By Ron Stern | Global Gumshoe
Golden City, as it was first known, was named after Georgia miner Thomas Golden during the height of the 1859 Pikes Peak gold rush in Colorado. Be sure to stop by the gravesite of William F. Cody, aka Buffalo Bill, who is buried just off Interstate 70 in Golden.
Many people leaving Denver, about a half-hour’s drive east, pass right by Golden on their way up I-70 to mountain destinations such as Aspen and Vail. But take the time to plan your visit to this golden city, which welcomes visitors with a golden arch announcing: “Howdy Folks! Welcome to Golden, Where the West Lives!”
Here are some of the top things to see and do in this historic western Rocky Mountain town.
MillerCoors brewery tour
Coors has been making beer since 1873, and their Golden facility is the largest single-site brewery in the world. After parking in one of the designated lots, a shuttle will take you to the entrance where you will be given an audio device to begin your free 30-minute self-paced tour. Some of the highlights include how the beer is malted and brewed as well as the packaging process.
Afterwards, sample three complimentary beers in the Coors Brewery hospitality room and then make your way to the gift shop for shopping and souvenirs. Step outside for a photo op with a giant copper brewing kettle as well as a multi-story Coors beer can.
Colorado Railroad Museum
Established in 1959 as a tribute to the influence of trains in Colorado, this museum houses 15 acres of metal giants waiting to be explored. These include freight and steam trains and narrow gauges that will delight old and young alike.
Seasonal and traveling exhibits catalog the unique history and contribution made by these trains. A general store sells books, toys, clothing and other souvenirs.
On Saturdays, between January and October, take a ride on a steam or diesel locomotive and experience railroad life first-hand.
Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum
Located on the campus of the engineering university Colorado School of Mines, the geology museum has had a presence here since 1874. This is a fascinating look into the world of not just minerals, but also fossils, colorful gemstones, meteorites and period mining artifacts.
Also on display are two Apollo 17 moon rocks as well as one of the crowns worn by Miss America — festooned with minerals, of course.
National Earthquake Information Center
Located on the School of Mines campus, this is one of the more unusual and lesser-known attractions in Golden. This operations center monitors earthquakes worldwide and reports on location and magnitude as well as any potential for human impact. They have interesting maps and digital displays where you can find out what’s shakin’.
More things to do in Golden
Walking around town, you will find relics from Golden’s Western past, including historical murals, shops selling bears carved from wooden logs, and artistic interpretations of buffalos, horses and fishermen in public places.
There are also history museums like the Astor House, which operated as a boarding house for 100 years, and art exhibitions at the Foothills Art Center.
Even though this is a small town, that doesn’t mean you will go hungry. Quite the contrary. There are lots of interesting and palate-tempting places to satisfy your cravings.
The Table Mountain Grill & Cantina is hard to miss as it’s situated in the colorful Santa Fe-style hotel of the same name alongside Washington Avenue. With both indoor and outdoor seating, this venue has crowds flocking to enjoy Southwestern cuisine as well as its vast selection of margaritas. Don’t overlook their Flaming Asadero Cheese appetizer — amazing and delicious!
The lines at D’Deli start backing out onto the sidewalk early in the afternoon so get here before the crowds for some of the best sandwiches this side of the Rockies. They have so many, it may be hard to choose, but they are all flavor-packed and loaded with things you wouldn’t have thought to put on a bread roll.
Barrels & Bottles is located on a side street but well worth your visit. This is a fun place run by a husband-and-wife team. Zach is a U.S. Marines veteran, and together with his wife Abby, they decided to settle in Golden and offer locals their version of a top-notch brewpub. They have 22 taps with tastings, one of which, The Big Lebeerski, tastes like a White Russian cocktail.
You can bring your own food while enjoying the libations, but the pub also offers sandwiches and cheese platters that feature their homemade mozzarella creations.
More than just a little town with a catchy slogan, Golden is home to some of Colorado’s top attractions and justifiably proud of its rich heritage.
—Contact Ron Stern at firstname.lastname@example.org.