32nd Ave. & Lowell Blvd.
The Highlands neighborhood has become one of Denver’s hippest areas to shop and dine with the recent urban development around the area. Not to be confused with the Highlands Ranch suburb south of Denver, The Highlands basically refers to north and northwest Denver. In days past it was a blue collar neighborhood, predominantly dwelled by the Hispanic community, lined with brick bungalows and panderias. However, you can still enjoy some of the nostalgic architecture with the converted businesses along Highlands Square, centered at the corner of 32nd Avenue and Lowell Boulevard. You’ll find over 90 businesses of retail, dining, salon, health and basic services, along and around the five block stretch of 32nd, between Perry Street and Julian Street.
Grab a cup of Joe to get your shopping going at locally owned Common Grounds, right at 32nd and Lowell, and marvel at local artwork on the brick walls such as works from local artist of New Mexican art, Daniel Luna. Then head east down 32nd to Starlet, where you’ll find modern housewife propaganda purses or bright costume jewelry. Shuffle a couple doors down to Westside Books, a true vintage bookstore of rare, new and used books, and you might chance on some live music or an author’s visit. Loop back up 32nd heading west, and stop for a cheese delicacy at St. Kilian’s on Lowell. Nearby, at Garnet Gecko, you can marvel at imported treasures and jewels from all over Asia. Keep along Meade Street and you’ll bump into Studio Bead, a shop filled with the most creative jewelry and accessories you’ve ever seen, even the displays you’ll be tempted to recreate for accessories at home.
BEST TIME TO SHOP
Be sure to check out all the different activities and street fairs Highlands Square host throughout the year, such as art, live music, and retail specials every third Thursday for the Spring, Summer and Fall seasons, or the huge Annual Highlands Street Fair around June, celebrating the entire community.
Main St. & Alamo Ave.
Downtown Littleton has a growing popularity of visitors every day, but many Denverites are still unaware of the charming updates that the historic area has had within the past decade. Littleton, a suburb south of Denver, was for years predominantly a farming community during the growth of Denver. Soon it became a quaint and safe little suburban town of good schools, chain businesses, with a lot of wealthy neighborhoods. However, the downtown shopping area of Littleton is probably the best representation of the town, preserving much of Littleton’s history with its architecture, while providing unique boutiques and independent dining.
You’ll find most of your shopping destinations along Main Street, that runs west, and Alamo Avenue that runs east. Some out of many that stand out are Reinke Brothers on Prince Street off of Main, a year round costume and Halloween store. Perusing around you feel like you’re in a witch’s attic of lost treasures, and they have costumes to rent for any holiday of the year. With the company of your pooch you can head over to Lewis & Bark next door to Reinke Brothers, where you’ll find hand-selected healthy food options for dogs and cats alike, including many fun toys, doggie sweaters, even freshly baked dog treats. Details Boutique along Main is a shopping extravaganza for women, from funky cowgirl boots to dainty perfumes. The Chocolate Therapist is one not to miss, for its home roasted coffee and overflowing handfuls of chocolate treats. If you’re in the occasion to be looking for a wedding dress, or looking to sell one, The Green Bride offers new and used wedding dresses and bridal gowns. And be sure to check out the antique stores along Alamo Avenue.
BEST TIME TO SHOP
Most shops close around 6pm each day, so it’s best to visit during the daytime or weekends. Popular community gatherings for downtown Littleton include the 10-day event in August each year, Western Welcome Week, featuring a huge street fair, parades, music and food. The annual Candlelight Walk is held just after Thanksgiving each year, which celebrates the lighting of the two-story Christmas tree at the end of Main Street. The Light Rail conveniently stops in downtown Littleton at Prince Street, parking is decent, and you can do most of your shopping by foot.
Olde Town Arvada
Wadsworth Bypass & Ralston Rd.
Like many suburban towns of Denver, Arvada has grown from being a hub for agriculture and gold-rushing prosperity, to quickly developed residential areas, and cultural art districts and shopping strips. The community has worked hard to preserve Olde Town Arvada, which once was an area of essential grocers, pharmacies and blacksmith shops, and at one point was claimed to be the celery capitol of the world. Today, you can follow Wadsworth into Olde Town, and be welcomed by the restored Flour Mill tower, to an eclectic mixture of retail shops, dining and art attractions.
Olde Town Arvada is such an interesting area because of its shopping and dining diversity. Some notable places to stop on your visit are the Rheinlander Bakery, along Olde Wadsworth, it’s German bakery wonderland of German strudels, European style pastries, espresso to-go, even local fresh baked bread. Stop by Knit Knack along Grandview, for limitless options of yarn for your own crafting, hand-made purses and hats, even the old sock monkey stuffed animals. Follow the scent down a few doors to Nature’s Gift Candleworks, where you’ll find scrumptious candles, healing spa products, home décor and other unique gifts. You can satisfy your hobby interests at the Olde Town Pickin’ Parlor, with everything you need for your stringed instrument, or stock up on your jewelry accessories at the Arvada Bead Connection.
BEST TIME TO SHOP
Check out the Ladie’s Only Sample Tour around Mother’s Day, for samples of treats, gifts and giveaways. The Lagniappe (lawn-yahp) event is a customer appreciation time, with gifts and festivities given by local business owners, held the first week of December. Likely the most popular even is the Harvest Festival in September, celebrated since 1925, enjoying lively festivities evoking the olde town feel.
South Broadway & Antique Row
South Broadway, Alameda Ave. to Evans Ave.
Cruising South Broadway is probably one of the most stimulating ways to shop in Denver. You can find within about 16 blocks along the strip of Broadway, south of I-25 and north of the DU area at Evans, hundreds of eccentric stores, and one of biggest areas in Colorado for Antiques. For years, most of the business functioned to support larger factories and companies, with some shopping options, auto stores and restaurants. But each year you see more and more independent, quirky, vintage and trendy shops sprout up, as well as newer restaurants. Some pockets you can walk from store to store, but to engage in all South Broadway has to offer, feel free to take a day to cruise the strip.
A must-visit is the Antique Row of up to 50 antique stores that line the 400-2000 blocks of Broadway, with everything from furnishings, collectibles, guns, clothing, jewelry, books, and anything else imaginable. Along the lines of old-fashioned trends, be sure to visit Decade, a 50s style new and vintage furniture and gift store, where you’ll awe at the living room sets, and chat it up with the friendly retailers. Every Halloween Denverites flock to Flossy McGrew’s, where you can find every costume imaginable and be entertained by the owner’s rock star posters and photos. Thrifty Stick has all your stylish snowboard and skateboard needs. You’ll find unique handbags, crafts and clothing at Fancy Tiger. And stop by the new Goodwill, your local thrift store with a fresh new look. If you’re shopping late, stop for a midnight snack at Moe’s Tacos, next to Mona’s restaurant of the same owner, it’s an inside taco stand with just a lobby to order, meant to mimic the authentic taco stands of Mexico- and authentic and delicious it is!
BEST TIME TO SHOP
A time when not to shop is generally any time during the day in the summer. There has been constant construction going on, along all of Broadway, but not to worry, it’s all in the benefit of updating the shopping area for the community. Save your antique shopping for the Antique Row Summer Festival in August. And look for the 1st Fridays block parties in the summer.
Streets at Southglenn
University Boulevard & Arapahoe Road
The Streets at Southglenn had its grand opening late summer of 2009, and since then has been one Denver’s most hopping shopping areas. Located about 40 minutes south of Denver in the town of Centennial, this posh street mall with well over 50 stores has everything for the mid to upscale shopper. The area used to be just your every day average suburban mall, but it now has a feel of West Coast outdoor glam, with its illuminating fountains, late night dining, and high-end apartments above the retail stores. Though you’ll find many new boutique shopping outlets, you’ll still recognize stores like Whole Foods, 24 Hour Fitness, Macy’s and others. You can eat at places like the Mellow Mushroom, great pizza in a Grateful Dead like scenery, or at Cantina Laredo, with table-side served guacamole and fresh fruit margaritas. And be sure to catch a movie at their Hollywood Theaters, located right in the center of it all.
Some fun shops to visit can include Sous le Lit, an irresistible vintage style clothing, shoe and accessory boutique. Or The Blues Jean Bar, where you can order your “denim on tap”, by looking for your favorite pair of jeans along something that looks like a bar, with the help of clerks that serve you the details like bartenders. Be sure to take the kids, if you so dare, to Fuzziwig’s Candy Factory, literally a candy land of over 400 sweet treats and specialty toys. You can find comforting gifts from lingerie to linens at Rejuvanest.BEST TIME TO SHOP
The retails stores are open from 10am-9pm weekdays and Saturdays, until 6pm on Sundays, with the movie theater and dining areas staying open later. Shop and be entertained with the community at Dancing in the Streets Summer Concert Series, June thru August, and add to your shopping, lines of vendor booths and festivities, at Sundays on the Streets, June thru September.
- Sarah Carpenter lives in Littleton, where she was born and raised. She spent a decade in Downtown Denver, and its surrounding neighborhoods, going to school for writing, working in the service industry, and getting to know Denver’s diverse culture. She has a passion for travel writing, local and afar, focusing the story on its people, culture and region.