Date Night: Bikes, Brews, and Belays in Golden
For a lovely summer night filled with craft beer, farm-to-table food, and unpretentious romance, head 12 miles north of Denver, to the historic town of Golden.
Maintaining a long-term relationship is kind of like keeping the house clean. If you tidy on a regular basis, you’ll never have a big mess on your hands. That’s easier said than done, though.
“The big struggle is figuring out how to be parents and also a couple,” explains therapist Sarah Tie, who specializes in counseling couples. “When both parents are at home,” she continues, “they tend to focus 100 percent on their children.”
Hence, many couples have to “change their mindset” in order to put themselves first. “It feels self-indulgent to spend time away from your children, but the bottom-line is that one of the best ways to be a great parent is to be a happy person with strong interpersonal relationships,” Tie says.
The good news is that it’s never too late to change relationship habits. This rang true during a recent stint in Golden, shortly after my husband, Ben, and I checked into The Golden Hotel, with comfortable rooms and a convenient downtown location.
Hotel check-in isn’t until 3 p.m., so try a self-led craft-brewery bike tour while you wait. Step one is borrowing a bike from the Golden Bike Library, which is run out of a shed behind the Golden Visitor Center, a few steps west of The Golden Hotel.
A bike library is exactly what it sounds like—a bicycle-lending program where visitors check out recreation bikes between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., Thursday through Sunday. The first two hours are free and all-day rentals are $10, with a key drop box available for after-hours returns.
After choosing our bikes and helmets, Ben and I grabbed a “Craft Breweries Tour” handout from a stack inside the shed. As the largest single-site brewery in the world, Coors Brewing Company (offering free tours daily) is a key player in the local beer industry—but it isn’t the only manufacturer in town.
Following the path outlined on our handout, Ben and I pedaled to six breweries, including the delightful New Terrain Brewing Company, specializing in small-batch exploratory beers, which are as interesting as they sound.
Dinner at a Grown-Up Restaurant
Having worked up an appetite, we walked down Washington Avenue until we found a dinner spot. Here’s the best part about a backyard getaway: With all the money you’ve saved on travel expenses, especially airfare, you won’t have to feel guilty about enjoying some of the finer things… like a lavish dinner at Abejas, where a mouthwatering seasonal menu is built around local produce and organic meats. Make a reservation; trust me. If you can’t squeeze in to this intimate spot, another solid option is Indulge Bistro & Wine Bar.
After Dinner Indulgence
Summer weekends are the best time to visit Golden. Through August 31, most of the shops on and around Washington Avenue (Golden’s charming main street) are open late, until 8 p.m. And free horse-drawn carriage rides are offered on Friday and Saturday evenings, 5 to 8 p.m.
It’s hard not to feel the romance when you’re cozied up to your partner, clip clopping down historic streets, passing by musicians busking on the corners. Another quieter option is to stroll along the two-mile paved walking path beside Clear Creek, following the water through the heart of downtown Golden.
After catching forty uninterrupted winks, wake up to coffee at Windy Saddle Café, followed by a fried green tomato benedict at Sassafras, a breakfast and brunch joint with a southern slant. From window-shopping and museum hopping to hiking and mountain biking (South Table Mountain, Chimney Gulch, and Apex Park are a few nearby options), there’s a lot to experience in Golden. Try to do everything, and you’ll miss the most magical part of being away from home.
Despite my inclination to overdo, Ben and I picked one activity, and spent the rest of the morning rock climbing in Clear Creek Canyon with a guide from Golden Mountain Guides. These half-day climbing trips are perfect for newbies like me. While we didn’t summit anything too impressive, I learned how to belay without hurting Ben. He considered that a big win for our marriage. Twenty-four hours away from our two wild boys felt like another triumph.