Denver is one of the best cities for small businesses in the U.S., so it’s no wonder why there are thousands of unique restaurants, bars, breweries, boutiques, shops, arts districts, and theaters throughout the metro area. If you’re looking for cool places to go in Denver that are interesting or off the beaten path—or if you just want to support more local businesses—check out some of these hidden gems in Denver!
You may have visited some of these local spots before, or you may have heard of them but haven’t had a chance to check them out yet. Or maybe you haven’t heard of them at all! Regardless, we challenge you to get out there and discover all of the unique treasures Denver has to offer.
Adams Mystery Playhouse
Picture a comedy club combined with mystery dinner theatre and scavenger hunts. That’s Adams Mystery Playhouse in Jefferson Park! This unique Denver staple puts on thrilling, funny, audience-involved shows every Friday and Saturday night year-round and is perfect for family outings, team-building events, field trips, birthdays, and holiday parties. Sail the high seas with pirates in search of a treasure during The Curse of Devil’s Island. Or find the murderer at the Cringle family’s annual holiday party during Holidays ‘R’ Murder. Regardless of which show you choose to see at Adams Mystery Playhouse, you’re bound to have a great time!
Adrift Tiki Bar & Grill
Few restaurants outside of Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic’s have carried on the legacy of Tiki Culture (i.e., Polynesian pop culture) in the U.S. But Denver’s Adrift Tiki Bar & Grill strives to keep it alive! This island-inspired restaurant in Baker will warm you up with its tropical cocktails, delectable fare, friendly staff, and South Pacific décor. In fact, it may just help you beat the winter blues! Grab a Mai Thai or El Diablo during Happy Hour—Monday through Thursday from 5pm to 7pm or Friday and Saturday from 4pm to 6pm—or stick around for dinner and try the Ahi Tuna Poke or Jamaican Jerk Cheeseburger!
Banjo Billy’s Bus Tours
Whether you’ve lived in Denver your whole life or you’re visiting for the first time, Banjo Billy’s Bus Tours is a must! This wacky bus modeled after a “hillbilly” log cabin is filled with couches, recliners, and saddles and offers Denver history, ghost, and brewery tours. Learn more about the corrupt oil industry in Denver and the Unsinkable Molly Brown (the same historical figure played by Kathy Bates in 1997’s Titanic). Get spooked by haunted sites like Croke-Patterson Mansion, Cheesman Park, and the Denver Firefighters Museum. Or try new craft beers on a tour of Downtown Denver’s breweries!
Bonne Bella Boutique
Tucked away in the Victorian Peaks building one block off Mainstreet in Parker, you’ll find Bonne Bella Boutique! This Denver boutique and consignment shop has tons of styles for every shape and size, and you can even find one-of-a-kind handmade jewelry, accessories, and gifts. Locals love owner Bonnie Bruns for her friendly, sweet smile and the way she can help find the perfect item for a particular style. So stop in and become a “Bella Beauty” today! And don’t forget to check out the specials during Parker Wine Walk nights or one of the boutique’s signature Girls’ Nights Out events!
The Buckhorn Exchange
You’ll probably never eat at a restaurant as unique as The Buckhorn Exchange in Lincoln Park. The oldest restaurant in Denver is known for its thick, juicy steaks and Rocky Mountain oysters, but what separates it from every other steakhouse in Mile-High City is its impressive taxidermy collection hanging on the walls above patrons. With 575 pieces consisting of giant buffalo, mountain goats, big-horned sheep, elk, moose, and more, you’ll never forget your visit to The Buckhorn Exchange!
Cask and Craft
Cask and Craft in Highland is committed to helping you find the perfect wine, craft beer, or spirit for your budget and taste. In fact, owner Mark Westmoreland takes such pride in the store’s selection that he’s always around to help you find exactly what you need—or help you discover something new! Expand your wine palate with Cask and Craft’s wine tastings. Ride your bike to the store for 10% off your purchase. Or order your spirits for delivery after 8pm if you live in Highland or Sunnyside.
Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom
In the old Casino Cabaret in Five Points, you’ll find Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom. This hot spot downtown continues the musical legacy of the old cabaret by hosting thousands of live shows featuring artists from all kinds of genres, including funk, bluegrass, hip-hop, and electronic. What makes the venue unconventional among the Denver music scene, though, is that it has two rooms offering simultaneous entertainment: Cervantes’ (holds 900) and The Other Side (holds 500). Patrons can even go back and forth between these rooms!
Cry Baby Ranch
It’s western meets vintage at Cry Baby Ranch in Larimer Square! This Denver boutique combines the cowboy spirit of Texas with the contemporary style of Mile-High City. Owner Roxanne Thurman prides herself on creating a unique shopping experience you’ll enjoy! Find Stetson outfits, Liberty boots of all styles and colors, Native American-inspired jewelry, clothes and accessories for little buckaroos, and gifts. Yeehaw!
Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls, and Toys
Most Denver residents haven’t even heard of the Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls, and Toys, let alone visited it. Housed in the historic Pearce-McAllister Cottage in City Park West, this museum is dedicated to showcasing the world of miniatures! See beautiful antique and Japanese dolls, mini planes and trains, fully-furnished dollhouses, and more. It’s a Denver hidden treasure you’ll never forget! Stop by between 10am and 4pm Wednesday through Saturday.
Devil’s Food Bakery & Cookery
If you’ve never been to Devil’s Food Bakery & Cookery in Wash Park, you’re missing out. This Denver bakery and coffee shop has a retro café style and serves everything from breakfast to dinner. Most local residents go for brunch and the pastries, though. The Chicken & Waffles and Stuffed French Toast are to die for! But the Almond Croissant and Red Velvet Cake Balls are what keep people coming back day after day.
A good jukebox. Delicious bar food. Cheap drinks. And, most importantly, pool tables. That’s what you’ll find at Felt in Englewood. This pool room, bar, and restaurant is a great place to catch a game with friends, meet up for Happy Hour after work, or become a sharp-shooter in one of Felt’s 8-ball or 9-ball leagues! Felt also hosts Texas hold’em matches every Wednesday and Friday evening with chances to win a trip to the World Poker Tour in Vegas. This just might be your new favorite spot in Denver!
Forest Room 5
If you’ve ever wanted to kick back in a place that makes you feel as though you’re in the middle of the woods, you need to visit Forest Room 5 in Highland. A giant bear statue is there to greet you at the front door. You’ll sit on tree stumps at your table. There’s plenty of kitschy taxidermy hanging around the bar. And there’s a great patio (some even say it’s the best patio in Denver) with a fire pit surrounded by trees. So grab some friends and head to Forest Room 5 for a chill night out!
Glazed & Confuzed
At Glazed & Confuzed in Washington Virginia Vale, there’s more to donuts than just glaze and sprinkles! With unique signature and specialty donuts like Root Beer Float, Jalapeno Popper, Strawberry Shortcake, and Samoa (the Girl Scout Cookie!), it’s no wonder why Glazed & Confuzed is among Denver’s local favorites. These donuts are massive, made with no preservatives or other “junk,” and all handmade by chef Josh Schwab. So next time you’re craving donuts, ditch the chains and stop by Glazed & Confuzed!
The Gothic Theatre
A former movie theater that was the first to show “talkies” in 1920s Denver, The Gothic Theatre is now the place to go for live music in Englewood. With a beautiful art deco style, an intimate ambiance, reasonably priced drinks, and amazing acoustics, it’s a great place to catch rising stars, indie bands, and veteran artists. Snag a spot in the wrap-around balcony, or join the crowd below in front of the stage!
Looking for a prohibition-esque speakeasy with a chill vibe? Check out Green Russell in Larimer Square! This Denver hidden gem isn’t impossible to find (here’s a hint: Russell’s Smokehouse), but it’s well worth the discovery. Their cocktails are handcrafted to perfection, and the menu is seasonal, so it changes based on what ingredients are available. If it’s your first time at Green Russell, all you have to do is tell the bartenders what spirits and flavors you like, and they’ll whip up a drink just for you—they never disappoint!
The Infinite Monkey Theorem
Urban winery The Infinite Monkey Theorem is located in the RiNo Art District and is all about chaos. The chaos being that the winery grows grapes at an elevation of 4,500 ft and makes its wines in a warehouse in an alley—hence its reputation as the “back alley” winemaker. Not only can you purchase canned wine from The Infinite Monkey Theorem (Yes, canned wine), but you can also visit its Downtown Denver taproom for drinks and music, become a Wine Club member, or try new wines during a tasting!
Jose O’Shea’s in Lakewood has been dishing up some of Denver’s best Mexican food since 1978. Forget the gringo-style Mexican dishes. This is legitimate. Colorado green chile is everywhere. The sauces are spicy. And there’s even Jose O’Shea’s Famous Garbage Burrito, an enormous burrito filled with just about everything you could ever want in a burrito. The restaurant also has a free taco bar during Happy Hour!
Want a cool bookstore in Denver that’s not Tattered Cover? Kilgore Books has been serving the Capitol Hill area since 2008, and it’s a favorite among literature lovers! This eclectic shop doesn’t just sell used books. There’s also a great selection of alt lit, local and indie comics, sci-fi, philosophy, art, and more! It’s one of those hidden treasures where you’ll always walk out with a unique find. Don’t forget to stop by during one of the bookstore’s meet-and-greet or book signing events with local authors and artists!
Lakeside Amusement Park
If you’re looking for the perfect family outing in Denver, skip Elitch Gardens and head to Lakeside Amusement Park just off I-70 in Lakeside instead! This small park has been operating at the same location since 1908 and is beloved by locals! Ride the drop tower or bumper cars. Check out Kiddies’ Playland with your little ones. Enjoy your own picnic with views of Lake Rhoda and the mountains. And best of all, take advantage of the affordable general admission and ride prices at Lakeside Amusement Park!
Mario’s Double Daughter’s Salotto
Mario’s Double Daughter’s Salotto is a curious little bar in LoDo. Its décor will make you feel as though you’ve stepped into a carnival funhouse, and its drinks have wacky names like Pirate Socks & Dead Parrots! But it’s intimate enough that you can actually have a conversation without having to shout over thumping music. If you’re really bold, try the drink called Succo Vaffanculo di Mario. It’s made with 17 different liquors. And while no one quite knows what’s inside this crazy concoction, the one thing you can count on is that it will knock you right off your feet—if you’re not careful, that is!
Rather than go to a giant cineplex where you can catch major Hollywood blockbusters, why not stop by Mayan Theatre in Speer? This quirky Art Deco theater is housed in the historic Mayan building, an old opera house built in 1930 and renovated in 1986. It has three screens (one in the large auditorium and two in upstairs rooms with stadium seating), a cafe, and a bar, making it a perfect date night or weekend spot for movie lovers! Not to mention, The Mayan is known for being one of the few movie theaters in Denver that shows small, independent films and uses real butter on their popcorn!
A place where people can shop for gently-used books and enjoy coffee at a reasonable price is exactly what Mutiny Café in Baker offers its customers. With a diverse selection of secondhand books, a coffee bar, a welcoming staff, the occasional live music/slam poetry nights, and an eclectic vibe thanks to random antique artifacts, this Denver café is a great destination for anyone looking to escape for a little while.
Navajo Street Art District
Are you looking for a cool arts district in Denver with diverse artists, unique co-ops, and great events? Check out Navajo Street Art District in Highland. This district is home to six awesome arts centers—EDGE, Pirate, The Bug Theatre, Clear Creek Academy of Jewelry and Metal Arts (CCA), Zip 37, NEXT—ranging from art galleries to performing arts. It’s also home to the city’s oldest Italian restaurant, Patsy’s Inn! Stop by every Friday from 5pm to 10pm to gallery hop and see work from new artists!
If you want to satisfy your Cajun cuisine craving—whether that’s for breakfast, lunch, or dinner—NoNo’s Café in Littleton is the place! This homey restaurant in Denver has a menu full of grits, biscuits and gravy, beignets, blackened catfish, po-boy, and jambalaya (they also have a gluten-free menu). You’ll love the sweet tea, the comfortable atmosphere, the friendly staff, and the reasonable prices. It’s Denver’s own little taste of New Orleans!
Overstreet Dance Center
Do you ever wish you could go back to the ’40s or ’50s when social dancing was the thing to do on the weekends? You don’t have to wish with Overstreet Dance Center in Littleton! Not only does this Denver dance center offer ballroom dance lessons and fitness classes, but it also doubles as a social ballroom on Friday and Saturday nights, where locals can show off their West Coast Swing, Lindy Hop, Rumba, and more! Arrive for an introductory lesson at 7pm, then stick around for the 8pm dance party with music from a local DJ. It’s an experience you won’t find anywhere else in South Denver!
If you drive down Federal in Athmar Park, there’s an overwhelming number of restaurants where you can get good pho. But Pho 96 is a favorite among locals, and it’s one of Denver’s best-kept secrets! Their mission is simple: They want to serve good and affordable Vietnamese cuisine that makes people come back week after week. With excellent service and amazing food, it’s a hidden gem you need to check out!
Piggin’ Out Bar-B-Que
What might look like a tiny red house on the side of Morrison Road in Lakewood is actually Piggin’ Out Bar-B-Que, one of Denver’s best barbecue joints! Pulled pork, ribs, brisket, barbecue chicken—you name it, they have it! The sauce is spicy and delicious, and the mac ‘n cheese is a godsend! Most Lakewood locals call in pick-up orders since the restaurant is small, and many of them will tell you to order ASAP if you know you want ribs because they go fast!
Want to dress with more character or find a killer costume? Head over to Regal Vintage off Broadway in Platt Park. It’s filled to the brim with posh and retro vintage clothing and accessories! This vintage retailer is considered one of Denver’s secret treasures, and their motto is”Fun, Fabulous, and Funky,” which is what they consider when they select all of their items. Find high-quality vintage clothing from the 1920s through the 1990s for a good price, and get some great costume tips from Regal Vintage’s employees!
Revampt in Cherry Creek is that quirky blink-and-you-miss-it store that most people walk by. But for those who stop to take a peek inside, it’s easy to find a treasure trove of amazing furniture, home décor, and gifts! Everything piece in Revampt is locally-crafted and made of recycled materials. From credenzas and night stands to coasters and burlap throw pillows, you’re bound to find something unique inside this Denver shop!
The Robusto Room
There are plenty of cigar bars and lounges throughout Denver, but if you want a hideout far from the crowds downtown, check out The Robusto Room in Lone Tree. With cigars, strong drinks, scotch-savvy bartenders, and accolades from The Denver Post, this lounge is bound to become one of your favorite Denver haunts. Grab a stogie and chill in the more traditional cigar lounge, or head out into the main bar area for karaoke and DJ nights. And don’t forget to take advantage of the Happy Hour specials!
Society Sports & Spirits
Society Sports & Spirits—or “Whiskey” to some because of the giant sign out front—is a laid-back sports bar in LoDo with a vast whiskey selection and friendly bartenders. Though it can get crowded during Nuggets, Avalanche, and Broncos games, where fans gather to watch cheer on their local favorites, Society is usually pretty chill. But the big draw for this bar is its indoor games! Cornhole and a Nintendo hooked up to a big screen for Mario Kart are on the main level, and there’s life-sized foosball!
Twist & Shout Records
Old-school record store Twist & Shout Records in Congress Park is the place to go for new and used vinyl, CDs, DVDs, and more! Owned by Paul Epstein and Jill Parrish, who are celebrating nearly 30 years in the business, this Denver shop is dedicated to “service, selection, and ambiance.” Twist & Shout also hosts live music performances in the store, drawing artists like Patti Smith, Fun., Elvis Costello, and Atmosphere! So whether you just want to jam out or find a rare vinyl album, Twist & Shout Records is the place to go!
Do you want one-of-a-kind items that you can’t find anywhere else? Then go to Unlisted in Centennial! This unique marketplace in Denver sells everything from vintage clothing and jewelry to fine art and refurbished furniture. More importantly, it supports more than 100 local artisan and boutique vendors. It’s beloved by all who visit for its incredible variety of goods under one roof. Also, the first Thursday of every month is Ladies’ Night, where you can find great discounts and even taste some cheeses and wines!
With a cool, woodsy atmosphere and trendy fashion that’s affordable, it’s no wonder Velvet Wolf in Littleton is a Denver shopping gem! Owner Molly Merrill is dedicated to finding one-of-a-kind closet staples for her customers. That’s why she handpicks every item and ensures that there are only 1-3 items in each size. Nothing stays on the shelves past its prime, meaning there’s always new fashion at Velvet Wolf!
Wild Blue Boutique
Local women’s clothing shop Wild Blue Boutique in Greenwood Village strives to put the fun back in shopping. It’s Denver suburban chic meets southern charm! The wonderful ladies behind Wild Blue are always available to help you build your dream closet with great designer clothes, cowboy boots, and jewelry. So whether you’re looking for a concert look or a business meeting outfit, they’re can provide expertise and tons of laughs! This Denver boutique also hosts trunk shows and “Ladies’ Night” events!
The Wizard’s Chest
The Wizard’s Chest off Broadway in Baker is one of those places that gets double-takes from every person who drives by. Designed to look like a medieval castle, this is a one-of-a-kind costume and toy store in Denver for all ages! Find makeup, accessories, and costume sets for Halloween or cosplay events. Test out awesome science toys and board games. And stop by on open-play nights for Magic: The Gathering, Pokemon, and other role-playing games! The Wizard’s Chest is the closest thing to the fantasy world you’ve always wanted to live in!
Locally-made, personalized, eco-friendly stationary and gifts are what you’ll find at Wordshop in West Highland! This quaint Denver store is dedicated to reviving the written word and supporting local printers. You can get custom letterpress wedding invitations or hilarious greeting cards, purchase beautiful leather-bound journals and colorful pens for the writer in your life, and even take a calligraphy workshop!
Wynkoop Brewing Co.
Denver is known for craft beers and microbreweries, so it’s hard for locals to pick favorites. But Wynkoop Brewing Co. in LoDo has been a Denver institution since 1988. Not only does Wynkoop claim the bragging rights of being Denver’s original craft brewery, but it’s the ballsiest, most innovative brewery in the city. We’re talking more than 40 different brews, including crazy flavors like green chile, gummy bears, and Rocky Mountain oysters. Stop in for a tour of the brewery, or just grab some grub and beer at the bar!
If you’re looking for an intimate Denver restaurant with interesting cuisine, look no further than Yaffa’s Savory in Goldsmith! Executive Chef Yaffa Hanouna, who has owned and operated Yaffa’s Savory for more than 20 years, believes every plate is a culinary journey. Be prepared to experience traditional Mediterranean dishes like hummus, shawarma, kebabs, gyros, and falafel with new and exciting flavors! And be sure to say “Hi!” to Yaffa herself when she visits your table.
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All images have either been provided by a listed organization or are licensed under the Creative Commons.