Tucked against the edge of the Rockies, Golden might be best known as the birthplace of Coors and the deathbed of Buffalo Bill Cody. But this not-quite-mountain town is, of late, building a reputation as an art lover's hub.
Sure, the scent of malted barley hangs heavy in the air, but this month it mingles with the sights and sounds of the 19th annual Golden Fine Arts Festival, a two-day, juried, open-air collection that includes everything from ceramics, painting, and photography to glass art and jewelry.
More than 35,000 people will stroll historic downtown Golden, eyeing the work of 140 artists (most of whom ply their trade in Colorado) in the booths that line 11th Street. But there's more than browsing to be had. Stop and take in the jazz melodies coming from the two music stages, or bring the kids by the ArtZone tent to let them dabble at creating their own masterpieces.
When you need a break from the midday sun, look for the walking paths along both banks of Clear Creek. Massive cottonwoods will lend shade as you amble past the public art that lines the river, such as bronze sculptures of butterflies, deer, and a kayak racer.
Wrap up the day with a horse-drawn carriage ride through historic downtown to fully appreciate a city that blends Western roots and artistic charm.
Golden Fine Arts Festival: 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Aug. 15-16, 11th Street between Arapahoe and Maple streets., www.goldenfineartsfestival.org