Full Steam Ahead: Downtown Denver

At the beginning of the 20th century, Denver’s Union Station hummed with the brisk comings and goings of a capital on the rise. In the summer of 2014, the landmark reclaimed its place as a transit and social hub for the city.

Part of a nine-block, $500 million face-lift, the renovated beaux arts depot signals the 21st-century arrival of Lower Downtown (“LoDo”), an urban success story that began in the 1980s when the Oxford Hotel reopened and start-up Wynkoop Brewing Company took a chance on the onetime red-light district.

Today’s Union Station pays homage to that frontier spirit as a showcase for Colorado craftsmanship, with 400-plus artworks and local beer taps, pouring behind the original ticket counter at the Terminal Bar.

Elsewhere at the depot, rising chefs show influences from near and far: Alex Seidel plates ingredient-driven cuisine alongside a market stocked with goods from his nearby ten-acre farm, and Jennifer Jasinski preps daily arrivals of oysters and sea urchins at Stoic & Genuine.

Outside the station, Lower Downtown continues to buzz at breweries such as Great Divide and vanguard tap house Falling Rock.

“I had a friend who used to call Denver the ‘locker room’ of the Rockies,” says Dana Crawford, Denver’s famed preservationist and namesake of Union Station’s new 112-room hotel. “That’s just not true anymore.”

  • Travel Tip: Visit the south corridor’s display of lost trinkets, from luggage tickets to Loretta Young trading cards.
  • Travel Trivia: Before becoming Colorado’s governor, geologist John Hickenlooper founded the state’s first brewpub, Wynkoop Brewing.
Book your next trip with Peace of Mind
Search Trips

This piece, written by Stephen Edwards, appeared in the August/September issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine. 

> Related:

Read This Next

These ants can shrink and regrow their brains

How to stop discarded face masks from polluting the planet

‘Tiger King’ stars’ face scrutiny in court

Go Further

Subscriber Exclusive Content

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet