Part of the Travel Local, COVID getaway, series– this post is meant for locals in Colorado that are getting stir crazy and will travel regardless of guidance from our government. The suggestions below are to keep the spread of the virus in a place that has the resources necessary should an outbreak occur. The outdoor recommendation(s) is a place not far from the city stop. To contain the virus please fill up your gas tanks before leaving your town and bring snacks and other essentials. Outdoor recommendations are typically in areas with limited resources.
Colorado is one of my favorite places to visit- in fact I was considering moving to Denver upon returning from my big trip. I was excited to write about places I loved exploring- from the South, the West, the North… Colorado is beautiful and full of such American history. Upon researching my favorite small town near Denver- I learned reported cases of COVID are still increasing. I specifically wanted to highlight Golden for its close proximity to both Denver and Boulder. Unfortunately, most of Golden is shut down while the community tries to contain the spread of this virus. With this in mind, I hope Denver locals can find enough to do in the many neighborhoods of Denver. I would suggest Boulder residents itching to get to a new town to just go to Denver or stay put. Of course, there are plenty of other ways to ‘get away’.
Colorado is full of winding scenic highways, BLM land, mountains to explore, and rivers to cruise. I still have included information around Golden for when things are under control. Until then, please take the time to explore your surrounding areas and support your local community. I will include some of my favorite places within Denver as well!
Portside in RiNo is open for takeout. I spent time in this small coffee shop as I planned out my day… scouting apartments in August 2019. They’re only taking orders online- here, and have limited hours.
Aviano Coffee in the Cherry Creek north neighborhood. This coffee shop is the perfect early fall oasis. Cozy up in the outside patio section here while socially distancing safely outdoors. Nothing on their site indicated the patio was closed for seating but they have switched to all disposable cups and will not fill up your reusable mugs or serve from their own porcelain mugs at this time. They also ask all patrons to throw away their own trash to limit unnecessary physical exposure.
Denver Milk Market, much like a city market this place is full of vendors. My first visit to this LoDo establishment was a bit confusing. It can be a lot, my senses were overloaded. After returning and getting my bearings it became an easy place to enjoy. Technically you can still show up indecisive and leave happy; most vendors are still operating. The entire ‘venue’ is taking COVID very seriously with heightened measures to include a Health Declaration for visitors. Use this link for more details about which vendors are open and to see the menu edits.
A NYC experience in Colorado
If you haven’t been to LoDo at night, now is the time to go. As the ballpark remains quiet you can walk Larmier street, dabbled with historic Victorian homes, and string lights. The street reminds me of Charleston but before you come I’d recommend watching a movie. Perhaps throw on a Broadway to get the NYC vibes rolling. A classic such as West Side Story, Breakfast at Tiffany’s… or a more recent release like Hamilton. Then head to Larimer Square.
Finish your sophisticated night the same way you would in the Big Apple. Marquis Pizza on Larimer Street, a 15 minute walk from the historic district, serves NY pizza by the slice. And it’s legit! I remember coming here on an empty stomach and ordering 2 slices for $5 and it was way too much- each slice was bigger than my head. I still finished them both! They are currently offering delivery and to go options. Here is their menu.
Just head West of Denver and you’ll surely stumble upon a beautiful landscape with trails to hike. I doubt any Denver… or Colorado local needs advice as to getting outdoors or where to go. Get out there and go check out that nearby trail you’ve been meaning to get to but putting off. Click here to jump ahead to see some suggestions I listed in proximity to Golden.
My favorite pass to drive is in the Aspen area- it’s Independence Pass and luckily it has been open every time I have been in the state. In 2018 and 2019 I traveled many of the scenic highways in America. I discovered these alternate roads in my ‘coffee-table’ National Geographic books. I added portions of these roads wherever I could in my 2018 trip. A lot of these highways are forgotten, abandoned. They are a vacation in themselves. Independence has always had a crowd… but you can get out at the top and walk to snow caps even in mid-summer. The mountain peaks at 12,095 feet. This one is 140 miles from Denver… but there are more of these scenic roads close to the city!
A day on the Road, before they’re closed:
Guanella Pass Scenic Byway from Denver. Camping is not permitted off the county road, only in designated camp lots.
“This area offers non-motorized trailhead access to the USFS Bierstadt Trail (14-er in elevation) and Square Tops Lakes (13k+ elevation). Both trails offer stunning scenic views of the Continental Divide Trail and surrounding areas.”
City stop: Golden, Colorado
(Proximity to Denver and Boulder)
**When business resumes as normal, Golden is currently quarantined**
Home to Coors brewery and not far from Denver or Boulder (15 and 20 miles respectfully) this is a quick and easy escape. Bring an inner tube, hiking boots, and a DD. Ok you don’t actually need a DD if you follow this course:
- Start your day hiking either at South Tabletop or one of the nearby state parks mentioned below.
- Then tour the Coors brewery and have a beer
- Finally, hop on your inner tube and float in the creek/river.
Alternatively, you can just stop in Golden to explore and stock up before continuing to the parks for a day of trails where you can enjoy your brews with a view.
Night scene in Golden, Colorado
If you skipped Golden and went straight for the mountains, swing by on your way back home. Miners Alley is a hotspot for speakeasy’s. Hidden on the second floor connected through doors and corridors you’ll discover multiple bars. My friend took me to one and while it was unlocked no one was in sight and that’s how we wandered further stumbling upon more hidden bars door after door.
Currently the speakeasy’s are closed due to COVID. Make sure if you plan to drink you have a designated driver. For solo travelers, you can take the West Rail line for $3.00 (one way) back to Union Station in Denver. For Boulder locals this connects to the Flyer to get you back home safely, too.
As mentioned in the preface, this whole city is mostly closed to the public. Face masks are required indoors and outdoors in all the public places until further notice as the government tries to sustain the coronavirus. For now, I’d recommend avoiding any city visits besides your own… head for the mountains, take that hike you’ve been putting off. And if you decide to roll through to hike South Tabletop and wander the town, swing by the library to get your picture by the ‘Greetings from Golden’ mural.
South Tabletop mountain (within Golden). There’s also a recreational kayaking course at Clear Creek Whitewater Park. As of right now access points to the river remain closed and controlled by Golden city police.
One of the prettiest parks nearby with lots of hiking opportunities and breathtaking views is Golden Gate Canyon state park. It sits at only 16 miles west of Golden, 30 miles west of Denver, and 33 miles southwest to Boulder. Another pin in my map, I can’t wait to be back.
If you would prefer easy strolls with wildlife encounters head to
Genesee Park. Here you will find elk and bison herds with nature trails. Take the shaded Genesee summit trail for a quick hike day hike. This park is 12 miles from Golden, 20 miles from Denver, and 33 miles from Boulder.
Keep Nature Wild
Please leave the places you visit better than you found them. Pack out whatever you bring in- this includes compostable (and non- DUH!) dog waste bags. It also includes fruit/vegetable or other food scraps- if it’s not growing wildly there, it doesn’t belong; an INVASIVE SPECIES. Leaving seemingly harmless and compostable waste is SEVERELY HARMFUL TO THE ENVIRONMENT AND ECOSYSTEM. This includes bringing firewood from out of town to local campsites. Wood carries insects and disease- a rule of thumb is to buy firewood within 10 miles of where it’ll be burned. And of course- check the daily fire danger rating to prevent a wildfire.