It’s summer! Do you feel it…the pull to be outside as much as we can? In Denver Colorado where we have sun 300 days a year (our best-kept not-so-secret), it’s the perfect region for outdoor dining, drinking, games, markets, and events. The front range comes alive as restaurants and bars sweep off their patios, and set up their chairs, tables, corn hole, bocce ball, and stages. It’s the opening of patio season around Colorado’s front range; patios in Denver – here we come!
This is the time of year I find myself asking friends, “where can we go and sit outside?”. It’s time to head to Denver’s best patios…in Arvada. Yup – you read that right, for the best patios in Denver, I’m sending you to Arvada – a western suburb of the Denver metro area.
Okay – Arvada is technically not in Denver, it is its own municipality. The city is a part of the Denver–Aurora–Lakewood, CO Metropolitan Statistical Area, and the Front Range Urban Corridor. I was surprised to find out that it is the seventh most populous city in Colorado! But honestly, the average person would just think that it’s a part of Denver as it’s hard to determine where one ends and the other begins. Plus – it’s only 7 minutes (or a 20 min RTD ride) from downtown Denver!
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Why Arvada Patios are the Best in Denver
When you look at Denver as a whole, you’ll find patios spread out around the Denver Metro area, but there is one place where you can find them concentrated, in so much abundance that it evokes an entire patio culture – Olde Town Arvada. I like to call it Patio Town Arvada
Arvada’s patios are so great because they are:
- Numerous – nearly every establishment in Olde Town has patio space in front of their business. And a few have patios in the back or rooftop patios! Breathe that fresh air everywhere you go!
- Proximity – Olde Town is cute and small. The whole area takes up about 4 square blocks. This makes patio hopping easy because everything is so close to each other. Last summer I wrote about how you can do a really fun progressive dinner in Olde Town restaurants – well – you can also do that progressive dinner on Arvada patios – hopping from one to the other for the next course!
- Pedestrian Only – The Olde Town area has been designated pedestrian-only. This is also why the restaurants and bars have so much room to spill out on the sidewalks because there are no cars or parking taking up space! Plus – the pedestrian-only area just creates such a fun atmosphere to walk around without having to worry about cars or contend with the noise.
Arvada Patios Weren’t an Accident – It was a Strategy
Olde Town Arvada has made a number of changes in the last few years that have catapulted the outdoor eating and drinking scene into epic. This is one time where COVID actually made something better. To meet the demand for more outdoor eating and drinking space during the pandemic, the streets in Olde Town were shut down to cars in June 2020.
Initially, this was just temporary. However, as COVID restrictions remained in place, the closure was extended multiple times. After hearing from many of the businesses and the community as a whole that they wanted to see the street closures remain in place., the city council voted for the pedestrian area to go semi-permanent (5-year closure) in the spring of 2021. Over a million dollars was invested at that point to make all of the patios/structures more user-friendly and permanent.
“I think Colorado has a huge patio culture! What sets Olde Town apart is the uniqueness of the buildings. Even before COVID our patios were always the place to be when it was warm. People loved sitting on a small town street with beautiful historic buildings. Now that the streets are closed to traffic, sitting outside is even better! You can enjoy music all down the streets, see the street art, and watch families play in the closed streets. “Scott Spears Arvada business owner and resident
So it’s really thanks to COVID (and some forward-thinking city planners and businesses) that Arvada has the best patios in Denver!
Read about 9 Surprises in Olde Town Arvada
What Makes a Great Patio
Of course, everyone might look for something different in their patio setup – but here are the things that I think make eating and drinking outdoors special.
Ample Space – The more space outdoors the better! When Arvada started catering to pedestrians, they increased the patio space dramatically in Olde Town. We aren’t talking just a few tables outdoors – we are talking about outdoor spaces that are larger than some of the indoor spaces!
Community Seating – I don’t know about you, but I love to have big community tables on patios as it’s easier to make friends that way. As someone who frequently goes out solo, it’s nice to have those big table options on patios so that I don’t just have to sit inside at the bar. Resolute Brewing in Western Arvada had big picnic tables on their patio that you could easily share!
Live Music – Many of the establishments in Arvada (not just Olde Town) have live music on the patios creating an even livelier atmosphere while supporting local artists. Bluegrass lounge in Olde Town has live music every day of the week on their back patio!
Games – Of course, every good patio has a few good games. Corn hole anyone?
Food and Food Trucks – Where you find breweries, you find food trucks. And when you are sitting out on the patio, you are even closer to the food truck! Many places like Resolute Brewing in Western Arvada have a different food truck serving beer-thirsty customers every night of the week! And at Denver Beer Company in Olde Town, they have a permanent ‘food truck’ out on the patio serving up burgers.
Pet Friendly – This is uber important in Colorado – patios mean pets. The best patios will have water bowls for pets, treats, and easy places to leash them up. I think this is my favorite part about patios – getting to pet the abundance of dogs on the patios!
Arvada’s Best Patios for Outdoor Eating and Drinking
There are way more than I can list – but here are a few I recently stopped in at and enjoyed that wonderful outdoor patio vibe.
Bluegrass Coffee and Bourbon Bar
Just steps from the RTD stop, hidden behind what seems to be just a normal bar is the intimate Bluegrass Lounge back patio. This is the place to be this summer…and well…winter too! The old 120-year-old home has been converted into a cozy neighborhood bar; Bluegrass is a nod to what you might find in a small Colorado mountain town, but right in the Denver Metro!
The back patio is warm and welcoming with plenty of seating, a separate back bar, twinkly lights, and some awnings to protect you from the sun on hot days.
As you can tell from the name, it’s a coffee house by day and a bourbon bar at night. But at all times you can sit on the back patio! Sip delicious coffee (roasted in-house), and enjoy the morning patio time while doing morning work; this could in fact be your outdoor office! Grab a piece of award-winning NY-style pizza for lunch (get the Sea Biscuit pie!) and stay for happy hour, bourbon tasting events, and live music that night. Honestly…you might not ever want to leave this patio!
Bluegrass has an endless array of events all year long. I have no idea how they have the energy, but there is something going on here every night of the year from live music to their Whiskey tasting Wednesdays, to special theme parties and more. But this summer make sure you check out their 6th Annual Crawfish Boil June 12th; pre-order the food and sit back and enjoy live music, and some hurricanes or a Sazerac – just like in NOLA!
School House Kitchen and Libations
School House Kitchen and Libations is a one-of-a-kind restaurant and whiskey bar that you have to see to believe. Not only does it boast a large outdoor patio in front of the old historic schoolhouse building, but it also has a roof patio!
When the roof patio isn’t rented out for special events, it’s open to anyone who wants to get a bird’s-eye view of the Olde Town Arvada square or just closer to the sun.
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Even though the patios here are great, this is one place you need to go inside and walk around just to see the school-themed décor – it’s so clever! Take special note of the pictures on the way to the bathrooms.
School House is in a prime location right across from the square where they have a number of events all summer. While I was there for Arvada’s 2nd Saturday Music Series, I had dinner out on the School House patio and could still hear and see the band playing in the square. And speaking of food, you’ll find nostalgic school-themed food here too!
The biggest event Schoolhouse throws every year is Adult Prom. Usually, this coincides with the last Second Saturday in August. Adult Prom is a party with a DJ, and usually a theme. Past themes have been “Enchantment Under the Sea, 80’s Prom, Dancing Under the Stars, and many others. As someone who never went to their own high school prom, I’m thinking this finally may be my chance – sign me up!
This pre-prohibition-style cocktail bar and restaurant is just my kind of place to finish the night with a drink. And when you can have that delicious cocktail out on a patio on a hot summer night under the moon…it’s even better. With a food menu that leans slightly German and an extensive prohibition-era cocktail menu – this place speaks to me in more ways than one.
Arvada Tavern used to have a small little patio with a few tables on the sidewalk, but with the recent changes, they have expanded to a large seating area full of twinkly lights that are right across the street from the square.
Experience the best Denver whiskey bars – go to Whiskey Row in Arvada
Denver Beer Company
A long-standing favorite, Denver Beer Company housed in an old autobody shop has been serving up craft beer on its big patio since 2017. What I love about this patio (besides the Princess Yum Yum Beer) is the long communal picnic tables; you will definitely leave with new friends and probably some pet friends too! Plus, they have a couple of big glass garage door facades giving way to an open airy taproom just making the whole place scream summer fun!
And if you get hungry while soaking up the sun you can try out the Mighty – a 1978 Airstream trailer serving up grass-fed organic Colorado burgers and fries. The trailer sits right on the patio – so you don’t have to go far!
Homegrown Tap and Dough
The patio is on the smaller side, but the location is perfection at Homegrown Tap and Dough. This corner bar welcomes you to Olde Town as you get off the RTD and onto the pedestrian main street (Old Wadsworth Blvd). Specializing in Colorado charm, take a seat in an old ski lift chair and enjoy local tap beers and pizzas. This is a cozier patio space, but perfect for people watching!
The newcomer to the patio scene in Arvada Olde Town is Teocalli Cocina. The Mexican restaurant just opened in 2022 and is already making waves. It has a prime corner location right as you enter Olde Town and that also means it has one of the biggest patios around (it seats about 80 people)!
Who doesn’t love sipping margaritas and eating tacos outside? And by the way, Teocalli won the people’s choice award for best carne asada taco at Denver’s Top Taco festival last year. So yes…you definitely want a taco on the patio!
Don’t miss their happy hour from 3 to 5 PM daily. Plus they are talking about teaming up with their neighbor, Denver Beer Company to do patio concerts on alternating nights.
A Patio With a Mountain View – Resolute Brewing Tap & Cellar
And if you think the only patio fun is in Olde Town – you are wrong. If you are looking for a patio with a view of our incredible front range mountains, then head to Resolute Brewing Tap & Cellar in Western Arvada. Funnily enough – they refer to the location as ‘Far-vada’ because they are out on the western edge of Arvada. It might be a further drive, but that view is oh so worth it!
Their company tag line is “Community Focused Craft Beer” and they are really true to that community concept. The ample patio is filled with tables and large communal picnic tables. There’s plenty of room for kids to run around and pets to lounge. Plus – they have a food truck every night to keep the party going. The bartenders will even help you pair your beer choice with the food truck menu!
What I loved about Resolute was how they have really become a part of their surrounding community – often hosting neighborhood events in their parking lot (the advantage of being further out with more space). From live music to car shows, run/bike clubs, and a special Far-vada Farmer’s Market – it’s a summer of fun community-focused events!
Outdoor Fun in Arvada this Summer
Sitting around patios in Denver eating and drinking isn’t all that the Arvada area has going on this summer. There are all kinds of events where you can team up patio time with event time.
Second Saturdays Summer Concert Series and Street Festival
The whole of Arvada Olde Town turns into an outdoor party at their Second Saturday Concert Series. Reminiscent of an outdoor music festival set in a small town, you can listen to 4 different bands playing in the square and near the RTD station. Walk around and enjoy the local booths of artisans and shopping AND make sure you have dinner and drinks on one of the awesome patios.
I went to the summer kickoff and loved the atmosphere. There were so many people out walking on the streets, listening to music, dancing, playing games, and simply enjoying summer! They have ID stations at the ‘entrances to Olde Town’ for this event so you can even purchase beers and wine on the street from vendors and then walk around with them.
My favorite part about the event was that it was pleasantly full – but not crowded like many big-city events get. I enjoyed the bands, food, and cocktails all outdoors…the perfect evening! And…the festival and music are all FREE!
Mark your calendar – future dates are set for June 11, July 9, and Aug. 13.
Sunday Arvada Farmers Market
On Sundays in Olde Town Square, you can kick off your morning at the Arvada Farmer’s Market from 9 AM to 1:30 PM. Browse around at more than 50 vendors providing fresh produce, as well as prepared foods, drinks, and art for sale. Get your weekly produce shopping done and then stay for a patio brunch! Get the latest updates on vendors here.
Front Porch Music Series
If you want a real intimate outdoor concert – then check out the Arvada Center’s Front Porch concert series. Weekly from June 30th to September, the Front Porch Series presents local solo and duet musical acts, food, and brews in a shady, beer-garden setting on Arvada Center’s front plaza. Check out the musical acts and reserve tickets here.
Plus – check out the other summer concerts (in a much larger outdoor venue) held this summer at the Arvada Center.
Taste of Arvada
Try everything delicious from Arvada in one place and come hungry! The Taste of Arvada is held July 21, 2022, from 5-8 PM at the Apex Center, and features offerings from more than 70 Denver Metro and Arvada restaurants, bars, bakeries, craft breweries, and distilleries. The event also features live music, food trucks, and art vendors. In addition, restaurant and bar vendors will compete for coveted prizes in their categories, voted on by attendees. Info and tickets at
There’s so much more…like outdoor yoga, arts festivals, fireworks, and outdoor movies – check out the complete Arvada Summer Guide for 2022
Win $250 to Spend in Arvada on the Patios
If I’ve convinced you that Arvada has the best patios in Denver and you are planning an Arvada patio outing – then be sure to sign up for this Olde Town Arvada giveaway. You could win a $250 gift card to any Olde Town Arvada business (not just patios)! Come and patio hop around trying out multiple patio drinks and food! The contest runs the entire month of June – don’t miss it!
The Best Way to Get to Arvada’s Patios
Escape the big city and hop on the RTD Gold Line from Union Station. In only 24 minutes it’ll drop you at the heart of the best patios in Denver – right in Olde Town! From there you can spend the whole day or night and then take the RTD back to Denver – no driving necessary – only fun! The round trip RTD ticket from Union Station to Olde Town is $6
Arvada might be technically outside of Denver, but it has a sense of place and small-town charm that is friendly and welcoming. The recent changes they’ve made to Olde Town to promote the outdoors, pedestrians, and patio culture have only made it better for any discerning patio lover! And the best part is all of these patios are nestled in the perfect little small town in a big city atmosphere! Who wants to meet me on an Arvada patio this summer?
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