Historic Walking Tour Of Denver

June 9, 2014 6:00 AM

16th Street Mall (credit: CBS) (credit: CBS)

If you are new to the Denver area, or even if you just want to take some time to appreciate all of the historic spots that are scattered throughout this beautiful city, there are many different places you should visit. Denver is so historic, in fact, that you could easily spend several weekends just checking out all of the sites. However, the largest cluster of historic destinations all within walking distance of each other is the lower downtown area from Union Station to the 16th Street Mall. This is a fairly decent walk, but there are many places to stop along the way to learn a little bit about Denver, its history and to appreciate the unique beauty of the Mile High City.

Union Station
1701 Wynkoop St.
Denver, CO 80202

Union Station is an excellent place to start a walking tour of historic spots in Denver. Originally constructed in 1881, this beautiful Breaux Arts-style building is one of the most important and historic anchors of the lower downtown area. This bustling transportation hub once hosted such names as Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, William Taft, Harry Truman and Franklin Delano Roosevelt as well as many others. You’ll be a bit limited on what you can see at Union Station right away, as it is undergoing a major restoration project through July 2014 but you can still appreciate the architecture and history of the huge building with its stone clock tower.

Oxford Hotel
1600 17th St.
Denver, CO 80202
(303) 628-5400

From Union Station, head up Wynkoop and visit the Oxford Hotel, the oldest still-standing hotel in Denver, originally built in 1891. The hotel was designed by Frank E. Edbrooke, the same architect who built the well-known Brown Palace just a year later, and it was known as one of the most extravagant and opulent hotels of its time, when Adolph Zang realized the need for such a first-class hotel near Union Station. There is even an historic marker outside on the building to explain the history of this particular destination. While you are there, stop in the Cruise Room, a stunning little Art-Deco-inspired bar that was originally designed after a lounge on the famous Queen Mary.

Related: Top Historical Sites In Denver

Larimer Square
Larimer St. between 14th St. and 15th St.
Denver, CO 80202
(303) 534-2367

It’s just a short walk from the Oxford Hotel to the famous Larimer Square, Denver’s oldest and most historic block. This beautiful city block tells the true story of Denver’s early years. Denver actually got its name as various representatives settling in the area came together over a barrel of whiskey right in this spot in the 1850s. This city block then became home to Denver’s first bank, first bookstore and dry goods store and was even the site of the very first post office and theater. There are stories putting Denver’s hottest speakeasy at the corner of 14th and Larimer Street during Prohibition. The look has changed with Larimer Square but it still embraces its history.

Daniels and Fisher Tower

1601 Arapahoe St.
Denver, CO 80202
(303) 293-0075

The next stop on the 16th Street Mall is the Daniels and Fisher Tower at Arapahoe. The D&F Tower built in 1910, and  was at one time the tallest building west of the Mississippi River. It was designed to resemble The Campanile at the Piazza San Marco in Venice and has four massive clocks (one on each side) that reach 16 feet in height. It was built to hold one of Denver’s first huge department stores but has since been converted into an entertainment venue unlike any other. Make the climb to the top observation deck for the best views of the city.

Millennium Bridge
16th St. and Chestnut Place
Denver, CO 80202

Leave Larimer Square and head towards Chestnut to stop at the Millennium Bridge. This stunning bridge was built in 2002 and offers an incredible view of downtown and the Platte River.  The tubular steel footbridge looks like the mast of a huge ship, reaching 200 feet into the sky. You can take a glass elevator to the top for a breath-taking view. It’s the perfect spot to stop, catch your breath and appreciate everything about the city of Denver as you tour the historic spots on foot. You can also bring a lunch and enjoy the rolling Platte River near Riverfront Park.

Related: Top Bars With History In Denver

Deborah Flomberg is a theater professional, freelance writer and Denver native. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.