This petite neighborhood is considered one of Denver’s most livable spaces. The area has a bubble effect—it sits barely south of Baker’s booming ‘hood and South Broadway dives, west of the ever-busy Washington Park, and walking distance to South Pearl Street, but maintains the air of quiet suburbia perfectly suited for families and professionals. Colloquially known as West Wash Park, the ‘hood is heavily residential, filled with early-20th century houses that have been turned into multi-unit rentals, and offers easy access to a variety of essential and just-for-fun amenities. (Think: grocery stores and fitness clubs, and watering holes and music venues.) Whether you’re a city dweller searching for a new date-night spot, or a Sunday volleyball player looking for a new place to fuel up and wind down after summer games, this residential stalwart offers many fun ways to recharge your routine.
Boundaries: Alameda Avenue to the north, Downing Street to the east, Mississippi Avenue and I-25 to the south, and Broadway to the west.
The Vibe: Local spots where urbanites and nearby residents—mostly 20- and 30-something renters, young-families, and homeowners—hang; foodies visiting the hood’s rich and varied selection of eateries; joggers finishing their loop at the adjacent Wash Park.
Main Drag: There isn’t one, really. Wash Park West’s destinations are spread throughout the densely populated, .82 square-mile neighborhood.
Grub: Head to the French-inspired Vert Kitchen for homemade sandwiches (try the curried chicken), or a fast-casual brunch. (Or not so casual: They also sell bottles of champagne.) For Greek food—a genre that’s a little sparse in Denver—Pete’s Central One is a mainstay. Wash Park West is also a great destination for Asian cuisine, and Thai Basil, although a chain, serves up the best green curry in that neighborhood. Next door, Fontana Sushi rolls up creative specials, like the Spiderman, which adds extra crab, spicy mayo, and eel sauce to the already scrumptious Spider roll.
Get Some Work Done: Head to the cutely named Wash Perk for a home-away-from-home spot to pull out the laptop. The wifi is password-free, the coffee is fresh, and they serve pastries as well as gluten-free burritos.
Break a Sweat: For a neighborhood with such tight boundaries, it packs a punch in martial arts and fitness studios (pun very much intended). Take one of Pearl Street Fitness’ hundred-plus weekly classes (they’re also part of ClassPass); practice your Vinyasa at Ivengar Yoga Center; learn Krav Maga at Evolve Martial Arts & Fitness; or get self-defense training at Denver Kung Fu.
Date Night: A visit to the Chowder Room is like a mini vacation to the Northeast. The seafood eatery truly feels like you’re near the sunny shores of Maine, and the service and décor are both casual and laid-back, providing a no-pressure atmosphere perfect for a first date. Their seafood is exceptional; order the coconut shrimp to start.
After dinner, head to the Syntax Physic Opera. The new bar and venue—it opened in June 2014—is a self-described “love poem to 1960s Denver,” and a living museum. Portraits of Rocky Mountain News’ founder William N. Byers and Sand Creek Massacre dissident and hero Silas S. Soule hang on the walls, along with local, rotating artwork, and a glass display of 1860s pistols. This bar is the cool hangout that came before the popular recreation of Prohibition-era speakeasies.
For a white table clothed affair, head to one of Denver’s best restaurants, Bittersweet. The farm-to-table eatery, run by Olav Peterson, is truly outstanding in its dishes, design, and service. While we always expect to spend a little more on a fine-dining experience, Bittersweet is one of the only restaurants in town where we walk away truly feeling like we got our money’s worth—and then some.
Sip: Pub on Pearl is a go-to for gamedays and Thursday night wings. They also host Texas Hold ‘Em nights, the Wash Park Pub Run, and Cruiser Rocks, a pub crawl on two-wheels. Sister dives Candlelight Tavern and Kentucky Inn offer cheap drinks and games like Jenga, darts, and skiball.
Cruise: Wash Park West is one of our favorite places to bike. If you’re looking for more than a Sunday wind through Wash Park, pedal down Washington or Emerson Street for a straightaway (and currently flower-filled) urban cycling stretch. Need two wheels first? Head to the neighboring Velosoul Cyclery for locally manufactured commuter bikes.
Stroll: LeGrue’s flowershop, with two floors of bouquets and giftbaskets, is a florists’ heaven and an apt escape from wintertime blues. (Fortunately, ours are finally subsiding.) The nearby Caboose Hobbies, interestly, holds the Guinness World Record for largest toy-train shop. The family-owned store has been open since 1982, and its 18,600 square feet is full of every type of train and track part you could imagine.
Depart from Lincoln and Broadway’s busy one-ways to take the kids for a safer and quieter stroll through Wash Park West’s residential streets between Logan and Downing. It’s an excellent time of year to spot the vibrant colors of newly bloomed buds in front yards and walkways—and the unique and varied architecture of the houses aren’t bad eye candy either.
Follow digital associate editor Jerilyn Forsythe on Twitter at @jlforsyt.