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5 Denver Neighborhoods to Explore on Vacation
These neighborhoods offer a taste of what the Mile High City has to offer.
LoDo is home to some of the city’s most iconic attractions like Coors Field, Larimer Square, 16th Street Mall and Union Station.(Getty Images)
For the traveler who loves to wander, Denver’s the place to be. Each neighborhood’s unique mix of parks, bars, restaurants and stores infuses it with a distinct character. And thanks to Denver’s consistently sunny skies and pedestrian-friendly trails and promenades, the city is perfect for exploring on foot.
U.S. News asked local experts for their tips on what to do and where to go in some of Denver’s most interesting neighborhoods. Here's what they said.
Lower Downtown (LoDo)
One of Denver’s oldest neighborhoods is still one of its most popular. LoDo is home to some of the city’s most iconic attractions like Coors Field, Larimer Square, 16th Street Mall and Union Station, which recently underwent an extensive renovation and is once again a vivacious hub of entertainment and transportation.
“LoDo is absolutely one of my favorite neighborhoods,” says Michael Schmidt, tour concierge at The Crawford Hotel, located inside Union Station. “Every block has some amazing restaurants, bars [and] cafes. You can never spend enough time there.”
Lindsey Koehler, deputy editor at 5280 Magazine, suggests that visitors go directly to Union Station from the airport via the city’s light rail tram line, making sure to stop for a drink at the Terminal Bar upon arrival.
[Read: The Best Denver Brewery Tours.]
River North (RiNo)
Ask anyone on the streets of this former cow town where to go for a taste of modern Denver and you’ll likely hear the same answer: RiNo. Located just north of downtown, the area might seem a bit rough at first with its industrial buildings and urban landscape, but its warehouses have become home to some of the city’s hottest spots.
“RiNo has some of the coolest things happening in Denver right now – it’s absolutely exploding,” says Zac Johnson, head concierge at The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa. “It seems like every week there’s a new building, new restaurant, new cafe, new shop – and they still don’t even have sidewalks yet.”
Schmidt agrees, calling RiNo an “up-and-coming neighborhood,” and points to Acorn restaurant, Epic Brewing Company and the Infinite Monkey Theorem Winery as some of his favorite places.
[Read: The Best Denver Tours.]
Foodies should be sure to check out The Source and The Denver Central Market, each a one-stop shop for local provisions. Art is also on the menu in this cutting-edge neighborhood, where visitors are welcomed into street-facing studios to watch artists at work, and striking murals can be found around every corner.
Colfax Avenue serves as the main drag for some of the most culture-rich communities in Denver. The Colfax area east of downtown (namely East Colfax and Upper Colfax) offers hours of entertainment in the form of museums, live music, shops, bars and ethnic eateries.
“For someone who wants to hear live music and see an urban scene, Colfax is great,” says George Maresh, concierge at the JW Marriott Denver Cherry Creek.
Colfax is also home to several historic performance venues, including the Ogden and Bluebird theaters and the Fillmore Auditorium, which host a range of concerts and draw crowds to Colfax many nights a week. Jordan Chavez, concierge at the Hotel Teatro, has seen shows at all three.
“You can really catch some good acts at those theaters,” Chavez says. “The Fillmore is huge and used to be a skating rink. The Ogden is a classical theater that’s been renovated and looks beautiful. The Bluebird is a smaller, beautifully restored theater that has an intimate setting with a balcony.”
Culture vultures can spend hours poring through records at Twist & Shout or Wax Trax Records, curl up with a book at the Tattered Cover Book Store or catch an indie flick at the Sie FilmCenter.
[Read: 6 Great Brunches in Denver.]
Washington Park(Courtesy of Denver Parks & Recreation)
Locally referred to as Wash Park, this family-friendly neighborhood surrounds the city’s 155-acre Washington Park. Located about 4 miles south of downtown and accessible via the Cherry Creek bike path, you’ll find a handful of cozy neighborhood eateries and pub-style bars, streets lined with Craftsman-era bungalows, friendly coffee shops, and an array of independently owned boutiques and pet stores clustered around a three-block stretch of Old South Gaylord Street.
“I definitely recommended it to people looking for a great place to walk around and explore a cool neighborhood,” Schmidt says.
In addition to the quaint shopping area and tree-lined residential streets, the park is a great place to get some fresh air and exercise. Visitors can rent bikes and pedal boats near the community recreation center, go for a jog, have a picnic, go fishing, or play tennis and volleyball.
Sheila Gargan, concierge at The Westin Denver Downtown, describes Wash Park as Denver’s “tried and true neighborhood” and often recommends Wash Park to hotel guests with young children for its beautiful landscape, family-friendly atmosphere and quality playgrounds.
For food, check out brunch at Devil’s Food Bakery & Cookery, picnic supplies at Fooducopia or pub fare at Reiver’s Bar & Grill. Late night, seek out one of the area's abundant dive bars in the neighboring Wash Park West neighborhood like the Candlelight Tavern, The Pub on Pearl or the Kentucky Inn.
Lower Highlands (LoHi)
LoHi is another epicenter for hip and happening bars, restaurants, shops and cafes. The greater Highlands area has several niche neighborhoods worth exploring, but LoHi is perhaps the most popular, thanks to its proximity to downtown. Don’t be deterred by the fact that this neighborhood is located across the highway – a convenient pedestrian bridge makes it easily accessible without a car.
[Read: The Best Things to Do in Denver.]
This area is especially abuzz around mealtimes because of its high concentration of great eateries like Root Down, Lola, Ale House at Amato’s and Little Man Ice Cream. Zeyna Aouad, social media coordinator for the Grand Hyatt Denver, also recommends Avanti Food & Beverage, a trendy collection of local restaurants, for its “food truck style” and “big patio with views of downtown.”
Linger, housed in a former mortuary, is also known for its fabulous rooftop patio with killer views, perfect for catching a sunset during happy hour or for a sunny brunch.
To experience more of what Denver has to offer, check out the U.S. News Travel guide.
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