The Front Range is dotted with towns, many of them have become suburbs of Denver and we tend to think of these communities as “the burbs.” Places like Arvada, Colorado, however, are rich with history that dates back to the 1800s. Many of these suburban towns boast charming downtown communities that are wonderful places to visit.
Only 20 minutes from Denver, this suburb holds a glittery secret. The first discovery of gold in Colorado didn’t happen in the Mile High City or even in the nearby mountains, that claim is held by Arvada. Lewis Ralston found gold in what is now Arvada on June 22, 1850.
We didn’t find gold on our visit to Arvada, but we did find lots of reasons this city is an entertaining place to spend an afternoon or weekend. Whether you’re looking for a romantic escape complete with candlelight dinner or a family getaway, Arvada, Colorado has got you covered.
Stay in Arvada
We stayed at The Arvada Dragonfly, a Victorian-style home that has been transformed into three apartments available for a two-or-more night stay. Of course, the layout of these apartments would make them ideal for staying a full week whether on business or touring the area.
Our apartment, The Hummingbird, features a bedroom, kitchen, living area and large bathroom. Flooded with morning light, waking up here is delightful, and even more delightful is that The Arvada Dragonfly is less than two blocks from Arvada’s historic downtown. It’s also within a six-minute walk of Steuben’s, the restaurant where we ate the best breakfast we’ve eaten.
If you’ve read the blog for long, you’ll know that I’m not much of a shopper. I will pop into the occasional gallery, but retail is not a therapy that works well for me. I will, however, never pass up a candy store, especially if Ryan’s with me. He’s the candy man in my household and usually goes on every trip with me.
We’d discovered Scrumptious on a previous trip and we visited no less than two times during this visit. Scrumptious is one of those stores that’s a feast for the eyes and belly, plus, they have all that retro candy you remember (or you grandpa remembers) from childhood. They are also an ice cream parlor so you have all sorts of sweet reasons to stop here.
RELATED: A Stay in Golden, Colorado
The small downtown is home to Denver Beer Co. which has a fantastic patio for drinking beer al fresco. Olde Town Arvada is also home to a lot of coffee shops. In fact, there seemed to be one on every block so I am going to have to go back and write a blog post dedicated to coffee shops in Arvada. I’ll be so caffeinated the article will write itself.
Eventually, light rail will run directly to downtown Arvada. The G Line is still undergoing testing and is not officially up-and-running at the date of the date of this posting. Follow the link for more details.
Art & Nature in Arvada
Before heading downtown, on my most recent trip, I wanted to check out a few things outside of old town. First, I made a stop at The Majestic View Nature Center. I grew up going to a similar center on the Puget Sound in the Pacific Northwest. I can happily report that one of my childhood heroes was a female biologist who led outings there.
Located on a hill in what feels like the middle of suburbia, is 80-acres of nature. At the heart, is the center, which is a place for children and adults to learn about the ecosystem. The well-appointed nature center is free to visit and offers a myriad of year-round workshops for everyone from age 2 to 102 on everything from gardening to birding.
Colorado has a lot of offer when it comes to nature and we should be good stewards of what we have all around us. A visit to The Majestic View Nature Center is a fantastic way to learn this and much more.
Next, I visited Sculptures in the Field at the Arvada Center for the Arts & Humanity, just five minutes by car, from the nature center. This collection of 27 sculptures on a 17-acre field along Wadsworth Boulevard is called Unbound and it was one of the most surprising delights of my visit to Arvada. I sincerely appreciate that a HeidiTown brought it to my attention even before it was recommended by official sources.
It’s March in Colorado so the ground was a bit squishy during my visit and the field was covered in geese, but these sculptures are worth getting out of the car for because they are quite photogenic and thought-provoking. A mixture of modern sculpture and less subjective shapes dot the landscape. With the shadows growing long and the clouds racing by above me, my time at Unbound was memorable indeed.
As an aside, if I were traveling to Arvada with children, I would take them to APEX. This recreation center has an inside water park that will have your kids talking about their family vacation to Arvada for years to come. The 23,000 square feet of water park is mining themed and has moving water, fountains, waterfalls, a “beach” feature, a lap pool and even a family spa. All of the fun is included with the price of admission.
This is part one of a two-part post. Part two will go live on Friday, March 15, 2019.
This trip was hosted by Arvada Visitors Center.