Memorial Day is the traditional kick-off to summer and the time when friends and relatives will  start showing up at your door, looking for mountain adventures and fun.  But what if you have to work? What to do with them?

Well, here are ten suggestions that will give them a real taste of Colorado.  And they’re all just a half hour drive away from anywhere in metro Denver in easy to reach Golden, Colorado!

  1. WALK CLEAR CREEK.   Westword called the “Peaks to Plains Trail” in Golden the best hike on the Front Range, and it’s certainly the prettiest.  There are two trailheads with 140 free parking spots on Hwy. 6 just west of Golden, or you can access the trail in the historic downtown, where the creek flows past the Golden History Park, a picturesque homestead with a barn and farmhouse from the 1880s.  The trail crisscrosses the fast rushing creek on a series of pedestrian bridges as it winds its way up into the sheer rock cliffs of Clear Creek Canyon.  You can pedal or walk the flat trail, where you’ll see fly fishermen, kayakers and rock climbers.  A walk from Washington Street in downtown Golden to the suspension bridge is about four miles roundtrip and perfect for kids or grandmas, giving them plenty of opportunities for colorful Colorado selfies.

  2.  SIP A CRAFT BEER IN A BEER GARDEN. All of Golden’s seven craft breweries have outdoor patios.  And they all welcome dogs!  At Golden City Brewery, tGolden City Breweryhis small brewery is actually located at the brewer’s house and the beer garden is literally his backyard.  Barrels & Bottles has a wonderful mixture of 24 craft beers and 24 crafts wines all on tap.  Often there are as many dogs as patrons at Mountain Toad Brewery in their big outdoor beer garden with a dirt floor and picnic tables…. and there’s always a food truck handy for snacks.  The award-winning Cannonball Creek Brewery has a large outdoor patio overlooking Mount Zion, while New Terrain’s patio has views up spectacular Clear Creek Valley – and its very own trail that leads from the patio up North Table Mountain.  Holidaily Brewing Company is the only gluten-free brewery in Colorado.  They use the finest locally sourced, malted, gluten-free grains as the base for their beers and almost all their beers are also dairy-free and vegan.  Over Yonder Brewery, located near Red Rocks Amphitheatre makes it the perfect place for a pre-concert brew.   Whatever brewery you go to in Golden, you’ll find the names of the craft beers reflect the trails, mountains, rivers and scenery to be found here.  And of course, the beer will all taste better when sipped outside looking at the big sky views that hover over this pretty mountain town.  

  3. TOUR COORS BREWERY!  Coors is celebrating its 150th Anniversary in 2023, making it the perfect year to visit! This is the largest single-site brewery on the planet making 13 million barrels of beer a year, which translates into 4.3 billion bottles and cans – or about 221,000 bottles of beer for every resident in Golden.  The tour shows you how Coors invented the aluminum can and how they still make their beer with water from 21 natural springs in Golden.  Tours for those over 21 include three beer tastings along the way as you view giant copper kettles and thousands of cans and bottles on conveyor belts going into six packs.

  4. MEET BUFFALO BILL. Buffalo Bill Cody was the world’s first super star—a 19th century Elvis. In the early days of the West, he was a buffalo hunter and scout for the U.S. Army.  Beginning in 1883, he put the West under a tent with his Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, which performed in more than a thousand cities in 12 different countries.  Bill brought along 640 cowboys, Indians, Vaqueros, ropers, trick riders, and sharpshooters, making his show more popular than even Taylor Swift! Today, a fun museum near the grave brings his incredible story back to life with costumes, guns and posters and pictures from the show.  From the grave site there are spectacular views of the mountains and plains that Buffalo Bill loved so much from his grave.  

  5. Lariat LoopDRIVE THE LARIAT LOOP TRAIL.  Scare the pants off your visiting friends by sending them on the drive up Lookout Mountain.  From downtown Golden to the top is pure Colorado – hairpin turns, deadly-looking drop-offs, cliffs, and a disturbing absence of guardrails.  Ah, but the views!  It’s no wonder this road, that gains 1,300-feet in just 4.3 miles, is one of the classic bike rides in the state, featured twice in the US Pro Challenge with the world’s top cyclists.  It’s also one of the state’s best scenic drives, climaxed at the 7,379-foot summit of Lookout Mountain with 360-degree views and the giant gift shop at Buffalo Bill’s Grave– rated one of the best places for true Colorado souvenirs.  

  6. RIDE A STEAM TRAIN.  The Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden offers the largest collection of steam locomotives, cabooses and passenger cars in the state.   Most fun of all, the museum has a half mile circle of track and on Thursdays to Sundays, you can ride trains around the museum in authentic passenger cars. Some days the museum even offers rides on a Galloping Goose – an old Pierce Arrow limousine that was put on wheels with a bus on back that used to run over the Rocky Mountains near Telluride.  The museum has indoor and outdoor model train displays – put a quarter in and watch a pint-sized locomotive circle around a circus. 

  7. LEARN HOW TO CLIMB MOUNT EVEREST. The American Mountaineering Museum in downtown Golden is the only museum devoted to the history and spirit of mountain climbing.  Here you can see the actual clothes worn by the first Americans to summit Mount Everest.  The climber’s mountain gear was made by a then little-known designer named Eddie Bauer.  Among the treasures in this museum is an ice ax that climber Pete Schoening used on K2 to single-handedly save six teammates from falling to their deaths.  There’s a huge scale model of Mount Everest with climbing routes, exhibits on the 10th Mountain Division, the brave WWII unit that trained in Colorado, and there’s a simulated crevasse where you can see if you would have the nerve to cross.  If you intend to hike a 14er in Colorado, there are helpful exhibits. 

  8. SEE MISS COLORADO’S CROWN AND OTHER PRECIOUS GEMS.  The world’s first dinosaur bones were Display of colorful rocks at Mines Museum of Earth Sciencediscovered near Golden in 1877 by Professor Arthur Lakes from the Colorado School of Mines.  He went on to create the school’s museum, which is free and open to the public seven days a week. In addition to many exhibits on dinosaurs, the museum has an eclectic collection of precious gems and minerals. You can see and learn about the gems in Miss Colorado’s crown, look at rare gold coins minted in Colorado in 1860, enter a uranium mine, and examine rocks from the Moon and Mars.  

  9. TOUCH A DINOSAUR FOOTPRINT.  Another way to learn about dinosaurs is to take the Triceratops Trail, a 1.5-mile gravel path that winds around downtown Golden through vertical walls of sandstone lined with traces and tracks of dinosaurs, birds, mammals and insects from 68 million years ago.  Or play a round of golf at Golden’s Fossil Trace Golf Course, where you can see real Triceratops footprints adjacent to the 12th green.  The first dinosaurs were discovered just a few miles from Golden at Dinosaur Ridge.  The area has hiking trails, a museum, and the opportunity to see real dinosaur bones still imbedded in rocks.

  10. TASTE ELK, BUFFALO, OR YAK STEW – AMONG MANY OTHER THINGS! Golden’s selection of restaurants will give you a wide range of tastes.  D’Deli is known for having the best sandwiches onGolden Mill Patio the Front Range, including specialties of buffalo Rueben and sliced cold elk.  Grab some and head to the picnic tables along Clear Creek.  Woody’s Wood-fired Pizza is a local legend, The Sherpa House is an authentic reproduction of a farmhouse from Nepal with a great buffet that often includes Yak Stew; Table Mountain Inn provides the taste of the Southwest in a quaint adobe structure, while Trailhead Tap House and Kitchen has plenty of craft beer mixed with Cajun specialties like gumbo and jambalaya.  At the Buffalo Rose you can have a buffalo burger, or dig into some fantastic BBQ on the rooftop of the Golden Mill, with great views of Clear Creek.  Nothing beats a walk along downtown Golden’s Old West-looking main street, lined with one-of-a-kind shops, galleries and boutiques, followed by lunch at an outdoor café with mountain views.  

Your friends will thank you for sending them to Golden, and you’ll be grateful to have them out of your hair for a full day!  For more information in things to do in Golden, go to:   


*This blog was made possible through a grant from Visit Colorado.