Denver is one of the fastest growing cities in the US, a one-time “cow town” turned Rocky Mountain powerhouse. In the center lies LoDo, the city’s oldest neighborhood with historic buildings, boutiques and Denver’s best hotels. To the west is LoHi, a leafy Victorian-era bar and restaurant. To the south and east are the Golden Triangle, Capitol Hill and City Park, museums, urban life and green spaces. And to the north is RiNo, the cool heart of Denver, with its street art and hipster nightlife.
Each area of Denver is unique and different, but explore the city a little, and you’ll find that a common thread — history, style and potential — runs through them all.
A great place to stay in the heart of it
LoDo (also known as Lower Downtown) is where the city was founded in 1858, its famous buildings today are home to fun and upscale restaurants, shops and boutiques. Walk among the twinkling lights of Larimer Square, the city’s premier commercial district, and the Dairy Block, the iconic dairy that transformed the shopping and dining scene. Along the way, stop at Union Station, Denver’s renovated train station that’s bustling with commuters and locals alike. For a change, visit Confluence Park, the one-time home of the Arapaho people, which is now a place to picnic and play (with) the South Platte River.
LoDo’s central location makes it convenient, albeit expensive, with luxury hotels such as The Crawford, The Oxford and The Maven. Alternatively, go to the main part of the city, where the big hotels dominate.
Denver’s best place for foodies
Connected to LoDo by several bridges, LoHi (also known as the Lower Highlands) is a popular area that was created by immigrants, first from Europe and later from America. Today, it’s a richly renovated Victorian mansion and sleek condominiums that’s known as a hotspot for foodies. A new restaurant, often the best in town, this is the place. Make sure you make a reservation!
Recent favorites include El Five, a Mediterranean-style tapas bar with spectacular city views and Wildflower, an Italian restaurant that combines local and regional cuisine. For a treat, stroll through the leafy streets to Little Man Ice Cream, an ice cream parlor shaped like a 28ft-high milk jug.
Hotels are few and far between in LoHi, although its central location makes it easily accessible on foot or by public transport.
Perfect for Denver’s artsy vibe and nightlife
Part of the historically African American neighborhood of Five Points, RiNo (also known as the River North Arts District) is Denver’s most dynamic area. Here, the one-time railways and warehouses have been transformed into hipster bars and breweries, art galleries and restaurants, all surrounded by bars that add color and commentary to every surface. It’s the kind of place you wander around, stopping for a cortado at boho Crema Coffee House or a bite to eat at Denver Central Market, an industrial-style shopping hall.
Afternoons mean hopping around, stopping at places like the RedLine Contemporary Art Center, where visitors can peek into the studios that live inside. On weekends you’ll find people drinking at places like Our Mutual Friend Brewing and Finn’s Manor, or playing indie acts at the Larimer Lounge.
Several luxury hotels are scattered throughout RiNo. To be at the peak of the action, splurge on the luxurious vintage-inspired The Ramble; for something more affordable, try the Catbird Hotel.
Great for a close-knit feel
Capitol Hill is a bustling city known for its fun and entertainment. Called the Colorado State Capitol next to gold, it has 18th-century mansions and modern buildings, boho restaurants and swim-up bars. Breakfast at one of the vegetarian restaurants is a must – try The Corner Beet for smoothies and to-die-for toast, or City O’ City for more food. Afterwards, pop into vintage stores like Wax Trax Records, Capitol Hill Books or Common Collective. Or visit the Molly Brown House Museum, the Victorian-style home of the famous Titanic survivor. In the evening, enjoy drinks and snacks at the LGBTQI-friendly Wild Corgi Café.
“Cap Hill” is known for its small, beautiful hotels; many of the 18th century mansions are now bed and breakfasts, such as the Capitol Hill Mansion B&B and the Patterson Inn. If you’re on a tight budget, try the vintage Ember Hostel.
A great museum
The Golden Triangle is a small area with museums and popular places to hang out during the day. The Denver Art Museum is the megastar with a huge collection from the old Master painters to the greats of the modern era. If you want to rest, there are restaurants and fancy restaurants.
For a moment’s devotion, check out the nearby Clyfford Still Museum, dedicated to the works of the namesake abstract expressionist or the Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art, an elegant museum that displays furniture and decor in the style of the salon. Alternatively, learn about the Centennial State in History Colorado Center, with colorful exhibits that echo the countless voices of Colorado’s people.
The Golden Triangle doesn’t have many hotel options – most people stay within the confines of Capitol Hill or Downtown – but if you want to get out of bed and visit the museums, try the luxury ART hotel.
The perfect place for family fun
The City Park neighborhood is part of the 19th-century leafy and sometimes concrete jungle of Colfax Avenue. The main draw is the park, one of Denver’s oldest and greenest spaces. It’s a popular destination, especially for families, with playgrounds, splash pads and a large lake with paddleboat rentals. The park is also home to the Denver Zoo, which has over 3,000 animals from around the world (look up to see tigers and elephants crossing the bridges above!). And next door is the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, which covers everything from dinosaurs to space, with lots of hands-on experiences, an IMAX theater and a planetarium.
If fall is just around the corner, the on-site food vendors serve up family-friendly fare quickly, but for something more substantial, head to SAME Café, a specialty restaurant with an ever-changing menu. Choosing a hotel is a smart choice here, but Denver’s public buses make getting here a breeze.