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Updated: July 18, 2021
The Best Areas to Stay in Denver
Denver is the Capital of Colorado and known as the Mile High City because its official elevation is exactly one mile (5280 feet or 1609.3 meters) above sea level. Denver is one of the sunniest cities in America with over 300 days of sunshine (or partial sunshine) and known for craft breweries, it’s eight professional sports teams including the Denver Broncos and the Colorado Rockies and as a jumping-off point for the ski resorts in the Rocky Mountains and the outdoorsy town of Boulder.
Downtown Denver sits among 85-miles of networked trails and bike paths, the South Platte River and riverfront, and more than two hundred beautiful parks. It’s also defined by Coors Field where the Colorado Rockies baseball team play, and the mega shopping areas of 16th Street Mall and Cherry Creek. Colorado offers year-round outdoor activities including 90 golf courses, hiking and running trails, fishing, rafting, skiing, snowboarding, and you can find almost any type of outdoor activity you want within a short drive from Denver.
Exploring Denver by bike is easy with its many pedestrian streets and many of the downtown hotels offer free bike hire. Otherwise, find one of the many Denver B-Cycle stations to explore all of the cities’ top historic buildings, architecture, professional sports stadiums, art installations, parks, and outdoor venues on two wheels.
Denver offers great options for families as well including the Children’s Museum, Denver Zoo, Elitch Gardens Amusement Park & Family Water Park, Denver Museum of Nature & Science and Downtown Aquarium.
Denver has been dubbed the ‘Napa Valley of Craft Beer.’ If you love microbreweries, you’ll find 92 breweries in downtown Denver and a total of 148 Denver in the Denver metro area.
While there is no “best” neighborhood to stay in Denver, sections of downtown such as LoDo, Highlands and Cherry Creek offer the most for travelers. Denver neighborhoods include Lower Downtown (LoDo), River North Art District (RiNo), Capital Hill, Cherry Creek, Five Points, Uptown (also known as North Capitol Hill and City Park West), Central Business District (CBD), Highlands, Central Park (formerly called Stapelton), Washington Park and Sunnyside.
The best hotels in Denver are not focused in one neighborhood and it’s easy to find great accommodations ranging from budget to luxury in most areas of Denver. The most famous hotel in Downtown Denver is the landmark Brown Palace, which offers weekly guided tours and is a popular spot for afternoon tea. Downtown Denver starts at North Broadway and runs to Park Ave. The boundaries are the South Platte River near Confluence Park, Speer Boulevard, and Colfax Avenue.
Downtown is divided into two regions: the Central Business District (CBD) and Lower Downtown (LoDo). The 16th Street Mall, an outdoor promenade of shopping and dining, connects the CBD and LoDo and there is a free bus to travel between the two areas.
Central Business District (CBD) is where most of the theater venues are located including the Denver Performing Arts Complex that houses 10 venues for theater, dance, and music.
LoDo, which is north of the CBD, starts around Lawrence Avenue. It’s the city’s most popular nightlife spot and full of clubs, bars, pubs, outdoor spots, sports bars, jazz lounges, and piano bars. It’s also a great place for families as it’s close to many of the best attractions including Coors Field.
Larimer Square is located on Larimer Street from 14th to 15th Streets and is a district near LoDo. It is the city’s oldest block and Denver’s first historic district. The area features landmark 19th-century buildings as well as live music, restaurants, and shops along a designated pedestrian walkway.
Capitol Hill, or Cap Hill as it’s known to locals, stretches north to south from around East Colfax (15th) to 6th Avenue, and west to east from the capitol building to Cheesman Park. Denver’s Botanic Gardens encompass 23-acres and are located in nearby Cheesman Park. Beyond the tropical conservatory themed gardens, there is a sunken amphitheater that is the home to summer concerts.
Uptown (also known as City Park West) starts where Capitol Hill leaves off at East Colfax, heading north to around 20th Avenue. It leads west to east from around Lincoln Avenue in the Central Business District of Downtown and then to Park Avenue.
The Highlands is a more residential area, but includes vibrant sections of nightlife and dining spread throughout. This is the most trendy neighborhood in Denver. Some of the most popular clusters of bars and restaurants are at Highland Square at 32nd Avenue, and Tennyson Street starting at 38th going north to 46th Ave.
Southeast from Downtown is the ritzy neighborhood of Cherry Creek. This neighborhood offers a more upscale experience with luxury hotels, high-end restaurants, and shopping. The heart of the neighborhood is between 1st and 3rd Avenue, and University and Steele. Denver’s most iconic luxury shopping area is Cherry Creek North.
Central Park (formerly called Stapelton) is located in NE Denver. This is the closest nice neighborhood to the airport (DIA). This is a very family-oriented part of town with lots of young families, parks, and a great indoor market.
Northwest of Denver, you’ll find the town of Boulder (about 28 miles from Downtown Denver). Boulder has been called the “happiest” city in America and is regularly included on lists for the best cities to live in America. Boulder sits at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and is home to the University of Colorado. One of the most popular spots is Pearl Street; an outdoor mall filled with shops, breweries, and cafes and is one of the major attractions for locals and visitors. Boulder has more than 200 miles of trails and is home to Eldorado Canyon State Park (one of the most famous technical climbing centers in America).
Best Places to Stay in Denver
- Best Luxury Hotels in Denver
The Brown Palace • Ritz-Carlton • Four Seasons
- Best Boutique Hotels in Denver
Crawford Hotel • The Ramble Hotel • Kimpton Hotel Born • Moxy Cherry Creek
- Best Midrange Hotels in Denver
Patterson Inn • Hotel Indigo • Oxford Hotel
- Best Cheap Hotels in Denver
Staybridge Suites Cherry Creek • Holiday Inn Express Downtown
- Best Hostels in Denver
Ember Hostel • Hostel Fish • 11th Avenue Hostel
Best Areas in Denver for…
- Best Neighborhood in Denver to Stay for First Timer: LoDo or Highlands
If it’s your first time in Denver, LoDo is a great choice as it’s a very central location. LoDo is a great place to start exploring Denver. It’s full of clubs, bars, pubs, outdoor spots, sports bars, jazz lounges, and piano bars. It’s also near Coors Field and close to many of the main Denver attractions. Another great neighborhood for a first-time visit is Highlands, which is located across the river from LoDo. Highlands is the most trendy and “happening” neighborhood in Denver. LoDo is where the party bars are located, while Highlands is where the more upscale cocktail cafes are located as well as many breweries. Hotels in both areas tend to run from moderate to expensive.
- Best Location in Denver for Sightseeing: LoDo & Larimer Square
When it comes to sightseeing, Lower Downtown (LoDo) is home to Union Station and Coors Field (the home to the Colorado Rockies baseball team), and lot’s of great restaurants. Nearby are Elitch Gardens Theme and Family Water Park, the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver (MCA Denver), and the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Larimer Square is the city’s oldest block and Denver’s first historic district. The area features landmark 19th-century buildings as well as live music, restaurants, and shops along a designated pedestrian walkway. Accommodations are a combination of high-end luxury, boutique hotels, and some budget hotels.
- Best Neighborhood in Denver for Nightlife: RiNo & Highlands
The heart of Denver’s party scene is LoDo, but the more trendy nightlife is found in RiNo and Highlands. The Highlands neighborhood is a good mix of trendy cocktail bars, rooftop bars, clubs, and breweries. A few of the most popular Highlands bars are Room for Milly, The Family Jones, and the oldest bar in Denver; My Brother’s Bar. Dating back to the 1880s it’s also known for serving one of the best burgers in town. Be aware there isn’t a sign on My Brother’s Bar, but it can be found at the corner of 15th and Platte. Just north of the South Platte River, the one-time warehouse district of RiNo is another of Denver’s hippest nightlife neighborhoods. Old neighborhood bars are scattered throughout the hood including The Matchbox, Walnut Room, Larimer Lounge, as well as breweries such as Great Divide, Blue Moon, Ratio, and Epic.
- Best Neighborhood in Denver for Food and Restaurants: Throughout Downtown
Denver’s best restaurants are scattered throughout the city. LoDo and CBD are where you will find many of the upscale dining options including The Capital Grille, Ocean Prime & Rioja. Capital Hill offers a diverse choice ranging from sandwich and coffee shops to wonderful ethnic cuisine. In Capitol Hill neighborhood, you can find everything from vegetarian and vegan fare at City O’ City, Lala’s Wine Bar & Pizzeria, Luca for Sicilian cuisine, and Jelly Cafe for creative takes on egg scrambles and Benedicts. Linger in the Highlands has one of the most unique dining experiences in Denver. It is housed in a former mortuary and run by renowned chef Justin Cucci, who features vegetarian and vegan meals as well as meaty dishes like pork belly bao and honey-sriracha duck wings. Linger also has some of the most incredible views from their rooftop of downtown Denver. The Buckhorn Exchange, opened in 1893, is the oldest continuously operating restaurant in Denver. It is a historic landmark restaurant and American frontier museum famous for their house specialty, Rocky Mountain Oysters.
- Best Neighborhood in Denver for Families: LoDo
Lower Downtown is home to Union Station and Coors Field (the home to the Colorado Rockies baseball team), and lot’s of great restaurants. LoDo is Denver’s oldest neighborhood and a rejuvenated historic district. LoDo is a great choice for families to experience Denver’s main attractions, like historic Larimer Square, Elitch Gardens Theme and Family Water Park, the Children’s Museum, The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver (MCA Denver), Denver Museum of Nature & Science, and the Downtown Aquarium. Confluence Park is nearby and a great place to walk or bike along the Platte River. There is an abundance of things to keep the whole family happy in LoDo.
- Most Romantic Neighborhood in Denver: Cherry Creek & Highlands
Cherry Creek’s upscale luxury is a great choice for a romantic night on the town. Hillstone, Barolo Grill and Piatti restaurants offer a romantic ambiance and fantastic food. Highlands has some of the most breathtaking views of the downtown skyline from restaurants and bars like Linger, Ale House at Amato’s and El Five. If you are looking for a sweet treat as your nightcap in the Highlands, visit Little Man Ice Cream and take a stroll through the neighborhood. For more date night ideas, visit the Cooper Lounge located above the Great Hall in Denver’s Union Station for a high-end cocktail in it’s uber-romantic setting (reservations are required). The patio at Death & Co in the RiNo neighborhood is filled with twinkle lights and severs sophisticated cocktails. Take a romantic stroll through the Denver Botanic Gardens at sunset. The Oxford Hotel, The Crawford Hotel, Art Hotel Denver and the Four Seasons Hotel are considered the best luxury hotels in Denver and very romantic.
- Best Neighborhood in Denver for a Local Vibe: Washington Park &
Capital Hill, beyond the capital building is a very residential neighborhood with a distinctly bohemian vibe and is a great place to meet locals. The area has a lot of old mansions, hip bars, late-night coffeehouses, and offbeat shops with a punkish point of view that can be found on 13th Avenue. The most popular attraction in the area beyond the Capital building is the Molly Brown House Museum. Washington Park is a true residential neighborhood and a great place to explore if you truly want to get to know locals. Washington Park has a large green space, with a formal flower garden and trails for cycling and jogging. There is also a boathouse overlooking Smith Lake where you can kayak or fish. East of the park, Old South Gaylord Street is the main shopping district of Washington Park with fashion boutiques, galleries, sports bars, breweries, and bistros.
- Best Neighborhood in Denver for Shopping: Cherry Creek & 16th Street Mall
Located in the heart of Denver, Cherry Creek Shopping Center is the city’s most popular shopping plaza. Cherry Creek has Denver’s largest collection of local boutiques as well as big brands such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Tiffany & Co., Burberry, Louis Vuitton, and Ralph Lauren. The Cherry Creek shopping area encompasses 16 walkable outdoor blocks with over 160 shops. Beyond shopping, this is a great neighborhood for dining and walking. Cherry Creek Walking Trail takes you along the creek of the same name. For a nice stroll, follow the trail north, meandering through the neighborhoods as far as downtown where it intersects with the South Platte River. The 16th Street Mall is located in the heart of downtown Denver and is 1.25 miles long. It has a free shuttle going end to end, giving you easy access to more than 250+ stores lining the street making it a favorite tourist destination.
- Safest Areas of Denver
Denver’s safest neighborhoods tend to be the most affluent ones. Lodo, Washington Park, and Cherry Creek are all largely safe to walk around any time of day. Standard precautions apply at night, as they do in any city.
- Unsafe Areas of Denver
As a whole, Denver is a safe city. Petty crimes such as theft are the biggest issue you most likely find in the tourist areas. But, as with any city, there are a few areas that you may want to avoid. Colfax and the Denver five-points (where the primary homeless shelters are located) as well as parts of Downtown, can be a bit seedy, especially at night. Denver is a big city so it is going to have a decent homeless population. It’s best not to wander around after dark in these areas.
The 7 Best Neighborhoods in Denver for Tourists
If it’s your first time in Denver, LoDo is a great choice as it is home to a variety of museums, Coors field, and confluence park. There are plenty of restaurants, bars, cafes and shopping in LoDo as well. There are several major attractions within easy walking distance such as Larimer Square, Elitch Gardens Water Park, and the Children’s Museum. It’s also a great hub for foodies. LoDo offers a lot of Denver’s popular restaurants as well as its famous speakeasy, the Green Russel. There are also plenty of ballpark bars like The Tavern and ViewHouse with great views of Coors field. Hotels in this area run from budget to expensive. The Crawford Hotel is of particular note in this area; it’s located in the beaux arts-style Union Station.
- Best Hotels: Four Seasons • Crawford Hotel • The Maven
- Best Midrange Hotels: Oxford Hotel • Hotel Indigo
RiNo, or River North Art District, is located in north Denver. It’s known for its industrial revival of historic warehouses and factories that now house jazz bars, restaurants, breweries, art galleries and working studios. The Denver Central Market is the heart of RiNo and the best place to begin exploring the area’s bars and breweries, galleries and restaurants. The area is very walkable and is meant to be explored. RiNo has 15 craft breweries, cideries, wineries and distilleries in a one-mile radius, making RiNo home to the largest concentration of craft beverage manufacturers in the U.S. If you like street art, this is the best place to find it in Denver. In fact, Colorado’s biggest celebration of street art takes place each September in RiNo when streets and alleys become open-air galleries celebrating art and culture. There is a great 2-hour Denver Graffiti walking tour showcasing the best street art in the city. There are also a lot of great dining options such as Comal Heritage Food Incubator, Zeppelin Station food hall, Dio Mio for Italian, and Owlbear Barbecue to name just a few.
- Best Hotels: Ritz-Carlton • The Source • The Ramble Hotel
- Best Cheap/Midrange Hotels: La Quinta North Denver • Hilton Garden Inn
3. Capitol Hill
Capitol Hill, or Cap Hill as it’s known to locals is a great mixture of history and hip. It’s home to the state capitol building, beautiful old mansions, trendy bars, and late-night coffeehouses. South of the capitol building, it’s a primarily residential neighborhood. It’s got a bohemian vibe with funky shops located on 13th Avenue. The most popular attraction in the area beyond the Capitol building is the Molly Brown House Museum; which is the former home of socialite Margaret Brown known as “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” because she survived the sinking of the RMS Titanic. Denver’s Botanic Gardens encompass 23-acres and are located in nearby Cheesman Park. Capitol Hill offers some of the most diverse restaurant options ranging from sandwiches and coffee shops to wonderful ethnic cuisine. Two particularly buzzworthy restaurants to visit are Potager and Mizuna. They also have some of the best late-night pizza spots in town including Benny Blanco’s, Slice Works, and Sexy Pizza.
- Best Hotels (Horton Plaza): The Brown Palace • Art Hotel Denver • Patterson Inn
- Best Cheap/Midrange Hotels: Days Inn by Wyndham • Ember Hostel
4. Cherry Creek
Southeast from Downtown is the ritzy neighborhood of Cherry Creek. The heart of the neighborhood is between 1st and 3rd Avenue, and University and Steele. Cherry Creek offers 16 blocks of the best and most diverse shopping in Denver. You’ll also find over 50 restaurants and many are considered top-rated Denver restaurants such as Barolo Grill for top-notch Italian including their famous black truffle risotto, Fortune Wok to Table for hand-made dumplings, and Grind Kitchen & Watering Hole for a seasonal menu with a southern flair. Beyond the shopping, Cherry Creek has one of the biggest movie theaters in Denver as well as a Saturday farmers market. There are only a handful of hotels, but one of the best options if you want to be near this shopping hub is The Jacquard.
The Highlands is a more residential area, that includes Victorian-era homes and buildings, gardens and parks, independently owned shops, boutiques, wine shops, bookshops, art galleries, and a great selection of nightlife and dining options. Some of the most popular clusters of bars are Highland Square at 32nd Avenue, and Tennyson Street starting at 38th going north to 46th Ave. There are three districts to explore in the Highlands: Highlands Square, Tennyson Street, and Lower Highland (LoHi). The Tennyson Street Cultural District is where to find antique prints, photographs, and paintings from Colorado artists, plus find live music venues and great international foods. LoHi is a mix of old and ultra-modern architecture and home to some of the city’s most innovative restaurants and bars such as the Avanti F and B collective with restaurants housed in modified shipping containers. For breathtaking city views head to Linger or El Five. For a restaurant focused on locally sourced ingredients head to Root Down. LoHi is also where you can find the best views of the Highland Bridge and downtown Denver.
- Best Hotels: Mint House Hotel Downtown Denver • Kimpton Hotel Born Union Station Denver
- Best Cheap/Midrange Hotels: Residence Inn by Marriott Denver • Hampton Inn & Suites Speer Blvd Denver
The Central Business District (CBD) is a mix of skyscrapers, hotels, and the mega-shopping street; 16th Street Mall. This long pedestrian strip is lined with 300 locally owned and chain stores, over 50 restaurants, bars, and the Denver Pavilions (a mall with an additional 40 stores and restaurants). CBD is also home to museums on Western art, firefighters, and US currency. The CBD is where most of the theater venues are located including the Denver Performing Arts Complex that houses 10 venues for theater, dance, and music. There is a free bus that travels between CBD and LoDo.
- Best Hotels: Kimpton Hotel Monaco • AC Hotel by Marriott
- Best Cheap/Midrange Hotels: Hyatt House • The Curtis Denver
For those interested in exploring beyond Denver, Boulder is a great choice. About 28 miles from Downtown Denver is the “happiest” city in America. It is also regularly included on Best Cities to Live in America lists. Boulder sits at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and is home to the University of Colorado. Pearl Street is an outdoor mall filled with shops, breweries, and cafes and is one of the major attractions for locals and visitors. The city has more than 200 miles of trails and is home to Eldorado Canyon State Park (one of the most famous technical climbing centers in America). Boulder Creek is a popular spot for locals during the summer with several whitewater sections for tubing, rope-swinging, and swimming (tubing season runs from May to August, and depends on water flow). Boulder is also home to Celestial Seasonings teas and tours are available. There are many top-notch restaurants to choose from including Blackbelly and Santo, whose chef-owner, Hosea Rosenberg won Bravo’s Top Chef season 5. The best restaurant with a view and to watch the sunset is Flagstaff House Restaurant located on Flagstaff Mountain. Dushanbe Teahouse is a city landmark. The tea house was shipped from Tajikistan and assembled piece by piece as a gift to the city and serves Middle Eastern food (by reservation). The best breakfast in town can be found at Lucile’s Creole Cafe and serves Cajun specialties including beignets, biscuits, Eggs Pontchartrain (with crispy light fried trout), Creole omelet, and Pain Perdu.
- Best Boulder Hotels: St Julien Hotel and Spa • Hotel Boulderado • Bradley Boulder Inn
- Best Cheap/Midrange Hotels: Boulder Adventure Lodge • Briar Rose Bed & Breakfast