Neighborhood Spotlight: LoDo, Denver

Union Station
Union Station, source Flickr user Larry Johnson

The hottest neighborhood in Denver is also the oldest. LoDo (short for Lower Downtown) is the site of the original settlement of Denver by William Larimer in 1858. Even before Larimer’s settlement, the area along the South Platte River had long been home to Native American encampments. When the railroad arrived, Union Station become the the jumping off point for countless new arrivals. As highways and airports replaced trains as the preeminent mode of transportation, LoDo drifted into skid row territory. But, as these things go, the city resolved not to let its most historically significant area fall into ruin. After several decades of progress, LoDo has emerged as a shining example of success in urban reinvestment and revitalization.

Today LoDo is a vibrant mixed-use neighborhood that is a destination for residents, tourists, and businesses alike. Most of the buildings are restored historical landmarks from the turn of the century. You’ll find shops, restaurants, and art galleries at street level with the upper levels occupied by business offices of every type and some of the priciest residences in town. The crown jewel of the neighborhood is the recently renovated Union Station. Build in 1881, this historical landmark has been updated for functionality while still preserving much of its original grandeur. Home to restaurants and shops, Union Station will stand as one of LoDo’s premier destinations.

Speaking of restaurants, LoDo is home to some of the best dining in Denver. The Mile High City made its culinary reputation on steak houses and you can find more than a dozen of them in and around LoDo. There’s household names like Morton’s and Sullivans as well as local favorites like Elway’s and Denver ChopHouse. For more variety, try the Brazilian steakhouses Rodizio Grill and Fogo De Chão. If you’re feeling more surf than turf, McCormick’s Fish House is the go-to spot with a great outdoor patio. For a more relaxed atmosphere, head over to Snooze, the bustling breakfast joint with an inspired take on morning classics.

Besides enjoying great food, there plenty fun activities in LoDo for every interest. Shopaholics love the 16th Street Mall and its 2 kilometers of over 300 shops, as well as the free shuttle service that runs from Union Station to the Denver Pavilions. Another shopping hotspot is Larimer Square, Denver’s first city block. Now one of the city’s most chic fashion districts, Larimer Square is a great place to grab a latté and do some window shopping while checking out the latest trends. For art lovers, the Museum of Contemporary Art features rotating exhibitions from regional, national, and international artists in its innovative environmentally sustainable building.