Where to Stay in Denver First Time: Best Areas & Neighborhood

The best areas to stay in Denver for both first-time and returning visitors are the neighborhoods of LoDo (Lower Downtown), Five Points and RiNo, Central Business District, Capitol Hill, Cherry Creek, Uptown – North Capitol Hill, Lower Highlands / LoHi, Central Park. In this post, I will help you to decide where to stay in Denver and the safest districts without a car, for tourists, nightlife, shopping, foodie, family, budget, and near the train station.

Most neighborhoods in and around the Denver city is a safe for tourists but you should be aware of surrounding, stick to the well-lit areas, avoid walking into less populated areas, and travel in groups if you can.

The Central Business District is the perfect place to stay for those traveling on business,  as you’ll be surrounded by corporations and amenities. As the heart of Downtown Denver, it also features a number of attractions to entertain tourists who want to stay in the city center.

That said, the other districts of Downtown will probably be a better fit for your average tourist. LoDo is full of historic attractions, sports teams, and events to give you a new thrill every day, while RiNo is brimming with culture and fabulous cuisine for you to experience.

Capitol Hill contains one of the most iconic landmarks in the city, the Colorado State Capitol Building, so is perfect for anyone largely coming to visit that. Then you have the areas that offer more in the way of nature. If you want to visit Rocky Mountains National Park, Highland will be the most convenient.

Cherry Creek is a great choice for anyone who wants to combine shopping with a hike along the Cherry Creek Trail, while City Park is the home of the largest park in the city, where you can spend days strolling and sailing around the lakes.

💖 Best Area:Central Business District
💎 Best luxury hotel:The Ritz-Carlton, Denver
🏨 Best mid-range hotel:Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center
💰 Best budget hotel:Homewood Suites- Denver Downtown Convention Center

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📌 8 Best Areas to Stay in Denver

1. LoDo (Lower Downtown), where to stay in Denver for first time tourists

LoDo (Lower Downtown), where to stay in Denver for first time tourists

Lower Downtown (LoDo) is the best area to stay in Denver for first-time visitors. Located between the South Platter River and the Central Business District, LoDo has a central location, plenty of choices in restaurants, shops, bars, hotels, nightlife, and beautiful Victorian-style architecture buildings.

LoDo also boasts the renovated 1914 Beaux-Arts Denver Union Station, which is the largest transport hub in Downtown Denver, as well as the city’s busiest train station.

Union Station provides access to the free 16th Street Mall shuttle, the free Downtown Denver Circulator, RTD’s front-range bus route, Amtrak trains, and the FasTracks light rail line. You can easily take the A-line train straight to Denver International Airport.

You can find 10 chef-owned restaurants and bars, boutiques, and the 112-room Crawford Hotel in the Denver Union Station. You can dine in one of its restaurants and grab a drink at the Terminal Bar.

There is also Union Station Farmers Market on Denver Union Station Plaza from mid-May to mid-October where you can buy fresh, local fruits, veggies, cheese, and bread.

Located on Larimer Street between 14th and 15th, The Larimer Square is the first designated historic district in Denver, it was the former business hub of the city and makes a fabulous destination for any history buffs. It hosts Denver Chalk Art Festival every June.

Throughout the rest of Lower Downtown, you will find an incredible selection of attractions to keep all manner of tourists happy. 

For starters, it is an ideal place to stay for sports fans while visiting the city, as both Coors Field and the Pepsi Center are located here. Coors Field is home to the Colorado Rockies Baseball Team, while the Pepsi Center features the Colorado Avalanche of the NHL and the Denver Nuggets of the NBA.

This makes Lower Downtown incredibly convenient for those attending a game or any other event taking place at the venues. If sport isn’t your thing, perhaps you would prefer some of the historical attractions Lower Downtown has to offer.

For example, you have the Museum Of Contemporary Art Denver. Opened in 1996, it features a rotating collection of art that is changed 3-4 times per year. Its rooftop cafe offers stunning views of the downtown.

Art lovers will want to visit the Robischon Gallery to see the works of contemporary artists and David Cook Fine Art to see American paintings from the 19th and early 20th centuries.

You could even go all out and treat yourself to a stay in the historic Oxford Hotel. Opened in 1891 and listed on the National Register Of Historic Places since 1979, it is one of the best luxury hotels in the city. This allows you to combine both history and class throughout the duration of your stay.

Even those who want something a little more relaxing will have options in this part of Downtown Denver. Confluence Park, where the South Platte River and Cherry Creek meet, is a fabulous outdoor location, where you can enjoy the region’s beautiful landscapes, without having to leave the city.

LoDo also offers plenty of family-friendly attractions where families can spend a fun day out with their kids such as the Downtown Aquarium, Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus, and an amusement park Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park.

Denver is a city of breweries, you can sample craft beer at Wynkoop Brewing Company which is Denver’s first brewpub opened by former Denver Mayor and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. There are also 2 weeks of Oktoberfest every fall around Ballpark District.

Other places of interest are the vibrant, walkable district of Dairy Block, a world-class destination for shopping and dining; and Tattered Cover Book Store, one of the largest independent bookstores in the United States.

When you combine everything it offers with its great location, Lower Downtown may well be the best, most well-rounded neighborhood in all of Denver.

LoDo has a wide range of accommodations options that suit all budgets and every type of travelers family, couple, solo, business traveler from backpacker hostels, boutique hotels, to high-end luxury.

Stay in  LoDo (Lower Downtown) & Larimer Square if you’re first time travel to Denver; you are traveling to or from the city by train; you want to stay at one of the best hotels in Denver;

Best places to stay in Lower Downtown:

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See more about the USA: Best Areas to Stay in San Francisco

2. Five Points and RiNo, where to stay in Denver for nightlife

Five Points and RiNo, where to stay in Denver for nightlife

Five Points and the River North Arts District (RiNo) is located just to the Northeast of Lower Downtown. It was known as the “Harlem of the West,” which was a traditionally African American area in the early 20th century.

One of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, first settled in the 1850s, it is a great place to come for anyone interested in the history of Denver. 

In recent years, it has become one of the fastest developing neighborhoods in the entire city, massively increasing its appeal to tourists. Soul food eateries, coffeehouses, craft breweries, bars, and pubs intertwine with historic theatres and ballrooms.

While not featuring many attractions specifically designed for tourists, the Denver Central Market is well worth a visit. An open-air Food hall and market selling meat, fish, pizzas, baked goods, and fresh produce, is a great way to get a feel for the traditional cuisine and culture of this part of Denver.

The festivals held throughout the year in Five Points then enhance this experience even further, for those lucky enough to be visiting when they take place.

The Five Points Jazz Festival takes place each May, with performances in both the streets and historic venues, celebrating the history of Jazz music in the city. Meanwhile, the Juneteenth Festival draws thousands of visitors to the city to celebrate the history of African Americans, with parades, performers, and street vendors.

The nearby Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library and Black American West Museum can give an even deeper insight for those interested, detailing the role of African Americans in the pioneer era.

RiNo is one of Denver’s hippest nightlife neighborhoods with many jazz bars, restaurants, breweries, cideries, wineries, and distilleries.

If you love street art, RiNo is also for you. You can take Denver Graffiti Tour to learn more about murals, graffiti, and street art. There are also plenty of art galleries like Plinth Gallery, Wonderbound, and fooLPRoof contemporary art.

If you love vintage vehicles, be sure to visit the Forney Museum of Transportation where you can find one of the largest and most unique transportation collections!

For anyone wanting to turn their vacation into a cultural experience, Five Points is a great location to stay in Denver. Staying in a local boutique hotel, taking in the area’s history, and relaxing in the pools, parks, and playgrounds on offer is a sure-fire way to guarantee your trip is a success.

Stay in Five Points and River North Arts District (RiNo) if you looking for lively nightlife; you love street art; you are interested in history and culture; you consider yourself a foodie; you want to learn about African Americans or Jazz music;

Best places to stay in Five Points /RiNo:

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3. Central Business District, where to stay in Denver for business travelers

Central Business District, best place to stay in Denver for business travelers

The Central Business District is located at the heart of the Downtown area, it is filled with many office skyscrapers, corporations, and facilities, making it the ideal choice for business travelers.

Great restaurants and some of the best hotels in Denver are located throughout the Central Business District. This is ideal for workers from out of town who need to unwind after a long, hard day.

The Colorado Convention Center is one of the highlights of the Central Business District. Opened in 1990, it features meeting rooms, ballrooms, and even an indoor amphitheater, making it the perfect place for conferences and conventions, of which it holds more than 400 each year.

The Central Business District isn’t just for business travelers though. For starters, the convention center holds many of the city’s major affairs, like the Great American Beer Festival, Denver Comic Con, and the Denver Auto and Boat shows, making it a destination well suited for tourists as well.

You then have a number of other attractions in the Central Business District specifically designed for tourists as well.  There is the American Museum Of Western Art – The Anschutz Collection, where you can enjoy one of the largest collections of art depicting the American West. 

You have the Denver Performing Arts Complex, one of the largest performing arts centers in the United States, where you can enjoy performances of things such as ballet, dance, opera, orchestras, and more.

The Central Business District is even home to the mile-long, pedestrian-friendly mall, 16th Street Mall. The largest outdoor mall in Denver, it contains more than 40 outdoor cafes and stores, laid out in the design of a rattlesnake.

You can also find Denver Pavilions on the 16th Street Mall, a shopping hot spot, home to many shops, restaurants, bars and a movie theater.

While it’s within walking distance to the attractions it can be dead at night because it’s not a residential area. You can find some of the cultural attractions nearby like the Denver Selfie Museum and the Denver Firefighters Museum.

The Central Business District is the best area to stay in Denver on business and for those who are attending an event at the Colorado Convention Center.

Stay in Central Business District if you want to stay at the heart of Downtown Denver; you are traveling on business; you’re in Denver for a short time, one night or for a weekend.

Best places to stay in Denver CBD:

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4. Capitol Hill, where to stay in Denver on a budget

Capitol Hill denver on a budget

The hip area of Capitol Hill (known as Cap Hill by locals) is located immediately to the east of Golden Triangle, at the other end of Civic Center Park. As the name suggests, the most prominent attraction in Capitol Hill is the Colorado State Capitol Building.

Built in the late 19th-century, it is built to resemble the United States Capitol building. Each year visitors come to Capitol Hill from far and wide to see its beautiful architecture and learn about the history of the state of Colorado.

Beyond the State Capitol itself, Capitol Hill is an area filled with historic attractions throughout.

One of the most popular attractions in Capitol Hill is the Molly Brown House Museum. The former home of socialite Molly Brown, who was a survivor of the Titanic disaster, the museum is listed on the National Register Of Historic Places and shows exhibits relating to her life and Victorian Denver.

Elsewhere in Capitol Hill, another popular site is Saint John’s Cathedral. Built in the early 1900s, it features some of the most beautiful architecture in not just Capitol Hill but Denver as a whole. It is a great way to view beautiful craftsmanship and learn about the religious history of the city.

Golden Triangle is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city with many 19th-century Victorian houses and bungalows.

Important landmarks nearby like the Clyfford Still Museum, United States Mint, Central Library, History Colorado Center, Denver Art Museum, and the Kirkland Museum Of Fine & Decorative Art.

Denver Story Trek is a great way to explore the stories behind Denver’s historic landscapes and landmarks.

You can also be close to the green parks of the 23-acres Denver Botanic Gardens, Cheesman Park, and Congress Park.

Stay in Capitol Hill if you’re a first-time visitor or on a budget; you want to be near the heart of the city; you are interested in Victorian architecture or the religious history of the city;

Best hotels in Capitol Hill:

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5. Cherry Creek, where to stay in Denver for shopping

Cherry Creek is a unique district, located to the southeast of Capitol Hill, along the banks of Cherry Creek itself. It is an area that is equally well known for both nature and shopping, two incredibly contrasting pastimes.

In its south, Cherry Creek Shopping Centre is one of the largest malls in Denver. Upwards of 160 stores are spread out over more than 1,000,000 square feet, intertwined with dining options, a movie theatre, a children’s playground, and seasonal farmers markets.

In Cherry Creek North, you’ll find more locally owned businesses, with everything from shops and restaurants to salons and spas. The combination of these two locations makes Cherry Creek a perfect choice for shopaholics, no matter their style or taste.

A short way from Cherry Creek North you will also find the Denver Botanic Gardens. Containing gardens, a conservatory, and a sunken amphitheater, you can learn about plants from around the world, as well as maybe even catch a concert in the summer if you’re lucky.

On the natural side of things, Cherry Creek Trail follows Cherry Creek around the outside of the neighborhood. Traveling for 40 miles from The Pinery, on the outskirts of the Denver metropolitan area, to Confluence Park in LoDo, it provides a fabulous river walk for anyone who wants to explore more of Colorado’s famous landscape, without needing a car to do so.

Stay in Cherry Creek if you want to visit the Denver Botanic Gardens; you want to spend a day out in Cherry Creek Shopping Centre; you want to walk the Cherry Creek Trail.

Best places to stay in Cherry Creek:

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6. Uptown – North Capitol Hill, where to stay in Denver with families

Located north of Capitol Hil, Uptown is the oldest residential district in Denver with many Victorian and Queen Anne buildings and tree-lined streets, lovely shops, and a relaxed vibe.

Located to the north of  Cherry Creek, City Park is an area dominated by the park itself and surrounded by a small residential neighborhood. As the largest park in Denver, it is a great option for anyone who loves spending time outdoors enjoying nature. 

Lakes contain ducks and numerous other species of birds, fish, and amphibians for the avid wildlife spotters out there. Meanwhile, boathouses hold vessels to take you out on the water, to make the most of the tranquil setting.

Nature lovers will even enjoy the incredible selection of species on offer in Denver Zoo, which is located within the park. Containing more than 3,500 animals, spread out across 550 species, more than 2.2 million visitors travel here each year to explore the wonders it has to offer.

There are even attractions that don’t relate to nature too, such as the Denver Museum Of Nature & Science. Opened in 1900, it is a non-profit organization that contains exhibits to teach you about Colorado, as well as the rest of our planet and universe.

Stay in Uptown if you’re traveling with families; you want to visit the Denver Zoo or the Denver Museum Of Nature & Science; you prefer a more remote, natural destination;

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7. Lower Highlands / LoHi, where to stay in Denver for families

Lower Highlands is a part of “The Highlands”. Highland is located on the opposite side of the South Platte River from Downtown Denver, giving you a fabulous view of the Downtown skyline. Being somewhat cut off from the rest of the city, there aren’t a huge number of tourist attractions to be found here.

LoHi is probably the most family-friendly neighborhood closest to downtown Denver. It has some festivals like the LoHi Music Festival, street fairs, some of the most expensive restaurants in the city like Linger. There are also restaurants, bars, and shops along Tennyson Avenue in North Highlands.

One of the most popular is the Downtown Aquarium, located on the outskirts of the district. Containing more than 5000 animals of over 500 species spread out across 107,000 square feet, it is a fabulous place to see and learn about a wide range of marine life. Highland Bridge and Avanti Food and Beverage complex are also worth visiting!

However, the primary reason to stay in Highland when you visit Denver is for the easy access it provides to Rocky Mountains National Park.

Located some 60 miles away, even further above sea level, it is one of the most famous National Park’s in the world. While Denver is a great city in its own right, it would be a shame to come this close and not explore the landscapes and wildlife that Colorado is so famous for.

Stay in Highland if you’re looking for a family-friendly area; you want to visit the Downtown Aquarium; you want to explore Rocky Mountains National Park.

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8. Central Park, residential district in Denver

Our final destination of the former site of the decommissioned Stapleton International Airport, Central Park and Stapleton is located in the very north-eastern section of Denver. This largest residential district has some of the most affordable hotels in Denver located here.

Central Park is Denver’s third-largest park, eighty acres with wonderful trails, a big playground, and a worthy view of the Rocky Mountains.

Detached from much of the city, it isn’t a place that will be right for the majority of people. That said, it does have a few selling points for the right type of traveler.

The Stanley Marketplace is a shopping center and hipster meeting place with several restaurants, shops, and businesses.

The other reason people stay in Central Park is to visit Rocky Mountains Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge. Covering almost 16,000 acres, it gives you the chance to spot some of the 330 species of wildlife that live there, including birds, bison, coyotes, deer, prairie dogs, raccoons, and ferrets. 

Stay in Central Park – Stapleton if you are traveling on a budget; you want to visit the Rocky Mountains Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge.

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Check out my virtual tour about the best places to stay in Denver in this video:

So, there you have it, our list of the 9 best areas to stay in Denver. Hopefully, most of you will have now decided where to stay in Denver based on your own wants and needs. 

However, for those who are still undecided, I am going to answer some of the most frequently asked questions people have about Denver, in order to help you choose a neighbourhood as well.

What Are The Best Areas To Stay In Denver? 

Denver’s “best area” will vary based on the purpose of your trip. For business travelers it is the Central Business District***. For your average tourist, it will be LoDo*** or RiNo***. Highland offers the best access to the Rocky Mountains, while Capitol Hill and Golden Triangle are full of history.

Where Should I Stay In Denver For Vacation?

For most people, I would recommend staying in Downtown Denver*** when on vacation. It is connected to all of the best neighborhoods, is filled with attractions, and has many of the best hotels in Denver. This makes it a great choice for travelers of all different types.

Where Should I Not Stay In Denver?

When comparing Denver to most major American cities, it is an incredibly safe destination, with the highest crime areas found near the center of the city. Provided you keep your wits about you and are sensible, there aren’t really any areas I would recommend you don’t stay in Denver.

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Denver is the capital and largest city in the state of Colorado. It is nicknamed Mile High City, as Denver sits exactly one mile above sea level, nestled in the picturesque Rocky Mountains. Denver is a great base to have day trips to Rocky Mountain National Park, Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre, Mount Evans Scenic Byway, Roxborough State Park, Pikes Peak, and Boulder.

The Mile High City is a fabulous destination. Its amazing climate changes with the seasons, and it is filled with attractions, amenities, luxury hotels, and sports bars and teams. This ensures everyone will have a great time, no matter when or why you choose to visit Denver.

This article should have given you everything you need about the best areas to stay in Denver, to ensure your own stay in Denver is absolutely perfect from start to finish. All that’s left is to go and start getting things booked, so you can experience it all for yourself, as soon as possible.

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