by TIFFANY CANDELARIA
Check out Denver’s RiNo Arts District, packed full of urban art, craft brews, live music and fab food. Here are our picks for where to go and what to eat.
Just north of Denver, Colorado’s downtown is a vibrant neighborhood filled with art, fabulous food and a craft brewery around every corner. This neighborhood is named RiNo, short for River North, and combines urban charisma with the industrial, artistic spirit of its tenants.
What sets this district apart from other cities’ hot spots is the low-key vibe and the wide range of visitors it attracts. While RiNo does have some fine dining and traditional galleries, they are unpretentious and void of white linen tablecloths. Some of the best food here is found at order-up restaurant counters in big open markets known as food halls or in repurposed warehouses. And most of the art doesn’t hang on walls, instead it’s found painted on the sides of buildings and tucked in unassuming alley ways.
The RiNo Art District was officially formed in 2005 by artists Tracy Weil and Jill Hadley-Hooper in an effort to unite the 25 artists and five art galleries/studios in the area that had recently been dubbed River North by the City of Denver. Ten years later, the art district attained creative district certification by Colorado Creative Industries and formed two new special taxing districts to fund their efforts.
Today, the RiNo neighborhood has more than 500 artists, makers and studios and continues to support artists in North Denver through various creative programs such as CRUSH WALLS, Side Stories, RiNo Made and the forthcoming RiNo Creative Campus at RiNo Park. There are numerous shops and markets showcasing local goods and homegrown companies, giving guests countless opportunities to shop local.
From Denver’s downtown Union Station, the trip to RiNo takes roughly five minutes by car or RTD light rail. Once there, explore the numerous shops, music venues, food halls, craft breweries, wineries and restaurants that keep the neighborhood constantly buzzing.
Colorado has one of the highest concentrations of craft breweries per capita in the country and is home to four of the top-50 brewing companies in the nation. In Denver’s RiNo neighborhood alone you can find more than your fill of local craft beer.
One of the top cities in the country for microbreweries, make it a point to tour some of our favorites. 10 Barrel Brewing Company Denver, 14er Brewing & Beer Garden, Black Shirt Brewing Co, Blue Moon Brewing Company, C Squared Ciders, Crooked Stave, Epic Brewing Company, Great Divide Barrel Bar, Mockery Brewing, Our Mutual Friend Brewing, Ratio Beerworks and Stem Ciders.
RiNo’s music venues range from a 1940s-style jazz club to underground hip hop bars to a saloon-style, BBQ restaurant. Check out EXDO, Globe Hall, Larimer Lounge, Meadowlark, Nocturne, Rhinoceropolis and coming soon Mission Ballroom.
There are three food halls in RiNo where you can wander around with food and drinks from different vendors:
Denver Central Market includes local vendors, a meat and fish counter, greengrocer, and full bar.
The Source features 25 independent food purveyors, retail and a couple of full-service restaurants housed in a landmark 1880s building.
Zeppelin Station brings together various International food vendors and two cocktail bars.
The RiNo neighborhood even has wineries where guests can sample and sip new favorites, and even see how the wine is produced: Bigsby’s Folly Craft Winery, Infinite Monkey Theorem, and a Japanese rice winery, CO Sake Co.
The food is funky and fine at the same time, with innovative chefs creating interesting dishes. Acorn, Cart-Driver, Dio Mio, Fish N Beer, Hop Alley, Mister Tuna, Uchi, Work & Class.
Check out Denver’s RiNo neighborhood next time you’re looking for a fun way to spend a day or a weekend. Hip hotels and AirBnB rentals in this neighborhood allow visitors to make RiNo their hub for the weekend. We recommend The Ramble Hotel and The Source Hotel. All of RiNo is walkable, and with easy access to the RTD light rail connecting to downtown and the airport, there’s no excuse not to thoroughly explore and enjoy all that RiNo has to offer next time you’re in Denver.