With empty storefronts and a dilapidated rail yard, Denver’s Lower Downtown (or LoDo) was once the wrong side of the tracks. It wasn’t always that way—it acted as the city’s industrial center from the late 1800s through the mid 1900s, thanks to its proximity to Union Station. “LoDo was the city’s birthplace,” says Steve Weil, president of Rockmount Ranch Wear, the Western shirt retailer that’s been headquartered in a former plumbing supply building on Wazee Street since 1946.
After WWII, LoDo fizzled when a new national highway overshadowed the appeal of rail travel. Visitors disappeared. Urban renewal of the ’60s and ’70s led to the razing of some of its mid-rise historic and unreinforced masonry buildings. But developers pushed to designate it a historic area and saved numerous structures. Today, its mix of restored buildings and new construction gives LoDo its unique aesthetic.
“By the ’90s, when Coors Field was built, LoDo had a rebirth and became ground zero of Denver’s culture,” Weil says. Today, Larimer Square—Denver’s first historic district—features century-old mid-rise brick buildings filled with bars and acclaimed eateries as well as local shops featuring handmade goods.
The Cruise Room
Opened in 1891, The Oxford Hotel debuted this sleek watering hole after Prohibition ended in 1933. The intimate drinkery—anchored by a vintage jukebox spinning 45s—is stunningly lit in sunset colors. Bartenders pour classic libations like gimlets and sidecars.
Rockmount Ranch Wear
The Western brand’s flagship store has been on Wazee Street since 1946, a long legacy for a city founded in 1858. Hundreds of distinctive, colorful snap shirts can be found in the world’s only Rockmount shop. Everyone from Elvis to Jack White has worn one, a testament to its timelessness.
This cozy, candlelit Larimer Square French bistro is housed in a reddish-orange sandstone building from the late 1800s. The secluded patio in a charming courtyard feels plucked from Paris or New Orleans and offers a sophisticated spot to enjoy steak tartare and pommes frites.
The Cooper Lounge
Enjoy exquisitely prepared cocktails or wine and decadent desserts like brown-butter vanilla cake in a modern hideaway overlooking Union Station’s Great Hall. Built in 1881, the station has since been repurposed for work and play, with Denverites socializing on stately benches and couches.