In and around Denver, shopping options range from indoor malls to trendy city neighborhoods where boutiques and restaurants flourish. Where should you head for the best shopping opportunities? It all depends on what you're looking for. Luxurious, rare goods like handmade jewelry or fine wines are best hunted in the Cherry Creek North Shopping District or Larimer Square. Budget-friendly finds are the star at Colorado Mills, an outlet mecca set in the Denver suburbs. The most popular place to spend some cash in Denver is the 16th Street Mall, a bustling area where crowds and street performers mingle.
The 16th Street Mall lures hordes of visitors with its colorful agglomeration of shops and restaurants. There's always something interesting going on at the picture-perfect pedestrian mall, which is brilliantly lit with thousands of sparkling lights at night and features a bounty of street performers singing ballads or performing dance routines by day. Blow your budget at hundreds of stores along the mall. Watch the crowds go by while you eat at one of the mall's dozens of outdoor cafes. Tired of walking? Hop on the free shuttle, the MallRide bus, which travels from one end of the mall to the other.
An upscale indoor mall set in one of Denver's more exclusive neighborhoods, the Cherry Creek Shopping Center (also known as the Cherry Creek Mall) houses more than 160 shops and restaurants, including major department stores like Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus, and a movie theater. During warmer months, you'll find fresh local produce at the Cherry Creek Farmer's Market, a huge outdoor market that opens in the parking lot of Bed Bath & Beyond on Saturdays.
Not to be confused with the Cherry Creek Mall, the Cherry Creek North Shopping District is a 16-block area brimming with upscale shops and restaurants, including boutiques, day spas, jewelry stores and wine shops. While there are several chain restaurants and stores here, there are enough unique-to-Denver spots to give visitors an experience different from one that they would have at their local mall.
Do you live for the thrill of the sale? Or maybe you just need a new pair of pants and don't want to pay half a month's rent for designer jeans. If so, Colorado Mills, set in Lakewood, Colorado (it's roughly a 15-minute drive from Denver's city center), is the place for you. Factory stores, outlets and seasonal clearances abound here -- and Colorado Mills is a sublime day-trip destination for travelers on the hunt for deals. There are more than 200 brand-name factory and outlet stores in this shopping center, including Neiman Marcus Last Call, Gap Factory and NIKE Factory Store.
Historic, hip Larimer Square is the prime place to find fashionable restaurants and unusual gifts in Denver. The one-block concentration of sophisticated stores, clubs and restaurants is a popular spot for evening entertainment as well as daytime shopping. Keep in mind that you'll need reservations at most restaurants in "the Square" (as the locals call it).