Expert Tips


Best Shopping in Denver

Best Places for a Shopping Respite or Shopping Extravaganza in Denver

Denver is a thriving, evolving city and the same can be said of its stellar collection of stores and boutiques. From small and eclectic independent retailers such as 5 Green Boxes to the upscale, multi-block shopping district that is Cherry Creek North, Denver delivers a vibrant and intriguing experience with multiple options for shoppers of all kinds. For art collectors or art lover, there's the gallery-centric Art District on Santa Fe, along with the fabulous shops at the Denver Art Museum and Denver Botanic Gardens. Tattered Cover, one of Denver's most successful and beloved retailers, now has three locations, including a cozy outpost at the newly revitalized Denver Union Station. Speaking of Union Station, the historic aesthetic remains in tact and the trains continue to run, but a fabulous collection of retailers and restaurants now infuses the evocative structure with a distinctly 21st Century vibe. Historic and contemporary elements also combine at Larimer Square, an area that Butch Cassidy is said to have once visited and where some of the city's best independent boutiques now open for a more genteel clientele. And in the spirit of what's old is often new again, there's Twist and Shout, a record store where new vinyl recordings are being sold alongside those old collectibles and CDs from every genre--plus there's live music. Perhaps best of all, in between many Denver shops are independent restaurants opened by award-winning chefs where shoppers can rest and refuel before heading to the next dynamic shopping experience. 


Denver's revitalized Union Station features 10 independent, Colorado-owned retail and restaurant outlets across 22,000 square feet of ground-floor space, which is complemented by 12,000 square feet of public common area and 40,000 square feet of outdoor plaza space. It's all in and around the magnificently renovated historic train station, and the trains are still coming and going. Among the retail shops are outpost of three popular stores: Tattered Cover bookstore, 5 Green Boxes and Bloom, places where you can find greeting cards and a treasure trove of fun items. Eateries range from Pigtrain Coffee and Milkbox Ice Creamery to full-restaurant concepts from some of Denver's best-known and most successful chefs. Mercantile Dining & Provision is a little of both--a European-style restaurant and an "Old World" market with food items, many from local purveyors, to go.

Recommended for Best Shopping because: It's a transportation hub, dining and shopping destination and a place where Denver gathers day and night.

Christine's expert tip: The RTD bus station is right downstairs, the light rail and free 16th Street Mallride are just a short walk away. Union Station is easy to get to from anywhere--no car necessary.

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Art District on Santa Fe
Photo courtesy of Art District on Santa Fe

More than 70 establishments 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 shops, galleries and restaurants 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: The district has 40 galleries and some 30 other retail stores, providing a 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.

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5 Green Boxes
Photo courtesy of 5 Green Boxes

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 will 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

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Tattered Cover Book Store
Photo courtesy of Tattered Cover

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.

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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. Check out Mammut for outdoor clothing and gear or channel your vintage muse at Garage Sale Vintage. Element is the place to find sophisticated artwork, lighting, tableware and funky pieces from across the globe to add an earthy, eclectic vibe to your home décor. There are also jewelry and clothing stores, shoe and hat 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.

Recommended for Best Shopping because: Larimer offers an eclectic group of shops and restaurants in a historic neighborhood that are among the best in Denver.

Christine's expert tip: Larimer has multiple excellent restaurants and cocktail lounges so you can make a whole day of it, even after shopping.

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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 Denver's newest restaurants, Of A Kind, located in the Clayton Hotel. 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: 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.

Read more about Cherry Creek North Shopping District →

The Proper Pour
Photo courtesy of Christine Loomis

Mega liquor stores offer more bottles and selection, but they cannot match the personal attention and passion of The Proper Pour. Customers looking for an unusual wine or liquor can pick the brain of whoever is working and get knowledgeable information and suggestions--they're all self-proclaimed cocktail geeks who see their job as providing the proper ingredients, tools and education so customers can enjoy the same imbibing experience at home as they would out on the town. To that end, the store carries such products as wine produced by a small biodynamic farm in Western Colorado, unusual beers and specialty releases from excellent local small-batch distillers as well as tasty, perfected whiskey from well-known larger distillers across the country. "As long as they/re staying true to their craft and making top-notch products," says the owner, "we will continue to support them in their efforts."

Recommended for Best Shopping because: The Proper Pour offers genuine hospitality and a focus on the natural wine movement and local and specialty spirits.

Christine's expert tip: When the store opened, all of the staff, including the owners, came from Chattanooga, Tennessee. That Southern hospitality still comes through. Those looking for a truly service-oriented, stress-free experience need look no further.

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Twist and Shout
Photo courtesy of Twist & Shout

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.

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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.

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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.

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Meet Christine Loomis

Christine has written about every aspect of travel, from romance and adventure to family and wellness. She is also lucky to have had three major home states through the years: New York,...  More About Christine