Golden, Colorado offers ample activities for families of all styles. From wild whitewater activities to fine dining and shopping, even educational exploits at one of Golden’s dozen museums; Golden, CO is one of those rare locations that offers something for everyone. 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 perfect opportunity to unplug as a family and celebrate nature, education, and tons of free activities!
Vacations that manage to incorporate adventure and education seemlessly are my favorite family trips – and that’s perfect for this homeschooling mom. Golden, Colorado, is one of those wonderful locations that offers both extreme adventure, like whitewater rafting and mountain biking, as well as museums such as the Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum. In fact, Golden is home to the Coors Brewery where you can take a free tour!
With numerous campgrounds, restaurants and adventure companies at your fingertips, planning a vacation to Golden is as easy as a quick read of this guide to the city where “The West Lives”.
Where To Stay
Clear Creek Campground is located on Clear Creek Trail with views of the Clear Creek River and is just a short drive to downtown Golden and all it’s restaurants, shops and mom and pop stores.
The campground itself is quiet and clean, though tight and cramped which is not unusual for a small RV Park. For those sites on the river, it offers a park like setting. The inside sites are tight, somewhat cramped, and no campfires are permitted, which is insane when talking camping, but what really stands out to me is the hefty price.
At $55/night I expect more than a picnic table and a community dump station. However, it being the only campground in the city of Golden and having river front sites, we bit the bullet this past trip and rationalized that we wouldn’t be hanging out in the campground, so…having power and water and access to showers with close proximity to all the things we love made it worth the price.
Golden Gate Canyon State Park is approximately 30 minutes from downtown Denver. It is an absolutely beautiful year round state park surrounded by over 12,000 acres of forest, rocky mountain views and gorgeous meadows. Perfect for the adventure seeker who revels in mountain biking, hiking, climbing and fishing in fully stocked ponds. In the winter, guests enjoy cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing, ice skating and snowshoeing.
In addition to RV and tent camping, visitors may rent a cabin or even stay in one of the two yurts. What’s more is that an RV site is a mere $22/night in peak summer season.
Where to Eat
I attribute the sole reason for my inability to be the 100 lb girl I was before 12 kids to pizza … specifically my love of pizza. As it is, I am a pizza connoisseur. And when I find good pizza I am a happy happy momma. Hence, our eatery for Golden is the restaurant that specializes in … pizza.
My top pick is Woody’s Woodfired Pizza for the pizza and the ambiance. The service is impeccable, our glasses were never empty and there is a self-serve popcorn popper that supplies bottomless bowls of movie theater style popcorn while you wait for your pizza. It is a can’t miss spot.
The kids favorite is the Spicy Guido, truly “to die for”. Spicy Guido is composed of spicy red sauce, dry cured salami, pepperoni, all-natural Italian Sausage, banana peppers, mozzarella, romano, cracked pepper, & fresh basil. Yum!
My favorite was the Margherita. Simple and delicious, herbed olive oil, thin sliced roma tomatoes, fresh basil, fontina, and mozzarella cheeses. It was so clean and delish.
What To Do
In addition to the beauty that surrounds Golden, it is a year round adventure traveler’s dream. Here are a few of the many exciting adventure activities that should definitely be on everyone’s bucket list this summer.
My family and I are all about water sports and in the summer there is no better place to be than in a river or a lake. Here’s a list of water activities guaranteed to make your family vacation (or stay-cation) refreshing and memorable for your entire family.
1. Whitewater Rafting
Check out Clear Creek Rafting Company for all the information you could ever want or need. They specialize in rafting trips for beginners all the way up to death defying trips for the uber brave. You can choose from half day trips to multi day trips — whitewater rafting in Colorado is like nothing you’ve ever experienced before!!
Have you ever wanted to try Kayaking or Stand Up Paddle (SUP)? The folks at Confluence Kayaks cater to all levels of experience and interest. From the indoor pool in the basement of their shop, to soda lakes just down C-470 and Clear Creek right down the road, they are eager and willing to meet all your expectations for a fun and educational experience on the water!
No age limits, no skill necessary … just bring your youngest kids, bring your in-laws and learn how to kayak or SUP with Confluence Kayaks certified instructors.
Tubing Clear Creek is a fun and refreshing activity for everyone. All you need is a swimsuit, a PFD (lifevest – that you can rent from Confluence Kayak), some sunscreen and a great attitude. Lay back, relax and enjoy the company of your family!!
Getting your family outside and away from their electronics is both healthy and a great way to bond.
FREE In Golden, CO
As a mom of 12, I am always encouraging free entertainment. And there are a surprising amount of free things to do in and around Golden, CO! Here are a few of our favs.
- Beer Sampling at Coors Brewery
Free tours are available at the Coors Brewery … the world’s largest single-site brewery! Included in the brewery tour is a quick bus tour of Golden, a self-paced walking tour of the brewery with an educational slant on the malting, brewing and packaging processes. Visitors 21 & older are treated with free beer sampling as well.
- Clear Creek History Park
The wild west was no laughing matter during the pioneer days. Your kids think they have it hard? Give them a chance to tour the one room schoolhouse, log cabins, root cellar and blacksmith shop. On scheduled days, guests are able to interact with costumed actors who “live” out the pioneer days with cooking and blacksmithing demonstrations.
- National Earthquake Information Center
As a homeschooling mom, anything educational that can be disguised as fun is an Ace. At the National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC) you get to go behind the scenes and see how they determine the location and size of all major earthquakes and get the information out to the general public. Be sure to call ahead to make an appointment.
Family Friendly City
There is so much more in Golden and the surrounding areas than you could ever dream. Golden is a city your family will fall in love with. From museums to gorgeous hikes and trails to paragliding and whitewater rafting, you’re sure to have the time of your life. It’s easy to plan a vacation your family will talk about for years to come.
If your family loves museums, the Denver area offers some of the country’s best kid-friendly museums.
The Denver area is also reknowned for epic hikes, even for the littlest trekkers!