Golden is brimming with Colorado small town charm. Located in the foothills at the base of the majestic Rocky Mountains just west of downtown Denver, Golden welcomes families with a wide range of activities. Hiking, biking, tubing, cultural attractions, museums and Old West history are just a few. Fun things to do in Golden CO range from outdoor adventures to historic highlights and bountiful breweries.
17 Family Friendly Things to Do in Golden, Colorado
SheBuysTravel Diana Rowe says that family-friendly Golden celebrates its Old West roots with a “Howdy folks” welcome sign on its Main Street. Its small-town charm embraces families with a slew of activities for all ages. These include hiking, biking, shopping, cultural attractions and the world’s largest single-site brewery.
SheBuysTravel Susie Kellogg says, “Located 20 miles from downtown Denver, Golden is a diamond in the rough, so to speak. A quiet, friendly city that feels more like a Western town. A trip to Golden CO is the perfect opportunity to unplug as a family and celebrate nature, education and tons of free activities!”
Pack up your family and make it a road trip to experience these fun family friendly things to do in Golden, CO!
1. Drive a Scenic Byway
Golden is just around the corner from Evergreen and Morrison, known for the Red Rocks Amphitheater, as well as several scenic drives. In fact one of the more famous scenic byways, the Lariat Loop starts in Golden and passes through both Evergreen and Morrison. There is also a scenic byway between Golden and Boulder. This historic town is the gateway from the Front Range of Colorado to the spectacular Rocky Mountains. Golden is an excellent choice for a family day trip or getaway from Denver.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Looking for a scenic drive? Be sure to check out our round up of the best road trips in Colorado!
2. Golden Public Art Walking Tour
SheBuysTravel Diana Rowe suggests visitors to Golden put one foot in front of the other with a free self-guided walking tour of downtown Golden’s public art collection. Internationally renowned, the 30+ art works feature some of the best bronze statues in Colorado. They are located throughout the city and along Clear Creek. Highlights include “Cowboy’s Day Off,” “Rotary Butterflies” and “The Monarch,” the latter the large buffalo statue in front of the Buffalo Rose.
Rowe’s favorite statue is located in front of the Golden Visitor’s Center – Buffalo Bill with his grandchild on his shoulders. Also look for Golden’s murals along streets such as Miners Alley and on the sides of many downtown buildings including Mountain Toad Brewery.
Read More: 13 Great Hotels in Golden CO
3. Shop ’til You Drop!
The heart of this historic town is its four-block Washington Street, a walkable, shop-lined street. Diana recommends strolling at your leisure, window shop and pop into a variety of stores, from unique boutiques, antique stores and more. At Goozell Yogurt & Coffee, parents can get their caffeine fix while kids load up on a yogurt and add more fun at the toppings bar.
4. Get Outdoors: Hike and Bike
Located in Clear Creak at the base of the Rocky Mountains, Golden is an ideal place to get out and experience outdoor activities and nature at its best.
A variety of hiking trails are available for all abilities. To experience one of the unique landmarks in the area up close, hike on North Table Mountain trail. Or, head out to the Golden Gate Canyon State Park, one of Colorado’s many beautiful state parks, for a variety of fun biking trails and hiking trails as well as rock climbing routes and even horseback riding.
5. Play on the River: White Water River Raft or Kayak
The river provides easy access for almost any kind of river sport from kayaking, canoeing and tubing to stand-up paddleboarding at Clear Creek Whitewater Park.
In fact, SheBuysTravel Susie Kellogg says, “In addition to the beauty that surrounds Golden, it is a water lover’s dream. As we spend the majority of our summer months on the river, you have it on good authority that Golden Co has something for everyone, from beginner to expert, to enjoy the water.”
SheBuysTravel Tip: Know before you go! Use our Colorado packing list to prepare for your trip.
6. It’s All about the Rocks!
Another of SheBuysTravel Diana Rowe’s favorites is the Geology Museum at the Colorado School of Mines. Admission is free at the second most visited university gem museum (next to Harvard). Rocks rock at this geology museum with its extensive displays.
See moon rocks from 2 Apollo missions, minerals, fossils, gemstones, meteorites and historic mining artifact exhibits. There’s even an outdoor geology trail with many fossils. Don’t miss the walkthrough, glow in the dark, simulated uranium mine.
7. Visit Golden’s Museums
If you are into museums, don’t stop with the Geology Museum. After all the area is rich with gold rush history. Golden boasts several museums including the Golden History Museum, Golden History Park, Bradford Washburn American Mountaineering Museum, Dinosaur Ridge and even the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum. Better known as an event venue, the Boettcher Mansion does offers self-guided history tours and a gift shop. There’s a museum for every different personality!
8. Foothills Art Center
Inspiring the Golden community to love art, the Foothills Art Center offers free admission and an opportunity for families to awaken their love of art. Founded in 1968 and a member of the U.S. National Registry of Historic Buildings, the main gallery is an 1872 Gothic style church and an 1892 Queen Anne Style manse. This is all surrounded by a lovely sculpture garden. The Foothills Art Center Community Gallery is located next door, in Victorian-era mansion built in 1899 by Perre O. Unger. Admission is free.
9. Lookout Mountain and Buffalo Bill
Another of Diana’s favorite family-friendly thing to do in Golden CO is a road trip to the top of Lookout Mountain, where you’ll also discover the Buffalo Bill Museum and Buffalo Bill Grave. In 1917, with some 20,000 mourners in attendance, Buffalo Bill Cody was laid to rest atop Lookout Mountain, where he’d have a permanent view of his beloved mountains and plains. A few years later his friend started the museum, near his grave.
The Buffalo Bill Museum houses some pretty fascinating stuff — photos and memorabilia from the Wild West Show years, Native American artifacts, period firearms and equipment and interactive kids’ exhibits. A one-mile mountain trail connects the Buffalo Bill Museum to the Lookout Mountain Nature Center.
10. Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater
Truly unique to the area, Red Rocks combines natural geological wonders with a stellar concert and event schedule. Come during the day for the best view of the red sandstone formations, over 250 million years old and 300 feet high. A moderate 1.4-mile trail loops around the area for the best views. Return in the evening to experience acoustic perfection as some of the biggest stars in music take the stage.
11. All Aboard! Colorado Railroad Museum
Home to fifty models of old trains, the museum also houses the famed D&RG locomotive. This is the oldest working locomotive in Colorado. Walk the museum’s 15-acre rail yard. Train lovers will be impressed with its 100 narrow and standard gauge steam and diesel locomotives, passenger cars, cabooses, HO Model Railroad and G-scale garden railway.
Rowe says to take the train ride around the Colorado Railroad Museum, and be rewarded with a trains’ eye view of the grounds. With over 200 locomotives, passenger cars, cabooses, HO Model Railroad and G-scale garden railway, you’ll spend hours just checking out the fun train memorabilia. Also, spend some time browsing their exhibit galleries and renowned library. This is also one of the stops on the Thomas the Tank Engine tours.
12. Sample Brew History
Golden may be best know as home of Coors Brewery. But the best known brewery is only one of many in this town. Golden City Brewery, Golden’s second largest brewery, may be the more popular with its taproom and outdoor beer garden. A plethora of unique Colorado micro breweries and distilleries make this historic town a beer lover’s paradise.
The Coors Brewery tour offers personal tour guides showcase the brewer’s history, as well as passion for brewing. But guided tours are also available to sample a variety of other local brewers.
Or, pick and choose your samples at the new Eddy Taproom & Hotel while the kids enjoy Truck Eddy, a food truck with BBQ and shakes out on the lawn by the banks of Clear Creek. The whole family will enjoy the Eddy swing situated to the west overlooking the bike path.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Be sure to find out what you should know before visiting Colorado.
13. Check Out Golden’s Festivals and Events
SheBuysTravel Diana Rowe says she’d be remiss in not mentioning the variety of festivals and events held in Golden. Some of her favorites include the annual Buffalo Bull Days, Wild West Auto Round-Up, First Friday Street Fair and Golden Music Festival.
To get into the winter holiday spirit, celebrate with an authentic hometown holiday with Olde Golden Christmas. This festive event features parade Saturdays in December and a Candlelight Walk on the first Friday in December.
14. Enjoy Live Music
The town also boasts a variety of lovely patios for outdoor dining and live music. The historic saloons and breweries also have no shortage of live music. Be sure to check the Visit Golden events calendar for the round up of live music over your travel dates.
15. Go Camping
As a homeschooling mom, SheBuysTravel Susie Kellogg loves vacations that incorporate adventure and education seamlessly. In Golden she found everything from adventure to educational exploits to the ultimate riverfront real estate in which to stay. The real estate she is referring to is a riverfront campsite. Golden Clear Creek RV Park offers RV campsites literally on the river. Here one can drift off to slumber lulled by the sounds of a rushing river.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Want to experience RV camping life? See available RV rentals near you.
16. Stay at a Boutique Hotel
Check out the new Eddy Taproom & Hotel, situated on the site of the old Golden Fire Brick Company. This boutique hotel celebrates both the mining history of the region and the abundance of outdoor adventures found in Golden. The property’s location, along the banks of Clear Creek, is the ideal spot for taking in the scenery from rooftop decks. Located on the east and west sides of the hotel, these provide viewing of the magnificent Colorado foothills and Golden.
17. Eat Pizza. Yes, Really!
SheBuysTravel Susie Kellogg is a self-proclaimed pizza connoisseur. When she finds good pizza she is a happy, happy momma. Hence, her number one eatery when in Golden is the restaurant that specializes in … good pizza. Really, REALLY good pizza.
This pick is Woody’s Woodfired Pizza for the pizza, the ambiance, the service and for the family-friendly atmosphere.
She says, “You must also know that Woody’s is the ideal restaurant to visit after a day of adventuring or learning or even shopping. When the kids are starving and getting slightly cranky due to being that dreaded combination of hungry and tired … Woody’s is there for ya.”
“People are talking and laughing and having a great time. There is no stress for a family that’s been out and about all day and are now hungry and exhausted. Rest assured a little whining and some tears will go completely unnoticed and unjudged. Second, there is the generously placed self-serve popcorn maker that supplies bottomless bowls of movie theater style popcorn while you wait for your pizza. Guys, that is winning in a nutshell,” she concludes.