Denver day trip: LoHi

Rooftop bars and alfresco restaurants draw crowds for the downtown skyline views

Denver: Commons Park
Photo: Carmel Zucker

Why go in fall: Head to our favorite hilltop and you won’t need to leave the city for a hit of fall color.

Moniker: LoHi, aka Lower Highlands

The look: Lofts, flats, and new restaurants vie for space with ornate 19th-century brick buildings.

Claim to fame: The rooftop bars and alfresco restaurants draw crowds for the downtown skyline views. We like a prickly-pear margarita on the patio at LoLa Coastal Mexican ($$; 1575 Boulder St.; 720/570-8686). 

Who used to be here: After the 1864 Cherry Creek flood, a wave of residents and new immigrants moved to higher ground.

Who’s here now: Young urbanites and the post-work happy-hour crowd.

Get some joe to go: Rev up at Shangri-La Coffee ($; 1575 Boulder St.; 720/855-7585). 

Worth a cruise-by: Check out West 28th Avenue, aka Stoneman’s Row, for its 19th-century homes.

Need to refuel? Try the tuna sandwich stacked with avocado, aioli, capers, and pine nuts at the Squeaky Bean ($$; 3301 Tejon St.; 303/284-0053). 

Park yourself here

A quick stroll across the Highlands Bridge from LoHi, the 17.6-acre Commons Park shows off downtown’s fall color. Along the South Platte River, trails thread east, where sculptures lead to an elm- and cottonwood-lined promenade along the high-rises. Little Raven St. between 15th and 19th Streets

See it on two wheels 

Plunk down a token fee to unlock a red bike from one of Denver B-Cycle’s three LoHi locations (16th St. at Boulder St., Little Raven St., and Platte St.) and pedal across Highlands Bridge. Swing by Salvagetti Bicycle Workshop (1611 Platte St.; salvagetti.com or 303/691-5595) to check out the cool custom bikes for sale.

Follow the giant milk jug

On sunny days, Little Man Ice Cream becomes LoHi’s de facto town square, serving handmade ice cream, sorbet, and gelato beneath the shop’s distinctive giant milk-jug edifice. Try the silky Pumpkin Chip ice cream in the straw-baled pumpkin-patch patio. 2620 16th St. or 303/455-3811.

Hit happy hour

Afternoons, the LoHi SteakBar rolls up its retractable doors and springs to life. Bartenders pour a slew of Colorado microbrews, plus drinks like Hot Apple Pie Cider and strawberry mojitos. Hungry? Try the El Tejon burger, with egg, cheddar, and chili on a garlic bun. $$; 3200 Tejon St.; 303/927-6334.

3 shops for every sort in LoHi

  • Eco warriors: Look inside the quaint, cottagelike Dragonfly Ecogoods for sustainable finds like reuseable lunch bags, recycled-glass jewelry, and bamboo-fiber bathrobes. 2001 W. 32nd Ave.; 720/542-9795.
  • Gearheads: Like a toy store for adventure seekers, Wilderness Exchange Unlimited has some of the best prices in town on a mind-boggling array of new and used rugged clothing, backpacks, sleeping bags, hiking gear, and gizmos. 2401 15th St. or 866/964-0708.
  • Pet lovers: For furnishings that stand up to a little abuse, especially of the furry variety, find inspiration at the Livable Home. Slobber-proof furniture, lighting, and pet beds are durable and stylish. Closed Sun; 2510 15th St.; 866/572-9963.

More: Getaways for the golden season

    More...

  • Lower Highlands Map, Denver, CO

    Getting there

    LoHi, aka Lower Highlands, is perched on a hill just northwest of downtown Denver.

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    Amazing fall trips

    Explore beaches, back roads, vineyards, and more during the West's golden season

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