GOLDEN, COLORADO SHINES OUT WEST
by BRITTANY BANDEMER
It’s no secret that Colorado’s real estate market is booming, spurred by an influx of out-of-staters making the Centennial state their home. While many consider Denver or Boulder favorable places to settle down, they often overlook one of Colorado’s most beautiful and understated municipalities: the city of Golden.
Golden rests in a basin against the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, below the North and South Table Mountains. On one side the city is marked by the prominent “M” for the School of Mines; on the other with the infamous “G” of Golden. Golden’s prime location serves as a focal point between Denver, Boulder and Evergreen, and offers a direct route to Black Hawk and canyon access – bypassing traffic to the slopes.
The city’s history is traced to its establishment in 1859. Proudly proclaimed across its welcome banner in the heart of downtown, Golden’s slogan is simply, “Where the West Lives,” and this declaration couldn’t be truer. This city is rich in history and continues to embody that spirit with barn wood trimmings, stucco-styled homes and architecture reminiscent of the Old West.
Yet for all its storied past, Golden is becoming increasingly modern, with red cobbled brick lining pedestrian walkways and immaculate landscaping – lending the town the uniquely dichotic feeling of being in two periods at the same time.
While technically a college town, home to the School of Mines, Golden does not resonate with that trait. A top-notch university, The School of Mines was recently rated the top engineering school in the nation by College Factual. Clearly, the college is not home to lackadaisical students. In fact, these students are ambitious and disciplined learners, attending the university not for a good time, but for the most advantageous career achievable. While they may go out on the weekends to the Swig Tavern, students are more likely to spend their free time studying or experiencing the great outdoors.
Golden’s myriad outdoor activities attract athletic enthusiasts by the droves. Colin Endsley, an outdoor adventurer who has lived in Golden for a little over a year says, “Golden is great in that you can walk in any direction from town and find some trail to fall into,” and truly there aren’t enough trails to behold. Golden’s trails are perfect for hikers and cyclists – Lookout Mountain serving as a popular route for the avid cyclist – and the views from each trail are spectacular, ranging from downtown Denver to DIA and back to the formidable Rockies.
Yet the ample trails are just a sampling of what Golden offers. There are also water sports such as tubing and kayaking (when the water flow is safe) from the Clear Creek River, and fishing for Rainbow and Brown trout for the avid angler.
Of special note is Golden’s popularity for the extreme sport of hang gliding. Windy Saddle Park offers a great launch point for hang gliders, and these colorful contraptions can be seen sashaying down the mountain most Saturdays and Sundays during the summer months.
Outdoors aside, one of Golden’s leading attractions is its quaint downtown, a charming and unassuming destination for tourists and locals alike. Downtown Golden is privileged to have so many locally owned restaurants and shops that could keep the body feasting and the mind entertained for days. Home to the infamous Coors Brewery and seasonal farmer’s market, the area embodies everything regionally Colorado.
Notable boutiques include Spinster Sisters Co., which now offers three locations in the Denver metro area (Golden serving as its home base). Opened in 2011, its founder Kelly Perkins calls her products “an alternative to the witches’ brew of
chemicals that many mod
ern skin care products represent.” From body scrubs to men’s shaving cream, Perkins and her team will keep your skin singing and fantastically fresh, no matter how dry Colorado’s air may be.
Sharing a storefront with Spinster Sisters is Baby Doe’s, a retailer showcasing relaxed and bohemian styles for the laid-back mountainista, as well as the craftsmanship of more than 40 regional artisans. Now under new ownership, Baby Doe’s offers a fresh look and feel that is sure to keep visitors stopping in to shop at one of the downtown area’s well-known establishments.
While the shopping is great
, the dining options are varied and delicious. If you’re looking for a good beer and a good time, there’s the Golden Moon Speakeasy and Buffalo Rose with live music weekly. If you’re following your taste buds and looking for superb dishes, you can venture over to Woody’s Pizza or Indulge Bistro & Wine Bar; Indulge has perhaps the best iced tea in Colorado, which they’ll bring to you by the pitcher.
When you’re ready for dessert, a must-visit is the family-owned and operated Gold Mine Cupcakes. Recently named by MSN.com as one of the top 16 best bakeries in the U.S., the bakery offers delicious, made-from-scratch creations served fresh by an even sweeter staff. Gold Mine Cupcakes will surely satisfy your sweet tooth with its assortment of 35 flavors and specials daily.
With all these successful businesses and the city’s incredible geography, it’s no wonder people are choosing to explore and settle down in Golden. The once outdated homes are constantly under renovation and are becoming prime real estate for those looking to live the mountain lifestyle, while not sacrificing proximity to the Denver area.
In the future, more local businesses will continue to take root and make their home in Golden. Thoughtful development and growth will only add to the area’s allure as a destination spot for visitors looking for something unique and special, and locals wanting to stake their claim in this unsung gem of Colorado’s landscape.