Located to the northwest of Denver, Arvada is a city of slightly more than 100,000 residents and is one of the top ten most populous municipalities in the state.
Portions of Arvada are in both Jefferson and Adams Counties, and together with Denver, Westminster and Thornton make-up the state’s largest metropolitan area.
Just outside city limits, the Colorado countryside opens up into vast stretches of forest and mountains unrivaled in most states. Visitors of all stripes have an abundance of activity options at their disposal to suit a wide range of interests.
Below are 15 things to do in and around Arvada, Colorado.
1. The Cussler Museum
Named after its founder Clive Cussler, the Cussler Museum features an impressive collection of rare automobiles that have been restored to near-original condition.
If you recognize the name, it’s probably because Clive Cussler is a best-selling author who just happens to have a love for vintage cars.
The museum’s collection features dozens of automobiles, including many from now-defunct brands like Studebaker and Auburn; most of them are from the period between the turn of the century and the mid-‘60s,
Most visitors spend an hour or two on-site, and the museum is conveniently located on West 69th Avenue in Arvada near other area attractions you’ll probably want to check-out too.
2. Indian Tree Golf Club
With so much wide-open space spreading in every direction, it’s no wonder that Arvada’s Indian Tree Golf Club plays just over 7,000 yards.
According to golfers in the know, the course offers a pleasant mix of tricky hazards, well-manicured greens and fairways, and some of the most spectacular vistas imaginable.
For those who’d rather not spend four or five hours on the links, there’s a shorter 9-hole option that’s a favorite of seniors and those playing with youngsters.
The facility’s amenities include a driving range, putting and chipping areas, and there’s a pro shop and restaurant on-site as well.
3. Two Ponds National Wildlife Refuge
Comprised of more than 70 acres of protected wilderness, Two Ponds National Wildlife Refuge has been around for nearly two decades and is home to an impressive variety of plants and animals, many of which are unique to the area.
The refuge consists of upland forest, scrub, and wetland areas that are open to guided tours, and the staff also offer regular educational opportunities and workshops for all ages.
For many visitors, their hours spent at Two Ponds are among the most educational and memorable of their trip to Colorado.
Two Ponds is located on West 80th Street in Arvada, and admission is inexpensive.
4. The Arvada Center for the Arts & Humanities
The Arvada Center for the Arts & Humanities is a gem of a community resource that’s usually overlooked by all but the savviest tourists.
Located on Wadsworth Boulevard near the downtown area, it is comprised of a cultural center, museum, galleries, and classrooms that offer guests an abundance of activity options to choose from.
The center was opened in the mid-‘70s and is now one of the largest facilities of its kind in the state.
The Arvada Center offers a variety of annual performances ranging from recitals and guest speakers to dramatic plays, children’s productions, and classical music.
5. Odyssey Beerwerks
According to the unbiased marketing department at Colorado’s largest brewery, there’s something special in the water in the Rocky Mountain State.
Though that’s a tough claim to verify, it’s true that the state has more than its fair share of world-class breweries, and Odyssey Beerwerks is one of Arvada’s most popular.
Odyssey’s taproom is open throughout the week and is like a mecca for beer aficionados, who prefer small-batch brews to usually tasteless national brands. Their seasonal selection ranges from hoppy IPAs to porters infused with pumpkin and marshmallow.
They’re located in a nondescript area, but the interior is contemporary and inviting, and they’ve got outdoor seating as well.
6. Olde Town
Olde Town Arvada is the perfect destination for those looking to stretch their legs, do a little shopping, or take in a show after a tasty meal.
Most guests appreciate Olde Town’s unique and pleasant mix of the traditional and contemporary. It’s full of trendy restaurants and locally-owned boutique shops selling everything from artwork and Native American jewelry to sportswear and kid’s clothes.
Olde Town is also a popular live entertainment venue during the warm months. It tends to come alive in the afternoon hours before shows, when restaurants and bars are offering food and drink deals to revelers.
7. Monarch Casino Resort Spa
Located on Main Street in the mountain town of Black Hawk, Monarch Casino Resort Spa is a convenient escape destination for those who yearn for rural scenes and mountain air.
The resort is just an hour from downtown Denver on Highway 119 and offers guests a full list of amenities and activities, including gaming, world-class dining, and various massages and total-wellness treatments.
Monarch may not be a good match for families traveling on the cheap, but for childless couples looking to spend a romantic evening or two together in a truly memorable setting, it might just be a perfect fit.
8. Van Bibber Open Space Park
Travelers to Arvada don’t need to spend big bucks or countless hours in the car to get a taste of the Rocky Mountains; for those who prefer nearby attractions with no admission, Van Bibber Open Space Park is must-visit location.
Van Bibber includes highland meadows and wetland areas that can be experienced from the paved and well-marked trails that wind their way through the park.
The park isn’t packed full of amenities like other area parks are, but therein lies its appeal, because it typically draws smaller crowds of respectful, outdoorsy types that tend not to make noise and leave piles of trash in their wake.
9. Coors Field
Coors Field is the home of Major League Baseball’s Colorado Rockies and is spread over nearly 80 acres near the capital city’s downtown area.
Unlike other baseball stadiums in rowdy East Coast cities like New York and Philly, the crowds at Coors Field tend to be laid-back and content to enjoy the game and mountain air, regardless if their team is doing well or not.
Baseball games aren’t the cheap attractions they once were; visitors should be prepared to shell out big bucks for tickets and food, but for a memorable and family-friendly vacation activity, they rank highly on many travelers’ itineraries.
10. Molly Brown House Museum
The Molly Brown House Museum is a unique area attraction that was once the home of the famous and flamboyant woman often referred to as ‘The Unsinkable Molly Brown,’ because she survived the sinking of the Titanic in 1912.
When Molly was a teenager, her family made their fortune in the mining industry, and when the home was bought in the 1890s, it cost $30,000, a fortune by the standards of the day.
The home and museum host tens of thousands of annual visitors, most of whom are delighted to learn about the life and times of this interesting woman. Guided tours are available, and admission is inexpensive.
11. Colorado State Capitol Building
Located on East Colfax Avenue in downtown Denver, the Colorado State Capitol Building bears a strong resemblance to the US Capitol in Washington DC and was built with local granite in the 1890s.
The building’s golden dome rises nearly 20 stories into the Colorado sky and is currently the home of the Colorado General Assembly and the offices of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor.
Despite ample security, the area adjacent to the capitol building is accessible to visitors who just want a quick look around. Guided tours are available for those who’d like a more in-depth and behind the scenes look.
12. Larimer Square
Larimer Square is so full of shops, restaurants, and other local businesses that it may be wise to check online to get an overview of its layout before making a special trip.
The historic square is located on Larimer Street between 14th and 15th Streets and is conveniently situated along the city’s public transportation route, which makes getting there easy and inexpensive from other parts of the city.
The square’s history dates back more than 100 years to when the city was brimming with gold money. There is a pleasant mix of historic and contemporary buildings, including book stores, coffee shops, and the state’s first post office.
13. Empower Field at Mile High
Empower Field at Mile High is the home of the National Football League’s Denver Broncos, and sits at 5,280 feet above sea level, hence its name.
The stadium’s construction was completed in 2001 and was primarily funded by local tax revenue; it’s now one of the NFL’s premium venues.
Catching a game at Empower Field during the regular season isn’t as difficult as it once was; the crowds at games have been dwindling for the last few years. For those who’ll be visiting in the off-season, the stadium hosts live entertainment and offers guided tours led by knowledgeable staff.
14. Forney Transportation Museum
Featuring an impressive collection of transportation memorabilia and renovated trains, planes, and busses, the Forney Transportation Museum is a one of a kind attraction that’s been around for more than six decades.
Many of the museum’s prized pieces have interesting historical backgrounds, like the airplane that belonged to Amelia Earhart, and hand-built Indian Motorcycles once owned by the now-defunct company’s founder.
Though much of the museum is centered on history, there are a variety of interactive exhibits as well that are engaging and educational for the young and old alike, and there are plenty of knowledgeable staff around to answer questions.
15. Morrison Natural History Museum
In millennia past, the land that’s now Colorado was crawling with dinosaurs of all shapes and sizes; their skeletons are regularly uncovered by geologists, paleontologists, and amateur rock hounds.
The Morrison Natural History Museum is located just a half-hour west of central Denver in the town of Morrison. It is a well-respected institution that’s been recognized by the Smithsonian for its groundbreaking work and world-class exhibits.
The museum opens at 10 AM and offers three regularly scheduled daily tours to visitors. Although reservations aren’t required, it’s wise to call ahead and reserve your space, especially if you’ll be visiting during peak times.