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When you stand on a sidewalk in this densely built neighborhood, it is hard to imagine that it was once home to Denver’s Stapleton International Airport. The last plane took off on February 25, 1995 (en route to London) and construction for the new neighborhood began in earnest in 2001. Today, Stapleton covers 6.4 square miles and is finally nearing completion. The area is seriously family-friendly, so don’t be surprised if you stumble upon an entire random block that’s packed with young kids. And while that means your first foray into Stapleton might just be to visit a friend who had a baby, it shouldn’t be your last. The sheer influx of people in this ‘hood is drawing new restaurants, jobs, and stores to the area. Oh, and the more than 50 parks won’t disappoint.
Boundaries: Perhaps best described as sprawling, Stapleton starts at Quebec Street and runs as far east as I-225. The northernmost boundary abuts the Rocky Mountain Arsenal and the southern edge is East Montview Boulevard.
The Vibe: Is urban tranquil a thing? Stapleton’s low-key rhythm is fueled by early risers, get-outsiders, and working parents.
The Hubs: If you live in Stapleton, your hub is the neighborhood park or courtyard. If you’re visiting, you’re probably heading to one of the area’s commercial strips, including the 29th Avenue Town Center, shops along Northfield Boulevard, or the Eastbridge Town Center (still under construction).
Travel Light: Not surprisingly, Denver’s former airport is quite easy to reach because several main arteries—Quebec Street, I-70, and Martin Luther King Boulevard—connect the neighborhood to other central metro locations. If you want to travel sans car, hop on the University of Colorado A Line train, which stops in Stapleton.
Early Wake-up Call: Brunch is big in Stapleton. Order beignets at Four Friends Kitchen or grab a Quebec breakfast sandwich (ham, Swiss cheese, eggs, spinach, and chipotle aioli on slices of sourdough) at Etai’s Bakery Café.
Lycra Alert: Stapletonians are an active bunch, meaning that you’ll find people cruising the bike paths or setting the pace on running trails year-round. If you like to have a roof over your head while you sweat, there are plenty of options for that, too, including pedaling classes at SHIFT Cycle +Fitness, crossfit sessions at Bladium, or water aerobics at Central Park Recreation Center.
Baggage Claim: If you are more interested in some retail therapy, pick up a rose, lily, and eucalyptus bouquet from Amore Fiori before heading for a pedi at Sweet Life Nail Bar or to find the perfect thing to wear to your office holiday party at Plum Consignment.
Master the Picnic: Thanks to the neighborhood’s 50-some parks, we’re just as keen to take our restaurant orders to go and find a quiet spot to nosh. If that’s your plan, call in your order at Cuba Cuba Sandwicheria (get plantain chips and the Cubano sandwich with pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard) or Torchy’s Tacos (order whatever the special is, or a baja shrimp taco that is topped with cabbage slaw, pickled jalapenos, and queso fresco).
Bleed Burgundy: When the Colorado Rapids are playing at home, burgundy-clad fans stream out of the neighborhood, cross East 56th Avenue, and head for their seats at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Don’t have a ticket to the game? Grab a pint of Dale’s Pale Ale at Casey’s Bistro & Pub and watch the match on the big screens. Bonus: The Rapids are in the Western Conference Finals against the Seattle Sounders. The two-game playoff is split, meaning that the Rapids travel to Seattle on November 22 but will be home on November 27. Plan accordingly.
Legacy: The airport—and now the neighborhood—was named after Denver’s 33rd and 35th mayor, Benjamin Franklin Stapleton, who was a Ku Klux Klansman (the KKK was quite influential in Colorado’s politics in the 1920s). Now, Black Lives Matter 5280 has launched a campaign to change the name.
Slippery Slope: If it ever snows (it’s going to happen, right?), head to Central Park’s sledding hill with your favorite disc (or a piece of cardboard). The 80-acre park, the third largest in Denver, has plenty of spots to slide. The official hill is just steep enough to pick up speed, but not so sheer that the little ones will be scared.
Coming Soon: The long-awaited Eastbridge commercial space—with a Little Man Ice Cream shop and restaurants by Elisa Wiggins and Troy Guard, as well as a King Soopers, will start opening this year. Stanley Marketplace—a soon-to-open multi-use building for restaurants and retail—is technically just outside of the neighborhood in Aurora, but is in biking distance. Above I-70, the commercial properties along Central Park Boulevard and Northfield Boulevard continue to develop. Last but not least, the old traffic control tower is being gutted and renovated to become a Punch Bowl Social outpost.