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Olde Town Arvada

A quick shot west of Denver on I-70, Olde Town Arvada is worth an afternoon of exploring as much for the eclectic dining and retail as for the chance to say you were hanging out at the site of Colorado’s first gold strike. Stroll through history—this is also the hometown of the guy who invented the automobile turn signal—and enjoy a slice of Main Street America, Colorado style.

1 Snack Time

We dare you to resist the fresh-cut Belgian-style fries served in an old-school paper cone at Manneken Frites, especially once you see the menu of more than 20 dipping sauces. We recommend an unexpected option like the pomegranate molasses BBQ. 5616 Olde Wadsworth Blvd., Arvada, 303-847-4357,

2 Just One Glass

Grab a high-top at the charming year-old Silver Vines Winery and order a cheese plate to accompany your dark, smooth pour of Syrah; for a lighter finish, try the Chocolate Delight dessert-style red. Stick around on Friday or Saturday evenings for live acoustic music at 7:30 p.m. 7509 Grandview Ave., Arvada, 303-456-5212,

3 Be Instrumental

Attention bluegrass junkies and guitarists: If you haven’t visited Olde Town Pickin’ Parlor for your acoustic needs, drop in and check out the impressive inventory of guitars, banjos, mandolins, fiddles, and more. Or, bring in your own instrument for some quality TLC at the on-site repair shop. 7515 Grandview Ave., Arvada, 303-421-2304,

4 Get Played

Grab tickets for a Sunday matinee at the Festival Playhouse—the oldest building in Arvada—and lose yourself for a couple of hours in a production by the local community theater troupe. Catch the current comedy for a laugh: The Man Who Wanted To Be Santa, Fri.–Sat. 7:30 p.m.; Sun. 2 p.m., through Dec. 16. 5665 Olde Wadsworth Blvd., Arvada, 303-422-4090,

5 Sugar Rush

Keep the kids under close watch (or heck, let them have the run of the place—we don’t have to put them to bed) at the adorable Willy Wonka–like Scrumptious candy and ice cream shop. Take your pick of nostalgic, hard-to-find sweets, throwback soda pop in glass bottles, modern candy bars, and novelties like edible mustaches. Or, go with a scoop of the divine house-made pumpkin cheesecake graham swirl ice cream. 7523 Grandview Ave., Arvada, 303-431-2639,

6 Something’s Fishy

Pop into the unpretentious Charlie’s Fly Box and chat up one of the experts behind the counter about tying flies and river-worthy gear. With the holidays on the way, you just might score the perfect gift or stocking stuffer for the outdoorsy types in your life. 7513 Grandview Ave., Arvada, 303-403-8880,

7 What Diet?

If you’ve got any sort of sweet tooth, Rheinlander Bakery will be your Kryptonite and your heaven. The family-run German baked goods shop has been serving Arvada for nearly 50 years. The selection of gourmet pastries, strudels, cakes, and tarts is too lengthy to begin describing; just walking in the door is enough to kill our willpower. 5721 Olde Wadsworth Blvd., Arvada, 303-467-1810,

8 Listen Up

The owners think of the D Note as a “playground for adults.” We agree. We’ve been checking out local bands and noshing pizza and small plates at this venue-slash-dance-studio-slash-bar-and-cafe for ages. If you’re more the participatory type, swing by for Zumba classes ($8) Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. 7519 Grandview Ave., Arvada, 303-463-6683,

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Olde Town Arvada

A small-town oasis packs a big dose of traditional Americana into nine square blocks.

Olde Town Arvada is a sanctuary of authenticity in the midst of suburbia’s multilane thoroughfares and big-box shopping plazas. Step inside Nature’s Gift Candleworks, 7425 Grandview Ave., formerly the town print shop, for a heavenly, hand-poured, fresh pine candle. Next, follow a different scent to Penzeys Spices, 7511 Grandview Ave., and pick up a jar of Vietnamese cassia cinnamon or a Maharajah-style curry for tomorrow’s dinner. Nearby at the homey Knit Knack, 7505 Grandview Ave., find heaps of colorful yarn alongside stylish knitters’ purses and in-shop couches, while down the street at Olde Town Pickin’ Parlor, 7515 Grandview Ave., Gibson guitars and mandolins evoke bluegrass bliss. At lunchtime, slide over to Dnote, 7519 Grandview Ave., for

the signature jalapeño- and pepperoni-topped “Flaming Lips” pizza and a pint of Odell Easy Street Wheat. Adding to the “good ol’ days” charm is Grandfather Books, 5612 Olde Wadsworth Blvd., a new and used book shop; if it’s closed, leave a note in the wooden drop box with the title you seek and your contact information. Further down the boulevard is Steve’s Meat Market, 5751 Olde Wadsworth Blvd., a converted livery stable dating back to 1890 and a goldmine of game, from buffalo

jerky to ground elk. End your day with a treat from the family-owned Rheinlander Bakery, 5721 Olde Wadsworth Blvd., which has whipped up Bavarian goodies for nearly half a century.