This is a series about small towns across Colorado. I started this series with a drive through the charming town of Berthoud, Colorado. Today, I’m going to take you to the adorable town of Niwot.
Named after Arapahoe leader Chief Niwot, and the word actually means, “left handed.” This is why the town held their first annual Left Hander Day last summer. The community is nestled 20 minutes northeast of Boulder, Colorado, surrounded by agricultural land. It’s an approximate 45 minutes drive from Denver and 55 minutes from Fort Collins.
Downtown Niwot was designated as a Historic District by Boulder County in 1993. My husband and I visited Niwot this month during 1st Friday Art Walk. We brought our dog along for the ride.
First, we found Whistle Stop Park at 1st and Murray. This park is home to Rhythm on the Rails, Niwot’s award-winning free summer concert series held Thursdays starting in June. As we pile out of the car, we were greeted by the sweet smell of flowering trees.
The park is small, so after letting the dog sniff around we walked her through Niwot’s oldest neighborhood, admiring the eclectic houses. Each seemed to have its own refurbished caboose or train car in the back yard, and this isn’t as odd as it sounds. Niwot’s position on the railway was tremendously important to the town’s development.
After tiring the dog, she went back into the car and we decided experience Niwot’s 1st Friday. A walk down 2nd Street is truly a journey into the town’s vibrant past. We checked out what must be the world’s smallest museum, the Old Firehouse Museum, tucked between two buildings on 2nd Street. Then we popped into several stores including The Hitching Post, a place for horse-lovers, and Rockin Robins, a resale and retro clothing store.
Downtown was lively, with strolling couples of all ages, dog walkers and families. I noticed several people with ice cream and made a mental note to research that subject later in the evening. Crowds of people and live music poured out of several galleries as we wandered by.
There are several outstanding restaurants in Niwot, including Colterra, which has the most inviting patio, and Treppeda’s Italian Ristorante, featuring freshly made Italian food in a setting akin to an Italian cafe.
Both of those dining options are fairly pricey, so we opted for the much more affordable Niwot Tavern in Cottonwood Plaza. This newer area of downtown is located just outside the historic district, and includes some shopping and a variety of restaurants.
I’ve wanted to visit Niwot Tavern for a while now, and I was not disappointed. Although it’s located in a relatively new strip mall, the inside of the tavern feels as old-fashion as the town. The evening was still warm, so we opted to sit on the patio. Service was fast and the food was simple and good. A hamburger for me and a reuben sandwich for Ryan. We will most definitely be back.
As we headed back downtown to discover where the ice cream cones were originating, I turned to Ryan and said, “I want to live here.” Ironically, as I was browsing Niwot.com today, this is the expressed sentiment of many who visit this old railroad town.
We ascertained that the ice cream was from Lefty’s Gourmet Pizza, a cute little pizza shack that also serves ice cream. Lefty’s has the distinction of being the oldest restaurant in town.
We continued strolling, ice cream in hand, stopping once to check home prices on the window of a real estate office. We won’t be buying a home in Niwot anytime soon, but we will be back.
A Note from the Mayor: Obviously, we didn’t visit Niwot on a Sunday, and I’d advise you to check out this little treasure of a town on 1st Friday Art Walk or on a Thursday during Rhythm on the Rails. To keep up with what’s happening in Niwot visit them on Facebook.