You've heard of staycations, so why not west Denver as a playcation for your next event? Lakewood, Wheat Ridge and nearby Golden are ideal spots bursting with places to stay, play and get some work done in the process. Local meeting attendees appreciate reduced travel times and out-of-towners have easy access from Denver International Airport and to the mountains.
The biggest news for the burbs in west Denver was the opening of a new W Line light rail system in 2013 that connects the city of Denver with points west. The 12 miles of track runs from Union Station downtown to the Jefferson County Government - Golden Station, with 11 stations in between. Meetings and events on the western side of the metro area are often more affordable, the light rail allows for easy visits to city nightlife and driving time to the mountains is at least an hour shorter than many other Front Range locations.
To make planners’ work lives easier, we’ve outlined some event spaces for meetings near light rail options for seamless planning.
Gateway to Nature and Artistry
The name says it all. Lakewood is awash with outdoor recreational and indoor cultural centers. You’ll find 80 parks dotted throughout the region, including Bear Creek Lake Park. The area is known for breathtaking views, extensive trails and wildlife habitat. The 2,600-acre park has a fishing lake, hiking and biking trails and an archery range. Don’t miss Green Mountain if stunning views of Denver and the highest peaks of the Rocky Mountains are on your group’s wish list.
Lakewood has an emerging and growing art scene with galleries that offer unique spaces for events. The West Colfax Corridor called 40 West Arts is designated as a Colorado Certified Creative District (near the Lamar and Wadsworth Light Rail stops) and includes dozens of galleries and serves as a hub for artists. Both 40 West Gallery and four galleries at the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design are available for private events.
Last April, the Lakewood City Council approved Artspace as a destination location as well as an affordable place for artists to live and work. William Marino, executive director for 40 West Arts, says it is one of only 12 certified districts in the state.
The area was once a gateway to the Rocky Mountains in the 1930s and 1940s, but fell into disarray when larger highways replaced the Colfax transportation corridor. That is all changing with the exciting revitalization developments. “We have been working on this for decades,” Marino says. “40 West Arts district is for anybody who wants to be edgy and artsy and is looking for something different. We have places for intimate small gatherings in galleries to the world-known Casa Bonita.”
Sheraton Denver West Hotel is a longstanding hub for Lakewood meetings and events. It’s conveniently located 1-quarter mile west of the Federal Center, within a short walk or hotel shuttle ride from the Federal Center light rail station and 4 miles from Lakewood Cultural Center (the hotel provides free transportation to the center). The views from the Sheraton’s two ballrooms are the hotel’s true gems. “The Lakewood Ballroom overlooks downtown Denver and City Lights Ballroom has a wraparound balcony that guests love,” says Kristine McMahon, CMP, director of sales and marketing. The hotel can accommodate groups of 20 to 775.
Baldoria on the Water has been in business for about two years. Owner and General Manager Linda Shotton says, “The building was deserted. We renovated the space and expanded it into a corporate meeting space.” When you see the center, it’s hard to believe it was once in such terrible shape. Baldoria has an elegant Tuscan feel with hard surfaces like flagstone, copper and natural woods, and the main indoor space can host up to 300 seated. The outdoor patio, lined with trees and bordered by a lake, is another striking space for up to 150 guests. Baldoria is near the Federal Center light rail and is close to four Hilton hotels and a Marriott.
The Next “It” Town
Wheat Ridge has been a designated city since 1959, which makes it one of the youngest towns in the Denver metro area. In recent years, the 38th Avenue corridor that connects Wheat Ridge with Denver has been getting some much-deserved attention. In 2014, the area was awarded the Best Marketing and Branding Governor’s Award for Downtown Excellence. The area was recognized for its small-town vibe, pedestrian-friendly streets and big city amenities. The Ridge at 38, a commercial district that connects West 38th between Sheridan and Wadsworth Boulevard, has become the ideal setting for festival-size events in the warmer months.
The rich history of the once largely agricultural area, known for wheat farming (hence the name), is found at Richards-Hart Estate, circa 1877. Prior to its purchase in 1976 by the city of Wheat Ridge, the estate was home to the Richards and Hart families. “The biggest benefit to hosting an event in Wheat Ridge is its central location and close proximity to Denver,” says Meghan Godby, the facility rental coordinator for Richards-Hart Estate and Wheat Ridge Recreational Center. The recreation center is near the light rail station at Ward and 70th Avenue, and Richards-Hart Estate is within a 10-minute walk from the Sheridan Street light rail.
The estate, owned and managed by the city of Wheat Ridge, has been carefully restored inside and out as a window into the décor and traditions of western Denver’s most prominent residents. The grounds feature a xeriscape and demonstration garden and Victorian landscaping. “Richards-Hart Estate has been restored down to the period replicas of the wallpaper,” says Godby. The home accommodates up to 75 (or 50 indoors), and fees include tables and chairs for events. Wheat Ridge Recreation Center has a ballroom for 250 and activity center rooms for smaller meetings as well as a fitness center, gyms, track and pool that are available to groups for additional prearranged fees.
Nestled in the crux of the foothills west of Denver, Golden is a charming town that is connected with winding bike paths, a lively mix of hotels, restaurants and museums and of course Coors Brewery for tours and a little sipping time.
One of the most spectacular places in Golden for meetings and events is the American Mountaineering Center (AMC). “We really are a gem in the heart of downtown Golden. The center is easily accessed off of I-70 and 5 miles via Highway 58, and the West Light Rail/RTD is a transportation option,” says Director Zandra Gillispie.
AMC is dedicated to the brave souls who climb up when others are happy to simply look to the clouds in awe. The exhibits are handson with a crevasse to jump or hang out on port-a-ledge and test your climbing skills with the best route to Mount Everest. The museum can host 150 to 200 for a cocktail reception, while the auditorium is ideal for 350, whether for speakers or performances. The conference center is available for gatherings of up to 214 theater-style or 185 seated.
Boettcher Mansion, an arts and craft-era estate perched atop Lookout Mountain Nature Preserve in Golden, seems like it’s a world away. But it’s only a 30-minute drive to Denver. This former summer home and hunting lodge is an architectural wonder set in the pines. The Fireside Room with its peaked, beamed roof and rubble stone fireplace says Colorado like none other. In warmer months, guests can spill onto the patio to take in the great outdoors. For smaller meetings, the Carriage House offers an intimate and warm space. Boettcher Mansion can accommodate groups of up to 150 both inside and out.
In the heart of Golden, Table Mountain Inn and The Golden Hotel are ideal for groups, and both have tasty restaurants. The charming adobe-style Table Mountain Inn, which can accommodate groups of 10 to 200, has six spaces for gatherings, including three meetings rooms, two lounges and a patio. The Golden Hotel overlooking Clear Creek also is centrally located in the historic downtown and has more than 6,500 square feet of meeting and event space, including a ballroom and three meeting spaces. The hotel can accommodate groups of 30 to 200.
Both hotels are within a short drive or walking distance to Colorado School of Mines, which can host groups of up to 2,400. The campus has a full-service conference staff to arrange for meetings and events in the classrooms and lecture halls, as well as the Ben Parker Student Center, Green Center and Student Recreation Center. The dormitories, cafeteria and intramural fields are available for large groups.
When considering Denver for a meeting, it’s important to think outside the city boundaries. Denver’s newest transportation corridor from DIA to the west could be your next favorite location for events and meetings. With priceless views, low traffic and a variety of hotels, venues and historic homes, groups will be delighted when you suggest heading west.
BY THE NUMBERS
36 FEDERAL AGENCIES (2ND TO WASHINGTON, DC)
4 RECREATION CENTERS
2 GOLF COURSES: FOX HOLLOW & THE HOMESTEAD
32nd & EATON ADDRESS OF BABE DIDRIKSON’S FORMER HOME
24 PARKS & 274 ACRES OF OPEN SPACE
1st APPLE TREE PLANTED IN THE STATE
1949 THE YEAR JOLLY RANCHER CANDY IN GOLDEN WAS FOUNDED
1874 FIRST COORS BANQUET BEER BY ADOLPH COORS
1862 to 1867 THE YEARS AS TERRITORIAL CAPITOL OF COLORADO