LoDo is booming. LoDo which is short for Lower Downtown is the 23 plus square block area of the original Denver. The Lower Downtown Historic District was formed by an act of City Council in March 1988, to encourage the preservation of the area. The historic status granted protection to the community’s historic resources and to 127 contributing historic structures that remained. Today it is filled with historic hotels, restaurants, microbreweries and shopping plus a large amount of residential development. I never realized how many people lived in this area. To the south and west were many, attractive new projects in addition to the already renovated warehouse buildings that were turned into residential lofts. You can find restaurants from Thai, to sushi, to Cuban, to Caribbean, Mexican and Indian.
Denver Millennium Bridge: I really liked the new suspension bridge with its 200 foot white tapered steel mast which rises above Denver’s northwestern skyline.
Backcountry Provisions: Located at 1617 Wazee, this casual dining spot was recommended for lunch. They have a huge menu of sandwiches. I thought the food was good and the service excellent. Don’t miss the cranberry chutney.
The historic Oxford Hotel, 1600 17th Street: I checked out this historic hotel, which has been around since 1891. It looks outstanding and is in a great location within LoDo.
For shopping, I really liked Posh at 1439 Larimer Street and the Tattered Cover Book Store, at 1628 16th St., which has a café plus huge selection of magazines and books. The historic buildings on Larimer were great.
The Brown Palace Hotel: I finally got to see this historic hotel as I have heard about it for years. Though a little out of LoDo, this is a hotel that is closer to the Denver Art Museum and the State Capitol building. It opened in 1892 and is still on many top hotel lists.
Denver Art Museum: I really enjoyed my afternoon at the Denver Art Museum. I enjoyed the current temporary exhibition plus the permanent collection which featured Western American Art, Asian Art, Spanish Colonial Art, plus Modern and Contemporary Art. To me the highlight was the new Hamilton Building. The DAM commissioned architect Daniel Libeskind to design an expansion that would accommodate its growing collections and programs. The 146,000-square-foot Hamilton Building opened to the public October 7, 2006. The building is covered in 9,000 titanium panels that reflect the Colorado sunshine. The area surrounding the museum has some great architecture as well.
Denver Performing Arts Center: This is a huge, attractive complex consisting of theaters presenting plays by the Denver Center Theatre Company and Broadway shows on tour, an opera house and concert venue. The well-known Hotel Teatro is conveniently located across from the Center.
MCA Denver: The Museum of Contemporary Art is located at 1485 Delgany St. in LoDo. It is located in an attractive contemporary building, with five distinct galleries and a nice café on the top floor with great views. I was underwhelmed with the exhibition I saw where all the natural light was blocked off. So it was dark and not great. I would look at the website for current exhibitions before you go and waste money! Hopefully you will have a better experience than I did.
Michael Grave’s Denver Public Library: Between the Clyfford Still Museum and the Kirkland Museum, and across from the Denver Art Museum, is the large central library designed by well-known architect Michael Graves. He was a founder of the Postmodern school of architecture in the US.
The Squeaky Bean: A LoDo favorite, the restaurant is located in the historic Colorado Saddlery Co. building at 1500 Wynkoop St. Max MacKissock and Johnny Ballen reopened in the current location in 2012, after they outgrew the original location. It is a large space with a loft feel and features home-grown ingredients. It has six garden beds near its original location and its own organic farm, the Bean Acre, in Lakewood, Colorado. Dinner features a four course or seven course tasting menu. Sunday brunch was excellent. The eggs benedict with lox was excellent!
Rioja: At 1431 Larimer St., this is an excellent restaurant on Larimer Square. It has a menu featuring Mediterranean inspired ingredients and local and seasonal products. Owner/Chef Jennifer Jasinki was recently featured on Top Chef Masters and received the James Beard Award for Best Chef Southwest 2013.
A great new hotel option in LoDo is the new Crawford Hotel at Union Station which is a perfect option from which to explore the restaurants and museums downtown. The vintage station from 1914 was transformed with a $54 million renovation that opened in 2014. There are several dining and shopping options within the hotel and station. You can find the Tattered Cover Bookstore, Pigtrain Coffee, Acme Delicatessen, Milkbox Ice Creamery, Snooze – an AM Eatery, Termimal Bar, Stoic and Genuine, Mercantile Dining & Provisions and The Kitchen Nextdoor. The station was recently redone and has a great ambiance and energy. 1701 Wynkoop St. The station is also the transportation hub for Amtrak and Denver’s local rail system that now includes a new line to Denver’s airport, DIA.