By Angie Grenz
After seven months of chronicling downtowns across Northern Colorado, we have come to our final destination: downtown Berthoud. Berthoud is a historic and hospitable little hamlet that offers a fair amount of nostalgia, along with some modern conveniences that enhance its charm. It is also ripe for growth and expansion, sitting between Longmont and Loveland with million-dollar homes popping up all around.
Co-workers Jordan Secher and Sydney Edwards were my companions for the day, and we started our trek at the best possible location, Rise Artisan Bread Bakery & Café. Rise features all manner of baked goods, from breads to key lime pies and donuts. Being that it was lunch, we started with sandwiches on their homemade bread.
Jordan opted for the breakfast sandwich on sourdough, while Sydney ordered The North Country, a ham and cheese panini, and I opted for the Tanglewood, a tarragon chicken salad sandwich on cranberry walnut bread. All sandwiches were dispatched post-haste, with plenty of finger-licking. Their fresh-baked breads are definitely a game-changer when it comes to elevating an otherwise simple sandwich.
I also took home a selection of baked goodies and a rosemary sourdough loaf. The highlight of the pastries (though none were a disappointment) was the chocolate croissant. Croissants are one of the most ineptly made items in bakery cases everywhere. To find a good one in a small Colorado town better known for the surrounding farmland is almost unheard of, but this bad boy was buttery, flaky and had that chew that so many poorly done croissants lack. If you find yourself driving by Berthoud on your way to Longmont or Boulder, it is worth the detour to their historic downtown just to stop at Rise.
However, we soon found this little town has even more to offer and among their greatest assets is a spirit of hospitality. We were welcomed into every store front we poked our heads into. Berthoud’s downtown is lined up along Mountain Ave., which is also E. County Road 8. Four blocks, 6th to 2nd streets, were the focus of the day’s adventure.
After our visit to Rise we walked down to Wishful Living, a beautifully curated gift shop filled with home goods, antiques, folk art, jewelry and so much more. Fun signs, unique art pieces and goods from around the globe come together to create a shopping experience that is infinitely enjoyable.
Next, we found the Berthoud Historical Society and Little Thompson Valley Pioneer Museum. The museum, located in the A.G. Bimson blacksmith shop, features exhibits dedicated to Berthoud’s agricultural history. Despite its small size, the Pioneer Museum holds several exhibits and the Pioneer Courtyard, with a replica of banker John Bunyan’s astronomical observatory.
The Bunyan Observatory offers Star Gazing Nights the first Friday of every month from May through September beginning at dusk; keep this in mind if you plan a visit to the town this spring. More information can be found at berthoudhistoricalsociety.org.
We headed west again on Mountain Avenue until we came to 3rd Street, where The Ranchers Wife beckoned us to come explore its collection of antiques and handmade Colorado goods. Of course, the mural painted on the historic grain elevator that houses Ranchers Wife was hard to miss. The elevator was built in 1903 and Ranchers Wife took it over in 2013. The building is a treasure hunter’s dream, with room after room of unique items and antiques just ready for their next life on your mantle.
Back on Mountain, we continued west to Homestead Fine Art Gallery, where we were warmly welcomed by artists in residence Pat Sebern and Red Snyder. Homestead, true to its name, was welcoming and had recently expanded their wall space to add even more artists from Colorado and beyond. Many of the artists take a turn manning the gallery, which makes for an informative and enjoyable experience. They also host second Friday artist meet ups, where you can meet and mingle after a hearty meal at the nearby Cocina & Cantina Mexican restaurant.
After admiring several of the artists’ works, we popped into Kofe House to investigate their Pay It Forward wall, with messages like “Large coffee for a disabled veteran” or “Any large drink for a Texan.” The coffee shop imparts an urban vibe on this small town and has plenty of outdoor seating. Next door is Vanya Marie, a women’s clothing boutique with plenty of accessories and some retro styling.
Our final stop was at the much-loved City Star Brewing. Locals have told me time and again that City Star’s opening in 2012 was a game-changer for downtown Berthoud, giving locals a place to hang out, and even the kids were invited. City Star has been pumping out great beer ever since that opening and I was able to snag a pint of one of my favorites, Chili the Kid. This green chili pale ale has just the right amount of spice. Sydney enjoyed their Tangerine Farmhouse, a fruity and light refresher for our end-of-summer trek.
While Berthoud’s downtown makes for a nice day of exploration, there are a few options nearby to extend your time there. Blue MountainVineyards is set on a lovely farm just south and west of Berthoud and has tasting room hours on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. And TPC Colorado’s renowned golf course features world-class golf and Center Stage Grill in their clubhouse.
Regardless of where your travels take you, Berthoud’s hospitality makes an afternoon spent wandering its streets one well spent.