As in many metropolitan areas, it’s often hard to tell where one neighborhood ends and another begins. Plus, Denver is growing so fast that even natives might have a hard time keeping up. Our advice? Use this guide as a starting point to get out and explore. Denver has nearly 80 official neighborhoods, so don’t get caught up on borders–this list will get you started!
Lower Downtown (LoDo)
LoDo is full of energy from morning til night. During the day, you’ll see businessmen and women in corporate duds, millennials on their cell phones, tourists sightseeing on the iconic 16th Street Mall, and residents scurrying about running errands. Come nightfall, the many restaurants and bars are in full swing. LoDo is also home to Union Station–the luxurious transportation hub housed in a refurbished train station–where you can hop the A Line to the airport (in under 40 minutes) or catch the Amtrak. You might also hear this area called “Ballpark” as it borders Coors Field.
Lower Highlands (LoHi)
The pedestrian-and-bicycle-friendly Highland Bridge connects downtown with the eastern section of the Highlands neighborhood, known as LoHi. This neighborhood has a blend of exciting, modern architecture mixed with more traditional brownstones and Victorian homes. It has laid-back, family vibe, some of the city’s best restaurants (and rooftop bars) and plenty of singles, professionals and young families.
Cap Hill, as locals call it, is located just southeast of downtown Denver’s central business district. It’s a mix of residential homes, quaint bed and breakfasts, and government buildings, including the namesake Colorado State Capitol. It’s also home to many of Denver’s best museums including the Denver Art Museum, Clyfford Still Museum and the History Colorado Center. Several large parks provide green space, including Civic Center Park, which serves as a food truck hub three days a week from June to October.
This is one of Denver’s most beautiful and upscale neighborhoods, with a price tag to show for it–on average, homes sell for 1.25 million. It’s best known for the trendy (and expensive) Cherry Creek Shopping Center, boutique stores, and amazing homes. The 40-mile long Cherry Creek Bike Path runs right through the neighborhood, and you’ll find young professionals and families along the trail with kids, dogs and workout gear.
River North (RiNo)
Whatever you do, don’t call it River North–your hipster license might be revoked. It’s RiNo, and it’s fabulous. A few years ago RiNo was filled with dusty warehouses and industrial businesses. Now it’s home to chic art galleries, shops and trendy restaurants. At the heart of it all is The Source, an artisan food hall that has gained national acclaim and that will soon be joined by the much-anticipated Source Hotel. Great Divide Brewing Company also has a taproom in the ‘hood.
Perhaps no other neighborhood in Denver is experiencing gentrification like Five Points. Once known as the “Harlem of the West” because it was a frequent stop for legendary jazz musicians like Louis Armstrong and Billie Holliday, the area is rapidly transforming into a bohemian mecca for funky coffeehouses, street murals, and craft breweries. For now, it’s still a mix of old and new, but it’s morphing fast. Don’t miss the Black American West Museum.
Playboy once called Colfax Avenue (the longest street in the United States) “the longest, wickedest road in America.” It’s been cleaned up–a lot–but it still has a grimy edge. Classic music venues like Fillmore Auditorium, Ogden Theatre, and Bluebird Theater sit alongside neighborhood anchors like Sie FilmCenter and the Tattered Cover bookstore. There’s great ethnic food, funky shopping, and the occasional pedestrian freak show. All in all, a fun place to spend an afternoon–or live.
Before DIA, there was Stapleton International Airport. The neighborhood has transformed in recent years into a haven for outdoor lovers and families. In fact, with its plentiful multiuse buildings, varying home styles, shopping and many recreational activities (think community pools and gardens, miles of trails and more than 50 parks!) residents never have to leave the neighborhood if they don’t want to. Still, it’s just 15 minutes northeast of downtown, so if you want to take advantage of Denver’s culture and nightlife, it’s totally doable.
Washington Park (Wash Park)
The defining feature of Wash Park is its massive namesake green space. At one-mile-long and 161 acres, it’s a haven for residents and tourists alike. An outer gravel jogging path encloses an inner paved path filled with rollerbladers, skateboarders and moms with strollers. Two lakes and two flower gardens (including a replica of George Washington’s Mount Vernon rose garden) are the perfect place to kick back and read a book, or join in a summer volleyball game. The shady, tree-lined streets and classic architecture make this one of Denver’s most sought-after zip codes.
Art District on Santa Fe
This neighborhood’s Latino roots are evidenced by local organizations like Museo de las Americas and Su Teatro Cultural and Performing Arts Center. Today it is one of Colorado’s 12 Creative Districts, and home to Metropolitan State University’s Center for Visual Art as well as the Colorado Ballet. The neighborhood’s First Friday art walks are a Denver institution. You’ll find single-family homes, apartment complexes, condos and duplexes and plenty of artists and college students.