Open the door to Rheinlander Bakery in downtown Arvada and the seductive aroma of fresh hot cross buns envelops you like a mother's hug. Curved-glass pastry cases filled with Easter cookies and Old World cakes shaped like bunnies and chicks take you back to a simpler time, a time when bakers made spring treats from scratch. With all the growth along Colorado's Front Range, a small town that cherishes any tradition ― be it a buttery, fruit-filled stollen or a historic shopping district ― makes a nice escape.
Arvada, a compact island of Americana in the sea of suburbia 7 miles northwest of Denver, has managed to preserve the fabric of its history. Old brick buildings filled with antiques dealers, one-of-a-kind shops, and restaurants are clustered in Historic Olde Town.
Enjoy a pastry and coffee at Rheinlander Bakery (closed Sun; 5721 Olde Wadsworth Blvd.; 303/467-1810), then buy some treats to take home. Bakers Ed and Maro Dimmer still use recipes brought from Germany by Ed's parents, who established the bakery 40 years ago.
There are plenty of antiques shops to browse, but don't miss the gritty shelves at Cool Stuff, Inc. (closed Sun-Mon; 5655 Olde Wadsworth; 303/420-8989), which sells vintage parts and accessories for classic Volkswagens. Then peruse the elegant European silk and dried blossoms at Ramah Flower (closed Sun; 5642 Olde Wadsworth; 303/422-7758).
Papillon's Doll Shoppe (closed Sun-Mon; 7417 Grandview Ave.; 303/463-5506) is filled with modern dolls. You can buy, sell, or trade acoustic instruments at Olde Town Pickin' Parlor (closed Sun; 7515 Grandview; 303/421-2304). Christy Angell of Old Town Winery (closed Mon-Tue; 7505 Grandview; 303/901-2648) makes wine from Colorado-grown grapes and presides over tastings. Oenophiles can also head to Primo Vino (closed Sun; 5713 Olde Wadsworth; 303/273-9463), a new wine shop specializing in Italian selections.
If the wine tasting makes you hungry, head to DiCicco's Italian Restaurant (5660 Olde Wadsworth; 303/940-9877) for a plate of pasta. Or, for sandwiches and specialty coffees, try La Dolce Vita (5756 Olde Wadsworth; 303/456-8919). Just leave room for the bakery treats waiting in your car.
WHERE: From I-70 take Wadsworth Blvd. (exit 269) north 1 mile to Grandview Ave.
CONTACT: www.historicarvada.org or (303) 420-6100.