As most of my readers know, I grew up here in Golden. As a kid I also lived in Chicago during a lot of summers as my mom was the public relations director for the Chicago Symphony during its summer …
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As most of my readers know, I grew up here in Golden. As a kid I also lived in Chicago during a lot of summers as my mom was the public relations director for the Chicago Symphony during its summer season. Then I moved to Orlando, Florida for a few months to play in the band at Walt Disney World. I also moved to the Los Angeles area to go to school, so I lived in Hollywood, Pasadena and Huntington Beach for a while. After that were the years I spent traveling and touring with bands where hotel rooms, condos and even military bases around the world were my residences. Eventually I moved back to Colorado, owned a business and had a house up in Estes Park. But through all of that, Golden has always been “home” to me and what I considered my base. Through all those years, it was always the place I could return to and where everything was familiar.
I have to tell you, if I had simply been gone for 40 years and just returned to Golden, I almost wouldn’t recognize the place. A lot of things have changed around here since I first showed up at 5 days old in October of 1959. That was the day that my Dad ran out of gas on Hwy. 6 just before he got to the 19th Street intersection. He had to run down the street to the gas station on the corner of 19th and Jackson streets with a gas can in his hand to get me home. Nowadays he’s have had to run twice as far in the opposite direction to find a station. But, while he was there he could have gotten a hot dog, something cool to drink besides a bottle of pop and paid as much for a single pack of cigarettes as he did for three cartons of them back in the late 50’s.
Now, I’m not one of those people that lives in the past and thinks all changes are bad and that we should leave everything the way it used to be. I mean, let’s be honest here … Some things wear out their usefulness and others just start getting run down and falling apart. Sure, I miss a few of the things that I grew up with, but all in all, most of what has changed around has been an improvement, at least through my eyes. I’m sure there are plenty of folks out there that would disagree with me on that one, but these changes have already happened and they are now a part of the new landscape of Golden. Go back far enough, and I’m sure there were plenty of people around who weren’t too excited about some German guy building a beer brewery in town on the river.
That being said, the building boom and repurposing around here has certainly surged in just the last few years, and that means there are a lot of places you might want to check out.
Let me just run down the list of bars and restaurants that were here back when I was growing up that are still basically the same and have the same names. There’s the Ace High Tavern on Washington Avenue and the Rock Rest Lodge on Old Golden Rd. Yeah, that’s pretty much the entire list. Even the Buffalo Rose used to be called Dud’s. I think the Columbine Bar may have been there, but I don’t remember.
But, that means there are loads of new places to explore. The place you used to buy hay for your horses, Golden Mill, has a great food court and a self serve tap wall with over 50 beers, wines and cocktails. Speaking of food courts, there is also a new one called Tributary Food Hall and Market on 12th Street. The formerly empty Miner’s Alley between Washington Ave. and Arapahoe Streets has Bella Colibri, Golden Moon Speak, Miner’s Saloon, and the Trailhead Tap House and Kitchen. That’s just in a back alley.
Downtown has Nosu Ramen, Okinawa Sushi and Thai Gold if you’re looking for some interesting Asian food. Then there’s the other breweries. Barrels and Bottles, Mountain Toad, Golden City, New Terrain, Cannonball Creek, Over Yonder, Holidaily, Colorado Plus 49 and a brand new on Old Golden Rd. called Coda. There are literally dozens of restaurants and bars plus loads of really interesting shops, galleries and museums to explore. There’s no way I can list everything here. Golden has blossomed considerably.
So, this is basically my annual summer pitch to all of you to get out and explore all of Golden, the wonderful town that we live in. I promise that you will find a new place that you didn’t know existed and probably really enjoy. I’m telling you…You really don’t have to go far to find a new adventure!
John Akal is a well-known jazz artist/drummer and leader of the 20-piece Ultraphonic Jazz Orchestra. He also is president of John Akal Imaging, professional commercial photography and multi-media production. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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