The train doors opened up, I stepped off, and suddenly I was transported back in time. I had left the big towering buildings of Denver with crowds of people bustling around and arrived in historic Olde Town Arvada. My time machine only took 20 minutes! The first thing I noticed was the welcoming old-timey water tower standing near the train tracks. You don’t see water towers like that any longer. What was once a supplier of water to this small town is now the landmark of a community.

I walked off the train platform and noticed that no building was over a couple of stories which is why the water tower stood out to me. The streets were filled with people casually walking down the middle of them, and restaurants’ outdoor seating spilled over into the street in a welcoming way. I was greeted by restaurants, bars, ice cream shops, art stores, and bakeries. Suddenly the world felt like it slowed down, and I let out a big sigh of relief.

Surprisingly this was my first trip to Arvada since I have lived in Denver, and now I have no idea why I waited so long to go there.

Olde Town Arvada – A Small Town in the Shadows of a Big City

The small community concept in cities has started to permeate Denver in the last decade. But the one downside to this concept is unless you live in that little neighborhood, it’s often hard to get there if you don’t want to drive there or are a tourist visiting Denver. However, Olde Town Arvada and its small-town Main Street charm is easily accessible on the RTD light rail system in Denver!

Twenty minutes and $6 will get you to and from Olde Town from Denver’s Union Station. It’s only 8 miles from the skyscrapers of downtown Denver, but it feels like a completely different world.

Olde Town Arvada Map

map of olde town arvada

Be sure to check the RTD schedule for times.

Olde Town History

If you are a history nut, Arvada is full of it. When you get off the light rail, you’ll find a bunch of informational signs about how Arvada was the site of the very first gold strike in Colorado. Plus, my favorite piece of history was that this rail commute I just did has been around for more than 100 years! In 1902 the Denver Interurban ran from Arvada to Denver on electric powered trolley cars. I had no idea that the Denver area had a trolley system historically.

Downtown Arvada is also designated on the National Register of Historic Places, which means that many of these buildings on Main Street are original and add to that small town feel.

9 Surprising Finds in Olde Town Arvada

Apple Pie, Baseball, and Main Street USA – that’s the backbone of the July 4th holiday weekend. In an effort to enjoy all of those things this year – I gathered up my visiting parents and headed to Arvada Olde Town! I had to substitute apple streusel from Rheinlander Bakery for the apple pie, but it was worth it…mmmm German streusel! We had Colorado Rockies tickets, and decided to take the light rail to Arvada to experience their Main Street feel for an afternoon and then easily hop on the RTD back to the baseball stadium in time for the night game.

Olde Town Arvada streets

My whole afternoon was full of surprises as we experienced the restaurants and shops of Olde Town. There were a lot of “that’s so cool” moments. So much so that I’m already planning trips back there! Plus I got to meet and talk to a bunch of the shop owners which made it even more fun to dig deeper into their concepts and products.

Here are 9 of my biggest surprises on my first trip to Arvada Olde Town.

1. The Country’s First Craft Seltzery

I didn’t want to like this concept. When you go into a place with that attitude, and you walk out feeling like it’s a totally cool…it’s a success. I didn’t want to like it because the idea of hard seltzer was a bit too main stream for me and my weird tastes. It screams college girls and Zima. How’s that for an 90’s throwback? I thought it was just some fad that sort of replays every 20 years or so. On top of it – this was a craft seltzer bar…which even annoyed me more because of the overuse of the marketing word ‘craft’. But dammit…I walked out of there impressed and wanting more.

Elevated Seltzer in Olde Town made me a believer in the seltzer trend. My dad and I sat at the bar and did two flights of all of their seltzers on tap. My first thought was how weird it was to see this perfectly clear liquid coming out of a tap. It felt all wrong. However, when I tasted their popular Cherry Lime hard seltzer, it was all right!

Elevated Seltzer Arvada
Flight of seltzers

I talked to the bartender, Danielle, and she told me that Elevated is the nation and the state’s first independent seltzer company. They have 4 flavors that are always on tap (lemon lime cucumber, cherry lime, pina coloda, and acai), and the rest of the taps rotate with seasonal flavors.

All of their products are zero carbs, zero sugar, and gluten free. It’s just yeast, water, and sugar. The sugar is eaten up during the fermentation process. They come in at about 100 calories for 12 oz. But that doesn’t mean they are wimpy. The seltzers range from 5 to 7.5% in alcohol which is similar to beer.

Elevated Seltzer Arvada

Two brothers, Hunter and Warren, started this business in 2019 when they ditched brewing beer and started making seltzer. They also have plans to expand into the world of cocktails while making each one enjoyable on its own. I can’t wait for that!

“In a market dominated by corporate giants, we wanted to take things into our hands and do things our way.”

I liked people who take on the big guys, and I’m rooting for Elevated Seltzer to succeed. I absolutely loved the Elderberry, Grapefruit, and Pina Colada flavors during our tasting. In fact, I might have even walked away with a few cans! I’m a seltzer believer now.

Visit Olde Town Arvada Colorado

2. It’s a town for Whiskey Lovers

I’m used to thinking of Kentucky when I think of whiskey and bourbon. Arvada certainly didn’t come to mind when I thought of great whiskey destinations…until now. Just walk into Schoolhouse Libations and you’ll be stopped in your tracks at the sight of their legendary whiskey wall. Just look up at the score board above the bar which has the number of bottles of whiskeys on their library shelves. It read 1,882 which put them at one of the largest whiskey lists in the country. That number also represents the year that the Arvada one room public schoolhouse was established (1882); it’s now the home of Schoolhouse libations.

library of whiskey arvada
Library of whiskey

I stared at that wall of whiskey and wondered how in the world they were able to locate the right bottle when there are 1,882? The bartender explained their inventory system and how he finds them. “It’s pretty easy to find what I’m looking for, unless someone puts a bottle back in the wrong place,“ he said with a laugh.

I learned that the most expensive 1 oz pour they had was $320 of Eagle Double Rare (only 299 bottles made in the world), and the least expensive pour is their well whiskey coming in at $3. I guess you can say they have something for everyone! I enjoyed my glass of Talisker Storm from Scotland, it had a peaty, smooth flavor and it was only about $13.

As you take your time and sip your whiskey, you can’t help but be enthralled with the schoolhouse décor in the bar. It’s beyond clever, starting with the bar made of #2 pencils. The walls have old chalk boards on them, the ‘chandeliers’ are made of old school desks welded together, and the high-top bar tables have periodic table elements on them…but the secret is that when they are all pushed together into one large table they make up the entire periodic chart!

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