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The Neighborhood: West Highland
This small neighborhood—a mere 1.1-mile square cut-out on a map—is brimming with some of Denver’s most interesting nooks and crannies.
Boundaries: Federal Boulevard to the east, 29th Avenue to the south, 38th Avenue to the north, and Sheridan Boulevard to the west.
Who’s There: Suburbanites doing their weekend shopping, out-of-towners exploring the city, and young families enjoying all the ‘hood has to offer.
Main Drag: The length of 32nd Avenue is stacked with local eateries, boutiques, and specialty shops.
Stroll: Conquer 32nd Avenue’s brick-and-mortars on foot, starting at Irving Street and heading west. Each boutique and artisan shop on this stretch offers something unique to relish, whether you’re on the hunt for last-minute gifts or ingredients for dinner (more on that below). Start your window-shopping by perusing West Side Book’s eclectic collection of new and used tomes (they even have a banned books section). Then wander into the Perfect Petal, part lauded floral shop, part boutique, and one-stop shop for envy-worthy gifts. When you need a break, stop by Highlands Cork & Coffee at the corner of Meade and 32nd for a chai tea or cup of Joe.
After you’re properly caffeinated, don’t miss the kitty-corner Wordshop. The small paperie is wonderfully, colorfully organized. Its two small rooms are lined with specialty cards so clever and well made that you’re unlikely to leave empty-handed.
Nosh: After a long day of shopping, you’re probably in the mood to rest your legs and refuel. (Now you’re only worry is too many delicious options to choose from.) Grab the plate of the day at mouth-watering Italian eatery Trattoria Stella. If you’re in the mood for something a little more casual—or if you fancy yourself a chicken wing connoisseur—head to Fire on the Mountain. Dip mini celery sticks in each of the eatery’s 12 sauces before making a decision—and then delight in their extra saucy, all-natural (read: cage-, hormone-, and antibiotic-free) wings.
The newly opened Brazen has already gained attention for its seasonal small plates and great service (if it’s warm out, make sure to snag a seat on their patio). But if you want to stay on the main drag, visit Frank Bonanno’s Salt & Grinder for some New Jersey-style deli sandwiches (try the egg salad). If you’re in the mood for Mexican, stop by el Camino, a lively community tavern that offers classic fare and killer margaritas. And if you’re a beer-drinking carnivore, don’t miss Prost for its suds and sausages. When it’s time to hack that sugar craving, wander across the street to Sweet Cow Ice Cream for its handmade creamy flavors.
Play: As you probably learned during your stroll down 32nd, West Highland is a very dog friendly area—even for Denver. Bring Fido along for his own day of shopping at Simpawtico, a pet boutique stacked with healthy treats, toys, and supplements.
The neighborhood is also home to the Denver Puppet Theater, which is worth a visit if for nothing other than its uniqueness. While you’re in the mood for stages, swing by Historic Elitch Gardens Theater—it may be closed for renovations, but you can still go stand in the outstanding architecture of the Carousel Pavilion.
Plan Dinner: The West Highland neighborhood is home to some of the city’s best artisanal markets. (Although whether or not you’re planning a meal shouldn’t deter you from browsing the shelves of these niche offerings.) Pass through Seafood Landing to ogle at fresh scallops and salmon fillets; visit the recently expanded St. Kilian’s Cheese Shop & Market for a block of Pecorino Sardo; and then swing by Mondo Vino for a bottle of small-production Italian red. Dinner is served!
Follow digital associate editor Jerilyn Forsythe on Twitter at @jlforsyt.