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THE NEIGHBORHOOD: CAPITOL HILL
One of Denver’s oldest neighborhoods, Cap Hill is still the city’s most densely populated neighborhood, harbors the state Capitol Building, and is within walking distance of downtown.
Boundaries: Colfax Avenue to the north, Downing Street to the east, Seventh Avenue to the south, and Broadway to the west.
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Who’s There: Renters—including college students, twentysomething singles, and recent transplants living in the ’hood’s aging Denver Squares.
The Hub: The entire neighborhood is a hub, but the always-colorful Colfax (Playboy once called the thoroughfare the “longest, wickedest street in America”) is bustling. We recommend delving into the ’hood’s quieter streets to relax and nosh.
1. Tour: The Unsinkable Molly Brown—her real name is Margaret; read more about that here—was a Titanic survivor, founder of the Denver Women’s Club, advocate for labor and women’s rights, and worked for WWI relief efforts in France. After her husband struck it rich in the mining biz in the late 1800s, the couple purchased a home on Pennsylvania Street in the 1890s. You can visit her restored home today (tours usually start every half-hour and cost $4 to $8). After your history lesson, stop by Sub Culture and grab The Boot, a chicken and pesto sub sandwich (pictured), and a java-to-go next door at Pablo’s Coffee. Stroll over to the Colorado State Capitol for another educational excursion. If you want to take a proper 30- to 45-minute tour, you can join their free walk-through from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. during the workweek (tours start at the top of the hour). After these two tours, you’re practically a Denver historian. Now, reward your academia with a stroll the rest of the neighborhood.
2. Nosh: For watering holes, don’t miss favorites like Pub on Penn (wing nights) Stoney’s Bar and Grill (live music), Charlie Brown’s (piano bar), and Govnr’s Park Tavern (trivia nights). If you’re ready to dine, peruse the corner of Sixth Avenue and Grant Street where restaurant mogul Frank Bonanno reigns with Luca D’ Italia, Bones, Vesper Lounge, and Mizuna. During the summer, make sure to stop by Potager to see if a space is open on the patio. You can sit under the pergola and nosh on an ever-changing menu.
3. Be a Night Owl: Denver isn’t really a dancing town, but if you’re in the Cap Hill neighborhood, your chances of finding a place to groove go up, especially at the area’s live music venues like Ogden Theater, Fillmore Auditorium, Sancho’s Broken Arrow, and Quixote’s True Blue. For something more intimate, visit the Living Room on Tuesdays for their “Ambiant Soul” nights or Dazzle any night of the week for live jazz performances.
4. The Necessities: If you’re new to the neighborhood or just visiting Cap Hill on vacation, jumpstart your stay by knowing a few useful spots. Head to the Roostercat Coffee House, a subterranean local hangout to caffeinate and take advantage of free wifi. Then grab groceries at Vitamin Cottage (Colfax Avenue and Washington Street) or King Soopers (Downing Street and Ninth Avenue), and stop by Argonaut Liquor to pick up a selection of Colorado beers.
5. Park It: It’s a fact: Parking in Cap Hill sucks. If you’re lucky enough to get a parallel parking space, make sure to read the signs very carefully so you don’t get a ticket. Just visiting Cap Hill for a day? Check out Parkopedia, a website that tells you where parking structures are in your area and how much they cost. If you’re perusing Cap Hill solo, listen to Denver Story Trek’s oral history of the ‘hood while you do it. How’s that for a personalized walking tour?
—Photography by Sarah Boyum