Karyn Wofford is a freelance writer in the fields of travel, eco-tourism, and wellness. She’s an avid traveler and Georgia native. She grew up with a passion for travel, exploring everything from the mountains to the ocean, and continues to find new and unique things to do in the places she travels.
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Certain parts of Denver are typically walkable, with a decent transit system serving most nooks—but the city is also quite accommodating to cyclists, as designated paths and a wealth of rentals are at travelers disposal. Different neighborhoods have their own characteristics and exciting attractions that make getting around Denver without a vehicle downright pleasant. Ultimately, one can see and experience much more by using their feet or a bike as a main source of transport. Denver is lovely, and compacted largely within these wonderful districts. Because of this, visiting without a car is absolutely doable.
Capitol Hill’s old architecture includes ornate Victorian homes and museums like the former dwelling of Molly Brown, which are met with an eclectic vibe that continues to cultivate in the trendy neighborhood. Grab a latte from a local coffee house and browse the nearby parks or take a walk amongst supposedly haunted mansions along various streets. Driving a car through the tight roads nor finding a parking spot is easy, so “Cap Hill” is particularly aimed toward foot and bike traffic.
Five Points is a culturally rich district with deep jazz roots linking back to days when Billie Holiday would roll through town to perform. Visitors can sink into African American history via the Black American West Museum, the Blair Caldwell African American Research Library or Cleo Parker Robinson Dance for heritage performances through music. Even local breweries and tap rooms like Spangalang Brewery carry the theme of jazz into their establishments. But the food, from the spicy Caribbean eats to comforting soul dishes, add that last bit of magic to Five Points. Festivals also take place year-round to pull together all aspects of the community for an enriching experience focused on African American culture.
City Park West is the place to go for foodies, as the streets are filled with authentic taco joints, high-end American eats, pizzerias, incredible breakfast cafes, and quaint bistros. Just browsing from Humboldt to Gaylord street is a culinary dream. Dive into the best hash browns on earth at Spices Cafe, or enjoy Onefold’s chic farmhouse style and breakfast fried rice selections. Some pretty charming bed and breakfasts are nestled in the area, but the Castle Marne’s devastatingly gorgeous aesthetics and 19th-century roots are irresistible. They too keep up with the area’s foodie status, with the smell of freshly baked muffins and quiche filling the air at sunrise.
Downtown and Lower Downtown, also referred to as LoDo, houses just about everything you could want within a visit to the urban Rocky Mountain oasis. Artistic flare, historic lodging, the striking Millennium Bridge, and a slew of restaurants to carry one from early breakfasts of Pineapple Upside Down Pancakes at Snooze to nights of dining and sipping cocktails in trendy digs. Union Station is the departing hub for bus and rail lines that weave through the city while also housing other venues where visitors can eat or stay the night before setting out on their exploration.
Baker is defined by antiques and trendy vintage boutiques, surprisingly paired with a hopping nightlife environment. Bars and more than a handful of spots to bust a move mean you can shop by day and party by night while sprinkling in time for chowing down in between. A long list of Hispanic and Asian eateries form the bones of the food scene in the dual personality Baker. However, you can get one heck of an indulgent meal at the Denver Biscuit Company.
Congress Park, of course, features wonderful grassy space to play, a swimming pool, plenty of paths to stroll, and great playgrounds for the kiddos—kind of ironic since it used to be an age-old cemetery. Another way to enjoy foliage is to stop by Denver’s botanical gardens, which house plants and greenery from all over the world. A yoga session here is highly suggested. Serviced by several bus stops, it’s a snap to jump from point A to point B within the area.
Cherry Creek veers into the more upscale, being Denver’s top shopping and fine dining neighborhood. Locally owned boutiques define much of the fashion atmosphere, where one can find unique clothing, jewelry, and other staple accessories. Malls may be on the out elsewhere, but the modernized Cherry Creek Shopping Center is thriving, likely because of its sleek indoor-outdoor environment, high count of stores that are specific to Denver, and eateries that go far above typical food court fare. Bicycle traffic is abundant, so that’s an excellent transportation option, complete with a 22-mile path dedicated to foot and cycle travelers.
Washington Park is mostly one large recreational area, which is perfect for traversing sans vehicles. Largely manicured with stunning landscaped gardens with a rainbow of foliage, it is a picturesque Denver hub to spend the afternoon walking or taking on the bike paths. Centered around two scenic lakes, from just about any spot in Washington Park, there are lovely views. You could spend all day letting the kids play in the fields or on the playgrounds, then great restaurants are a short jaunt away on Old South Gaylord Street.