Known as LoDo, The Mile High City’s Lower Downtown Historic District is both the original city of Denver, as well as its oldest neighborhood. It’s bustling 25 square blocks are packed with nearly 100 restaurants, clubs, galleries, and shops. This north-central Denver ‘hood lies directly northwest of the downtown Central Business District (CBD), near the confluence of Cherry Creek and the South Platte River. It’s conveniently located near the University of Colorado Denver, the city’s River North Art District (RiNo), and two major sporting venues: Coors Field, where the Colorado Rockies play, and Pepsi Center, which is home to the Denver Nuggets (NBA), Colorado Avalanche (NHL), and Colorado Mammoth (NLL).
Since it’s a historic district, there’s plenty of preserved architecture among contemporary builds. Coors Field brought a serious housing boom to the area. Old warehouses were transformed into pricey new lofts while new apartment builds sport rooftop decks, pools, recreation rooms, and more. With recent additions such as the Denver Milk Market complex and a new mega-development, now under construction across the street from the baseball stadium, the area’s growth has no end in sight.
Built in the late 1800s, the beaux arts-style Union Station is a stately rail/bus transport hub that also houses a hotel, restaurants, bars, and shops. Denver’s RTD rail system light and commuter rail lines span 34.8 miles, with more than 50 stations spanning from the suburbs to the city. Local, regional, and airport bus routes also serve as a convenient way to get around. LoDo’s 16th Street Mall has a free shuttle that runs up and down its 1.25 mile stretch of downtown. Dubbed the MallRide, the shuttle stops at every corner. One comes every few minutes, so you can hop on and off at your own leisure. The Free MetroRide transports commuters between Civic Center and Union Station during rush hour.
Either walk up 16th Street or take the MallRide to the center of Downtown. The airport is 25 miles away, so it will take you around 30 minutes to get there by car or train.
Where locals eat brunch on Sundays
Snooze AM Eatery
2262 Larimer St.
LoDo’s Snooze AM Eatery is so popular, it now has more than 35 locations in five states and counting. Hit up the original Denver diner on 22nd and Larimer Street for seasonal takes on breakfast classics, including many renditions of eggs Benedict, french toast, and pancakes. Wash down the carbs with a brunch-y beverage, like the Orange Snoozius (made with vodka, orange liqueur, fresh OJ, and whipped cream) or a Spiked Hot Cocoa if you aren’t afraid of a little tequila in the morning. Waits can be up to an hour on the weekend, so get on the waitlist ahead of time online.
The best coffee shop to work remotely
1100 14th St.
You don’t have to be a guest of the Hotel Teatro to cozy up, hunker down, plug in, or hang out at their lounge/bar, The Study. With free Wi-Fi, Coda coffee, housemade pastries, house barrel-aged cocktails, local craft beer, comfy leather couches, a fireplace, and breakfast and lunch from The Nickel next door, this fancy spot makes for the ideal work and meeting space.
The best take-out spot for when you don’t feel like cooking
Denver Milk Market
1800 Wazee St #100
Serving as the cornerstone of the historic Dairy Block, the Denver Milk Market complex houses 16 take-away and dine-in restaurants and bars run by Colorado chef Frank Bonanno.
Late-night eats for when you’ve had one too many
Two-Fisted Mario’s Pizza
1626 Market St.
A legendary LoDo dive, Two-Fisted Mario’s Pizza serves up slices and suds until the wee hours of the morning. Mustachioed pizzaiolos toss thin-crusted pies with toppings like “Vampyre Repellent” to tunes turned up to 11.
The dive bar where everyone knows your name
1962 Market St.
Nearby Coors Field on the corner of 20th and Market, El Chapultepec is Denver’s oldest jazz and blues club. The small, old dive bar has been pouring cheap drinks since 1933. Live music starts around 9pm every night—get there early if you want a seat. Word to the wise: They only take cash.
Where to drink outside
Mile High Spirits
2201 Lawrence St.
Lift your spirits at Mile High Spirits. The distillery’s 4,000 square feet of outdoor space features picnic tables, cornhole, and mini-Frisbee. Choose from their list of craft cocktails, or try one of their proprietary Moscow Mules in a can.
Where to get cocktails on a first date
The Cruise Room
1600 17th St, Denver, CO 80202
Built in 1891 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, The Oxford Hotel is Denver’s oldest hotel and is home to the city’s oldest bar, The Cruise Room. The stylish speakeasy sports an art deco interior, which is modeled after the Queen Mary ocean liner. Bring a date to this award-winning cocktail lounge for one of their trademark martinis.
Things to Do in LoDo
Flanked by elegant Victorian buildings and illuminated by string lights, LoDo’s historic Larimer Square is home to trendy boutiques, bars, chef-owned restaurants, cafes, and more. Here, you can shop womenswear at Hailee Grace, menswear at Moda Man, and Western-wear at Cry Baby Ranch. A rather new addition to Wewatta Street, A Line Boutique stocks a thoughtful selection of high-end brands, including Rag & Bone, Helmut Lang, and Chloe. Bonus: It’s woman-owned and is staffed by a team of pro stylists.
Home to the Denver Milk Market, Denver’s historic Dairy Block is its own little micro-district. The European-style pedestrian alleyway is dotted with restaurants, bars, shopping, and more. Amongst its high concentration of retail shops on Blake and Wazee Streets and in The Alley, you’ll find HEYDAY. This Milk Market gem has a helpful staff selling women’s clothing at reasonable prices.
Also located on Wazee Street, just across from the Oxford, is the famed Rockmount Ranch Wear. This Mile High City original is where the Western snap-button shirt was born back in 1946. They’ve got everything you need to look like a cowboy from head to toe.
Shop over 300 locally owned stores and some notable chains at the 16th Street Mall. The pedestrian strip boasts more than 50 restaurants as well as 42 outdoor cafes that are perfect for people-watching over a latte. Near the south end of the mall, the Denver Pavilions open-air complex offers even more shopping and dining opportunities, including the women’s boutique Scout & Molly’s.
One of the largest independent bookstores in the US, Tattered Cover Bookstore offers over half a million books between its three locations throughout the city. You can find the original multi-level landmark at the corner of 16th and Wynkoop. Amongst literature, the book behemoth also sells magazines, greeting cards, gifts, and souvenirs. Many authors come through here for events, and there’s also a cafe with coffee and pastries.
LoDo is just a stone’s throw from Denver’s Theatre District, where the star of the show is the Denver Performing Arts Complex. The four-block entertainment strip hosts a variety of seasonal events, including Broadway, ballet, and opera.
The Union Station Farmers Market takes place on Saturdays on the Denver Union Station Plaza from May to October. The market peddles all the usual suspects, like local produce, as well as tacos, hand pies, and sandwiches. Plus there’s live music and chef demos!
Nearly 6,000 acres of Denver is dedicated to the city’s 250 urban parks. LoDo has a plethora of parks situated along the South Platte River. Confluence Park is so named for its proximity to where the Cherry Creek and the South Platte River meet. The unique and scenic park features a beachlike shore, a kayak run, trails for biking and walking, and panoramic views of downtown Denver. The Downtown Aquarium, the Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus, and Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park are all conveniently located nearby. Starting at Confluence Park, The Cherry Creek Bike Path runs along Cherry Creek for more than 40 miles to Franktown. Peddle this pleasantly paved path and enjoy the scenery.
Just northeast of Confluence Park on the banks of the South Platte River you’ll find Commons Park. Much like its neighbor, this 20-acre urban oasis offers jogging paths, a riverfront trail, and benches. The park is connected to Downtown by a tree-lined promenade along Little Raven Street. Finally, Railyard Dog Park provides a place for Fido to run free.
Top-Rated Places in LoDo
Climb the stairs or take the glass elevator to summit the Denver Millennium Bridge for great views of the river and Downtown.
On the northwest corner of 15th and Delgany, you’ll find a four-story dark-gray glass building that is the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. MCA Denver houses extraordinary works by some of today’s most innovative artists, while its rooftop café offers stunning views of Downtown.