Stop Requested – Larimer Street & 26th Street (RiNo)
The River North Art District (aka RiNo) is located just northeast of Coors Field in downtown Denver and is home to a variety of unique places to shop, eat and drink, peppered with seemingly endless murals and art installations throughout the area. It is a magical place overflowing with culture. So, grab your pass, grab your mask and catch the Route 44 to Larimer and 26th streets in this artsy edition of Stop Requested!
RiNo is considered one of the major cultural hubs of not only Denver, but the entire state of Colorado. But before it became what it is today, it used to serve as one of the major industrial hubs within the city. Back in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the area was home to a number of textile factories, metal foundries, pattern shops and numerous warehouses, attributing to the major economic success and growth of the region. This was only enhanced by the many railroads that passed through the city, allowing for easy export of goods straight from the factories. However, in the 1980s, the area saw these industries leave what we know now as the RiNo district for greener pastures outside the city. In result, the area was littered with abandoned factories, warehouses, houses and offices. Because of the low land value left by the industrial exodus, it became a favorable spot for creatives to move to due to the affordability of the area.
In 2005, two Denver artists, Tracy Weil and Jill Hadley-Hooper, saw the opportunity for the area to become a creative and cultural hub for Denver and teamed up to create the River North Art District. Within one year, they already saw the area grow exponentially, with creatives teaming up to revitalize the area. Now, it is a favorite place for many young adults (and young-at-heart adults) to visit and live.
When you first get off the 44 at Larimer and 26th, the first thing you’ll notice is the seemingly endless murals that are painted on the walls of virtually every building in RiNo. Each piece of art conveys a message and a story. You could spend a good two hours just walking around the district and checking out the murals and installations. RiNo also offers local artists paid opportunities to show off their talents at designated spots around the district through themed installations every month.
RiNo isn’t only famous for its art and contributions to local creatives, though. In RiNo, you will find some of the most unique shops, eateries, breweries and bars around.
Start your RiNo adventure off by swinging by The Denver Central Market (DCM), located less than a block northwest of Larimer and 26th, for lunch. It’s home to 10 different eateries that cater to all kinds of diets and preferences. While you’re grabbing your food, take in the sights of the many works of art by local artists. After enjoying lunch at DCM, shop until you drop at some of Denver’s finest stores. One such store is Topo Designs, an outdoor outerwear and accessories shop, created by Coloradans for Coloradans. It’s located at the corner of Larimer and 25th streets, inside a micro shopping center built from shipping containers. Yes, shipping containers.
While you’re walking around RiNo, be sure to swing by some other great shops, like DUER Denim, Burton, Artisan Rug Gallery, Modern Nomad and, for the homebrewers out there, Altitude Brewing & Supply.
Of course, we can’t talk about RiNo without highlighting the art galleries that give RiNo its name. One such gallery is the B.L.A.C Gallery, located just northwest of Larimer and 27th streets. This gallery celebrates art created by local Black artists. Other great galleries just a short walk away include RedLine, Dateline and Satellite Space.
RiNo is awesome during the day, but it really comes alive once the sun starts to set. Kick off the night on the rooftop at 10 Barrel Brewing Co. Enjoy an ever-rotating menu of beers brewed in-house while taking in the views of the Rockies and the Denver skyline. Be sure to get the 10 Barrel Nachos and, for the real beer-thusiasts, tackle the 10 Barrel beer flight. Once you’re fueled up on food for the night, head around the corner to the Lustre Pearl and enjoy some of their amazing cocktails, like the Ranch Water or the Matthew Pecanaughey (yes, that’s the name of a cocktail there and not a typo). Next door is First Draft Taproom & Kitchen, where you can grab as much or as little beer as you want from a giant wall of different Colorado beers with just a tap of a card. Think of it as Dave & Buster’s for beer enthusiasts. We can’t speak of beer without mentioning Ratio Beerworks, a brewery built on punk rock and attitude.
If wine is more your speed, be sure to swing by The Infinite Monkey Theorem, a great winery with an even greater name. And yes, the wine is made in-house in the middle of RiNo. Or, if you consider yourself a ciderhead, swing by Stem Ciders, arguably one of the most popular cideries in Colorado, and enjoy a Real Dry Apple Cider.
Whenever the pandemic is over and we’re all going back to concerts and shows, be sure to check the calendar of the legendary Larimer Lounge and the Mission Ballroom and see if your favorite band or artist is playing.
There are so many more great places to shop, eat and drink in RiNo that this Stop Requested could turn into a thesis paper. If you want a full list of places to visit in RiNo, be sure to visit the River North Art District website. Also, remember that COVID-19 restrictions are still in place, so be sure to check hours and protocols ahead of time and make sure to mask up and have your pass ready before catching the route 44 and visiting the area.