In 1995, when Denver's Elitch Gardens left its Tennyson Street and West 38th Avenue site and moved downtown, you could almost see the area start to fade. But as young families began moving into the Berkeley Park neighborhood's affordable bungalows, Tennyson started its comeback.
"It's turning around and full of energy," says Briana Gonzales, owner of housewares shop Sweet Potato. Tennyson is no Cherry Creek yet, but its lively mix of galleries plus toy, folk-art, and home stores is perfect for a preholiday afternoon of shopping.
Start out at Lisa Marie's Coffee & Tea House (4418 Tennyson St.; 303/433-2344), where you can nibble a giant cinnamon roll with your white caramel-turtle latte. For a dose of color on a late-autumn day, step into Indigena Gallery (closed Sun-Mon; 4320 Tennyson; 720/855-8282), loaded with international folk art. At cheery Sweet Potato (closed Sun; 4370 Tennyson; 303/458-1076), you'll find stylish bedding, cookware, glassware, and garden gifts.
Take the kids to Studio Bini (4366 Tennyson; 303/477-3227) to choose from a clever mix of classic wood toys and puzzles, furniture, and cool clothes, some designed by co-owner Linde Schlumbohm. Or nurture your own inner child with a visit to the Yankee Trader (4000 Tennyson; 303/480-1132), a kingdom of antique toys (pedal cars, cap guns, train sets) in a building dating from the 1930s. While there, look for vintage Christmas-themed cookie jars.
The neighborhood gets its name from tree-shaded Berkeley Park, just a few blocks away. If you have extra time, it's a good place to stretch your legs. Or stretch your afternoon into evening with an early dinner at Sabor Latino Restaurant ($; lunch Mon-Fri, dinner Mon-Sat; 4340 W. 35th Ave.; 303/455-8664), where you can linger over spicy paella and a glass of Veramonte, a crisp Chilean Chardonnay.
Time your visit right and you can join the Tennyson Street First Friday Art Walk & Stroll (6 p.m.-10 p.m. Nov 5; free). On most nights, you can catch a vintage movie at the nearby Oriental Theatre (7 p.m. Sun-Thu; $5; 4335 W. 44th Ave.; 303/433-3786). Its neon sign has been a neighborhood beacon since 1927.
Shopping and dining on Berkeley Park's Tennyson Street is concentrated between W. 38th and W. 44th Avenues. For more shops, contact Berkeley Park Neighbors ( http://www.berkeleyparkneighbors.com/) or the Tennyson Proprietors Association (303/480-5126).