Golden, CO

Why You Should Book a Staycation in Golden, Colorado

Why You Should Book a Staycation in Golden, ColoradoCarri Wilbanks

It’s been a rough year of staying home, so after getting vaccinated earlier this year, TJ and I were more than a little excited for an overnight date, and Golden, Colorado, proved to be the perfect respite we so very much needed. Just a 20-minute drive from downtown Denver but feeling worlds apart, Golden is often referred to as Denver’s closest mountain town with its plentiful hiking, biking, rock climbing, and kayaking experiences, and I couldn’t agree more.

We left our house after work on a recent Friday evening (dropping the kids with their grandparents for the night) and headed up to the “world’s biggest little beer town.” Golden gets that name because it is home to eight craft breweries, including the world’s largest single-site brewery, Coors. As such, Golden produces more beer than any other city on the planet!

I was stoked to check out some good local brews, but first, we checked into our home for the evening: The Golden Hotel. In a fabulous location overlooking Clear Creek, our room had expansive views of the creek and the foothills beyond. The hotel is set in the heart of downtown Golden, which is easy to walk around and filled with locally-owned shops, galleries, restaurants, and the aforementioned breweries.

The rooms here are contemporary in design and come with really comfy beds. They come in several shapes and sizes, but if you want a more romantic vibe, book the Creekside Suite, which has a jetted tub, gas fireplace, plush robes, and direct Clear Creek views.

After unpacking, we headed to Buffalo Rose for dinner. The historic restaurant, bar, and live performance venue recently renovated and has a relaxed ambiance inside and out. It also has a cool backstory. The business is set in several historic structures dating back to Golden’s beginnings in the mid-19th-century.

The building that is the Buffalo Rose Saloon, for instance, began as The International Bowling Saloon in 1859 and at one time had two stories. The second floor was taken out in the 1880s, however, when a large organ was brought onsite in an attempt to bring female customers to the bar!

We chose to sit on the patio and listen to live music with our dinner (I’d really missed listening to live music during the year of Covid, so this was a bonus). We began with the Chorizo Jalapeños. The peppers are stuffed with Oaxacan chorizo and goat cheese and glazed in cherry chipotle. They were delicious.

I went with the Street tacos (served in a trio with cilantro jicama slaw, Cojita cheese, red onions, and red Chile mayo with a side of Spanish rice and black beans). TJ opted for a Wild West Burger with smoked bacon, cheddar, Fresno chiles, and coyote onions. Overall, we loved Buffalo Rose, and it is definitely a place we will return with the kids.

The live music at dinner just triggered our desire to listen to more, so we headed next door to the Buffalo Rose’s concert venue to listen to jams by Stone Beat Invasion, a Rolling Stones cover band. TJ & I quickly realized that so much time locked at home with kids had us really antsy for a big night out because after singing along to the Stones top hits for a while, we wrapped up the night at the Golden Moon Speakeasy.

The bar is part of the Golden Moon Distillery, which handcrafts its own spirits and then turns them into some impressive cocktails in the speakeasy. It is the perfect place to end the night. For drinks, try the Cloud City (Early grey infused Violette, lemon, and ginger shrub) or the Phoenix Down (whiskey, cinnamon, and brown sugar syrup bitters smoked in the glass). Both were also really affordable for such decadent beverages, priced at $12.

After a big night out, it was so refreshing to get a solid 8-hours sleep in a super comfy bed back at The Golden Inn. I don’t get to experience this often with young kids, so it was an extra special treat. Once we’d woken up, we were starving and headed to breakfast at the nearby Bridgewater Grill. They have a great patio overlooking Clear Creek and serve a variety of classic breakfast items, from burritos to pancakes.

I went with the Vanilla French Toast (because, duh, you know my sweet tooth!). They were divine and served with caramelized apples, hazelnuts, and whipped cream. Yum! TJ opted for the Huevos Rancheros with two eggs, fried corn tortillas, black beans, smoky chipotle ranchero sauce, and poblano crema.

Stomachs full, we decided to end our staycation with a hike (we needed to work off all that alcohol and food). Luckily Golden is known for its world-class outdoor recreation. The city has 254 acres of parks, and more than 5,000 acres of County Open Space is nearby that is prime for hiking and biking adventures. There are also climbing routes, a kayak park, and miles of creeks for fly fishing. We decided to check out the Golden Summit Trail. It was just under 3-miles and easy to access, and the views from the top were golden.

Although I was excited to see my kids after 24-hours away, I was sad to leave Golden quickly. Luckily, it is close to Denver, and abundant family-friendly activities and dining mean TJ and I will return often. To learn more about Golden, check out:

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Carri Wilbanks is a freelance writer, producer and TV host whose aim is to inspire people to engage with the world around them. Trekking across Europe and South America unleashed her passion for travel. When she's not living out of a suitcase, Carri resides in colorful Colorado. Read more about her global adventures at

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