Want to see a different side of Colorado? Base your Mile High City trip in Lower Downtown Denver. Affectionately known as LoDo by locals, this buzzing area in Downtown Denver area draws in the crowds thanks to its fun shopping opportunities, vibrant art scene, and innovative dining options.
Denver’s Lower Downtown neighborhood is a shopaholic’s paradise. Lovers of boutiques and high-end handicrafts will lose themselves in the ornate spaces of Union Station and the elaborate Victorian architecture on Larimer Square. Those seeking a modern edge while in LoDo can spend some serious cash at Dairy Block. While you’re here, check out the local artwork, then head over to the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver to fuel your creative spirit. Wrap up your day with dinner and drinks at some of the most unique restaurants, bars, and venues in Denver.
Ready for a trendy Mile High City vacation? Have a brilliant time in Denver with this guide to Lower Downtown (LoDo), including where to go, where to stay, and where to eat & drink.
Looking for more ideas for your trip? Check out our Colorado Travel Guide for more recommendations on when to visit, where to go & what to do!
What to see & do in Denver’s LoDo
Larimer Square is a perfect example of Lower Downtown Denver’s creative flair. The neighborhood was the destination for some of the first businesses in Denver, and its entrepreneurial spirit shines through to this day. As you wander past the pretty Victorian buildings of the city’s first designated historic district, you’ll find vibrant businesses taking innovative twists on its traditional architecture.
A lovely selection of unique shopping opportunities abounds around Larimer Square. Buy gifts made by local artists at the Colorado Artisan Center or pick up designer toys for your pooch at Pet Savvy. Keep your energy up with a break in the sustainable and Scandi-themed coffee shop, Kaffe Landskap.
With such a lovely setting, you may want to linger longer over a meal or a glass of wine and soak up the atmosphere. End your Denver itinerary by tucking into street-side steak at Ted’s Montana Grill or savoring tacos and margaritas on the rooftop of Tamayo.
Union Station is a historic landmark, retail space, and dining destination all in one. Standing since 1881, the ornate Beaux Arts building is still the main transport hub for the city. As well as being a train and bus station, it’s home to chic shops, bars, and restaurants, making it one of the most popular places to visit in Denver.
Stroll through a maze of towering archways, shimmering chandeliers, and stretching views of Downtown Denver. Antique features and original typography create a charming blend of the old and new at Union Station.
Businesses take advantage of Union Station’s elegant architecture, turning the spaces into opulent bars and restaurants. Enjoy mezzanine views dripping with art deco style at the Cooper Lounge or graze Iberian tapas by the wrought iron staircase of Ultreia.
You’ll also find a small, curated selection of upscale stores around Union Station. Browse new and used books at Tattered Cover and handpicked homewares at Bloom by Anuschka.
Located in the heart of LoDo, the Dairy Block is a hipster’s dream. Step into an emporium of color in this market and micro-district. As you navigate the maze of art, shopping, and food options, all your senses will be stimulated.
Shopaholics will love browsing the one-of-a-kind goods at the Dairy Block. Design custom gold jewelry at Love Weld, or pick up exquisite leather handbags from Parker Clay. Stop between stores to admire the murals, installations, and artwork from over 30 local artists, from glowing balls of light to collages of found materials.
If your stomach starts to rumble, you’ll have no shortage of ways to fill it at the Dairy Block. Try sushi made from local and seasonal ingredients found in nature at For[a]ged. Or graze wine and charcuterie pairings at Blanchard Family Wines.
You’ll also find a lively choice of quirky watering holes, from craft spirits at Deviation Distillery to live music at Seven Grand Whisky Bar.
Enjoy a slice of nature in the heart of the city at Confluence Park. It’s named after the point where Cherry Creek and the South Platte River join. In 1858, panners found gold here, igniting the start of the Colorado Gold Rush and marking it as the birthplace of the city.
Today, Confluence Park is a chance to switch off from the buzz of Lower Downtown for a while. There are great waterside activities, including kayaking, tubing, and bucket rafting. If you want to swim, there are steps leading to gentle sheltered parts of the river. With lots of green areas and a small beach, you’ll have plenty of space to dry off and soak up the sun.
There are also a few short hiking and biking trails around Confluence Park. Sway across wooden bridges, stroll by bubbling waters, and explore rustling woodland. If you want a longer adventure, there are trails running alongside the South Platte River and Cherry Creek.
Museum of Contemporary Art Denver
If you haven’t found enough inspiration on the streets of Lower Downtown, spend some time in the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. The small gallery shows rotating exhibits from regional, local, and international artists. Browse a vibrant selection of ever-changing works reflecting the art and culture of our time.
As well as classic techniques like painting and photography, you can explore a wonderful mixture of sculpture, mixed media, and digital innovation at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. When you’re finished, stop at the stylish rooftop bar for city views and an intellectual debrief. Continue the conversation with coffee or order a cocktail inspired by the artwork on show.
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As well as world-class exhibitions, the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver hosts fantastic events. Attend lectures on the creative process, student debuts, film series launches, and epic fundraising parties. See what’s on sale when you’re in town, and you might find a new way to spice up your evening!
Coors Field will be on every sports fan’s bucket list. The baseball stadium has been open since 1995 and can squeeze 50,144 spectators through its doors. It’s home to Denver’s Major League Baseball team, the Colorado Rockies.
You can learn more about the Colorado Rockies with a special tour of Coors Field. Expert tour guides will give you a behind-the-scenes look at the stadium. It’s a great Denver activity, even if you’re new to this iconic American sport. As well as an in-depth exploration of the world of baseball and its history, your guide will give you a unique perspective on life and sports in Colorado.RELATED: Weather in Denver by Season & Month/seealso]
If you manage to get tickets to the game, you’ll have a brilliant time cheering on the Rockies alongside die-hard fans and locals. Note fun features in the stadium, like purple seats in the 20th row marking the one-mile elevation above sea level.
Where to eat & drink
Visitors flock to LoDo Denver for its hip drinking and dining scene. By staying here, you’re based right in the heart of the action. Historic locations have been turned into sleek restaurants with fun twists on cuisine from around the world. When looking for an aperitif, you’ll find quirky cocktail bars and a trendy take on classic pubs.
Start your day with a party at Snooze, an A.M. Eatery. This lively brunch restaurant serves creative breakfasts and encourages all its guests to have a great time. Pick something from the crazy Benedict menu or sample the pancake flight.
The understated Mercantile Dining and Provision delivers a farm-to-table culinary experience. The dining area, coffee bar, and European-style market ooze elegance and simplicity. While trying their pretty dishes, you’ll have complete transparency on every step they’ve taken to make it to your plate.
ChoLon translates as ‘big market’ in Vietnamese. The Asian fusion restaurant takes inspiration from the largest Chinese market in Saigon. Shimmering décor, playful cocktails, and an exciting Southeast Asian menu offer a fabulous start to your evening.
Enjoy industrial chic and a sleek patio at Thirsty Lion Gastropub. The bar features a big beer menu and a nice choice of cocktails.
Admire fabulous mezzanine views of Downtown at The Cooper Lounge. They take their Union Station location seriously by theming their décor and menu on the service onboard luxury trains like the Orient Express.
Roosevelt is a literary-themed cocktail bar with exceptional mixologists and artful interior design.
Where to stay
As it’s located in the heart of the city, LoDo is one of the most popular neighborhoods to stay in Denver. There’s a great selection of accommodations here, with everything from hotels to apartments to vacation rentals available.
Sentral Union Station
This funky apartment is in the heart of Lower Downtown, a short walk away from the Dairy Block, Coors Field, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. You’ll have your own stylish living area and kitchen, as well as a shared courtyard with fire pits. Make a splash in the hot tubs and outdoor heated saltwater pool.
The Oxford Hotel
History lovers should stay here for the ultimate Denver experience. This historic hotel is in an ornate building that has been standing since 1891. Inside you’ll find opulent décor, Denver’s oldest bar, and a sustainable steakhouse. Unwind in the spa and fitness center before attending unique events like bourbon tastings and live music performances.
Kimpton Hotel Born, an IHG Hotel
This modern hotel is next to Union Station, putting excellent shopping, dining, and transport options on your doorstep. Alpine luxury décor sets the scene for your stay in the mile-high city, while their onsite restaurant indulges in the Colorado tradition of dry-aged meats caramelized over the wood-fired grill.