This is the land of fun, unusual gifts and treats located in two main stores a block apart on Denver's trendy South Pearl Street. The larger store has everything from candles based on literary themes to hand-painted furniture. Shoppers will find one of the best collections of greeting cards around, along with delightful odds and ends they probably didn't know they needed until they stumbled upon them here. The smaller store has clothes, shoes, accessories and jewelry, and both stores carry goods from around the world. It's fun just to wander around the larger store with its cacophony of color, patterns and inventive displays. Prices here, the saying goes, range from $5 to $5,000, so surely everyone can find something.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: Independently owned and operated, 5 Green Boxes has a quirky, colorful and eclectic selection of goods.
Christine's expert tip: If you can't make it to the South Pearl stores, there's a small outpost in Denver Union Station in LoDo
Larimer Square was integral to the earliest residents of Denver, many of whom were on the rough-and-tumble side and more interested in shooting than shopping. Today, a more genteel clientele strolls along this historic block of Larimer Street to visit its retail shops, many independently owned. Most of the stores typically offer some Colorado-made products. Channel your vintage muse at Garage Sale Vintage or Victoriana Antique & Fine Jewelry. Relive the '90s at B Fresh Gear, and check out Cotopaxi's collection of colorful and sustainably designed outdoor clothing and gear, There are several interesting clothing and shoe shops and, because this is Colorado, there's Dog Savvy, a "doggie boutique and spa," just the place to book grooming and pick up a stylish new outfit or accessory for your four-footed friend. Larimer Square's dining options are many, from coffee to cocktails, Mexican to Mediterranean and beyond.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: Larimer offers an eclectic group of shops and restaurants in a historic neighborhood of Victorian-era buildings.
Christine's expert tip: Larimer has multiple excellent restaurants and cocktail lounges so you can make a whole day or evening of it, before or after shopping.
From its humble beginnings in a tiny space back in the 1970s, Tattered Cover evolved into one of the largest independent bookstores in the nation. It has weathered a retail climate that has not been friendly to booksellers, yet the Tattered Cover has not just survived it has thrived. Today it has three locations including an expansive space on Colfax in a former theater. There book lovers and others can browse, sip coffee, listen to authors read from their works and shop. The store has 24,000 square feet of retail space housing 150,000 book titles. There are also calendars, toys, games, puzzles, cards and many other potential gift items. But the Tattered Cover's best asset is arguably its staff, people who know and love books and who can offer genuinely helpful and insightful suggestions and advice. The newest location is in McGregor Square, just across from Coors Field.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: It's an amazingly successful bookstore in a world where many independent bookstores have closed their doors. Tattered Cover has evolved without losing its heart.
Christine's expert tip: Tattered Cover moved its LoDo location to McGregor Square, across from Coors Field, so stop in and explore yet another cool location.
Hundreds of artists, galleries, studios, theaters and creative businesses populate this very walkable area just south of downtown Denver. While the First Friday Art Walk is a huge draw for visitors and locals, the district's galleries, restaurants and retail shops are open all week. The greatest concentration of businesses is in an eight-block area between 4th and 12th along Santa Fe Drive. In addition to shopping, various classes are offered, space is available for private parties and events and there are two theaters and a museum, too. All of the galleries and shops in the Art District are independently owned and roughly 90 percent of the artwork and merchandise is made in Colorado. My advice is to join the First Friday Artwork and get an excellent overview of what's in the district. Then return (again and again) to find that special piece that belongs in your home.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: This nationally recognized arts and culture district offers an arts and shopping experience not duplicated anywhere else in Denver
Christine's expert tip: Parking is possible but traffic gets heavy on First Fridays so make it easy on yourself by taking the light rail to the 10th & Osage station and waking from there.
Rags Consignment started in Boulder in 1995. It remains the top women's clothing consignment store in the Metro Area. The Cherry Creek location in particular sells more designer and high-end clothing than other Denver consignment shops, so it can be more expensive. However, that also means you're getting high-end clothing at a still deeply discounted price. Take it from a longtime Rags customer and consigner, if you care for the items you buy and they're still a current style, you can consign them back later and get different fun items with your consignment money. Brands you're likely to find include Eileen Fisher, Johnny Was, Coach, Prada, Rag & Bone, Hermes, Escada and Jimmy Choo among others, and inventory now includes men's clothing and accessories, too. Check the Rags website for the newest items–"but be aware the most popular brands go fast.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: Rags Consignments-Cherry Creek is the best consignment/second-hand store for upscale and designer clothing in the Denver Metro Area.
Christine's expert tip: Check the bottom of your receipt; it may include 10 percent off at the Rags Warehouse location in Boulder on Bluff Street, which already discounts items that didn't sell at the main stores. The warehouse is open Fridays and Saturdays
With more than 120 businesses from clothing, jewelry and home-design stores to galleries, artisan shops and gift boutiques, Cherry Creek North boasts endless options for shopping–"and then for turning your shopping into a romantic evening or a night out with friends. Need something for your home? Arhaus Furniture, the Brass Bed and California Closets can help. Check out the Artisan Center and Le Creuset, too. If you need an outfit for fly fishing one of Colorado's celebrated trout streams, Orvis is your go-to. There's not enough space here to name all the great stores, so just start meandering and you're sure to find a store that speaks to you. After, relax at Forget Me Not, a cocktail and wine bar on Clayton, or check out one of Cherry Creek's many excellent restaurants. As the cliche goes, there's something for everyone here.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: This upscale, contemporary district with shops, spas, restaurants, galleries and home-furnishing stores has pretty much everything one needs.
Christine's expert tip: Make a whole weekend of shopping and exploring Cherry Creek. Book a room at one of Denver's newest hotels, the Clayton, where guests can access a slew of activities available only to members of Clayton Club.
When Twist and Shot opened in 1988 there were no MP3 players, iPods, iPads or smart phones. The store is in some ways a throwback to those days, yet very much current. It's a place where Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials and Gen Zers all can shop for the music they love, old and new. The store carries every conceivable genre and format of music, and its true claim to fame may be what is arguably the largest selection of new and used vinyl in the country. Live performances are staged in the store each month, both local artists and national touring acts, and merchandise includes art films, music movies, toys, shirts and all kinds of other fun stuff. As if all that weren't enough, according to management, the store has "the most creative, unique, artsy, sexy employees on earth." Who wouldn't want to shop there?
Recommended for Best Shopping because: Twist and Shout is a place to find CDs, old and new vinyl and to hear live music--no matter which generation is doing the shopping.
Christine's expert tip: This is one place where shoppers can try it before they buy it. Twist and Shout has listening stations throughout the store and stereos behind the counter where buyers can hear pretty much any record or CD before handing over the money.
Purchasing original art may be out of reach for many of us, but the recently renovated Denver Art Museum complex offers up the next best thing: excellent shopping opportunities and artistic items that can be part of almost any budget. Denver Art Museum is where creative expression and inspired shopping become one in an elegant, sophisticated space. In addition to artwork, there's artist-made jewelry and items related to every exhibit that comes through the museum. The shop's stellar selection of creative products for all ages includes activity kits, books, art supplies, puzzles, games and more. You'll also find art-inspired clothing and accessories. Some items result from partnerships with local artists, such as the folks at Boulder's Maruca Design and their creative expression in the form of artistic handbags. There's always something new so check back often; you're bound to find something completely unexpected but exactly what you're looking for.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: The museum stores don't just showcase art, they showcase many local artists and their Colorado-based artwork.
Christine's expert tip: Purchases in the shop help support the Denver Art Museum, and museum admission is not required to visit the shop.
From practical and useful to imagination-inspiring whimsy, the gift shop at Denver Botanic Gardens makes shopping fun.. There are things and colors everywhere--on the floor, high up on the walls, hanging from the ceiling and on shelves and counters throughout the small space. Not surprising, many of the products relate to gardens in some way but there's plenty here for the non-gardeners on your gift list, too, not the least of which is an abundance of exquisite artwork in a range of mediums. There are also tons of fun and educational games for children as well as puppets and more they can use to ramp up their own imaginative play. During holiday season, the shop's curators bring in special items such as hand-crafted ornaments and menorahs.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: The gift shop at Denver Botanic Gardens is one of the very best in Denver all yearlong.
Christine's expert tip: During the winter season the shop is open during the same hours as Blossoms of Light, the gardens' glorious holiday event.
A fantastic and unusual museum, plus one of the most interesting museum gift shops in Denver, the Kirkland is a smaller, somewhat more eccentric version of the stellar Museum of Modern Art in New York. Vance Kirkland was a Denver artist and educator whose work spanned realism, surrealism and abstract expressionism. His original studio is part of the museum. In addition to Kirkland's paintings, much of the museum's collection is devoted to cool and unusual decorative items, a refection of the museum's highly eclectic collection, as well as Colorado itself. With a focus on "art-inspired gifts for all occasions," many of the store's items are handcrafted by local artists and artisans. Jewelry, accessories, ceramics, woodwork and glass creations are among the offerings, with design items for all areas of a home. There's even a section devoted to Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired decor. Shop in person or online.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: Those looking for art centric, beautiful and unusual gifts should make this a first stop.
Christine's expert tip: Museum entry isn't required to go to the shop, but the shop is included in the museum entry fee.