Denver Neighborhoods

Where to feel like a tourist in your own town

Easygoing Westerners like to bypass any drama, which is why locals planning to venture downtown to a favorite shop or restaurant during the last week of August might opt to avoid the closed streets, packed dining rooms and elbow-to-elbow sidewalks that may correspond with the Democratic National Convention.

The good news is that contrary to the cowtown stereotype perpetuated by our friends east of the Mississippi River, hip hangouts and sleek boutiques are all over the Metropolitan area — not just around downtown Denver. So avoid the crowds and congestion by using the convention days to be a tourist in your own town. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

Elana Jefferson
Produced By:
Dane Strom
First Published:
August 19th 2008 at 06:00 a.m.
Last Updated:
August 17th 2008 at 04:49 p.m.

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A. Berkeley

This neighborhood, bordered by Federal Boulevard, Sheridan Boulevard, 38th Avenue and I-70, boasts historic storefronts filled by funky shops and tasteful eats. It’s also notably more low-key than nearby Highland Square.

What to do: Groove to local music at The Oriental Theater (4335 W. 44th Ave.) Walk the galleries along Tennyson Street. Frolic on the old-school rides at Lakeside Amusement Park (4601 Sheridan Blvd).

Where to refuel: Tastes Wine Bar (4267 Tennyson St.) to sip a special vintage. Big Hoss Bar-B-Q Steakhouse (3961 Tennyson St.) to lap award-winning sauce off your fingers. Billy’s Inn (4403 Lowell Blvd.) to see how an old neighborhood dive goes from drab to fab with help from a revamped bar menu.

Where to shop: Strut (3877 Tennyson St.) for sexy and chic women’s accessories. The French Flat (3903 Tennyson St.) for Parisian flea market-inspired furnishings. Mouthfuls (4224 Tennyson St.) for your pampered pet.

B. Golden & Denver West Village

Options for fun abound in and around this town about a 15 minute drive west of downtown that’s known as the place “Where the West Lives!”

What to do: Zip down the alpine slide, peruse artful boutiques, or take in a show at the historic music hall at Heritage Square (18301 W. Colfax Ave.). Try your hand at the climbing wall at the Golden Recreation Center (1470 10th St.). Enjoy a summer cool-off at Splash Aquatics Park at the city-run Fossil Trace Golf Club (3050 Illinois St.). Stroll along the Old West boardwalk on Washington Street.

Where to refuel: The Yard House (at Colorado Mills, 14500 W. Colfax Ave., Lakewood) for an impressive brew selection. The Bridgewater Grill (800 11th St.) for a seat alongside Clear Creek. Sushi Uokura (815 Nile Ct.) for surprisingly fresh, off-the-beaten-path Japanese fare.

Where to shop: Chelsea of London Lingerie (1201 Washington Ave.) for frilly skivvies. Meyer Hardware (1103 Arapahoe St.) to uncover hard-to-find house care products in a friendly, small-town-store setting. Bent Gate Mountaineering (1313 Washington Ave.) for top-notch outdoor gear and solid climbing advice. Colorado Mills Mall (14500 W. Colfax Ave., Lakewood) to prowl through the outlet stores for designer discounts.

C. Historic Downtown Littleton

This eclectic southern suburb known for its annual Western Welcome Week each summer is characterized by a humble mix of old-school charm and new-school cool.

What to do: Splurge on a health or spa treatment at the Ancient Art Healing Center (2516 W. Main St.), Skin Essentials (2376 W. Main St.) or Tranquil Touch Massage Therapy ( 2485 W. Main St.). Enjoy afternoon tea or a taste of bubbly at Tre Jolie Tea & Champagne Lounge (2399 W. Main St.). Catch a play at the Town Hall Performing Arts Center (2450 W. Main St.). Walk the landscaped grounds at Hudson Gardens (2888 W. Maplewood Ave.).

Where to refuel: Toast (2700 West Bowles Ave.) for an inventive breakfast or lunch. Opus Restaurant (2575 W. Main St.) for memorable organic gourmet.

Where to shop: Main Street boasts any number of distinctive independent boutiques including Details (2359 W. Main St.), Ambiance de Provence (2370 W. Main St.) and Chandler Farm (2440 W. Main St.). Drop by the Annual Sidewalk Sale on Aug. 23. If you’re in need of a more mainstream shopping fix, head to nearby Aspen Grove Mall (7301 S. Santa Fe Drive).

D. Old South Gaylord Street

One of Denver’s oldest shopping districts located east of Washington Park has Cherry Creek style without the Cherry Creek crowds.

What to do: Keep an eye out for sidewalk sales, holiday festivals and galleries openings. Indulge in a new look or get your gear on at one of several salons and athletic shops.

Where to refuel: Japon Sushi (1028 S Gaylord St.) or Max Gill & Grill (1052 S Gaylord St.) for a fresh catch. The Washington Park Grille (1096 S Gaylord St.) for jazz in the evenings and one of the city’s best brunch smorgasbords on Sundays.

Where to shop: Pome (1018 S Gaylord St.) for vintage flare. Sarah (1067 S. Gaylord St.) for edgy underground fashions. The Tended Thicket (1034 S Gaylord St.) for a pretty gift. Pine Creek Clothing Co. (1099 S Gaylord St.) for offbeat, sophisticated women’s fashions.

E. Platte Park

This old urban neighborhood bordered by Downing Street, South Broadway, Mississippi Avenue and Evans Avenue includes a quiet park and a historic library.

What to do: Take a class or catch a national folk music act at the Swallow Hill Music Association (71 E. Yale Ave.). Get a little more loose during one of the reggae or rock bookings at Herman’s Hideaway (1578 S. Broadway). Play a round of pool and enjoy the anything-goes vibe at Cafe Cero (1446 S. Broadway).

Where to refuel: GB Fish and Chips (1311 S. Broadway) to watch a round of European football while sucking back a stout and devouring addictive fried fare. The Village Cork (1300 S Pearl St.) to sip vino and munch from small plates. Or simply meander down South Pearl Street to any one of the neighborhood’s esteemed independent eateries.

Where to shop: The question is not what you can find but what you can’t you find along Denver’s Antiques Row, 18 blocks of commerce on South Broadway between I-70 and Evans Avenue.

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