Welcome to the small mountain town of Golden, Colorado. Famous for its welcoming arch, this unique destination brings you Wild West charm, stunning views, and outdoor adventure all in one beautiful place.

These three mix-n-match itineraries will make you want to book your ticket to Golden right away! Dig into each one of these in-depth guides for the top things to do, the best adventures, where to stay, and where to eat.

Trip 1: Seeking Adventure in Golden

Or scroll ahead to Trip 2 (seeking Family Fun) or Trip 3 (the Touristy Tourist)

Looking for: Hiking trips, adventure, and scenic views

Things to Do:

Lace Up Your Hiking Boots and Get Out There (time varied) – Experience the beauty of Colorado by exploring nearby hiking trails. If you’re looking for easy day hikes with great views, then Elk Range Trail at Centennial Cone Park, North Table Mountain and Rim Rock Loop, and Lubahn Trail are all options to consider. If you want to stay within the city limits, then Clear Creek Trail is your best bet. This relatively short hike is great for all ages, running along Clear Creek. For even more scenic beauty, elevate your hiking experience with trails like Chimney Gulch Trail at Windy Saddle Park and Forgotten Valley Hike at Golden Gate State Park. While both of these trails are ranked between moderate and difficult, they are certainly worth the scenery and views you’ll find along the way!

Clear Creek History Park in Golden Colorado Photo Credit: milehightraveler (iStock).
Clear Creek History Park in Golden Colorado Photo Credit: milehightraveler (iStock).

Explore Whitewater Rafting in Clear Creek Canyon (3-6 hours) – Just west of Golden, you’ll find numerous options for outdoor recreation at Clear Creek Canyon. Clear Creek flows from Georgetown across Golden, making this the perfect outdoor escape for travelers seeking ultimate thrill and adventure. Among the steep canyons and rugged waters, you can spend the day rock climbing, hiking, kayaking, and whitewater rafting or tubing (depending on water flow speed). Guided rafting tours and zipline combos are available for all ages. Keep in mind, water temperatures drop from May to June due to snowmelt. It’s also worth mentioning that rafting is a strenuous and dangerous activity. Participate at your own risk.

Rafting Colorado, Photo Credit: joshschutz (iStock).
Photo Credit: joshschutz (iStock).

Find Endless Adventure at Red Rocks Amphitheatre and Park (3-6 hours) – While this world-famous concert venue is best known for its epic performances, Red Rocks Amphitheatre and Park is home to a number of hiking trails featuring mountain range views, spectacular rock formations, and the most beautiful skylines in Colorado. When it comes to exploring Colorado, there’s endless adventure to discover at this iconic destination.

Red Rocks Amphitheater, Photo Credit: Adam-Springer (iStock).
Red Rocks Amphitheater, Photo Credit: Adam-Springer (iStock).

Places to Eat & Drink:

Bob’s Atomic Burgers – Get the ultimate comfort food experience at Bob’s Atomic Burgers. This laid-back 1950’s inspired restaurant offers up gourmet burgers, hot dogs, and creamy milkshakes.

Sherpa House Restaurant and Culture Center – For authentic Himalayan cuisine, head to the Sherpa House Restaurant and Culture Center. This colorful restaurant has plenty of outdoor seating and serves up the most unique food in town. Just look for the red house surrounded by colorful flowers and exotic plants. You can’t miss it!

Woody’s Wood Fired Pizza – Find the best pizza in town at Woody’s Wood Fire Pizza. Located in the heart of downtown Golden, this brick-oven pizzeria favorite among many locals.

Bonfire Burritos – Get your burrito fix at Bonfire Burritos. With fixings like avocado, pineapple, pico de gallo, goat cheese, and jalapenos, you can order your taco or burrito just the way you like. Not to mention, this fast-casual spot serves up the best green chile in town.

Where to Stay:

Airbnb – If you’re looking for a cozy and convenient place to stay that falls in line with your specific budget, Airbnb is your best bet. From affordable lodging to luxury getaways, you’ll be able to find exactly what you’re looking for.

Trip 2: Seeking Family Fun in Golden

Or scroll to Trip 1 (the Adventurous Tourist) or Trip 3 (the Touristy Tourist)

Looking for: Shopping, wildlife experiences, and popular attractions.

Things to Do:

Bottle Feed a Kangaroo at Zoo Chateau (2-3 hours) – If you want to take your love for animals beyond the traditional zoo experience, then Zoo Chateau is your ideal destination. At this local zoo/bed & breakfast, you’ll get the chance to bottle feed a kangaroo, meet a zonkey, and take lots and lots of selfies! You can even extend your stay by taking advantage of the lodging on site at this exclusive Colorado kangaroo farm. If you’re planning to visit, you will need to reserve a time on their calendar. Find more information on their website.

Spencer feeds a kangaroo
Photo Credit: Kimmy Saavedra.

Get Inspired at Lookout Mountain Nature Center and Preserve (1-2 hours) – Learn more about preserving the natural wonders of Colorado during a day trip to the Lookout Mountain Nature Center and Preserve. With interactive exhibits, educated guides, and access to a variety of hiking trails, you can experience the beauty of Colorado nature with the entire family.

Pay a Visit to The Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum (1-2 hours) – The Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum has it all! Featured displays include vast collections of minerals, fossils, gemstones, meteorites, and historic mining artifacts. Among the 2,500 cataloged specimens, you can get a closer look at two Goodwill moon rocks collected during the Apollo 17 mission.

Photo Credit: JodiJacobson (iStock).
Photo Credit: JodiJacobson (iStock).

Browse Local Shops in Downtown Golden (2-4 hours) – Eat, drink, shop, and explore the best of downtown Golden. Spend your afternoon strolling through the historical streets while browsing trendy boutiques, art galleries, gift shops, and more. For a full list of shops located downtown, click here.

Places to Eat & Drink:

Xicamiti La Taqueria Bistro – Eating out is an adventure at Xicamiti La Taqueria Bistro. From house margaritas to street tacos to fresh tomato salsa, you’ll find delicious and authentic Mexican cuisine here.

D’Deli – From grilled paninis to monster-sized burritos, D’Deli is the perfect spot to a grab a quick bite. Fuel your next adventure at this satisfying stop.

Abejas – If fine dining is your style, head over to Abejas. This local restaurant offers an elegant and romantic setting with beautifully presented entrees for brunch, lunch, and dinner.

Windy Saddle Cafe – Grab a bite to eat at the Windy Saddle Cafe. This quaint cafe serves up healthy and simple eats including sandwiches, wraps, salads, burritos, quiche, and a variety of house-baked goods. Gluten-free options are also available on the menu.

Where to Stay:

If you’re looking for a lively and charming place to stay, that’s exactly what you’ll find at the Table Mountain Inn. Centrally located, you’ll find southwestern-style rooms, scenic views, and quick access to shopping and dining.

Trip 3: The Trip for the Touristy Tourist in Golden

Or scroll to Trip 1 (the Adventurous Tourist) or Trip 2 (seeking Family Fun)

Looking for: Must-see attractions, breweries, and adventure

Things to Do:

Take a Tour of the Coors Brewery (2-3 hours) – If you’re a beer lover, getting a behind-the-scenes look during a guided tour at the Coors Brewery is an absolute must! Enjoy complimentary samples of the latest taps and learn more about the rich history of Colorado’s most famous brewery. Other local breweries worth exploring include Golden City Brewery, New Terrain Brewing Company, and Cannonball Creek Brewing Company.

Photo Credit: Silvrshootr (iStock).
Photo Credit: Silvrshootr (iStock).

Travel Back in Time with a visit to the Colorado Railroad Museum (3-5 hours) – Discover the enchanting history of Colorado’s scenic railroads at The Colorado Railroad Museum. Explore museum exhibits, take a ride on a train, and learn about Colorado’s storied past on the tracks.

Embark on a City Adventure in Denver (3-5 hours) – Make the short trip to Denver for a mix of unique shops, expansive dining, trendsetting nightlife districts, and must-see attractions. Denver, also known as the “Mile High City,” is filled with urban adventure that doesn’t stop. One of the best ways to explore this city is with the rentable bikes and scooters available around town. You’ll find a number of paved routes that make getting around a breeze.

Play Black Hawk Slot Machines (3-6 hours) – Test your luck with the slot machines in the casino town of Black Hawk, Colorado. This quirky gambling town makes for the perfect weekend escape. Stop by for a day trip or stay for the weekend in any one of the local hotels and casinos.

Places to Eat & Drink:

Indulge Bistro & Wine Bar – If you’re looking for the perfect wine bar in Golden, then make your way to Indulge Bistro & Wine Bar. Enjoy a wide selection of wine paired with sophisticated entrees including bacon wrapped filet and blackened ahi tuna.

Sushi Uokura – Experience the ultimate sushi craze at Sushi Uokura. The sefaood here will have you forgetting that you’re in the middle of a mountain range.

Citizen Thai Bistro – Aside from authentic Thai food, Citizen Thai Bistro offers great happy specials. If you’re looking for a tasty bite and a good deal, give this place a try.

Where to Stay:

The Dove Inn – For the ultimate getaway, plan your stay at The Dove Inn. This charming bed and breakfast is super cozy and offers the perfect retreat for mountain lovers. Enjoy a variety of amenities including a continental style breakfast, luxury rooms, beautiful grounds, and a central location.

Things You Should Know:

Keep Cars Locked – Always lock your car doors! Keep valuables hidden and doors locked at all times to prevent theft.

Prepare For All Kinds of Weather – When it comes to the weather in Colorado, you never really know what to expect. Make sure you are prepared by packing the right gear including a raincoat, warm jacket, hat, and even gloves. Always check the forecast prior to and during your stay, especially if you’re planning on taking a long trek into the wilderness.

Mind The Altitude – Altitude sickness can be DEADLY, no matter how old or healthy you are. When traveling to higher elevations like Colorado, be sure you know how to prevent altitude sickness during your visit. Here’s a quick guide to get your research on the topic started.

Wear Your Sunblock – Wear sunscreen to protect your skin from high-intensity sun rays in Colorado, even in the dead of winter. You’ll also want to make sure you are protecting your eyes from the sun by wearing a hat and sunglasses.

A Final Note:

Did you find what you were looking for in the trip-style you most relate to? If not, we encourage you to take a peek at items from other itineraries on this list to a build-your-own perfect trip!

Nearby Excursions

Rocky Mountain National Park (Drive time 1.5-2 hours away) – Take a day trip to Rocky Mountain National Park. Located just a short distance from Golden, this is one of the best destinations to see wildlife and discover outdoor adventure. Choose from over 300 miles of hiking trails featuring lush waterfalls, wildflower meadows, and alpine lakes.

Colorado Springs (Drive time 1.5 -2 hours away) – Explore the top destinations in Colorado Springs including, Cheyenne Mountain State Park, Garden of The Gods Park, Pikes Peak, Seven Falls, Cave of the Winds, and The U.S Olympic Training Center.

Denver (Drive time 30-45 mins away) – Discover endless sights and attractions in the city of Denver! From iconic dining to high-end shopping malls and top-rated attractions, there’s an adventure for everyone.

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