Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Jefferson County, CO

  • Published 2023/05/28

Located minutes away from Denver, Jefferson County in Colorado is an outdoor lover’s paradise.

It offers miles of hiking trails, scenic vistas, intriguing historical landmarks, museums, and world-class dining establishments.

Whether you’re an adventure seeker, history buff, foodie, or just a traveler looking for the next destination, you’ll be in for a memorable vacation.

Want to know more? Here are my recommendations for the 15 best things to do in Jefferson County, Colorado!

Take a Tour of the Colorado Railroad Museum

Train engine at the Colorado Railroad Museum

Richard Semik /

Discover Colorado’s rich railroad heritage on a tour of the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden, Jefferson County.

The museum is set in a replica of an 1880s-style railroad depot, taking you back to the days before high-speed bullet trains.

Inside the Colorado Railroad Museum complex, I was blown away by the historic locomotives, freight cars, and passenger cars from the 1880s to the 1980s.

A kid curiously examining the train models kept at Colorado Railroad Museum

Susan B Sheldon /

I got the chance to board one of the locomotives on display and ride a passenger car pulled by a locomotive, getting a glimpse of how transportation was like back then.

Exploring the museums and viewing dozens of locomotives made me appreciate how far we’ve gone through in terms of transportation.

If you’re visiting at Christmas, you’re in for a treat as the museum offers a unique Polar Express-themed ride, complete with hot chocolate and a cookie!

Old railway water tower at Colorado Railroad Museum

Gary Reinwald /

Enjoy Homestyle Dishes at Grammy’s Goodies

If you’re looking for dining options in Jefferson County, don’t miss Grammy’s Goodies in Wheat Ridge.

This is where I had the simplest yet best Italian food in the area, and I highly recommend it if you’re traveling near the Denver-Lakeside area.

The family-owned restaurant opened in 2015 and has been serving its customers with no-frills Italian classics like lasagna, pasta, pizza, calzone, and sandwiches.

Not sure what to order? Start with appetizers like mozzarella sticks or calamari then try their savory Italian grilled cheese, lasagna, or cannoli.

My favorites at Grammy’s Goodies include their garlic knots, meatball sandwich, fettuccine alfredo, and grilled cheese.

Of course, a visit to Grammy’s Goodies is incomplete without trying their signature cream puffs, delicious pastries, and other baked goods.

Discover Hundreds of Dinosaur Footprints at Dinosaur Ridge

Footprints of dinosaurs at Dinosaur Ridge

Danielle Beder /

For archaeology and paleontology enthusiasts, make sure to drop by Dinosaur Ridge near the municipality of Morrison.

The site played an important role in the discovery of dinosaur fossils and features Stegosaurus footprints, ripple marks, and Triceratops tracks.

Curious about seeing dinosaur tracks and fossils, I happily went on a tour around Dinosaur Ridge and it didn’t disappoint!

View of the Dinosaur Ridge

Danielle Beder /

The Discovery Center features a gift shop, dinosaur tracks, fossils, and replicas, and there are two trails in the park to choose from.

I took the two-mile Dinosaur Ridge Trail, and I got to see the famous Stegosaurus footprints, bones from the Jurassic Period, and other fossils.

You can go on a tour of the area with a volunteer guide or a geologist and learn about the local history and geological changes of Colorado for deeper knowledge.

Information plank at the Dinosaur Ridge

Wayne Broussard /

Dine at The Golden Mill

The Golden Mill is a must-try food hall, combining worldwide cuisine, a wide selection of beer, wine, and booze, and a welcoming atmosphere.

Located in Golden, the establishment brings locals and tourists together and is also a great place to visit to immerse in the local culture.

After a day of exploring the city, I went to The Golden Mill to relax and check out the food and maybe grab a beer or two.

They offer a variety of dishes, including Mexican food, barbecue, chicken burgers, and my favorite—poke bowls and sushi.

Using their Golden Mill RFID and self-pour tap system, I tried different beers, homemade cocktails, wines, and non-alcoholic drinks.

With its food, drinks, and ambiance, this is definitely one of the dining establishments I’ll come back to!

Explore the Outdoors at Bear Creek Lake Park

Scenic view of the Bear Creek Lake Park

Sean Xu /

At 2,624 acres, Bear Creek Lake Park is one of the largest parks in Lakewood.

It offers plenty of amenities, and you don’t have to travel far to enjoy a change of scenery.

I visited the park in summer and enjoyed the cool and refreshing waters of Big Soda Lake then rented a paddleboard so I can explore the lake further.

Vibrant sunset at the Bear Creek Lake Park

Sean Xu /

As someone who’s into hiking, I was treated to scenic views of Bear Creek Reservoir on my hiking trip around the 1.3-mile Fisherman’s Trail.

I wasn’t able to explore the entirety of Bear Creek Lake Park, so I recommend spending at least half to a full day to make the most of the park’s amenities, especially for nature lovers.

Pelicans at Bear Creek Lake Park

Sean Xu /

Sip on Tasty Beers at New Terrain Brewing Company

Discover great brews and delicious food at New Terrain Brewing Company, a brewery with nearby bike trails.

I came across the brewery when I was looking for a place to hang out after visiting the Colorado Railroad Museum, and I was pleasantly surprised with my discovery.

Do note that the beers offered at New Terrain Brewing Company change every now and then, a reflection of their drive to try new things.

On my visit, I got to try a glass of their Key Largo, which has refreshing lime notes, and their award-winning Mirage, which has hints of pineapple and grapefruit.

There are food trucks in the area so you can easily pair your drinks with the best bar chow.

Tour The Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave

Signage of the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave

Xnatedawgx, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave serves as one of the reminders of the Wild West, located in Lookout Mountain Park in Golden.

This museum also walks us through the life of William “Buffalo Bill” Cody, an American soldier and showman who wished to be buried in Lookout Mountain.

Entrance to the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave

Jami Dwyer from Portland, OR, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

I wasn’t familiar with who Buffalo Bill was, but I learned more about him as I viewed the exhibits, including his voice recordings, personal belongings, and costumes.

From the museum, we went on a short hike and visited his and his wife’s gravesite, and marveled at the views from the mountain.

Aside from visiting the museum and the gravesite, Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave has picnic tables and observation decks where you can view the Rocky Mountain Front Range and the Great Plains.

Burial ground of Buffalo Bill

Maneybe at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Wander Through the Trails of Pine Valley Ranch Park

Pine Valley Ranch Park offers year-round activities for all kinds of travelers, located in Pine, Jefferson County.

Whether you’re into skating, fishing, hiking, or just appreciating nature, the park has something in store for you.

I got to visit Pine Valley Ranch Park in the summer and enjoyed a relaxing hike along the Park View Trail, a moderately difficult hike but offers relaxing views of Pine National Forest and the Platte River.

There are other shorter and easier trails at Pine Valley Ranch Park if you have kids, like the Narrow Gauge Trail Hike where you can also go fishing.

But if you prefer to do something relaxing, you can hang out by the lake or go skating in winter.

Enjoy All-Day Entertainment at Lakeside Amusement Park

Rides at the Lakeside Amusement Park

APN Photography /

Traveling with the kids? Take them to Lakeside Amusement Park for a fun-filled day!

Originally an amusement resort near Lake Rhoda, this amusement park opened in 1908, making it one of the oldest in the country.

From kid-friendly scenic train rides and heart-pumping roller coasters to relaxing spaces for picnics, Lakeside Amusement Park is a must for families.

View of the Lakeside Amusement Park

Faina Gurevich /

Although the park doesn’t have rollercoasters with vertical loops, I enjoyed The Cyclone, which is a wooden coaster with thrilling turns and bunny hops.

One tip though: stay at the park after sunset and be in awe of the colorful neon lights at night.

Marvel at the Views of White Ranch Park

Go for a relaxing hiking or biking adventure at White Ranch Park, a 3,953-acre nature escape in Golden.

On my visit, I felt like I was a character in The Sound of Music as I was charmed by the sweeping meadows, minus the snow-covered peaks of Salzburg, of course.

With over 20 miles of multipurpose trails, White Ranch Park is a haven for hikers and nature lovers.

Most of the trails are on the relatively challenging side, although there are still easy trails like the Sawmill Trail, which is only 0.7 miles.

I took the 4.8-mile Rawhide Trail, one of the more challenging yet rewarding trails, offering views of rolling hills, open meadows, and towering pine trees.

Walk Around Olde Town Arvada

Signage of the  Olde Town Arvada

Xnatedawgx, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Step back in time as you explore the well-preserved buildings and establishments of Olde Town Arvada.

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the neighborhood offers visitors a walk back in time, with its turn-of-the-century Main Street Americana environment.

The streets are littered with several homegrown restaurants, galleries, boutiques, bars, and other establishments.

 Olde Town Square Arvada

Xnatedawgx, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Olde Town Arvada is perhaps one of my favorite hidden gems in Jefferson County, and I was pleasantly surprised when I first visited the district.

The best way to explore the neighborhood is on a walking tour, and I was amazed by its small-town charm, stopping by the boutiques to window shop and having a meal at the quirky dining establishments.

On weekends, don’t miss the farmers’ markets and shop for fresh produce, homemade food items, and local products.

Shops at the  Olde Town Arvada

Hustvedt, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Treat Yourself to Delicious Steak at The Fort Restaurant

The Fort Restaurant is one of Jefferson County’s must-try restaurants, serving steak, wild game, and other regional American specialties.

Its exterior is unassuming, with a replica fort reminiscent of adobe castles, but its interiors are warm and welcoming.

At The Fort Restaurant, I ordered their Rocky Mountain Oysters and an Herb Butter Buffalo Tenderloin, which was served sizzling with a side of potatoes and vegetables.

It was love at first bite! The buffalo tenderloin was cooked medium rare and was an amazing melts-in-your-mouth dish.

On top of this, the homemade rum caramel sundae and prickly pear margarita we ordered were the perfect additions to a memorable dining experience!

Go on an Adventure at Staunton State Park

Beautiful view of the Staunton State Park

Jeremy Janus /

Established in 2013, Staunton State Park is one of Jefferson County’s newer state parks, located in Pine.

The park boasts diverse flora and fauna, dramatic scenery, and numerous opportunities for hiking and mountain climbing.

One thing I love about Staunton State Park is that you’re treated to views of grassy meadows, towering granite cliffs, and rushing falls, creating a landscape that’s uniquely Colorado.

Hiking trail at Staunton State Park

CO Hikes /

On my visit, I stopped by Staunton Ranch, a former homestead noted for its rustic architecture and housing the area’s lone sawmill.

There are plenty of trails at the park, but I took the one-mile Old Mill Trail that took me through forested paths with views of the Staunton Rocks.

Waterfall at the Staunton State Park

BYost74 /

Relax at Robert F. Clement Park

Lake at the Robert F. Clement Park

Sascha Brück, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Robert F. Clement Park is a large suburban park in Littleton, surrounded by Columbine High School and quiet residential areas.

It offers numerous amenities like picnic shelters, a concession stand, a skate park, and a 60-acre lake.

For sports lovers, Robert F. Clement Park also has tennis courts, pickleball courts, softball fields, sandpit volleyball courts, and multi-use fields.

With all these amenities, it’s no wonder the park is well-loved and is a favorite destination for residents and tourists.

I went to the park to jog around the 60-acre Johnston Lake Reservoir, then explored the park and hung out at the field near the amphitheater.

There’s little to no shade at the park, and I was lucky I had a cap and sunscreen with me, so make sure to bring enough protection from the sun.

See the Fascinating Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre

Amphitheatre at Red Rocks Park

EQRoy /

A trip to Jefferson County is incomplete without visiting the famous Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre.

The park is famous for its monoliths that provide a unique yet breathtaking setting for concerts, film screenings, and even outdoor yoga sessions.

I didn’t get to watch a concert at Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre, but I went on a self-guided tour and took my time exploring the park.

Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre

Gennady Zakharin /

My first stop was at the Visitor Center to check out the displays and learn more about the geological history of the park.

Then, I embarked on several short hikes around the park and got a closer view of the amphitheater and the surrounding monoliths.

Hopefully on my next visit, I can watch a concert or film screening!

People enjoying their day at Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre

Jim Lambert /

Final Thoughts

Jefferson County offers a mix of breathtaking natural wonders, historic sites, must-try dining establishments, and more.

It’s a perfect weekend destination from cities like Denver and even Boulder and Colorado Springs.

I hope this list of the best things to do in Jefferson County, Colorado, helps you plan for your next adventure!

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