round activities to enjoy.

GET YOUR GOLDEN TICKET AND SHOP DOWNTOWN GOLDEN

This one won’t get you into Willy Wonka’s factory, but it WILL get you all sorts of benefits at local retailers, restaurants, and more. You can pick up your Golden Ticket after completing the Coors Brewery Tour, or by stopping by the Golden Visitors and Information Center.

Once obtained, use your Golden Ticket to save at more than 60 local retailers! When shopping at local businesses, be sure to look for the “golden ticket accepted here” sign. At check out, scratch your Golden Ticket to save up to 20% off your purchase, or win $500!

COORS BREWERY

Of course you can’t possibly come to the world’s biggest little beer town without visiting the place that made it so. Coors began in Golden way back in 1873, and it remains the home of the world’s largest single site brewery today. That means Coors and Golden have quite a long history together!

Take one of their tours to get an inside peek into how beer is made (on a massive scale). You can learn about the company’s history while sampling the fruit of their labor.

PRO TIP
Strollers, backpacks and bags of any type (even purses, ladies) are not permitted in the brewery, and lockers are not provided onsite. So be sure to leave these items safely at home, or in your car!

VISIT THE BUFFALO BILL MUSEUM AND GRAVE

Did you even know that Buffalo Bill himself is buried in Golden, CO?? Well, he is! And when you visit Golden, you can make a stop at the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave to see for yourself.

Buffalo Bill first made his way out west, like many others of that time, during a gold rush. After little success, he continued to come through the Denver area for various performances. And upon his death, he was buried on Lookout Mountain in Golden, as he wished.

At the museum, you can pay your respects at his grave, of course. And view the museum exhibits portraying Buffalo Bill’s history throughout his life. However, the real kicker just may be the view! From the museum’s observation deck you can experience unparalleled views of the neighboring mountains and plains.

TAKE A GOLDEN HISTORY TOUR

A group of people with yellow bandanas on their face listean to a tour guide; standing on bridge with overhead bulb lights

Given Golden’s wild west roots, you can imagine that all sorts of seedy characters have made their way through. From cowboy gunslingers, to roughneck gold hunters, to madams, saloon girls and more. Which is why a visit to Golden is simply not complete without a Golden History Tour to learn all about it!

Learn facts about the Coors family’s history that they certainly aren’t sharing on the Coors tour. Or about secret underground passageways where wealthy men could move about town without being seen. And many, many more interesting facts about this wild west town.

Golden History Tours offers a variety of tour options to choose from, covering everything from spooky ghost-focused tours to wild west pub crawls. And the tour guide (/owner) is knowledgeable, personable and really keeps you entertained! A perfect addition to your Golden, Colorado itinerary.

Psst…if you’re heading to Denver, there are more awesome walking tours to take part in!

WALK THE CLEAR CREEK PATH

Affectionately referred to as the heart of Golden, Clear Creek has been essential to Golden since the city was founded. In fact, it’s the only water Coors will ever use to brew their beer! It also provides a myriad of outdoor recreation opportunities for kayakers, fisherman, runners and more. And it’s beautiful to boot!

Walking along the Clear Creek path is easy, but a beautiful way to see more of the natural landscape in Golden. Walking along the tree-lined creek, with sounds of the bubbling water is the perfect way to enjoy a sunny afternoon walk. Just be sure to follow the “golden rule” and help protect and preserve this incredible resource.

VISIT THE VINTAGE PHOTO PARLOR

Golden was founded in 1859 in the midst of the gold rush. Which, of course, brought all sorts of interesting people and wild west antics along with it. Gunslingers, cowboys and saloon girls…oh my!

And when visiting Golden, take a step back in time by stepping into character for a vintage photo at Oh! Susanna. So much more than only old time photos, they have a variety of backdrops and costumes to choose from, and even options for pet portraits! It’s a fun activity that leaves you with a keepsake to remember your trip by.

The owner of the photo shop also runs a pub crawl ghost tour of haunted Golden year-round, as well as a super fun and unique mystery theater show the month of October. You can check out her current offerings here.

A young man and woman pose for a black and white wild west photograph; scene set to look like an old saloon
Photo provided courtesy of Oh! Susanna Vintage Parlor

TAKE A DAY TRIP TO EXPLORE MORE OF COLORADO

While there’s plenty of things to do in Golden to keep you busy, you may want to experience a little bit more of what Colorado has to offer! And Golden’s location makes it easy to expand your Colorado horizons and take a day trip.

Of course you can spend more time in the big city and explore nearby Denver, a mere 20-30 minute drive to the east of Golden. Or, head north and explore all the things to do in Boulder, CO, a larger city (than Golden) with foothills hipster vibes. Gamblers will love a trip up to Black Hawk – a former mining town turned casino town (and currently the only town in Colorado where casinos are legal). And, of course, if you’re visiting Golden in winter you may want to hit some Colorado mountain slopes! The closest options include Keystone Mountain, Breckenridge Ski Resort, and Copper Mountain.


WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK IN GOLDEN

Various groups of people seated on an outdoor patio; one musician with a guitar on stage
Outdoor seating + live music at Buffalo Rose

RESTAURANTS IN GOLDEN

For a cute and cozy mountain town, Golden has quite the culinary scene with a variety of options to choose from. They boast a plethora of home grown local cafes, quaint neighborhood joints, and even historic restaurants. To really get a feel for the food scene in Golden, check any of these places out.

Higher Grounds Coffee

This is Golden’s local downtown coffee shop, and the best place to grab a morning cup o’ Joe. The inside is quirky, the staff are hella friendly, and as a business, they focus on supporting local products. Drop the Starbucks and head here for your morning pick-me-up!

Cafe 13

Located in the historic Armory building, this is a full-service breakfast/lunch cafe that the locals love (so much you can expect a bit of a wait). They serve a variety of house-made pastries, hot items, salads, specialty coffee and more. The Aussie Scramble is a crowd favorite for breakfast – give it a shot!

D’Deli

This is an old-fashioned sandwich shop that has been operating in downtown Golden for decades. It is loved by locals and visitors alike, and many argue it’s one of the best sandwiches in the whole state of Colorado! If you’re looking for something truly unique, order one of the items from their Wild Side menu.

Woody’s Wood Fired Pizza

A Golden staple, Woody’s is the best place to have pizza in town. Their pizza features a semolina and honey crust that is quite unique (and delicious), but the rest of their menu doesn’t disappoint either! Add in plenty of beer on tap and TVs, and it’s the perfect place to catch a game in Golden.

Buffalo Rose

This bar and grill dates back to 1858, and oh my if only these walls could talk. But it’s also a fantastic place to grab a bite and catch live entertainment in Golden! The interior feels like you’ve stepped into a cozy mountain lodge, with comfortable seating, wood accents and crackling fireplaces. The food is hearty and delicious, and there’s even and outdoor patio for dining al fresco and live music.

Tributary

This cozy food hall and drinkery offers a variety of treats to choose from. Here you can grab a fancy latte, a gourmet charcuterie board, or an inventive cocktail all from neighboring vendors. It’s a great place to hang out and try some (or multiple) delicious items to nosh on!

If you stop by Mr. Miner’s Meat & Cheese for a bite while at Tributary, the Garlic Bread Grilled Cheese (yup, you read that right) and the Braised Pork sandwiches are both absolutely incredible!

BARS IN GOLDEN

As we all now know, Golden brews more beer (by volume) than any other town in the whole world. Between Coors and the local craft breweries, there is plenty of local beer to be enjoyed! But Golden isn’t only about beer. There are many watering holes slinging inventive cocktails to tickle your taste buds as well. Get your drink on at these spots!

Golden Moon Speakeasy

This joint is one part distillery tasting room, one part speakeasy style cocktail lounge, and all parts awesome! Their cocktail menu covers all the classic craft cocktails you would expect, plus an array of unique pre-prohibition style long drinks. All made solely with their in-house spirits. The Lavender Lizbeth is slightly tart (but not too much), delicious, and refreshing!

Psst…if you’re heading to Denver, be sure to check out more speakeasies and hidden bars there!

Miners Saloon

This saloon is designed to pay homage to Golden’s mining days from the late 1800s. The interior is comfortable, yet rustic with lots of wood and iron elements. They also have the most beer on tap in downtown Golden, plus an inventive craft cocktail menu!

Golden City Brewery

Located in an old machine shop, this is Golden’s 2nd largest brewery (behind that behemoth Coors, of course). They feature an indoor taproom and an incredible outdoor beer garden…all connected to their historic Golden home that they still reside in! It’s a home-grown local brewery that feels more like having drinks at a friend’s house. They even give everyone a free beer on their birthday!


FINAL THOUGHTS ON THINGS TO DO IN GOLDEN COLORADO

things to do in golden colorado: a "welcome to golden" arched sign over main street lined with shops and cars

After all that, it’s no wonder that Golden is a perfect place to have a getaway from the city! Where you can experience that small town charm without having to drive super far for it (yes, please!). It’s an ideal spot for family fun, outdoor enthusiasts, beer lovers, and more.

Have you been to Golden before? What was your favorite thing to do in Golden, Colorado?? Let me know in the comments.


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9 Comments

  1. Jenny October 30, 2020 at 11:21 pm

    I’d never heard of Golden before but looks like an interesting little town. Thanks for sharing. I’m looing at going to Colorado next year so I’ll add this to my list of places.

  2. Emma October 30, 2020 at 11:35 pm

    I visited Golden last year on a trip to Denver and it was such a great place. Went to the museum, explored the shops and restaurants and took the nice little river walk. I would love to go back and spend more time doing some of these other things. Especially the brewery and take some fun photos

  3. Cindy October 31, 2020 at 5:16 am

    Love Golden! My favorite part is that Buffalo Bill observation deck. Those views! 😻😻

    1. Kara October 31, 2020 at 2:20 pm

      Right?? They are SO GOOD from the observation deck!

  4. Courtney October 31, 2020 at 8:47 am

    Love this guide! I have a close friend in Denver, and next time I visit I am going to recommend we take a getaway to Golden!. The history tours are calling my name! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Kara October 31, 2020 at 2:21 pm

      That’s awesome, you guys will love it! So much history there, especially with shady characters and dealings (my fave kind of history haha).

  5. Elena Pappalardo October 31, 2020 at 2:13 pm

    Golden looks like my kind of place! Wish I could enjoy some brews there right now, but will definitely keep it in mind for the future!

  6. Agnes October 31, 2020 at 3:47 pm

    This place looks all kinds of Old West, and I’m into it. I’ve been up to Denver a few times, but never to Golden, which is nuts considering the proximity. Next time!

  7. Krista October 31, 2020 at 4:10 pm

    Golden sounds like a great place to visit. I’d love to go to the Speakeasy and that accommodation you stayed at looks incredible