A Night Out in Downtown Denver
Denver is proud to be . . . well, Denver. A Saturday night downtown proves locals love their city.
A summer Saturday night in Downtown Denver is something else. It shows how much people living in Denver really enjoy being part of their community.
Oh, Heck Yeah!
Take yourself downtown on Saturday (or Thursday, if you work Saturdays). Beginning at 6 p.m., The Denver Theater District contributes some of their equipment to transform two blocks’ worth of city street into “an immersive street arcade”—what amounts to Denver’s version of Tron. Video games are displayed on huge LED screens, the sides of buildings, and art installations. But it’s not just a display—people living in Denver can interact with the easy-to-learn video games by using their smartphones . . . or even their bodies. There are also street performers, artists, food, and more.
That’s a good way to kick off the night in Denver.
If you’d rather take in a different kind of show (or game), within walking distance is the Theater District and the Denver Performing Arts Center. Coors Field and the Pepsi Center are a quick bus ride away.
Once your evening’s gotten warmed up, head to dinner. There are literally hundreds of fantastic restaurants in downtown Denver, but one of the most popular is The Kitchen on 16th St. (just off of the 16th St. walking mall).
The idea behind The Kitchen is bringing community together over food, and people living in Denver definitely make use of it as a gathering place for friends and family. Their menu features a lot of fresh seafood, with lots of options for landlubbers. The dining room lets in plenty of natural light, and creates a warm atmosphere with exposed brick. The staff are fun and relatable, and they have a reputation for actually taking pride in making a meal at The Kitchen something to remember. (Tip: If you go, get dessert. The sticky toffee pudding is delicious, and pairs perfectly with a cup of coffee.)
Walk (or Play) It Off
After dinner, you’ll probably be ready to walk again. Fortunately, the 16th St. Mall is right there. It’s a tree-lined, mile-long shopping stretch. You’ll probably run into street performances—maybe a virtuoso tickling the ivory on one of the pianos on the mall. Yep—upright pianos are installed on the 16th St. Mall, thanks to the “Your Keys to the City” program. The pianos were decorated by local artists, and are often swamped with musicians (and would-be musicians) leading sing-alongs.
Susan Rogers-Kark, with the Downtown Denver Partnership, said they were looking for a way to “give people spontaneous enjoyment on the 16th St. Mall. Something they wouldn’t see anywhere else.”
The pianos certainly make an impression on tourists, and people living in Denver say it makes them feel proud of their city. “Denver is still kind of a sporty cowtown,” said Laurie Maves, an artist who has painted two pianos on the Mall. She’s right—rodeos and stock shows are popular events. But “things like this are really shifting us to a much more savvy, cultural town.”
Close out your evening at one of Downtown Denver’s bars or clubs. The Cruise Room, inside the Oxford Hotel, is a great one. It was the first bar to open in Denver after the repeal of prohibition in 1933. Folks living in Denver sometimes call it “The Red Room” because the interior lighting is red. The waitresses wear 1930s outfits as they move through the crowd delivering mixed drinks.
The more time you spend in Denver, and the surrounding neighborhoods, the more of a sense of community you get. It’s not all about commerce. People living in Denver genuinely enjoy finding new, fun ways to come together and make their city special.