5 Reasons to Visit Golden in the Winter

  • 01 of 06

    Golden loves the holidays.

    Golden in December
    Aimee Heckel

    Golden provides mountain town charm, without the drive, price and altitude

    With a name like Golden, it's no surprise that this small mountain city just south of Boulder is glittering this time of year.

    A mere 15 miles from Denver and at an altitude of only 5,675 feet, Golden is a way to experience the charm of a mountain town without the drive and altitude sickness. 

    Here are some of our favorite things to do in Golden in the winter, and why it's worth the short drive from Denver or Boulder to visit, even if just for a weekend. 

    What's the saying? All that glitters is Golden?

    Golden does the holidays big, making it one of our favorite Colorado destinations in December. The downtown and along the creek is completely bedazzled with glowing lights and the town holds a holiday parade — every single Saturday through the month of December. Golden loves its parades.

    The Colorado Railroad Museum also holds nightly performances of "The Polar Express," if you can score tickets. They're often sold out months in advance. 

    Even the signature arch sign welcoming visitors to town gets adorned with Rudolph. 

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  • 02 of 06

    Gaze at the decorations.

    Golden holiday lights
    Aimee Heckel

    You can't miss the lights.

    Golden is one of the more decorated towns in Colorado, but one of the best places to see the displays is to walk down the Clear Creek path after dinner. The north side of the water is especially colorful and exciting. The frozen river softly cuts across town, and you can see the shadows of the looming mountains in the distance. The combination of nature with the twinkling lights makes for quite the show.  

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  • 03 of 06

    Tour the Coors brewery.

    Coors brewery tour
    Aimee Heckel

    Golden is home to Coors.

    One of the hottest attractions in Golden is a free tour of the Coors factory, the biggest single-site brewery in the world. The self-paced tour includes education about the brewing process and history, as well as free beer samples and a store for shopping. 

    Golden also has other smaller breweries worth visiting, including Mountain Toad and Cannonball Creek.At Bottles and Barrels, you can even order wine slushies.

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  • 04 of 06

    Eat at Bridgewater Grill

    Bridgewater Grill
    Bridgewater Grill

    Everything tastes better with a great view.

    The award-winning Bridgewater Grill in downtown Golden is one of our favorite places to eat dinner. Not only will the menu surprise you, with delicious options, such as craft burgers, shrimp and grits and Colorado-raised beef tenderloin, but the view is just as delicious. Request a table next to the oversized windows overlooking the glowing creek and you can enjoy the holiday lights from your warm table.

    Although you can find top-notch food here (don't miss the smoked Colorado trout dip served with pita slices or the pecan-crusted salmon with creamy mustard sauce), the atmosphere remains friendly and relaxed.

    To warm up, ask about the soup of the day. If you're lucky, it'll be butternut squash. 

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  • 05 of 06

    Stay at the Golden Hotel.

    Golden Hotel
    Golden Hotel

    The Golden Hotel has it all.

    This hotel, in the heart of downtown within walking distance to many of the best restaurants and bars, also has great views. From the west-facing rooms, you can see the city's signature "M" on the side of the mountain, one of the country's oldest mountain monograms (standing for "Mines" of the Colorado School of Mines, located in Golden). 

    The award-winning Golden Hotel goes all out for the holidays, with a massive tree and a stunningly decorated lobby. Sit around the crackling stone fireplace on leather couches, grab a hot toddy in the on-site bar or retreat to your cozy bed to snuggle in for a warm night's sleep.  

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  • 06 of 06

    Get artistic.

    Golden wine and paint
    Aimee Heckel

    Take a painting class or make a creation on your own.

    Art on the Brix, located right in downtown, is a fun and inexpensive way to spend an afternoon unwinding from the busy holidays. This playful art studio serves wine and beer, which you can enjoy while you paint a canvas, wine glass or other project. Sign up for guided classes, for a little more structure and education, or pop in at any time to color your own canvas.

    Tip: Pick a pre-made painting off the wall to use as your inspiration. Kids can join, too, making this a warm, indoor activity for the whole family.