How about some old-fashioned holiday charm, cheer and fun for the whole family? With something for every age and interest, the metro area’s many quaint old-town downtowns make ideal whole or half-day holiday-season destinations, especially for visiting out-of-town family and friends.
No matter where you where you live, there’s a walkable “Main Street” near you. From Golden to Longmont, Morrison to Fort Collins, and Parker to Boulder, you’ll find a warm welcome and amazing small town charm. Check out the free community events, locally owned coffee roasters and restaurants, walking tours, art galleries, vintage and antique stores, and quirky, one-of-a-kind shops that you’ll find nowhere else.
We’ve picked a few of our favorites, but you don’t have to take our word for it. Get out there and see for yourself what makes these places special and unique. Strolling around Main Street and beyond, you’ll be sure to discover something new and unexpected. And, of course, remember to bring the camera to capture the good times shared!
Old Town Golden
It’s no surprise that Golden is first on our list – this “Gateway to the Rockies” is our home and headquarters. Nestled against the foothills and boarded by the iconic Table Mountain, Golden is known for its “Old West” feel. You can almost see Buffalo Bill and Anne Oakley walking Washington Avenue, and horses tethered to the Buffalo Rose, since 1858, the oldest operating saloon in Colorado.
For art and culture lovers, there’s the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum, an intimate and uncommon museum tucked away at 200 Violet Street. The museum features permanent and rotating exhibits, covering the scope of quilting from antique to art quilts. You’ll behold remarkable handiwork, the finest examples of this time-honored craft from all over the country. Call 303-277-0377 for information or go to www.rmqm.org, and be sure to bring the older generation along.
The Foothills Art Center, at 809 15th Street, is offering its 43rd annual Holiday Art Market – featuring the work of more than 100 local Colorado artists in varied media from ceramics, fiber, glasswork and jewelry to painting, woodworking, photography, holiday items and more. What a great place to shop for those hard-to-find special gifts!
If you need a break or a moment to chat, sit down and grab a cup of freshly-brewed local Joe just around the corner from the art center at Higher Grounds Café, 803 14th Street, 303-271-0998. If you enjoy browsing used books while you sip, walk a few more blocks to the Book and Brew Coffee Shop, 1400 Illinois Avenue, 303-384-2369. Other great choices locally-owned choices are Pangea Coffee Roasters, 1205 Cheyenne Street, 720-515-1154, and Café 13, “Golden’s Living Room,” at 1301 Arapahoe Street, 303-278-2225.
If coffee isn’t quite strong enough, visit the reknowned Coors Brewery for a 30-minute self-paced tour of their malting, brewing and packaging processes. Adults can sample some brews in the hospitality lounge. Call 303-277-BEER or go to www.millercoors.com for information. To skip the tour and head straight to the beer, check out one of Golden’s premiere microbreweries, such as Golden City Brewery, set in an old machine shop at 920 12th Street, 303-279-8092, or Barrels & Bottles Brewery, a few blocks away at 600 12th Street #160, 720-328-3643.
Old Town Louisville
About halfway between Broomfield and Boulder, Louisville offers small town friendliness and charm with big city amenities – outstanding dining and culture in a convenient several-block walkable stretch.
To start off the holiday season, what could be better than a *FREE* horse-drawn carriage ride? That’s right, enjoy a festive ride around downtown Louisville 12:30-3:30 p.m. weekends between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, compliments of the Louisville Downtown Business Association and Gifts at Coopers Corner. Rides are also available on the Friday after Thanksgiving and on Christmas Monday. Pickup is at the WinterSkate skating rink at Steinbaugh Pavilion, 824 Front Street. (For details on Louisville skating, complete with concessions and holiday music, check out our “Holiday Skating” section.)
Blue Grass fans will love Blue Grass Mondays, Monday evenings from 7:30-9:30 p.m. at the popular brewpub, 12Degree Brewing, 820 Main Street, 720-638-1623. Go for the music, go for the microbrews, or go for both! But whatever you do, grab your family and friends and get there!
Talented national and local artists showcase their work, from painting to sculpture and more, at Louisville’s downtown galleries and artisan gift shops. Be sure to check out the First Friday Art Walks, the first Friday of each month from 6-9 p.m. For information, call 720-273-8508 or visit www.louisvilleartsdistrict.com.
For a morning pause that refreshes, visit the local roasters at Bittersweet – Café & Connections, 836 Main Street, 303-317-5522, or check out Paul’s Coffee & Tea, just off Main Street at 956 W. Cherry Street, 720-259-1723.
If you’re craving something rich, warm, delicious and decadent for brunch or lunch, there’s The Melting Pot, Louisville’s fondue restaurant, 732 Main Street, 303-666-7777. Bob’s Diner, a block away at 820 Main Street, offers Mexican and American comfort foods, sure to please any palate, 303-665-1056. And then there’s the local favorite, The Huckleberry, a charming farm-to-table restaurant featuring “American classics in colorful digs,” in a vintage 1894 building at the corner of 7th and Main, 303-666-8020. For dessert, head over to Sweet Cow homemade ice cream at 637 Front Street, 303-666-4269.
Old Town Fort Collins
Sixty miles to the north of Denver and home of the Colorado State University, Old Town Fort Collins has one of the most iconic main streets in the country. In fact, it’s the inspiration for Disneyland’s own Main Street, U.S.A.
Take a stroll down this iconic main street and stop for a hot cup of coffee at one of the many coffee shops. Starry Night Espresso Café features delicious cakes and baked goods, locally roasted coffee, and a great selection of breakfast favorites, sandwiches, and salads, at 112 S College Ave Ste 100, (970) 493-3039. For something more unique head two blocks down the road to the Bean Cycle, which features local art, plenty of seating, and unique drinks and juices (try the Kerouac and the Stinger), 144 N College Ave, (970) 221-2964. Wandering through the shops on the other side of the street? Check out Mugs, a local favorite started by a CSU graduate. Mugs features traditional drinks and variety of flavorful sandwiches, 261 S College Ave, (970) 472-6847.
Coffee not your thing? Old Town Fort Collins has two amazing tea houses. Ku Cha House of Tea features a wide variety of teas, and tea accessories. Mix your own tea blend, or try a staff pick, you can’t go wrong, 128 S College Ave, (970) 472-5696. Happy Lucky’s Teahouse is located next to the iconic Old Firehouse Books, a locally owned bookstore, 232 Walnut St, (970) 484-7898. Browse the books and then head through the connected stores to grab a cup of hot or cold tea, 236 Walnut St, (970) 689-3417.
Once you’re fully caffeinated head over to Alpine Artists-Colorado Showcase for locally made art, jewelry, books, and knickknacks. 112 N College Ave, (970) 493-1941. Don’t forget your furry friends, during the holidays, stop by Wagz Pet Market and Grooming, here you’ll find food, toys, and fun collars you won’t be able to get at your local big box pet store, 132 N College Ave, (970) 482-9249. If you’re looking for unique vintage clothing or items walk up the block to Wear it Again, Sam, a specialty shop the specializes in costumes, but you can find many interesting vintage pieces, great for anyone and always in style, 140 S College Ave, (970) 484-1070.
If you’re ready for a good sit-down head to a few of our favorite restaurants. Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar features a large assortment of adult beverages, and high quality seafood, 123 N College Ave, (970-682-2275. If you’re looking for more casual fare, head over to Stuft – A Burger Bar, choose from any of the featured burgers that month, or make your own. Be sure to name your own creation for a chance to be one of the featured burgers of the month! 210 S College Ave, (970) 484-6377. If you’re traveling with a vegetarian, head over to Fort Collins premiere vegetarian restaurant, Tasty Harmony, 160 W Oak St, Fort Collins, CO 80524. Featuring food that even a tyrannosaurus-rex would love, you’ll walk away wondering why you ever needed meat in a meal.
So, what are you waiting for? Like any good “stay-cation,” old towns from Fort Collins in the north to Parker in the south are waiting to be discovered. Be sure to let us know what you find!