On this day trip, leaving from Denver, we decided to stay fairly close and only travel 15-20 miles west of the city towards Red Rocks and the City of Golden.
Stop #1: The Denver Biscuit Company
Nothing will fill you up for the day like a fluffy, smothered, mile high biscuit from the Denver Biscuit Company. I had read so many mouthwatering reviews that I knew we couldn’t leave Denver without trying it. To my pleasure there was one located less than a mile from our Airbnb. This place definitely draws a crowd, so I suggest going early or on a weekday. We went on a Tuesday morning at 8:00 am and we had no trouble getting a table for four with a highchair.
The menu was abundantly biscuity with biscuit sandwiches, biscuit plates and even a biscuit cinnamon roll! With so many choices, I was stumped and ended up going with the tried-and-true king of all biscuit meals, the Biscuit and Gravy. It was oh so delicious!!! Paul went a bit more spicy and chose the Beeler, a spicy Nashville Hot chicken, piled mile high on a biscuit with pickles and ranch. They had an average kids menu and gave Liam a coloring page and crayons.
Tip:This location, on S. Broadway, seconds as an amazing pizza restaurant at night. Stop by for a slice, a cold beer and play one of their many family friendly board games…we did!
Stop #2: Red Rocks Amphitheater
After chowing down on the DBC we traveled west to the Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater. This was a fairly quick 20 minute trip from Denver. As you wind up the road to Red Rocks, be sure to pull over at the first rock formation to get some great up close and personal pictures of the rocks and check out the rock tunnel as well. There are a few parking spots located on the right hand side.
Driving closer to the amphitheater it is hard to miss the majestic rock formation that is jetting out of the earths crust. The amphitheater is open during the day for visitors and sports enthusiast alike and often closes down for concerts and events. As you approach, follow with signs to the parking areas.
Tip:If you plan on taking a stroller, drive all the way up to the Top Circle Lot. This will give you an accessible access route to the top level of the amphitheater without having to climb all the stairs and while still giving you all of the views.
Make sure to dress comfy because you will climb stairs, lots of them! If you don’t mind the climb, park at the Upper Lot and start from the bottom steps of the amphitheater and make your way to the top. This route is not stroller friendly and if you are coming with a baby I suggest using a carrier or see my last tip above. We did not know about this tip so we attempted to go via stroller and were quickly turned around. We ended up carrying Nolan in his Ergo and he did great! This parking lot also has tons of clean restrooms in case you need them before starting the climb.
While you are there, make sure to stop, sit and enjoy the views back over the city. If you are lucky, maybe a band is warming up and you can hear the only naturally occurring acoustically perfect sounds in the world.Make sure to also go inside the visitors center and Hall of Fame to truly grasp the magnitude of this place, from how it was built to all of the famous musicians who have played there.
Stop #3: Dino Ridge & Discovery Center
As you are making your way back down from Red Rocks make sure to stop at the Dinosaur Ridge Discovery Center. The Discovery Center is full of a ton of information about the nearby Dinosaur Ridge and is really informative about the types of Dino prints and bones that you will see on your hike. Liam loved the Discovery Center, it had a movie playing explaining more about the dinosaurs of this area and a kids coloring area. There were life-size replica dinosaurs, a bunch of artifacts and the employees were extremely helpful and informative.
The ridge itself is located right across the street from the Discovery Center (Note: There is another Visitors Center on the other side of the ridge, but we did not make it to that side). Across the street you will find a trail head where you can park your car and access the paved path. No vehicles are allowed beyond this point, which makes it even better for children and strollers,with very little incline as well.
Tip:There are no amenities on this trial. Make sure to use the restroom at the
Discovery Center and bring a bottle of water with you.
Hiking on the dinosaur Ridge is FREE and it’s a wonderful way for the entire family to get out and stretch their legs. On the ridge you will come across REAL dinosaur tracks, and get up close to REAL dinosaur bones. There are no frills and thrills, this is the real thing! Real bones on the side of a mountain. One of my best purchases of the day was buying a small magnifying glass (purchased at the Discovery Center) for Liam and he had a blast exploring with it. In this day and age, where iPads and screens are everywhere, it is so much fun to get outside and explore!!!
Stop #4: A Golden Afternoon
After hiking up red rocks and walking along Dinosaur Ridge we were as hungry as one of those dinosaurs. I did a little bit of research and found that nearby Golden, Colorado was only a few miles away. Golden Colorado is famously known for the Coors Brewery, coal mining, outdoor adventures, and the quaint downtown district is a really sweet.
We started at the Old Capitol Grill & Smokehouse for lunch, as a suggestion from a local and to our surprise it was Happy Hour. We were able to get a cold local craft beer (sorry Coors) and lunch for the whole family for fairly cheap. Being architecture (me) and political (Paul) buffs, it was only fitting that the historic building, built in the 1860’s, was once the home to the Colorado Territory legislature.
After lunch we strolled the brick-lined sidewalks along Washington Ave towards Clear Creek, stopping into few local boutiques and then crossing the bridge to the riverside park. The small park runs’s along side the rapids, take a slide down to the water edge and put your hand in! Make sure to look down stream to the Coors Brewery.
The brewery was closed that day for tours but the true gold was found in this city. Golden was such a pleasant and unexpected find. We really loved going to the boutique shops and getting ice cream on the main street, which made for a wonderful and relaxing afternoon