2021 rank: 58
Once a crisscross of railroad tracks and tumbleweeds, the northwest end of downtown—which is making its return after falling off this list last year—is now anchored by Denver Union Station and a flood of businesses, restaurants, hotels, and high-rises. Those who opt to live here pay a pretty penny—north of $800,000 on average—for apartment-style living. Thankfully, a flock of hotel additions means you don’t have to worry about making room for visitors. There are, however, no schools within its boundaries, and the neighborhood has one of the worst crime rates in the city. The Museum of Contemporary Art and an array of smaller arts venues (like David B Smith Gallery and K Contemporary) offer cultural diversions. The beautiful Commons and Confluence parks—popular spots for running and throwing Frisbees—converge here. Both connect to the Cherry Creek Trail bike path, making two-wheel commuting into and out of the area a whole lot easier (particularly during the annual Bike to Work Day in June).
Demographics—Get to Know Your Neighbors
The median age in Union Station is 41.4 years old. It’s a highly educated community, with 79 percent of the adult (25 and older) population holding bachelor’s degrees or higher. Renters reign here, occupying 72 percent of filled units, and most households are not families. The average household income is $98,383.
How we got these numbers: We utilized the city’s official list of 78 neighborhoods (only 73 had enough data to be included), and ranked them using four variables: home prices, crime dataschool rankings, and an X factor score that accounts for things like access to open space, proximity to public transportation, and restaurant and shopping options. For more on our methodology, return to the main page.
Eat & Drink
Union Station has become a hot spot for restaurateurs who find a receptive mix of locals and tourists. Among the highlights are Jovanina’s Broken Italian, Three Saints Revival, and Zoe Ma Ma’s home-style Chinese. Step into the actual Union Station for a week’s worth of meals; James Beard Award–winning chef Jennifer Jasinski leads the team at Ultreia, where tapas reign. For dessert, indulge your child-like sense of fun at the kooky Hidden Gems Ice Cream.
Coffee meetings are best enjoyed in the Maven hotel’s lobby at Huckleberry Roasters or on the patio at the Wild, which transitions into a cocktail bar later in the day. Speaking of: Boozy options are in high supply in this part of town. Among our go-tos are Ghost Donkey, Poka Lola Social Club, Run for the Roses, the Rally Bar, and Bao Brewhouse. A nightcap at the Cooper Lounge, which overlooks Union Station’s always bustling Great Hall, is highly recommended.
Larimer Square is the heart of downtown shopping, with a focus on higher end boutiques. We like perusing shoes at Scarpaletto, sustainable outdoor gear at Cotopaxi, jewelry at Milly Rose Designs, and the funky options at Garage Sale Vintage (which also has its own bar).
For true Western duds, head a few blocks away to Rockmount Ranch Wear. Inside Union Station, find gifts and home decor at 5 Green Boxes and stunning florals at Pickletown Floral Co. Independent Tattered Cover Book Store has two locations in the neighborhood, one inside Union Station and the other at Coors Field–adjacent McGregor Square.
Denver’s past and present converge most clearly in this section of the city. Larimer Square sits on the Mile High City’s oldest block; the 16th Street Mall has existed since the city’s founding; and historic facades pepper the area. See it for yourself on a walking tour with Historic Denver. Or enjoy a self-guided tour with some help from Visit Denver. In September and October, don’t miss the annual Doors Open Denver, which provides access to many of the city’s most significant sites. For a taste of history, sidle into the Cruise Room at the Oxford Hotel; the dimly lit space is Denver’s longest running bar, having opened just after the repeal of Prohibition.