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(Last Updated On: December 2, 2020)

“What is the best area to stay in Denver?”

If you’re planning a visit to the beautiful capital city of Colorado, you’ve likely asked yourself this very question. For a tourist, picking the “right” area to stay in can make or break your vacation!

It’s the difference between being in the thick of things, or wasting way too much time and money on transportation. The difference between being in a safe area, or a not-so-safe area (luckily Denver is quite safe overall). And ultimately, it can lead to the difference of having a great time in Denver, or a less-than-great time in Denver.

But we can’t have that!

Denver is an amazing city, and I want you to experience it properly. So keep on reading for details on the best area to stay in Denver (depending on your interests).

Since I’m still (im)patiently waiting to win the lottery, this post contains affiliate links. If you click the link and complete a purchase, I may be paid a commission (at no extra cost to you). Go you! Thanks for the support.


Best Area to Stay in Denver for Nightlife

A map highlights where to stay in Denver for nightlife

For a smaller city, the nightlife scene in Denver is strong. Between nationally-known dance clubs, an impressive lineup of craft breweries, and some killer rooftop bars, you’re sure to have a good time! But if you’re unfamiliar with the Denver area, you could wind up staying too far away from the nightlife hot spots in the city. Which means time and money wasted on transportation.

And that’s no bueno! Booking accommodations (I even have some suggestions below!) in these neighborhoods will ensure you’re closest to the nighttime action.

Lower Downtown (LoDo)

Train tracks and buildings behind Denver's Union Station
© tvirbickis via Canva.com

Lower Downtown (or LoDo as the locals call it) is Denver’s oldest neighborhood, having 23 square blocks of the original settlement of Denver City now within the “neighborhood lines” of LoDo. And today LoDo houses many of Denver’s best-known restaurants, landmarks, shops, and more.

Here you can take in sights like Denver’s famous Larimer Square, illuminated by string lights overhead the shops and restaurants below. And with 70+ bars and restaurants in this historic district, you’re sure to eat and drink well.

But when it comes to nightlife, LoDo doesn’t disappoint there either. This is a neighborhood that is lively no matter if you’re catching an afternoon cocktail at one of Denver’s best rooftop bars, or burning the midnight oil until the bars/clubs close (typically 2 am here).

Top Things to Do in LoDo

1. Catch a Colorado Rockies game at Coors Field (and make sure you visit the party deck called The Rooftop)
2. Check out the recently remodeled and historic Union Station for cool paces to eat and drink, and a variety of seasonal events
3. Sample over 70 Colorado draft beers at Tap Fourteen‘s rooftop beer garden
4. Explore a variety of Denver’s urban dining (and drinking) at the Dairy Block
5. Get that real German-style beer hall feel at Rhein Haus

River North (RiNo) Arts District

The RiNo neighborhood of Denver has gone through quite the industrial revival as of late. The area once was an industrial hub, home to many foundries, pattern shops and other industrial uses. As industry moved away from Denver’s Downtown core, vacant warehouses and failing infrastructure meant low-low prices. This ultimately attracted many struggling artists to the area.

The most recent revitalization of the neighborhood began in the early 2000s, with a focus on honoring the area’s artistic roots. And in 2005, the River North Arts District was officially born. Now 15 years later, the neighborhood is booming yet again and is a popular hangout area on evenings and weekends in the city.

Top Things to Do in RiNo

1. Check out Denver’s urban winery, Infinite Monkey Theorum
2. Sing to your heart’s content (after some liquid courage) at Voicebox Karaoke
3. Stop by Finn’s Manor, one of Denver’s most eclectic bars
4. Chill with food, music, lawn games, drinks, and more at Improper City
5. Catch a live performance (with a moving stage!) at The Mission Ballroom

South Broadway (SoBo)

South Broadway has long been an important transportation corridor for the city of Denver. From its humble beginnings as a rough road used for transporting produce into the city, to today being one of Denver’s most eclectic neighborhoods, SoBo has seen it all.

The SoBo neighborhood now has a funky mix of clothing stores, unique eateries, hip music venues, craft breweries, and more. Home to Antique Row, bargain hunters will love the assortment of 100 antique stores all located within 18 blocks. This is a neighborhood that really has something for everyone, whether you’re looking for something eat/drink, something to do, or something to buy.

Top Things to Do in SoBo

1. Dance all night to nationally known DJs at Temple Nightclub, Denver’s newest club
2. Pop into Bar Standard for live music in an art-deco themed speakeasy
3. Check out one of Denver’s favorite sports bars, Stoney’s Bar and Grill, for live music, sports, and games
4. Have amazing tacos (and margaritas, of course) at Torchy’s Tacos
5. Show off your moves at Denver’s premier latin club, La Rumba

Airbnb Recommendations


Best Area to Stay in Denver to Mingle with Locals

A map highlights some of the best areas to stay in Denver to mingle with the locals

My favorite thing about traveling is digging into the local scene. Sure, you have to do some “touristy” things as well, that’s a given. But beyond the bigger can’t-miss landmarks, I enjoy getting to know a city through the lives of the residents (plus you’ll always find a hidden gem you wouldn’t have found otherwise).

So if you travel like me and want to hobnob with Denverites during your trip, any of these areas will fit the bill nicely!

Highlands

This neighborhood’s history traces all the way back to Denver’s roots in the late 1800s, having even once been a city of its own neighboring Denver City. A redevelopment of the area in the early 2000s saw the accessibility (and subsequent fortunes) rise. Today, the Highlands is a bustling residential area with a large concentration of the city’s hippest restaurants and cocktail bars.

Because of that, the Highlands is a very walkable neighborhood. Making it very easy for tourists to bounce from one spot to the next.

Top Things to Do in the Highlands

1. Check out Avanti Food & Beverage, a modern day food hall with amazing views of the Downtown Denver skyline
2. Eat killer food in a former mortuary at Linger, a beloved local hot spot
3. For outdoor enthusiasts, be sure and check out the REI flagship store
4. Satisfy your sweet tooth with Denver’s best ice cream at Little Man Ice Cream (the salted oreo is to die for!)
5. Sample local craft brews at the Denver Beer Co.

Uptown

This Denver neighborhood (officially referred to as North Capitol Hill by the city) is just a stone’s throw to the east of Downtown. It’s a successful melting pot of the old and new in the city, where trusted Denver standbys compete with hungry up-and-comers. Many of which are concentrated within what is known as Restaurant Row along 17th street, the life blood of this neighborhood.

The proximity of Uptown to Downtown means it’s the perfect neighborhood to experience Denver like a local. Where despite being close, it somehow feels like a quieter retreat from the city. And, of course, it’s filled with plenty of hidden gems tourists may not find otherwise.

Top Things to Do in Uptown

1. Dominate the modern day ping pong hall (with an Asian fusion menu, to boot) at Ace Eat Serve
2. Try the famous desserts of celebrity pastry chef Keegan Gerhard at D Bar Denver
3. Relive your childhood days at 1Up, Denver’s favorite arcade bar
4. Catch a live performance at the Fillmore Auditorium
5. Enjoy classic American favorites in a retro-style diner at Steuben’s Uptown

Five Points

Five Points is one of Denver’s oldest neighborhoods, and throughout the city’s history, it has been a safe haven for the African American community here. A frequent stop for jazz greats like Miles Davis or Billie Holiday, the Five Points neighborhood became known as the “Harlem of the West.”

Today, cultures here have blended into a lovely fusion of new and old. You can enjoy live music from a wide array of genres at many independent music venues. Or you can enjoy down home cooking at any of the soul food and BBQ restaurants in the area. This is a hip neighborhood where you can save a little money, but still experience all the city has to offer.

Top Things to Do in Five Points

1. Experience one of the best brunches in Denver at The Lobby
2. Check out the slate of live musical performances coming up at Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom
3. Explore the Denver Central Market and their diverse vendors
4. Eat incredibly inventive pizza by-the-slice at Ian’s Pizza Denver
5. Visit a modern taproom with self-service pouring at First Draft Taproom & Kitchen

Airbnb Recommendations


Best Area to Stay in Denver for Art and Music Lovers

A map highlights some of the best areas to stay in Denver for people who love art and music

Did you know that Denver has a bustling arts and music scene? Well, it’s true! The city enjoys a wide array of live musical performances ranging from smaller, more intimate venues to national tours on a massive scale.

Denver is also home to one of the largest performing arts complexes in the country (2nd largest, to be exact), and two separate “arts districts” within the city: the Arts District on Santa Fe and the River North Arts District.

So if you’re looking to partake in the art/music offerings in Denver, then stay in any of these areas.

Central Business District (CBD)

This area is what would traditionally be meant when someone references “Downtown” (although that always depends on the person). The Central Business District is a commercial and entertainment hub which includes a mix of the city’s skyscrapers, attractions, hotels, and more.

In this part of the city you can check out Denver’s famous 16th street mall, a one mile pedestrian mall filled with shops, restaurants/bars, and street performers. This area is also home to hundreds of restaurants, cafes, bars, and coffee shops. And where the country’s 2nd largest performing arts center resides.

Top Things to Do in CBD

1. Check out one of the largest art museums this side of Chicago at the Denver Art Museum (yup, DAM)
2. Catch a live performance covering everything from dramas to musicals at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts Complex
3. See if any of your favorites will be making a visit to the Bellco Theatre
4. Laugh your ass off at Denver’s best comedy club, Comedy Works
5. Peep the event calendar at the 1930s art-deco Paramount Theatre

Baker

The history of the Baker neighborhood dates back to the 1880s. Most of the homes in this area reflect that, and many are Victorian or Queen Anne style. The architectural history of this neighborhood is so significant, in fact, that it has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places…twice. First in 1985 as a “historic district” and again in 2000 as a “city historic district.”

Today, Baker is one of the hippest neighborhoods in Denver. Here you can find many vintage boutiques, amazing restaurants, the city’s largest arts district, and late-night hangouts for dancing, live music, or both!

Top Things to Do in Baker

1. Check out a First Friday Art Walk, the signature event of the Art District on Santa Fe
2. Screen independent, foreign and avant-garde movies at the Mayan Theater
3. Visit Punch Bowl Social for gastropub-style food, punch bowls (duh) and an amusement complex full of games
4. Eat some of the best conveyor belt-style all you can eat sushi in Denver at Rolls by Chubby Cattle
5. For a solid local dive bar / music venue, check out Hi-Dive

Capitol Hill

A drone image of the golden dome of the Colorado state capitol building during sunset
© nick1803 via Canva.com

Capitol Hill is so named because the Colorado Capitol Building is perched here on a small hill. This is also where Denver’s original elite built their elaborate mansions many moons ago. And while many mansions still dot Capitol Hill, it is now an area packed with rental opportunities. In fact, today it is the city’s most densely populated neighborhood, which means parking is usually a real pain in the a#@.

But the vibrant mix of arts, culture, and history more than makes up for it (most days). Be sure to explore the Colorado Capitol Building, known for it’s large (and real!) golden dome. Find the 13th step here and take a commemorative photo exactly one mile high.

Top Things to Do in Capitol Hill

1. Dance the night away at the Church Nightclub, housed in a former church built in 1865
2. Sing-a-long at Denver’s oldest (but still hip) piano bar, Charlie Brown’s Bar & Grill
3. Learn about the Unsinkable Molly Brown’s connection to Denver at the Molly Brown House Museum
4. Dive into a curious mix of musical genres at Your Mom’s House
5. Catch a live performance at the Ogden Theatre

Airbnb Recommendations


Best Area to Stay in Denver for Shopping

A map highlights some of the best areas to stay in Denver for shopping

Does your perfect Denver itinerary include shopping until you drop? You’re in luck, because there’s plenty of options for shopping in Colorado’s capital city as well! Denver has everything from luxury high-end malls, to local boutiques, discount outlet malls, quirky shops, and more.

Unfortunately the best shopping areas are out of the Downtown core of the city. Therefore, having access to a rental car would surely come in handy. These are the best areas to stay in Denver to ensure you can maximize your shopping time.

Cherry Creek

A drone view of the cherry creek neighborhood in Denver
© nick1803 via Canva.com

The Cherry Creek neighborhood is an affluent residential area with a vibrant and well-known shopping scene. Often confused as being one-in-the-same, this area is actually home to two separate shopping epicenters: the Cherry Creek Shopping Center and Cherry Creek North.

The Cherry Creek Shopping Center is a high-end, enclosed shopping mall featuring brands like Ann Taylor, Free People, Kate Spade, and more. Cherry Creek North, on the other hand, is a 16-block outdoor shopping district of locally-owned, as well as nationally recognized brands. And these two areas combined is why Cherry Creek is the best area to stay in Denver for shopping enthusiasts.

Top Things to Do in Cherry Creek

1. Shop until you drop at over 160 stores (including more upscale brands) at the Cherry Creek Shopping Center
2. Have one of the best burgers in Denver at the Cherry Cricket
3. Explore more than 400 stores in the outdoor shopping area of Cherry Creek North
4. Attend the world-renowned Cherry Creek Arts Festival, one of Denver’s best annual festivals
5. Occupied by more than 60 spas/salons, Cherry Creek North is a great place to spend a relaxing day at the spa

South Pearl Street

Located in the Platt Park neighborhood, historic South Pearl Street is a hip epicenter for boutiques, shops, and eateries galore. They even host a variety of annual events (like festivals and concerts) throughout the year, as well as highly popular summer farmers markets.

And when it comes to shopping, South Pearl maintains that popularity among the locals. This is an area where you can trade commercialized mega malls for tree-lined blocks dotted with various shops and boutiques. Where you can find truly unique pieces, or simply get lost window shopping in all the possibilities.

Top Things to Do in South Pearl

1. Peruse the blocks-long Sunday farmers markets along old South Pearl Street
2. Indulge in New York style slices at the aptly named Sexy Pizza
3. Explore the wide array of shops and merchants along old South Pearl Street
4. Have an amazing Japanese dinner and check out the killer rooftop at Izakaya Den (winner of the American Architecture Award)
5. Get more for less money at Common Threads, a high-end consignment boutique

Belmar

Belmar is about as residential as it gets on this list. Because while the district itself is based around a commercial shopping area, the surrounding areas are 100% residential. But if you’re looking to shop and not be smack dab in the middle of the city, then Belmar could be the perfect option for you (and it’s very family friendly).

Here, a central plaza hosts concerts in the warmer months, and is transformed into an ice skating rink in the winter. Belmar spans 22 city blocks packed full of all things entertainment: shopping, restaurants, art galleries, a movie theater, bowling alley, and more.

Top Things to Do in Belmar

1. Explore the wide array of shops (80+) at the Belmar Shopping Center
2. Check out Arts on Belmar, a community of artful creatives
3. Enjoy authentic Tex-Mex fare at Chuy’s
4. Satisfy your sweet tooth with Colorado born confections from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory
5. Pretend to be Picasso (while you drink!) at Painting with a Twist

Airbnb Recommendations


Final Thoughts

an aerial view of parkland and the downtown Denver skyline
© Creative-Family via Canva.com

Determining where to stay when visiting a new city can be tough! You aren’t familiar with the area and ultimately have to rely on a lot of research to figure it out. But it is SO important. Because picking the “right” area versus the “wrong” area can lead to very different experiences.

Which neighborhood do you think is the best area to stay in Denver?


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6 Comments

  1. Sam June 30, 2020 at 6:01 pm

    Amazing article, I can’t wait to return for some rooftop lollygagging.😎

    1. Kara July 1, 2020 at 11:41 am

      Anytime! My favorite type of lollygagging haha

  2. Krista July 11, 2020 at 11:37 am

    Thanks for the great insight into Denver! Really helpful for when I visit.

    1. Kara July 13, 2020 at 10:17 am

      You’re welcome! Glad you enjoyed 🙂

  3. Lavi July 11, 2020 at 4:35 pm

    I’ve never been to Denver but I’m dying to go! Saving this to reference for when I finally make it there!

    1. Kara July 13, 2020 at 10:17 am

      I absolutely love Denver. Great place to visit (and live!).