I get a lot of email from readers who are planning to visit Colorado or are thinking about moving to Denver. I absolutely love living here and all the city has to offer! I try to feature local hot spots and events as much as I can, but I know when you’re planning a visit, sometimes you just want more general information too.
Denver is set up like a true, old-fashioned metropolitan area. Denver Proper is pretty vast, divided up into unique neighborhoods. Below is a breakdown of those neighborhoods, their feel, and the main attractions at each. If you live here and I missed something awesome, let me know. And if you have any more questions though, feel free to ask! I love exploring my city, so I’m sure I’ll continue adding to this page too!
Cole/City Park/RiNo
If you live here, you probably don’t lump these neighborhoods together. But if you have a general understanding of this city, you do. This is where I live, so I figured it’s a great place to start! The Cole neighborhood is quite residential, still a little up-and-coming. It’s just north of City Park, a gorgeous space that houses a city golf course, the zoo, the museum of nature and science, and lovely live jazz on warm summer Sunday nights.
Cole is just east of the newest arts district, RiNo (stands for River North). This old industrial and warehouse district is slowly but surely being converted into and artsy-fartsy hotspot, complete with two of our favorite cafes, Hutch and Spoon and Crema; yummy restaurants like Walnut Room and Jake’s; and some funky art galleries. There are some B-Cycle stations dotted throughout this area too, making it easy to get around since it’s not quite as walkable as other areas of downtown.
Definitely worth mentioning: the Taxi Cab district. There are some cute shops there, and the main attraction is mine and the gentleman’s most favorite restaurant in the entire city–Fuel Cafe. They change their menu once a month, so be sure to check their website to see what they’re serving when you’re in town!
Uptown
Uptown sits just southwest of City Park, and it happens to be the first neighborhood in which I resided upon moving to Denver. It’s a hip place to live with lots of large, gated apartment complexes that also house local business. It’s within walking distance of downtown, without some of the downtown hassle. My most favorite coffee shop, Fluid, is right in the heart of Uptown. The gentleman and I also like Las Margaritas for fast and affordable Mexican food, which just happens to be right next to the cutest Dazbog coffee shop as well. In this area, 17th Street is ridden with amazing restaurants, not limited to Steuben’s and D-Bar, one of my all time favorites.
Ball Park/LoDo/Downtown
These neighborhoods are not one in the same, but again I lump them together for convenience’s sake–you might want to make a day of it!

LoDo and Ball Park are at the northern end of downtown, all converted from old factories and warehouses. Although it’s probably obvious just given the name, the gentleman would kill me if I didn’t tell you that this is where Coors Field, the home of the fabulous Rockies MLB team, lives. You can grab Rock Pile tickets for under $10, and there are great mountain views from the stadium.

And, of course, you must visit [the original] Snooze, one of my favorite breakfast places thanks to their incredible gourmet pancakes and ever-changing menu. If you can go during the week, I’d recommend it because that place gets packed out on the weekends. Or I always love a good bakery for breakfast or a light lunch–check out Hi-Rise (and get the chicken pesto panini!).

I’m not a LoDo regular. It is the main bar district and supposedly where it’s at as far as nightlife is concerned. If I’m out, it’s normally at Wynkoop, a microbrewery that was established by Governor Hickenlooper. They have great food and fun shuffleboard and pool tables. Also worth checking out: Venice, an Italian restaurant (where the gentleman and I ate the night we got engaged!); the Cruise Room, a darling old-fashioned martini bar; Common Grounds, a delicious local coffee shop (I recommend the Liquid Oreo); and, if you feel like splurging on some pampering, the Oxford Salon and Spa.
LoDo is just fun to walk around, especially if you plan to spend a day downtown. You can catch the light rail at Union Station to head out of downtown; or take the 16th Street Mall bus (for free!) through the entire length of downtown. I don’t spend a ton of time in the heart of downtown (it’s mostly a business district), but if you’re there check out Writer’s Square for the cuter of two Crepes ‘n Crepes in town, Kuulture, and American Apparel (not local spots, obviously), right across from Larimer Square where you’ll find some fun local boutiques and Lime for yummy Mexican (the BEST chips and salsa). You should also check out the Denver Performing Arts Center–tons of unique theater houses and we have some great concerts and productions come through town.
Capitol Hill

The south end of downtown is near and dear to my heart. I worked at the capitol for a couple of years and the gentleman and I loved our darling old apartment at 10th and Washington. In Capitol Hill, you can, of course, visit the capitol, along with the library and the Denver Art Museum. Head east up 13th to grab a coffee or vegan meal at City O’City, and then pop into Pandora and Buffalo Exchange for some shopping. You could also head south down Sherman for a stroll down Poet’s Row just because it’s fun to see all the historic apartment buildings.

Work your way up Colfax for a seedy tour via “the life blood” of Denver. Colfax is one of the longest city roads in the country, and you can see everything from there (the good, the bad, and the ugly, my friends). We particularly love City Grille, which probably has the best hamburger in the county; Pete’s Greek, a greasy dive that’s part of a collection of restaurants owned by Pete; and the Irish Snug, a casual pub with a great patio.

Just south of Capitol Hill is the Alamita neighborhood, but it’s basically the same thing because you can easily walk to it if you live in Cap Hill. There you can grab delicious fresh roasted coffee from Pablo’s (but there’s no WiFi there, FYI) or see a cool film at the Esquire theater. Also nearby is Governor’s Park, featuring the governor’s mansion, Lala’s for great pizza and wine, and our designated Colts bar, Gov’s Park Tavern.
South Broadway

Just south of downtown is one of our favorite hangout spots. Head out of town on Broadway, and you’ll eventually stumble into a rough-looking shopping paradise. Check out some of my favorite stores like Fancy TigerStarlet, the Denver Book Fair, and Decade. We love grabbing ice cream at Sweet Action; gourmet Mexican food at El Diablo’s; and catching independent films at the Mayan theater. Also, the South Broadway Goodwill is my favorite. And if you keep heading south, you’ll eventually get to Antique Row for the broadest selection of for real antique stores and an Arc thrift store. And, for the ladies at least, you must, must, must see Beatrice and Woodsley for wine and tapas (but even more so for the fairyland atmosphere–read my One Magazine review here).

Wash(ington) Park/Platte Park 
No one says Washington Park. This is the residential neighborhood for all those young, Range Rover driving yuppies. And also the most gorgeous park complete with cute four-seater bikes, volleyball, and a great recreation center. If you’re in the area, you’ll probably want to see Gaylord Street–check out Devil’s Food for a darling (and organic!) breakfast or Wash Park Grill for great happy hour specials. Our church, Denver Community Church, is just blocks from the park too.

Just south of Wash Park is Platte Park, a much smaller park though the neighborhood has the same feel. The most popular attraction in the area is Old South Pearl Street. Warm weekends feature a great farmer’s market; but you can always grab brunch at Gaia, shop 5 Green Boxes, or grab a buffalo burger at Pearl Street Grill and Brewery. We also hang out at Hanson’s occasionally (where Jeff and Sarah got engaged!) and I love the Village Cork, a cute wine bar. And for the BEST burger on the south side of town, don’t miss Park Burger.

Cherry Creek/Highlands
These neighborhoods are not even remotely near each other. In fact, they are on complete opposite sides of town. I lump them together because, while they are popular places to hang out, I don’t spend much time in either, so you can’t really call me the resident expert.

Cherry Creek is the uppity side of town, but because of that, I feel it’s a bit generic. Denver is a true urban town with good “city grit,” as my friend Caroline likes to say. That said, if you’re in the mood for some mainstream kind of shopping, Cherry Creek has a nice large shopping mall as well several blocks of outdoor shopping (just be prepared to dish out the cash). Sadly, my favorite restaurant in the area closed; however, if you’re willing to wait an hour, you might grab a burger and frings at the Cherry Cricket, a dark and dingy dive that blasts all of the Cherry Creek stereotypes.

The Highlands are half commercial, half residential. Highlands Square offers some cute shops like the Perfect PetalReal Baby Denver, and Wordshop. Swing through LoHi (lower Highlands) and Riverfront Park for unique Mexican and yummy brunch at Lola’s or dressed up comfort food at Vita (we had our engagement party on the rooftop patio!); grab smooth ice cream from a cool building at Little Man’s; and, just because, stop in Scribbles, the cutest stationary shop.

The Mountains
There are some misconceptions about Denver. For example, people think we’re in the mountains so it’s always cold. We’re not in the mountains even though we’re a mile high (Denver actually sits in a bowl below the mountains), and honestly, we have some of the most mild, incredible weather.

So if you’re headed here looking for some snow, mountain scenery, and extreme outdoor adventure, you’re going to need to plan on making a trip up into the mountains. I don’t live in the mountains, so I’m not an expert; however, I do quite a bit of skiing, so I can talk slopes with you. I can also make recommendations for white water rafting and some pretty drives.

I grew up going to Breckenridge every summer and winter, and my parents currently live there. So if you’re looking for a ski resort with more of a little town feel, I’d suggest heading to Breck. Aside from skiing, you’ll want to grab coffee at The Crown; bar food at Fatty’s; pizza from Eric’s; and then go shopping at Canary in a Clothes Mine.

I have always been a go-go-go type of person. It’s not always noticeable because I can focus for hours on one specific task; but the point is that when my eyes open for the day, I know what I hope–nay, what I’ve planned–to accomplish before the night is done. When Iris came along, it was easy to subject her to this. Sure, she had a little bit of control, what with being certain to determine her own nap schedule. But then it was set finally and we knew when we had time and we figured out how to fit things in, in between.
Even before my kids came into the world, I tried to keep a realistic perspective of what being a parent means. I don’t want to lose myself entirely to motherhood; but I want to assume the role to the extent that I can accept a new lifestyle that’s fitting for my kids. That is to say, I understood that becoming a parent would mean that life wouldn’t look the same, and I’m going to go there and maybe offend someone and say that it shouldn’t look the same.
Needless to say, things have changed again with two. Edith is beginning to take on a schedule; and as we leave the sleep-eat-sleep newborn phase and work toward naps, I’m starting to realize: we are never going to leave the house again! (Clearly, kidding. But also, seriously.) Most weeks, we’re at home for entire and consecutive days at a time.
The thought of this happening was more terrifying than it is in actuality. Really, our days have taken on a new routine and they fly by with fun. I’m trying to be fully content with being home and taking it all in, even on my more restless days. This fun time at home is so fleeting, and I don’t ever want to take for granted that I’m lucky enough to be there for each and every moment with my girls. It would be easy for me to stress over all I can’t turn my attention to–especially with having to meet deadlines under coffee house lights early in the morning or banging out some writing on the rare occasion both girls nap at the same time. But I’ve found it much more rewarding to focus on what I can attend to, because aren’t they just the most precious?
That didn’t keep me from wondering, what do we do all day if we aren’t leaving the house? Because, gee whiz, I’m still so tired at the end of the day.

These days, I have quite a bit going on. I promised myself that, this year, at the beginning of a new year, I wouldn’t rush into trying to accomplish everything at once–certainly not at the expense of the time I get to spend with my girls. And what are friends for if not for helping you fill in the holes? In the blogging world, I’m blessed to have such friends–quite recently, a new one. Julie guest-posted for me during my maternity leave; and as she has finalized an amazing accomplishment, I wanted to give her the chance to share that with you! She graciously offered to do two guest posts for me, all about her new cookbook, Seasoned. I really encourage you to check it out, right after you read all the encouraging things Julie has to say about her project.
On the eve of my twenty-seventh birthday I sat on my back porch with my husband and two of our dear friends. We drank a too easily downed mix of whiskey and apple cider while enjoying the clams we had dug from the beach just hours earlier. It was low-key and really quite perfect by my standards. At one point in the night I was asked, “So, Julie, what do you want for your twenty-eighth year of life?” I fumbled together some answer but truthfully, I had no idea what I wanted.
Since having my son at the young age of 24, I’ve been focusing on the day-to-day. Babies will do that to you. And with my husband it always seems we’re talking about a five or ten year plan. The idea to take one year of my life and expect something from it felt revolutionary. It felt like just what I needed, too. My son is the light of my life and my biggest joy, but I wanted more from the day he was born. Never less of him, but more in addition to him. So, in the days following the question, I decided to write a seasonal food and living quarterly, with the first issue to be released right after the new year.
Three months later the details have gotten a little blurry. Again, babies will do that to you. I can’t quite remember where I got the courage to do something so big so immediately. I find myself in this position after all my big life decisions: how did I convince myself I could do that? I think what it boils down to is my belief that life is for living and doing, and the understanding that no one is going to live it or do it for me. My husband and I had long talked about writing a cookbook together but six years in we have nothing to show for it. I think eventually you just have to ask yourself if not now, then when?
There will always be a better time and you can always know more. With almost certainty I can say you will be able to find someone doing what you want to do and doing it better. Just accept these facts and then get over them because they won’t ever serve you. The only way you get better and really set yourself apart is by throwing yourself in the fire. The only way you live your life and fulfill yourself is by putting one foot in front of the other despite the fear and the self doubt.
The making of Seasoned has been life changing for me. I had to go out on more limbs, trust more people, and work harder on pulling this together than on any other personal project I’ve ever taken on. I’ve made a lifelong friend in McKenzie, the artist for the quarterly, and I’ve been able to watch my work fly around the world. The things I’ve gained in the past three months are invaluable. At the end of the day I can say I’ve found something for myself that allows me to stay home with my son and pursue personal passions. It’s everything I want. And the best part? I have no one to thank but myself and that feels amazing.

 

Cuddles
I’ll admit it: I turn on Sesame Street every morning for two reasons primarily, neither of which are for my child’s entertainment or education (though they are both exceptional by-products of my actions).
Nay, we settle in with Elmo every morning so I can drink my coffee while it’s hot and also, hopefully, tend to some emails before they’ve been sitting in my inbox all day long. It’s a good little morning routine for us. I kid you not: Iris learns oodles from her fuzzy friends and I’m a better mama for getting a handle on my day right away.
But the other day, Iris came over to me and said, “Mommy, cuddle.”
You better believe my laptop was closed in under a second flat, and we watched the rest of Sesame Street like this:
I keep a little journal to write down everything Iris does that I want to remember. Right now, things are so normal and cute and funny; but eventually, she’ll grow out of those things, and it terrifies me to think that I may not remember them clearly.
Needless to say, since mommying two and being so busy, it’s been easy to fall behind on documenting every darling or astounding thing that either of my children does. And that absolutely pains me because they’re at the age where every little thing deserves to be noted. Everything they do is amazing or makes me laugh out loud.
But I take comfort in the fact that the reason I’ve not been able to document it and the reason I have so little time is that I’m living in precisely each moment as it’s given to me. This is my lifelong dream. Each day, I’m able to focus on every moment for exactly as rich and precious as it is because I’m living them without distraction. We’re right in the throws of life. And whether or not I can remember all of Iris’ funny words or exactly when Edi started reaching for an object in front of her face, I have the pleasure of knowing that I was there for it. I lived it, they lived it, and even if it isn’t recorded in history, here we are carrying out this grand vision, the little pieces that make a bigger plan and purpose for our lives.

And cuddles, cuddles are an extremely important piece of that.