Three of Golden's top culture stops

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Golden doesn’t just sit at the gateway to the Rockies – it’s also the gateway to numerous arts and cultural activities.

There are well-known facets of the city’s cultural scene like the Buffalo Rose, a restaurant and live entertainment venue in the heart of Golden, and the Buffalo Bill Days Festival, which celebrates the famous William “Buffalo Bill” Cody. And there’s also hidden gems like the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum and The Bradford Washburn American Mountaineering Museum.

Among all the cultural offerings in Golden, here are three favorites of residents and visitors alike:

Colorado Railroad Museum

Location: 17155 W. 44th Ave.
Information: 303-279-4591 / www.coloradorailroadmuseum.org

As Paul Hammond, executive director of the Colorado Railroad Museum, explains it, imagining Colorado without the railroad is practically an impossible task. Perhaps no piece of technology has played a bigger role in the settling of the state, and Golden in particular has strong ties to the industry.

“Historically, Golden had aspirations to be the railroad center of Colorado,” Hammond said. “We’re a tie to that past as well.”

Opened in 1959, the Colorado Railroad Museum has been catering to train fans of all ages with a range of ways to spend a day. Options range from riding a train (if they are running) to a rotating signature exhibit and exploring the more than 100 narrow and standard gauge steam and diesel locomotives, passenger cars, cabooses HO Model Railroad and G-scale garden railway on the 15-acre railyard.

The museum is a goldmine for children, with a bevy of on-site programs and special seasonal events like the Polar Express and Day Out with Thomas the Tank Engine. But there’s also historical events and Colorado Rails and Cocktails for the adults.

“We have a big, covered picnic pavilion where visitors can bring their lunch to eat,” Hammond said. “Visitors can easily spend a couple hours looking around, going on a train ride, have some lunch, and you’ve got yourself a nice morning and afternoon.”

Foothills Art Center

Location: 809 15th St.
Information: 303-279-3922 / www.foothillsartcenter.org

Since its founding in 1968, the Foothills Art Center (also known as FAC), has hosted everyone from community artists to world-renowned glass sculptor Dave Chihuly in its three galleries. Its holiday market is a major draw every holiday season and has built up a reputation over 45 years as one of the best places for find unique and beautifully crafted gifts.

For those with children, the center offers a variety of ways to get them in touch with their creative side. There are eight weeks of summer classes taught by local Jefferson County art teachers that have become extremely popular, as well as classes during spring break and during the holidays.

Education for all ages and audiences is a vital part of what has kept the center thriving for more than 50 years, explained Maura McInerney, curator of education at Foothills.

“There is an educational component in the gallery to compliment exhibits in addition to access programs, workshops, community partnerships and opportunities for volunteers,” she said. “Our mission sums it up. We are, "Inspiring and engaging the community through arts, education and a creative exchange of ideas."

Miners Alley Playhouse

Location: 1224 Washington Ave.
Information: 303-935-3044 / www.minersalley.com

First founded in 2003 and under its current management as of 2013, the theater has taken all preconceived notions of community theater and elevated them to a new level. It is now one of 12 Small Professional Theatres in the state with productions in the 130-seat theater that regularly sell out, and unlike many local theaters, its season runs all year.

“We felt we could take theatre up to another level, because there’s a lot of good theater around, but not a lot of excellent theater,” said Artistic and Executive Director, Len Matheo. He took over the theater along with his wife, Lisa DeCaro, and partners Jim Billings and the late Brenda Worley Billings. “We are a hub and home for artists, actors, designers and tech people. In other words, a home for theater artists."

The children’s theater program at Miners Alley is top-notch, and Matheo said it’s the theaters way of giving back to the community. Not only are there children’s productions, but classes that range from “Simply Shakespeare” to “Character Building through Super Heroes and Super Villains.”

The ethos of Miners Alley is that a night at the theater can be full night out and a way to support the local community.

“People who come here will have a great theater experience from the moment they walk in the door,” Matheo said. “We’re run with local Golden volunteers, it’s a warm and inviting environment, it’s a great experience watching the show, extend experience afterwards by meeting the artists themselves."