First Friday: The RINO Alternative to the Santa Fe Crunch

March 1 2013, 1:30 PM

With another First Friday upon us, and pleasant weather forecast for tonight, expect the Art District on Santa Fe to be a little more congested than it's been so far this winter. As soon as the local temps turn relatively balmy, Santa Fe usually is overrun by art lovers ranging from casual to fervent. (It's a situation that probably could be remedied by closing off a portion of Santa Fe Drive for the evening, but that's another column.)

If you want to avoid the crush while still seeing some impressive creativity, head on over to RINO. The River North neighborhood has long been transforming itself from a rundown warehouse district to an artistic hub. (The area's hipster quotient is already off the charts.) Even though RINO's artwalk usually requires a car to get the full experience—it's not as compact as Santa Fe's, with galleries and boutiques arrayed in clusters over a much broader area—it shows you a side of Denver that's simply unlike any other part of town.

The RINO artwalk is more likely to invite you to cross the threshold into someone's home, repurposed into a gallery for the occasion, and the crowds tend to skew a little older to create a more "grown-up" vibe that offers a pleasant contrast (if that's what you seek) to the edgier Santa Fe environs. This doesn't compromise the edginess of the art, which remains contemporarycolorful, and abstract.

And lest you fear being too isolated in one of Denver's last untapped gems, RINO is home to several noteworthy craft brewers as well as not one, but two of 5280's best new restaurants in 2013, The Populist and Amerigo Delicatus. So, this month, get into the creative spirit by stepping into a part of Denver that's becoming more interesting with each new First Friday.

—Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Follow 5280 articles editor Luc Hatlestad on Twitter at @LucHatlestad.