Dairy Block, Lower Downtown (LoDo) in Denver, Colorado
Travel

Why Denver Tourism is Having a Major Moment

(Last Updated On: March 31, 2020)

Larimer St. Denver, Colorado.

Tourists have officially gotten the memo that Denver is a city not to be overlooked when dreaming up your next vacation destination. Denver tourism has knocked it out of the park in promoting tourism.

According to the website Denver.org, Denver’s rise as a top tourism destination has steadily been on the rise since 2005.  In 2016 Denver broke a new record when it welcomed an astounding 31.5 million total visitors.  

So, what is it that’s drawing so many visitors to the Mile High City?

The answer is multifaceted, and has to do with a combination of revitalization efforts and a strong PR campaign.

In 2005 Denver voters approved a lodging tax increase to fund tourism marketing. This proved to pay off big time.

Since that time statistics have shown that tourism has grown at three times the pace of the national.

That is an average increase of 62 percent. Keep in mind that the national average is only 22% as documented in a news article from the Denver Post.

In addition to money spent on tourism marketing, the city of Denver has focused a lot on revitalizing sections of the LoDo (Lower Downtown) neighborhood.

That includes the Denver Union Station and the micro-district dubbed The Dairy Block.

Dairy Block, Lower Downtown (LoDo) in Denver, Colorado

The Dairy Block was once home to the Windsor Dairy back in the 1920’s. At that time it spanned an entire city block along Wazee St.

Today the renovated block is nicknamed The Dairy Block as a nod to it’s past.

Renovations were completed in the Spring of 2017 and that brought forth a beautiful boutique hotel called The Maven Hotel.

Other shops that opened up nearby include the  delectable Tex-Mex restaurant called Kachina Cantina. A top notch local coffee shop, Huckleberry Coffee. And an open air market/restaurant named The Milk Market.

Mural at The Dairy Block

The micro-district of The Dairy Block has become a destination in it’s own right. This is partly due to the clever pedestrian walkway in the middle of the block.

It provides a plethora of opportunities for an Instagram afternoon photo-shoot.

Whether it’s the token “feet-on-walkway” photo or mural backdrop pose you can be guaranteed to have some stellar pictures!

Walkway on The Dair Block

Much like the successful renovation of The Dairy Block comes Denver Union Station.

Denver spent three years and nearly $500 million dollars restoring and making additions to this transportation hub. Today it flourishes as a hipster hangout.

The The Crawford Hotel has a handful of eateries attached it is. This includes the 2018 James Beard Award winner for Best Chef: Southwest, Alex Seidel’s Mercantile Dining & Provision.

On Saturday mornings a farmers market sets up shop in the warmer months in front of Union Station.

Denver Union Station

Inside the terminal…

Your breath will be taken away at the astounding beauty and detail of it’s nostalgic architecture of yesteryear.

If you want to take a deeper dive in learning about Denver Union Station’s past, than you may want to partake in a tour.

For $20 you can receive a guided tour on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays starting at 1pm. Space is limited and is on a first come first serve basis. Register here.

Denver Union Station

The success of the LoDo (lower downtown) area of Denver can perhaps be traced back to 1995.

That is when Denver welcomed the MLB Colorado Rockies to the newly constructed Coors Field to play their inaugural first game.

Coors Field, Denver Colorado, Colorado Rockies

Before Coors Field was constructed the area of LoDo was a sleepy part of town that had a few bars.

But after the completion of Coors Field, further development in the LoDo area followed.

Today the neighborhood of LoDo is home to an abundant amount of craft breweries, bars, and restaurants that give Denver a thriving night life scene.

Confluence Park Denver

Across the South Platt River in the LoHi (Lower Highland) neighborhood of Denver travelers and locals enjoy one of the trendiest foodie and recreational areas of the city.

Its open spaces such as Confluence Park and miles of recreational bike lane trails that bring people outdoors to enjoy the beauty of the city.

REI Co-op Denver

Situated on the bank of the South Platt River is one of the largest REI Co-Op stores which also happens to have an attached Starbucks.

This is a direct reflection of the outdoor loving type of people that Denver embraces, and draws to it.

Those who want to wake up in the morning and ride their bike for a mile to get their morning cup of joe.

After a cup of Starbucks coffee folks may opt to stroll the labyrinth of the largest REI store in Colorado. Here you can pick out some fancy rock climbing gear.

While your in the store, why not take a climbing lesson on their indoor rock climbing wall?

REI Store interior, Denver, Colorado

Aside from coffee and outdoor gear the neighborhood of LoHi is also a draw for it’s eateries. Just take the locally famed Little Man Ice Cream shop as an example. Tourists and locals alike flock to this delectable desert icon year round.

It certainly stands out with it’s milk-jug shaped shop as high as the neighboring buildings.

But when you come be prepared for a wait as it is not uncommon to stand in line for 15 minutes or more to get a scoop of this local frozen treat.

Little Man Ice Cream, Denver, CO

Up the street lies the restaurant Linger.

What makes Linger stand out is that it used to be a working mortuary!

Creepy? Yes, but also intriguing. Linger boasts a top notch weekend brunch menu and in warmer months patrons can enjoy dinning on it’s rooftop patio which offers fantastic views of the Denver skyline.

In fact Travel + Leisure named it one of “America’s coolest rooftop bars.”

Larimer Square, Denver, CO

A few other draws to the city of Denver include visiting the picturesque Larimer Street, the 16th street mall and of course the Denver capital building where you can say you are officially standing 1 mile above sea level when you stand on the 15th step.

Denver, Colorado

Larimer Square is a must visit spot when you visit the city of Denver.

It happens to be the oldest part of town and it’s buildings still hold their historic red brick charm.

Here you can happily stroll through independent shops as well as national chain stores.

You can stop for coffee or enjoy an evening dinner along the street that is decorated with string lights year round.

Not too far away you’ll find the trendy and bustling 16th Street mall.

This is a shopping hot spot, and very busy part of town.

The cool thing about this stretch of retail, bars and restaurants is that you can easily get from one end to the other with the free 16th Street mall trolley.

After you’ve “shopped-til-you-dropped” on the 16th street mall, take the trolley to the end of the street and get off at the Court Place stop.

From here it’s an easy block to the capital building.

Capital Building Denver

Stroll the capital mall. Enjoy a photo-op on the famed 15th step of the capital building. It is here that you can claim are officially a mile above sea level.

15th Step of the Denver Capital Building. One mile above sea level

 

 

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