Travel After 50: There’s lots to love about Lyons

Driving through downtown Lyons, with the afternoon sunlight disappearing behind the mountain peaks, you’ll realize it’s a special place.

The adorable main street lined with welcoming restaurant patios, boutiques and art galleries makes this gem the perfect under-the-radar destination for those looking to get away from city life for quality down-time. About an hour northwest of Denver, leave the hustle and bustle behind, to experience a small town full of character that has something for everyone, from art, music and history to the outdoors — all oozing with unparalleled charm. Come for an original Dale’s Pale Ale at Oskar Blues or for a set of live music at Planet Bluegrass and stay for much more. Here are some of our favorite reasons to visit.


With each corner of town studded with distinctive pieces, Lyons is brimming with different forms of art. This year alone the town has added 15 public art instillations that promote the enclave’s unique personality. Seven galleries in downtown highlight a variety of local artists. Be sure to stop into Western Stars Gallery & Studio for a celebration of artistic passion through fine art, antiques, souvenirs and unique gifts. Red Canyon Art offers ceramics, jewelry, cards and more handmade crafts by a wide variety of Colorado artists. And The Corner Studios is a collective of multicultural artisans who specialize in a wide range of trades such as creative sewing and picture framing. And of course, peruse the gallery and boutique for a hand selected sample of the artists’ talents.


At its heart, Lyons is a music destination. The town hosts blockbuster folk music festivals, including RockyGrassRocky Mountain Folks Festival and the more intimate Wildflower Concert Series at Planet Bluegrass, one of the state’s most iconic outdoor music venues. Every July, the destination becomes the center of the bluegrass universe as generations of legends converge to riff and play their music. Listening to tunes amid the beautiful backdrop of St. Vrain Creek and those red-stone mountains from your seat at Planet Bluegrass is a magical experience that’s beloved by Coloradans.

Can’t visit in July? Great musicians call Lyons home, so you may hear their melodies drifting through the town during a porch pickin’ session. Or attend the free Sandstone Summer Concert Series, every Thursday during summer in Sandstone Park. If you’re traveling during the colder months, mosey over for a listen at the new Winter Wonderland Music Series, with free live music at the outdoor ice rink in LaVern Park. Warm up with a cup of coffee accompanied by live acoustics at the Stone Cup every weekend throughout the year; or for a night out, head over to Oskar Blues Grill & Brew, which hosts live acts a few nights a week.


There truly is something always going on in Lyons. During the Good Old Days in June you can celebrate the rich history of the town and the people who helped create it with a car show, ice cream social, face painting and other activities for the kiddos. Also in June, the Lyons Outdoor Games are a weekend of adventure, beer, music and camping. Burning Can at the Lyons Outdoor Games features 100 breweries; world-class athletes competing in events like trail running, kayaking and mountain biking; surrounded by awe-inspiring scenery. Bonus: Tickets are less than $100.

In town for the Halloween season? Lyons’ Spooktacular Halloween has a Stone Cup chili cook-off, games for all ages and, of course, all of the candy you can eat. At dusk, thousands of costumed residents and visitors fill Main Street to partake in a town-wide parade and trick-or-treating at local businesses. In December, the Holiday Parade of Lights brings a procession of colorful floats to Main Street and the best (and only) winter fireworks display in the region.


Less than 30 miles from Rocky Mountain National Park and home to an array of alpine landscapes waiting to be discovered, Lyons the ideal place to escape from the hubbub of life and recharge. Start at LaVern M. Johnson Park, where you can go ice skating on their outdoor rink made with water from St. Vrain Creek in the winter months or take the kids to the park’s splash pad to cool off from the heat in the summer. The park also has 17 tent sites and 15 RV sites — so you can spend even more time breathing in the fresh mountain air. For more adventure, join the kayakers and tubers at the new Lyons Whitewater Park, a quarter-mile horseshoe-shaped park that has eight water features spread out with pools and eddies and attracts both novice and experienced boaters.

Warmer months also brings tubing on the St. Vrain River, where you can cascade through the rapids. If you prefer to stay on dry land, visit the Dirt Jump Bike Track to show off your riding skills on a one-of-a-kind pump track, constructed from natural terrain and materials that mimic the local trails riders might encounter at surrounding open spaces.


Lyons was first explored by the Ute Indians then was settled by ranchers and farmers in the late 1800s. To learn more, go to the Redstone Museum, housed in the first building built in Lyons in 1881, hosting exhibits on the town’s past and the railroad that helped boost the local sandstone economy in the late 19th century. Once you have a general idea of the area’s history, proceed outside for a historic walking tour to admire some of Lyons’ notable architecture and the craftsmanship of local residents.

See the Chisholm/Trueblood Home, a former blacksmith shop in an 1890s building that uses an early form of insulation constructed with 18-inch thick dual stone walls. Next, walk over to the 1890 Cunningham/Wesse Home, a private residence constructed from Lyons sandstone. Continue to the Lyons General Store, the original home of town founder E.S. Lyon in the 1880s before it became T.J. Thorne’s General Store with a blacksmith and wagon shop. Then, check out the Old Stone Church, built for $3,147 in 1894 using local sandstone and is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Don’t miss the 1885 Lyons Depot, which served as Lyons’ train depot until the 1960s, when it was revamped into a library in the 1980s and now serves as a town administrative building.

Finish off your trip to Lyons at the original Oskar Blues, affectionately known as the creators of The Original Craft Beer in a Can. In 2002, the Colorado brewpub began concocting and hand canning Dale’s Pale Ale. While the “huge, voluminously hopped mutha of a pale ale” is now sipped worldwide, Oskar Blues Grill & Brew in Lyons maintains its laid-back ambiance. Belly up to the bar for a cold one and linger over plates of mouth-wateringly delicious eats like the El Nachos, Pad Thai Curry Fries or the B.B. King Burger.

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