Located to the northwest of downtown Denver along US Route 36, Westminster is most well-known for its recent inclusion in a list of the best places to live in the entire country.
Westminster features low crime, fantastic scenery, and easy access to some of the area’s most popular attractions, including state and national parks, historical and cultural sites, and some of the best skiing in North America.
With a population of more than 100,000, it’s one of the state’s largest cities, and it was incorporated more than a century ago.
Below are 15 things to do in and around Westminster, Colorado.
1. Westminster Center Park
Westminster Center Park, known as Peter Pan Park for its Neverland theme, has been named one of the top 50 playgrounds in the US. A GOCO grant helped develop the 10-acre park. Details at http://bit.ly/1H8aymZ
Though it’s often referred to as Peter Pan Park by locals, Westminster Center Park is a popular natural attraction featuring a cool English theme that includes replicas of Big Ben and the Thames River.
The park is located on West 92nd Avenue and includes lots of paved walking paths, playgrounds, and fountains, as well as tree-shaded grassy areas that are perfect spots for picnics.
The amphitheater near the park’s center hosts a variety of live entertainment during the warm summer months. It’s a free attraction that’s conveniently close to other area attractions you’ll probably want to check-out as well.
2. Big Dry Creek Trail
Hiking and mountain biking are two of Colorado’s most enjoyed outdoor activities, and visitors to the Denver area have countless options when it’s time to hit the trail.
Located on Sheridan Boulevard in Westminster, the Big Dry Creek Trail is open year-round and stretches for nearly a dozen moderately difficult miles through diverse environments.
The main trail runs between Westminster and nearby Broomfield and has ample parking at both ends.
Dogs are okay as long as they’re leashed and cleaned up after. There’s no better place to experience an exhilarating day in the outdoors without leaving city limits.
3. GQue Championship BBQ
Old fashioned barbecue is usually associated with no-frills restaurants that are often long on taste and value and short on ambiance.
GQue Championship BBQ is the exception to the rule: it’s a trendy and contemporary dining destination that serves some of the area’s best barbecue.
From wings, ribs, and pulled pork to appetizers, salads, and brisket, there’s probably something on their menu for even the most finicky traveler, and they serve a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
No matter what you order, you’ll have access to their homemade sauces that come in a variety of flavors, from Carolina to Kansas City-style.
4. Walnut Creek Golf Preserve
During the summer, the weather in Colorado is perfect for golf.
Blue skies, low humidity, and moderately warm temperatures make for great days on the links, and the Walnut Creek Golf Preserve is one of the area’s most unique and popular courses.
The course is spread over more than 200 acres and has been certified by the Audubon Society as an animal sanctuary, which means it’s common to see a number of species of birds and animals during your round, many of which are rare.
A pro shop, restaurant, and practice areas round out the course’s amenities, and booking your tee time in advance is recommended.
5. The Butterfly Pavilion and Insect Center
Featuring hundreds of species of native and exotic butterflies and insects, The Butterfly Pavilion and Insect Center on West 104th Avenue in Westminster is a one-of-a-kind local attraction that’s always a big hit with families traveling with kids.
In addition to being beautiful, butterflies have interesting life cycles, and many species migrate thousands of miles during the year to mate and lay eggs.
The Butterfly Pavilion is run by a not-for-profit organization dedicated to preserving butterfly habitat worldwide, and the staff offer many activities for visitors.
Admission is reasonable, and it’s usually a stand-out activity for visiting families.
6. Kachina Southwestern Grill
Southwestern cuisine features lots of fresh ingredients, vibrant flavors, and several influences from Native American and Mexican cultures.
Kachina Southwestern Grill is a trendy culinary destination that’s popular with the hip, foodie crowd for its extensive menu, chill vibe, and impressive selection of regional beers, international wines, and craft cocktails.
Boasting old favorites like burgers, tacos, and Rellenos made with local bison, spicy peppers, and fresh vegetables, the restaurant may just offer the most memorable grub in the area. It’s a favorite stop-off for those just interested in catching up with friends over an appetizer and drink as well.
7. Standley Lake Regional Park
Standley Lake Regional Park is a public facility that serves as a recreation area as well as a source of water for the towns of Westminster, Thornton, and Northglenn.
With more than 1,000 acres of surface area, it’s a massive reservoir that’s the third-largest in the Denver Metropolitan area.
The park’s activity options include hiking, biking, photography, and camping. For those who prefer watersports, kayaking, paddling, and fishing are popular.
The park dates back more than a century, and due to its size, it’s often possible to find a quiet stretch of forest or water that’s not overrun with visitors.
8. Aurora History Museum
Located just a short drive from Westminster, the Aurora History Museum has been a local attraction since the late-‘70s and features an impressive collection of memorabilia, artifacts, documents, and photographs pertaining to the Denver area’s history.
Many of the museum’s exhibits focus on the settlement era, Native Americans, and the local economy in ages past, but there are also quite a few that touch on contemporary history, including the city’s brewing industry.
The museum is located on Alameda Parkway, and most visitors usually end-up spending between an hour and 90 minutes seeing all there is to see.
9. iVibe Coffee
For caffeine junkies and lovers of coffee in all its delectable forms, there is no shortage of cafes in which to get that all-important fix.
Located on West 112th Street in Westminster, IVibe Coffee not only has a cool name, but its staff is focused on delivering customers a memorable experience that goes deeper than just another cup of java.
iVibe’s menu is packed with hot and cold coffee choices as well as teas, smoothies, and energy drinks.
For visitors with dietary restrictions, they offer gluten and lactose-free options, and baked goods and finger foods too.
10. The Plains Conservation Center
Though Denver is a large metropolitan center that offers travelers a variety of big-city amenities and attractions, most of the rest of the state is a wild and natural wonderland that’s among the most rugged and undisturbed in the lower 48.
Located on East Hampden Avenue in nearby Aurora, the Plains Conservation Center is a protected natural area that’s not only focused on habitat preservation but educating the public on the importance of being good stewards of the natural world.
The facility has been around since 1949 and features a visitor center and replicas of historic barns, schools, and a blacksmith’s workshop.
11. Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater
Featuring stratified limestone cliffs awash in natural pastel colors and amazing views of the distant Rockies, Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater are the perfect mix of the natural and humanmade worlds and draw visitors with a variety of interests.
The park is comprised of more than 700 acres that are popular with hikers, runners, and bikers. Most of the trails are only moderately difficult and appropriate for those of most ages.
Due to the park’s vastness, it’s wise to stop into the visitor center to get the lay of the land before heading out on your own.
The park’s amphitheater features live entertainment events during the summer, and admission is free.
12. Aurora Reservoir
As its population continues to grow, the Denver area’s water needs continue to increase as well, and the Aurora Reservoir is one of the region’s largest freshwater sources.
At over 30,000 surface acres, the reservoir is a sight to behold, especially when its shimmering waters are reflecting the blue sky and white clouds above.
The reservoir has designated swimming areas and includes parking, restrooms, and covered seating areas. For those who’d like to burn off some extra calories, hiking, biking, and paddling are popular.
Walleye, bass, trout, and catfish are a few of the reservoir’s game fish species – but remember, you’ll need a valid Colorado fishing license if you plan on wetting a line.
13. Stanley Beer Hall
Stanley Beer Hall is located on Dallas Street in Aurora and is home to one of the state’s most extensive beer selections.
The hall features a unique pour-your-own system that allows guests to make their own beer choices without having to rely on a waiter or waitress. Each option includes relevant information like alcohol content, calories, and flavor characteristics, which makes choosing wisely relatively easy.
A variety of hearty and reasonably priced bistro-style fare is available, including burgers and sandwiches. There are soups, salads, and other lighter options too for those intent on watching their waistlines.
14. Denver Zoo
Though the climate in Colorado couldn’t be more different than it is on the African plains, the Denver Zoo was constructed to closely mimic Kenya’s landscape, which is home to many of the continent’s most iconic animals.
Featuring lions, rhinos, and giraffes, to name just a few, the Denver Zoo is home to thousands of animals from far-flung corners of the globe and is spread over nearly 100 acres not far from the downtown area.
The zoo is open daily from 9 AM until 4 PM from March through October but has slightly shorter hours during the fall and winter months. Admission prices vary by season.
15. Mount Evans Scenic Byway
The Rocky Mountains are a majestic chain of rugged peaks stretching more than 10,000 feet above the valleys in many areas; they’re the state’s most recognizable features.
Mount Evans Scenic Byway is the perfect place to experience these wonders of nature for those who’d prefer not to head out into the wild.
The byway follows the path of Interstate 70, which heads west from Denver into the mountains and through a number of quaint and historic mining towns like Idaho Springs.
Admission to a few sections of the byway requires a small charge, but previous visitors have noted that it’s a pittance in relation to the amazing scenery and fresh mountain air that are in abundance.