2019 rank: 61
Talk about a renaissance: Once just a crisscross of railroad tracks, the northwest end of downtown is now anchored by the completely remodeled Denver Union Station and a flood of new businesses, restaurants, and high-rises that complement the neighborhood’s history. (There are, however, no schools within its boundaries.) Those who opt to live amid the hustle and bustle pay a pretty penny—north of $800,000—for contemporary, apartment-style living. Thankfully, a flock of recent hotel additions means you don’t have to worry about making room for visitors.
The Museum of Contemporary Art and an array of smaller arts venues (like David B Smith Gallery and Robischon Gallery) offer cerebral diversions. The beautiful Commons and Confluence parks—popular spots for running, biking, and splashing in the South Platte River—converge here. They connect to the Cherry Creek Trail bike path, making two-wheel commuting into and out of the area a whole lot easier.
How we got these numbers: We utilized the city’s official list of 78 neighborhoods (only 74 had enough data to be included), and ranked them using four variables: home prices, crime data, school 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—or what most people refer to as LoDo, or Lower Downtown—has become a hot spot for restaurateurs who find a receptive audience of workers and tourists. Among the highlights are the romantic, European-inspired LeRoux (a 5280 best restaurant) and Bubu for build-your-own lunchtime bowls. 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, while Alex Seidel and Matt Vawter offer their farm-to-table fare from morning ’til night at Mercantile Dining & Provision.
Coffee meetings are best enjoyed on the small patio at Little Owl Coffee on Blake Street (the shop also has a location nearby at the Dairy Block) or in the Maven Hotel’s lobby at Huckleberry Roasters. When you’re ready to trade the caffeine for booze, check out Sunday Vinyl or Poka Lola Social Club. A nightcap at the Cooper Lounge, which overlooks Union Station’s always bustling Great Hall, is highly recommended.
Larimer Square is the mecca of downtown shopping, with a primary focus on higher end boutiques. We like perusing the shoes at Scarpaletto, furniture at Element, Timbuk2’s bags, and women’s clothing and accessories at the affordable Hailee Grace. 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 Bloom. Independent Tattered Cover Book Store has two locations in the neighborhood, one on the 16th Street Mall (although this location will be relocating to McGregor Square in summer 2020) and one inside Union Station.
Denver’s past and present converge in this section of the city: Larimer Square sits on the Mile High City’s oldest block; the 16th Street Mall has been around since the city’s founding; and historic facades pepper the entire area. See it for yourself on a walking tour with Historic Denver. Or, enjoy a self-guided tour with some help from Visit Denver. 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.