It’s no wonder that Golden has a reputation as one of the West’s friendliest cities. Upon entering Golden’s historic downtown, visitors are enthusiastically greeted with a large sign arching across Washington Avenue that reads, “Howdy, Folks! Welcome to Golden,” and proudly boasting the slogan, “Where the West Lives.”
This iconic sign perfectly captures the spirit of Golden, a welcoming and forward-thinking city that’s proud of its Western heritage.
Founded in 1859 and the territorial capital of Colorado from 1862 until 1867, Golden is an idyllic former gold-rush town that is completely surrounded by high points — to the east are two high volcanic mesas (North and South Table Mountains). To the west are the foothills, dominated by Mount Zion and Lookout Mountain. Lookout Mountain can be summited by car, or for the very fit, by bicycle or on foot via hiking trails. Clear Creek flows directly through the town and is lined with paved bike and hiking trails.
Golden, one of Colorado’s oldest and most historic towns, is filled with a large number of historic buildings. It is also located just 12 miles west of Denver and is home to the Colorado School of Mines, a highly renowned university committed to teaching and research related to engineering and applied science.
Golden’s extensive array of museums and attractions are a source of cultural pride for this modest-size city. The centrally located Golden History Museum and Park, owned by the city, offers visitors the chance to learn about pioneer life and culture and the city’s distinctive past through insightful exhibits, old settlements and historic collections.
Art lovers can enjoy beautiful works by Colorado artists displayed within the Foothills Art Center, housed in a converted Victorian church. The outdoor train yard exhibit of the Colorado Railroad Museum supplies visitors with a hands-on experience and information about the compelling beginning of Colorado’s railway system (including railroad robberies), while the Bradford Washburn American Mountaineering Museum offers a look at the lifestyle and accomplishments of mountaineers.
For a great view of the entire city and beyond, visitors can head up Lookout Mountain on the Lariat Loop Scenic Byway to visit the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave, Boettcher Mansion and the Lookout Mountain Nature Center and Preserve. And of course, the world’s largest single-site brewery, the Coors Brewery, is a must see and offers free samples of its many brews. Visitors may also want to sample beer from any one of Golden’s six craft breweries.
With a charming downtown lined with mostly locally owned stores, Golden offers everything from outdoor gear to fashionable clothing boutiques, art galleries, fine dining restaurants, breweries, distilleries, cafes and taverns. Golden is one of the most fun and interesting towns on the Front Range with delicious food and drink, and outstanding shopping. Golden also has no shortage of fun events, including Buffalo Bill Days in July, the Golden Fine Arts Festival in August and Olde Golden Christmas in December.
Golden offers every type of outdoor recreation Colorado has to offer, from kayaking to some of the top rock-climbing locations in the nation; from easy hiking trails to challenging climbs; from flat paved bike paths to some of the most difficult mountain-biking trails near Denver. The city maintains 253 acres of parks with thousands of acres of nearby publicly owned open space. The Clear Creek walking paths are incredibly popular, and Clear Creek Whitewater Park, which was built for recreational canoeing and kayaking, has a quarter-mile course.
Bike rentals are available for free at the Golden Bike Library located behind the Visitors Center during the late spring, summer and early fall months. Nearby, Apex Park, White Ranch Park, North Table and South Table Mountains, and Golden Gate Canyon State Park boast some of the region’s best hiking, biking, camping and fishing. It is possible to climb all of the mountains ringing Golden on hiking trails, several of which start right downtown.