As summertime comes to Colorado, so does the onslaught of outdoor enthusiasts. But you don’t have to leave the Denver area to find adventure. Golden, just west of Denver, offers a variety of free activities year-round that are especially fun during the summer months.
So for those who like to keep things under budget and want to enjoy the outdoors without breaking a sweat, here are a few free leisurely activities.
Tour the legendary Coors Brewery
Founded in 1873 and the world’s largest single-site brewery, the Coors Brewery is a must-see for beer enthusiasts. The tour begins on the Coors bus for a quick ride around the city to hear a few fun facts about Golden. The bus driver will drop you off at the brewery for a brief self-guided tour of the facility, including a chance to see the bottling process. You will learn interesting facts about the city, the MillerCoors company and beer-making in general. The tour is well-done, informative and short enough to fit into a lunch break if you desire. But the best part? Up to three free glasses of beer at the end of the tour.
Take a Clear Creek walking tour
This concrete walking path in downtown Golden is a popular spot for locals and visitors, alike. Start at the Visitor’s Center and make your way down the path until you reach the second bridge that spans across the rushing waters of the whitewater park. Then cross to the other side to meander through Clear Creek History Park. After a leisurely tour around the re-created historic settlement, relax on the benches along the creek and watch river kayakers hone their skills on the whitewater course. After getting exhausted just watching their efforts, make your way back to the seating area on the Washington Avenue bridge to soak up the sun and people-watch while enjoying the beautiful weather, colors and sounds of the summer season.
Picnic on South or North Table Mountains
Grab your hiking boots, water bottle and backpack with lunch supplies and get ready for a short, moderate hike on one of the historic Table Mountains that make Golden a city like no other. Separating this small town from the rest of the Denver metro area, these rocks are two of the city’s defining features. The panoramic views of the Front Range from the top are spectacular. It’s a great way to get some exercise – going at your own pace and without over-exerting yourself – and you just may stumble on a herd of deer or, if you’re on North Table Mountain, a pack of rock climbers inching their way to the top.
Drive up Lookout Mountain Road
Watch paragliders float high in the bright blue sky and share the road with the many cyclists as you make your way up scenic, winding Lookout Mountain Road. You’ll find spectacular views around every bend and will overlook the Continental Divide and Denver metro area from the top. You will want to stop for a great photo op or short hike halfway up at Windy Saddle Park. It’s especially beautiful at sunset. Once you’ve reached the top, Lookout Mountain Park just past the Buffalo Bill Museum & Grave is another great stop for a photo or a picnic. If you need to stretch your legs even more, take a walk around the 110 acres of Lookout Mountain Nature Center, wandering on one of the trails. And for a gorgeous night scene of the city lights, pull over and get out of the car at a picturesque rocky bend just before reaching the top or as you make your way back down.
Visit the historic Boettcher Mansion
If you’re already at the top of Lookout Mountain and can appreciate architecture of historical and social value, you should stay a while longer to check out the Boettcher Mansion, 900 Colorow Road, the one-time summer home of prominent Denverite Charles Boettcher and his family. This rustic, 1917 estate set at 7,500 feet overlooking Denver is surrounded by 110 acres of forest and offers great views of the Continental Divide. It has a beautiful exterior and interior and boasts wildlife viewings, mountain sunsets and a nighttime display of lights from Denver. The mansion itself is a combination of Craftsman and Tudor architecture and design, with features such as exposed beams, inglenook fireplace, stone arches and wooden doors.
If You Go
For information on Golden-area activities, go to 2hourvacation.com.