Denver is a great place! These days the city attracts more and more fans of a healthy and active lifestyle. Like I have mentioned before in my other article, this place is booming right now! But, Denver itself is still a (big) city even though it is in close proximity of the mountains. If you look to discover some of the smaller places that are authentic in their own way there are some great options. Boulder, Littleton and Golden are the towns to visit in the Denver area. They capture the essence of the Colorado lifestyle and give you a peak into it’s ‘Wild West’ history. Welcome to the Frontier.
If you take a car and decide to leave Denver behind you, you have made an excellent choice. While driving down the route 36 towards Boulder you will see the landscape change with every mile you drive. The large industrial area’s will change into empty prairie grounds and right in front of you you will see the 14ers rise up against horizon. This time of the year (spring), some of the peaks are still white from the snow.
At some point along the Denver/Boulder Turnpike you will drive along the lookout point. It looks out over Boulder, laying right in front of the Rocky Mountains. (you might want to pull over and take a photo, they made a turnout especially for that).
What makes it worth a visit?
Boulder is one of the towns to visit in the Denver area as it has the liveliness of a big city and the surroundings of a small mountain village. Located at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains there are tons of hiking trails and bicycle paths. The neighborhoods are green, the streets are wide and just like in Denver, the sun is always out.
The town is also ‘famous’ for having a pedestrian only open air shopping center, the Pearl Street Mall. The mall covers about 3 blocks and is filled with shops that are all locally owned. It is a great starting point to explore the town. You can take a coffee break at Ozo coffee, they are founded in Boulder and roast their own coffee that tastes pretty good.
The Boulder eating culture is quite similar to that in Denver, with many farm to table restaurants, it will be difficult to even decide where to go. Most restaurants have a menu that suits all sorts of diets and serve healthy and creative meals. I have tried River and Woods, Oak, Salt the Bistro as well as the Kitchen and liked these a lot. Fresca is one that has excellent ratings, unfortunately I have not had the chance to try it. Do so if you can, as it was recommended to me several times already.
If you look to do something fun, there are plenty of things to do in Boulder. Besides taking a hike or relax in the beautiful Chautauqua park, you can visit Celestial Seasonings. Here you can get a free tour through the tea factory and sit down for a nice cup of tea in their own cafe. You can also visit the Leanin’ Tree Museum of Western Art that shows the private art collection of Ed Trumble. At the Avery Brewing company you can get a tour through their brewery.
On warm days you can go to the Boulder reservoir and try your best at water sports like sailing, rowing or swimming.
Just like Boulder, Golden lies on a beautiful location, right at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. You can find it west of Denver at about a 40 minute drive. Hidden between two table top mountains and the Rocky Mountains, I am sure that in the past it was quite a remote place. Today it is very well accessible via car and even via public transport. The town is lively, green and home to Coors, one of the biggest single-sight breweries in the world.
What makes it worth a visit?
Of all the towns to visit in the Denver area, Golden captures the past with a unique historic charm. You notice this especially when you walk through Washington Avenue, where unique restaurants and shops decorate the street. The storefronts still look like they remained from the old days. Woody’s Wood Fired Pizza is a place I would recommend for lunch. When you enter the restaurant it looks and feels like an iconic place, that reminds of a saloon from the Wild West. It is one of the many places that creates the historic Colorado charm that radiates from this town.
I discovered Golden because they have a fantastic lookout point, ‘Lookout Mountain’. The curved road that leads up to Lookout Mountain is packed with sporty cyclists that like a challenge. The bike route is 9.2 miles long and has an challenging elevation. Close to the lookout point, you will also find the grave of Buffalo Bill and a museum about his life.
The town lies along the Clear Creek and offers a nice trail for hiking or biking right along the trail.
Golden is home to a rich variety of mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles. Rabbit, hare, prairie dog, fox, coyote, badger, bobcat, mule deer, elk, black bear and mountain lion all call the Front Range their home.
The tourist website of Golden is a great source for planning your trip; http://visitgolden.com
The small community of Littleton lies a bit south-west of Denver. It is still quite close to Denver and it is a nice place to stroll around for a morning or an afternoon. So even if you are only on a short trip, this is one of the towns to visit in the Denver area.
The main street has a lot of nice little boutiques and some restaurants with a variety of cuisines. It is a nice change of scenery if you want to escape the big city of Denver and just want some piece and quiet. If you pay a visit, try some of the amazing chocolates at ‘The Chocolate Therapist’. Most of the chocolate is hand crafted and produced on-site. Also their chocolate is all natural, so no preservatives or other unfamiliar ingredients.
Just outside of Littleton you can find the Chatfield State Park with a big lake in it. The park is popular with hikers, campers and people who want to relax and enjoy a picnic. The lake is used for several water sports like sailing or swimming. You can even rent out a boat yourself to enjoy the view from the water.