History Buff (Two-Day) Itinerary
Before embarking on a tour of Longmont, learn more about the history of our City here.
Start your journey back in time at Aime’s Love Bakery. This gluten-free bakery offers pastries, muffins, breakfast sandwiches and savory breakfast items, as well as breads and treats to take with you for later. All of their menu items are gluten-free and taste delicious! The bakery is located in the building that housed James Cash “J.C.” Penney’s first business endeavor – a meat market.
After breakfast, wander in Downtown Longmont’s Creative District to check out the historic buildings and inspiring architecture. Since 1971, over 120 Longmont structures have been designated as local landmarks. In addition, the Downtown Longmont Creative District, nine of Longmont’s local landmarks and two residential areas have been recognized on the National Register of Historic Places/Districts.
Pro Tip: Stop by Visit Longmont to pick up a Main Street, Historic Westside Neighborhood, Thompson Park Neighborhood, 3rd Avenue or Historic Eastside Neighborhood walking tour brochure to learn more about the historic buildings and homes in the area.
While wandering around the Chicago-Colorado Colony (Longmont’s original name which represents the original town of Longmont – one square mile that includes Main Street and the surrounding neighborhoods), stop at Old St. Stephen’s Church in downtown Longmont. This historic church, built in 1881, was originally an Episcopal Church now owned and maintained by the St. Vrain Historical Society. Look for the large bronze map of the original Chicago-Colorado in front of the church. While you’re downtown, make sure to visit the historic Callahan House (gardens open to public; tours of home available during special events). The charming, Queen Anne-style, Victorian house with warmly decorated French interiors wrapped in a poetic Italian garden was built in 1892 by Thomas Callahan, a local retailer, and gifted to the City of Longmont in 1938.
Just down the street is Old Mill Park(open April through October, sunrise to sunset), managed by the St. Vrain Historical Society. The historic park sits on land that was the site of the town’s second flour mill. The flour mill burned down in 1934, and the area was sold and replatted into city lots. However, part of the mill and railroad site remained open and were donated by the Secor family to the St. Vrain Historical Society. The five structures on the property are some of the oldest in Boulder County dating from the 1860s to the 1890s. This serene park is perfect for a picnic during your exploration.
Grab some cheeses, a baguette and a few desserts from Cheese Importers for a picnic lunch or dine in at this one-of-a-kind destination. Built in 1931, the building that houses this marketplace and bistro was the original home of a diesel-fueled power plant that supplied the City of Longmont with electricity until the late 1960s. Cheese Importers is a must-visit gem for anyone who comes to town! Enjoy a French-inspired meal of soups, salads, quiches, sandwiches and pastries then wander around the quaint European market and famous cheese cooler for souvenirs to take home.
After a tasty and relaxing lunch, visit the Longmont Museum & Cultural Center. Tour the award-winning permanent exhibit, “Front Range Rising,” which tells the history of Colorado’s Front Range from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs going back 14,000 years to the present day. Admission to this exhibit is free, but traveling exhibits, that are open for a nominal fee, are always worth a visit while you’re there.
If you are visiting Longmont in June, July or August, add a tour of the Dougherty Museum to your agenda. This unique museum, inspired by the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, houses a collection of beautifully restored antique automobiles, farm equipment, carriages, musical instruments and phonographs. The automobile collection dates back more than 100 years and includes steam-powered vehicles.
For dinner sample the historic Dickens Tavern for a homestyle meal and a pint. Stay for the live entertainment at the Dickens Opera House, just upstairs from the restaurant. The Opera House was built in 1881 by William H. Dickens, a cousin of Charles Dickens, in order to bring culture to Longmont. The Opera House continues to host live music, comedy and variety shows as well as special events most nights of the week. Ask about the haunted happenings in the restaurant and Opera House while you are there…if you dare!
Turn in for the night at downtown Longmont’s Thompson House Inn & Tea Room. This bed & breakfast’s rooms help tell the story of John Brigham Thompson and his family. The home is a historic landmark built in 1887. Make sure to make reservations for afternoon tea served every Friday and Saturday from 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
Start your day at the Longmont Farmers Market where you can enjoy breakfast and shopping at this award-winning market. Held every Saturday from April through November, this grower’s-only market boasts the longest farmer’s market season in the state. Enjoy local food trucks, farmstands and artisan booths for goodies to eat and some to take home.
After your morning at the market, head to the Boulder County Agricultural Heritage Center (open Friday-Sunday April 1 through October 31 and the first Saturday of the month November 1 through March 31). Admission is free and daily tours are offered at 11 a.m. Learn about the agricultural history of Boulder County by exploring the historic barns and farmhouse and enjoy seeing farm animals (onsite April through October).
A short drive from the Agricultural Heritage Center is the historic Hoverhome & Hover Farmstead. The 6,000 square-foot, elegant, 1914 English Tudor, Gothic Revival home is on the National Register as a Historic Landmark and is the home of the St. Vrain Historical Society. The tour of the home is full of historical information about Charles Hover and his family and life in Longmont and Boulder County in the early 1900s. Check for tour times and special events, or call ahead to ask for a tour of the property.
Head back to downtown Longmont for a stop at Mike O’Shays Restaurant and Alehouse. The restaurant has been open since 1981 making it the longest running, independently-owned restaurant in Longmont. The historic building housing this favorite of locals dates back to the 19th century.
Grab an afternoon coffee at Javastop, located in the historic Imperial Hotel building. The fancy Zweck Hotel, later renamed the Imperial Hotel, opened in 1881. Take in the beauty of this three-story Italianate-style building, then head inside this cozy coffeehouse and enjoy the ambience.
Don’t miss the chance to visit Sandstone Ranch Visitors & Learning Center situated on 313 acres of historic, cultural and natural resources. The Visitors & Learning Center is a historic property that was first homesteaded in 1860 by the Morse Coffin family. The home and property are on State and National Historic Registers, and the City of Longmont designated the house as a local landmark in September 2000. It includes hands-on displays on environmental features of the area, as well as history of the Coffin family and early Longmont. A variety of nature-focused, educational and artistic events/classes happen on the property throughout the year (the Visitors & Learning Center is open May-October on Tuesdays from 9 a.m.-Noon and the 2nd and 4th Saturdays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.)
For dinner, enjoy fine dining at its best at Sugarbeet . This modern American restaurant serves upscale, seasonal cuisine and fine wines while giving a nod to Longmont’s agricultural history (sugarbeets were one of Longmont’s main crops throughout the 20th century and served as a catalyst to Longmont’s growth; the Great Western Sugar Company’s factory is still visible on the east side of town) . Sugarbeet’s dining room, with exposed wood beams and touches of fieldstone, is warm and cozy, and their attentive staff and fabulous food make this one of Boulder County’s best restaurants and a memorable stop on your trip.
After dinner, wander over to the historic Times-Call building. Once home to the area’s newspaper, the building now houses a number of local businesses including St. Vrain Cidery and Longtucky Spirits. Enjoy a nightcap at either of these welcoming establishments before turning in for the night.