Several prominent historical landmarks contribute to the small town flavor of central Littleton, none less than the Mission-Revival Arapahoe County Courthouse which stands sentinel-like on a promontory overlooking downtown and the valley of the South Platte.
Of the town’s two historic railway stations, the Denver & Rio Grande and the Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe, the former still operates as Romancing the Bean, a quaint coffee house serving the popular Southeast Light-Rail line. Meanwhile, the Beaux-Arts Carnegie Library building erected in 1917 at the west end of Main Street is now home to the Melting Pot, a popular fondue restaurant.
Richard Sullivan Little was hired by the fledgling city of Denver in the early 1860s to layout a grid of canals to help slake the thirst of the region’s parched farms. But the New Hampshire engineer become so enamored with the site of present-day Littleton that decided to take his own shot at farming.
Little, a key player in helping build the Rough and Ready Flour Mill in 1867, became the area’s first postmaster in 1869. When the mill was destroyed by fire in 1872, Little rebuilt it and afterward filed a plat for Littleton modeled after a New England village.
Nestled on the eastern slopes of the scenic Columbine Valley north of Chatfield State Park and Reservoir, Littleton enjoys far more open space than typical metro-area suburban environments, much of it, including South Platte Park, Cooley Lake, Hudson Gardens, and Centennial Golf and Tennis Club, stretched along the river banks.
Favored pastimes at Chatfield are boating, cookouts, hot-air ballooning, hiking, and nature walks. Next door, the Denver Botanic Gardens nature preserve encompasses picturesque grasslands, ponds, and strands of cottonwoods along Deer Creek. Meanwhile, non-profit Hudson Gardens features elaborate recreations of native Colorado ecosystems.
Residents and visitors alike can’t seem to get enough of downtown Littleton’s charming shops, bistros, galleries, eateries, spas, and wellness studios. An impressive line up of special events includes the Farmer’s Market (weekly), Sidewalk Sale and Bazaar (monthly), Culture Fest, and Western Welcome Week.
Besides being the Arapahoe County Seat, Littleton is home to Arapahoe Community College, conveniently located just a few blocks from the heart of downtown.