Well-known for its winter weather and close proximity to the Denver metro, Lakewood is the fifth largest city in Colorado. This Colorful Colorado city is quickly one of the state’s most attractive cities with jaw-dropping views of the Rocky Mountains, a growing job market, affordable housing, outdoor recreation, and more. Here are 18 things to know about Lakewood!
Big-City Advantages with a Small-Town Feel
With a population of just under 150,000, Lakewood gives residents a small-town feel and just 20 minutes away from Denver. While the cost of living in Lakewood is slightly higher than the national average, living in this Colorado city is more affordable than in Denver proper—and allows you to benefit from Denver’s access and amenities. Take advantage of Denver’s sports teams, including the Denver Broncos (NFL), Denver Nuggets (NBA), Colorado Rockies (MLB), Colorado Avalanche (NHL), Colorado Rapids (MLS), and Colorado Mammoth (NLL). Fly domestic, national, and across the world at the Denver International Airport. Walk to walk to fun shops and restaurants in Lakewood. Enjoy and explore Lakewood’s full views of the Rocky Mountains, with city views accessible from some of the nearby hiking trails. As one of the best cities for cat lovers, Lakewood’s small town community also extends to other furry friends too!
Lakewood Offers Employment & Quick Commute to Denver Jobs
Despite being a Denver suburb, Lakewood, CO provides nearly 70,000 jobs across all industry sectors, including government, education, and healthcare—resulting in a healthy economy and job opportunities for new residents. Lakewood is headquarters to companies like Encore Electric and bagel chain Einstein Bros.—not to mention, Lakewood is home to Natural Grocers, which now has more than 150 stores in 20 different states! That said, Lakewood residents also take advantage of the suburb’s proximity to Denver proper, and are able to commute to big-city jobs with sustainable transportation options. Register with Way To Go to find a carpool buddy and save gas on your work commute. Hop on the Regional Transportation District (RTD) Light Rail system for a 15-minute Lakewood-to-Denver commute, or go to Littleton, Aurora, and other metro areas. Or catch a ride to over 9,000 stops in eight Denver metro counties from the local RTD public bus system station, Lakewood Commons.
Engage with Lakewood’s Community & Culture
Explore what makes this Denver suburb so unique by getting involved in Lakewood’s cultural and community events! Try apple-pressing and tractor pulls during Cider Days, compete in a community boo-sy costume party at Flick-or-Treat, attend amphitheater events—and check out the permanent Lakewood: A 20th Century Journey exhibit or celebrate Lakewood history at Heritage Lakewood Belmar Park. Bring your own chairs and blankets to watch a free movie at Lakewood Heritage Center’s Rockin’ Block Party—and take advantage of holiday gatherings like the popular Winter Solstice Celebration and Earth Day. Experience Lakewood arts and culture and support rotating exhibitions or acts like the Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Colorado at Lakewood Cultural Center. Or get fresh produce at Lakewood’s farmers market throughout the summer!
Lakewood has Great College Opportunities
Universities and colleges in Lakewood foster education and career growth through many different avenues. Ranked the #8 Best College in Colorado, Colorado Christian University is a non-denominational school that provides students with a great on-campus living experience, with business, psychology, and biblical studies the most common degree routes. Red Rocks Community College, labeled one of the top 20 colleges and universities in Colorado, is affordable with small class sizes and provides a welcoming community for all students. If career school is the path you’re interested in, Colorado School of Trades is considered one of Forbes’ Top 30 Two-Year Trade Schools and trains more than 100 students each year in gun-smithing mechanics and repairs. Or check out Colorado Media School, where more than 80% of students receive financial aid while studying practical media programs like radio and television.
Take Advantage of Lakewood’s Winters
Winter weather in Lakewood is a snow lover’s dream! On average, the city receives more than 60 inches of snow per year, however, the Colorado winters are more enjoyable because Lakewood sees more than 240 sunny days a year. Visit one of 28 Colorado ski resorts like Echo Mountain Resort to shred the mountains and experience some of the best skiing in the United States. Try outdoor ice skating at the Rink at Belmar for a more relaxed, in-town activity. Zip down the “best sledding hill in Lakewood” at Union Ridge Park. Cast your line while ice fishing at Bear Creek Lake Park, or sign up for a class to learn the best techniques. Head into Rocky Mountain National Park to experience snowshoeing or cross-country skiing at its finest.
There’s a Little Bit of Everything at Belmar
As the informal downtown of Lakewood, Belmar is a bustling 22-block center built around a central plaza—with more than 80 retailers, restaurants, and entertainment centers supporting it as the town’s reinvented city center. Visit family-owned shop The Gift House for unique gifts like preserved, 24 karat trimmed red roses. Enjoy the Milk Tea from Dcha Cafe or splurge for traditional coffee from fresh, roasted coffee beans. Grab a bit to eat at Lakewood’s own Little India restaurant where you can munch on Punjabi Samosa and Tandoori Chicken that is baked inside a clay oven! Receive a relaxing manicure or pedicure at Pink & White Nails. Or attend one of the many Belmar’s events like Yoga on the Plaza, Third Thursday Concerts, or Uncorked Wine Fest.
Lakewood Is a Natural Haven
With 113 parks in the city, there’s more than 7,200 acres of green space and trails for Lakewood residents to take advantage of. Enjoy family-friendly activities like the Haunted Trail Adventures at one of the largest parks in Lakewood, 2,624-acre Bear Creek Lake Park. Spot a diverse range of wildlife like hawks, rabbits, and mule deer at Lakewood’s second largest park, William F. Hayden Park on Green Mountain. Venture to surrounding parks like Dakota Ridge Hogback and Matthews/Winters Park to have a picnic with spectacular views. Find trails, baseball and soccer fields, mountain views, a free outdoor fitness park, and public artwork at Addenbrooke Park. Get lost with your fishing pole around a seven-acre lake when you visit Cottonwood Park. Let your kids run around the baseball-themed splash park at Ray Ross Park. Or visit one of the metro’s most recognized xeric gardens, Kendrick Lake Park, where drought-tolerant plants flourish in dry conditions.
Spend a Day at Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Visit one of the world’s top 10 best live music venues, the Red Rocks Amphitheatre—a renowned Colorado hot spot for music lovers. Just 15 minutes from Lakewood in Morrison, Red Rocks Amphitheatre is home to two 300-ft. monoliths (Creation Rock and Ship Rock) and beautiful scenery. Because of this gorgeous natural stage, Red Rocks has played host to world-class performers from across the globe, including the Beatles in 1964, Aerosmith in 1983, Vampire Weekend in 2019, and so much more. Stop at the Visitors Center and see the iconic artists gracing the walls of the Red Rocks Hall of Fame. Hike the 1.5-mile Trading Post loop trail for beautiful scenic views of the Red Rocks area. Salute the Sun in Saturday morning sessions with Yoga on the Rocks. Or create your own workout by using the 140 stairs from the 69 rows (a total of 2.7 miles) at the most beautiful workout venue.
Hang Out on West Colfax in Lakewood
Colfax Ave is the longest commercial street in the U.S., with Lakewood home to its western half! Bars, music venues, breweries, shops, and historic businesses line West Colfax Avenue. Home to the 40 West Arts District, this street has a vibrant, unique energy that is maintained by residents and the West Colfax Community Association (WCCA). Additionally, the West Colfax Business Improvement District (BID) continues to develop the area through sustainable redevelopment and pedestrian-friendly transportation routes. Devour lunch or dinner dishes like Chicken Fried Steak and Smoked Pork Chops at Davies’ Chuck Wagon Diner, which is registered on the National Register of Historic Places. Chow down on a Frosted Maple Sugar Cookie or an OREO Chunk Cookie at The Colorado Cookie Company! Or keep the conversation going and support unique, high-quality performances by Benchmark Theatre.
Lakewood Is an Art Hub
Not everything in Lakewood is about exploring the great outdoors—the city also supports exploration of the arts! Art galleries, art walks, shops, local vendors, community art spaces, and events all create a creative community within Lakewood. Walk around A Touch of Colorado gift shop, where more than 300 local vendors display and sell gourmet foods, home decor, furniture, pottery, and photography. View Contemporary and mixed media from bright and bold abstracts to neutral art pieces at Julie Havel Fine Art in the Belmar District. Visit the Lakewood Cultural Center for an array of art galleries or live performances like “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” Check out an Arts & History adult program like drawing or painting, and visit the Holiday Arts and Pottery sale each year at Washington Heights Art Center. Or take a class or workshop like silversmithing from the Lakewood Arts Council!
Don’t Miss the 40 West Arts District
There are 28 certified creative art districts in Colorado and 40 West Arts in Lakewood is one of them! Located on historic West Colfax Avenue, this district supports vibrant arts and culture within the city limits as a non-profit organization and allows new and professional artists to showcase their work. Visit the 40 West Studios and admire all forms of artwork from sculptures, to acrylics and pastels, to handmade guitars. Examine floating art through the Art in the Air Program at Lamar Station Plaza. Follow the painted green line and explore art outside while strolling along the four-mile walking and bike route known as the 40 West ArtLine, located in the center of the arts district. Four times a year 40 West Art’s First Friday Art Walks turn into a block party with surprise spectacles and a quarterly theme known as the Colfax Art Crawl!
Hike Like a Local
You don’t have to conquer a 14er to get in on Colorado’s hiking scene! The city of Lakewood has 240 miles of trails available for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. For an easygoing trail for all skill levels, consider hiking the one-mile Kendrick Reservoir Loop, which encircles Kendrick Lake Park, and is perfect for walking, running, and birdwatching. Take Tertiary, Basalt Cap, Ancient Palm, & Welch Ditch Loop, a 2.2-mile, moderately rated trail to see some of Lakewood’s beautiful wild flowers. Compete for prizes every September when you enter the Trail Running Series at Bear Creek Lake Park. Hike a more difficult trail and summit the grave of William Frederick “Buffalo Bill” Cody, along with The Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave at Lookout Mountain Park. Bike or hike the 6,800-foot summit to enjoy stunning views of Denver and its surrounding areas on Green Mountain Trail. Or take on some or all of the spectacular scenery of mountain lakes and towering peaks while hiking the Colorado Trail, a 567-mile trail between Denver and Durango.
Stomp Around Dinosaur Ridge
Rated the #1 dinosaur track site in the U.S., Dinosaur Ridge is full of family-friendly educational experiences. Included in the Morrison-Golden Fossil Areas National Natural Landmark, Dinosaur Ridge features preserved dinosaur tracks and fossils. It can also be separated into the West and East sides, which both date back to different geologic time periods. Discover fossils in the Benton Seaway Box or climb the on-site dinosaur replicas around the Main Visitor Center. List to a Ridge volunteer discuss the history of the geological finds during a 1.25-mile guided walking tour. Walk along Dinosaur Ridge Trail to see more than 15 fossil and geologic sites like Crocodile Creek—where you can see scratch impressions of crocodile swim tracks. Catch one of 12 public Everything Dinosaurs Talk lectures to learn more about the world of dinosaurs. Or sign your kids up for the Dinosaur of the Month club to receive a surprise dinosaur figurine each month with a detailed information card!
Discover Great Food in Your Backyard
Food in Lakewood is top-notch, and you don’t have to take the Light Rail to Denver to eat well! Order breakfast dishes like Sweet Potato Pecan Cakes or Smoked Salmon Benedict from Blue Sky Cafe. Enjoy amazing cuisine like the Alaskan Codfish or the Wagyu Flank Steak at local favorite, 240 Union Restaurant. Head over to family-owned Cafe Jordano for a 30+ year Lakewood pasta staple, with popular dishes like homemade Gnocchi (in real cream sauce) or Buffalo Parmigiana. Listen to live music or indulge in menu items ranging from the Saturday: Steampot to Banana’s Foster waffles at Teller’s Taproom & Kitchen. Book a table at Clawful, a Vietnamese Cajun seafood joint dishing out items a la carte with sauces like Buttery Garlic or Fire Voodoo. Or take your friends and family to get a taste of the Philippines with staples like Fried Calamari and Crawfish at The Yabby Hut.
Craft Breweries Are “Hopping” Up Everywhere
Colorado is regarded as one of the best states for beer with more than 400 breweries within its borders—and Lakewood is no exception! Find tasty brews that are so good, you won’t believe they’re gluten-free at Great Frontier Brewing. Reserve the barrel room or order a glass growler of your favorite local drinks like “The Polterweiss” Hefeweizen at Green Mountain Beer Company. Indulge in unique, delicious brews like Premature Pumpkination and Cowboys vs. Hipsters IPA at Westfax Brewing Company. Hit up 6 and 40 Brewery when your tank is feeling a bit low for some car-themed pours like the Direct Diesel Injection Hazy IPA or an Unleaded Hard Seltzer. Choose craft beers like the Old 121 Honey Brown Ale or non-alcoholic beverages like Island Punch at Old 121 Brewhouse. Or pair your Beerly Beloved with one of many food trucks or event options like Burgerchief or The Gaykery when you swing by Landlocked Ales.
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