Not every Denver suburb has such a distinctive history separate from the city proper, but Littleton definitely has its own story.
First of all, Historic Downtown Littleton, with tree-lined streets and several distinctive historic buildings, looks nothing like Denver's high-rise skyline. But if you want to get to Denver from here, aside from driving, you can hike or bike the riverside trail along the Platte River or you can get there fast on the RTD light rail.
But stick around for a while before you hop that train. Downtown is filled with locally owned eateries, coffeehouses, drinkeries and shops, and you could easily spend a day relaxing there. Catch a performance at the Littleton Town Hall Arts Center to round out the day.
In addition, Littleton is packed with parks, like the Carson Nature Center and South Platte Park, where you can wander miles of trails looking for hummingbirds and other wildlife or drop into the South Platte River to tube or kayak. (Tip: Breckenridge Brewery Farmhouse is an excellent take-out point for food, drinks and a fun outdoor space.) Other parks of note include Roxborough and Chatfield state parks.
The city is also a hub for numerous greenways. Pick up the Platte River Trail and cycle all the way to Denver. Or take a leisurely stroll among the many varied landscapes and outdoor sculptures of Hudson Gardens, which hosts events, concerts and festivals throughout the year.
An impressive town museum, the Littleton Museum, is situated on a spacious 14 acres next to Ketring Lake. This living-history farm, recognized as an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, recreates life on two farms from the 1860s and 1890s. Stepping through its gates is like stepping back in time. Imagine what it was like to go to class in the old schoolhouse, to churn the butter for your bread, make a quilt to keep you warm at night or watch the village blacksmith at work. Galleries and exhibits, with thousands of local artifacts, further interpret the area's history.
Step back out through the gates and you're in an urbane neighborhood, with great shopping and dining. Littleton truly enjoys the best of both worlds — past and present.