March 22, 2023
Dig Wheat Ridge’s Roots
Carnations. Lots of them.
The flowers are one of Wheat Ridge’s claims to fame. Once the largest producer of carnations in the world, it was known for years as “Carnation City” and even developed a cinnamon-scented variety. Though the last carnation grower closed in 2008, Wheat Ridge continues to celebrate its floral history with an annual Carnation Festival (this year marks the 54th) in August.
Wheat Ridge’s agricultural legacy ─ from the acres of golden wheat that gave the city its name to the fruit orchards, vegetable fields and carnations ─ is just one of the many reasons residents choose to call this city home.
It’s slowly losing its ties to agriculture but there are still a lot of people who’ve lived there many years and have strong ties to farming, especially on the western edge. Here you’ll find a handful of thriving farms, making it a unique community with rural appeal. Five Fridges Farm is a great example on West 38th Avenue between Kipling and Youngfield Streets. Offering farm tours, events, classes, and farm goodies (eggs!), it exposes families in The Ridge to goats, chickens, birds, and coyotes on land protected in perpetuity by a conservation easement. It’s a nice place to bring your children.
The City of Wheat Ridge
Incorporated in 1969, Wheat Ridge encompasses 9.5 square miles between Lakewood, Denver, and Arvada with Golden on its western side. Both the mountains and Denver Downtown are easily accessible via I-70, which cuts through the city. There are eight public, private, and charter elementary schools, eight middle schools, and five high schools including the public Wheat Ridge High School.
Among notable developments underway are the Corners at Wheat Ridge (Wadsworth Boulevard and 38th Avenue), which includes new retail, restaurants and housing. Other larger scale projects include Clear Creek Crossing (near I-70 and Highway 58), a 109-acre, mixed-use development; and transit-oriented development at I-70 and Ward Road near the G-Line Wheat Ridge – Ward light rail station.
One of the big projects to keep an eye on is Wheat Ridge’s “main street” development (on 38th between High Court and Wadsworth). Wheat Ridge Cyclery anchors the east side and the soon to be completed project to the west will feature 165 housing units, over 7,300 square feet of retail space, and a mix of outdoor public plazas and gathering spaces.
Wheat Ridge Activated
One of the things many people love most about Wheat Ridge is that it’s a perfect balance of city and nature. It lacks Denver’s congestion, but you are close to urban amenities and opportunities that mountain towns lack.
Wheat Ridge has a lot of bike/walking paths, most notably the 6.5 miles of the Clear Creek Trail that winds through the Wheat Ridge Greenbelt. The greenbelt, which was designated a National Recreation Trail by the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service in 2007, is a treasure of native plants and wildlife including a sizable, diverse population of birds.
With four parks and four lakes nearby, there’s plenty of opportunity for outdoor fun.
Another near-by outdoor favorite is Crown Hill Park off West 26th Avenue with its hiking and biking trails, and fishing spots. Bird enthusiasts flock to Crown Hill during migration season to catch a glimpse of more than 100 species in a designated preservation area.
If you’re more into indoor physical activity, Wheat Ridge boasts its state-of-the-art recreation center, with pretty much everything you could want: An indoor pool, climbing wall, gymnasium, racquetball courts, cardiovascular and circuit equipment, whirlpool, sauna, fitness classes and steam room and much more.
Anderson Park is also a huge draw, boasting a 180-foot water slide along with its two pools and new renovations thanks to the 2E bond money, which boosted local sales taxes to pay for improvements to the park and various transportation projects.
If all this activity makes you hungry, then there’s a lot of great food to be had in Wheat Ridge, especially because of its Italian heritage and large Italian-American population still here. Among local favorites are Pietra’s Pizza and Italian Restaurant, 9045 W. 44th Ave., with traditional Northern Italian dishes, and Dolce Sicilia Italian Bakery, 3210 Wadsworth Blvd., with amazing pizza, lasagna, dessert and bread. Grammy’s Goodies, 4601 Harlan St., is known for its huge portions and great desserts.
If Italian isn’t your first choice, La Fonda, 5750 W. 38th Ave., is a favorite Denver-area Mexican restaurant.
For enjoying craft beer, check out Colorado + Brew Pub, 6995 W. 38th Ave., and Brewery Rickoli, 4335 Wadsworth Blvd. There are a lot of good reasons to live in Wheat Ridge and a lot of pride in this community