16th Street Mall: A Must See Denver Landmark
Bustling with activity, Denver’s 16th Street Mall is a diverse hub of culture situated in the heart of Downtown Denver.
Anyone visiting Denver should plan to devote at least half of a day to experience the 16th Street Mall.
What Is The 16th Street Mall
The 16th Street Mall is a 1.25 mile-long thoroughfare between the Union Station and the Civic Center Station at Broadway.
It is not at all a traditional mall— it’s a gorgeous and thoughtfully designed walkway lined with shops and restaurants.
Initially conceived in the early 1970s, transitioning the popular destination into a pedestrian-friendly, vehicle-free path didn’t begin until 1980.
16th Street Mall Architecture
The Mall’s architecture was designed by I.M. Pei, the Chinese-American architect known for designing the Louvre’s glass pyramid. Pei’s firm, I.M. Pei & Partners, coordinated with the landscape partnership OLIN to create the unique paving and beautiful greenery that defines the 16th Street Mall.
One of the most visually pleasing parts of the Mall’s design is the red and gray granite designed to emulate the scales on a rattlesnake’s back.
The project was completed in 1982 and was an enormous hit.
Since that time, the Mall has continued to thrive at the heart of Denver.
Transportation & Parking
The Mall also features the Free MallRide buses that run the promenade’s length. These fully electric vehicles can have a limit of 88 passengers, and each has two wheelchair spaces.
Because vehicles can’t drive on the Mall, there are several options for parking. The Independence Plaza Garage, located at 1601 Curtis St., and the Tabor Center Garage, located at 1625 Lawrence St., are two options but can be a little pricey.
What to do at the 16th Street Mall?
The 16th Street Mall boasts over 40 different restaurants, including upscale, laid-back, and fast food options.
16th Street Mall Restaurants
Tavernetta, located at 1889 16th St, is a modern eatery with on-staff sommeliers to assist in choosing the perfect wine.
For something a little more laid-back, 5280 Burger Bar is a great choice. With over 1,700 reviews on Google, locals agree.
When it’s time for a drink and to kick back, Henry’s Tavern is the self-proclaimed “local tavern” of Denver. Their drink menu features craft beers from across Colorado. Patrons rave about the gorgonzola waffle fries, which are coated in Gorgonzola sauce and topped with crumbles of the blue cheese.
For quicker meals, there is a huge selection of food carts. Top-rated options include WikiPita, the go-to place for delicious Mediterranean street food, and Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs, Denver’s hot dog hub.
16th Street Mall Shops
The 16th Street Mall also offers an incredible shopping scene with a vast range of local and chain stores.
Best of Denver Readers’ Poll voted the Colorado Artisan Center, the best store on the 16th Street Mall in 2020. This local shop houses tons of incredible locally-made items, including jewelry, paintings, and other pieces.
You can find some amazing florists nearby, too!
Also located at the 16th Street Mall is the Tattered Cover, a locally-owned chain of bookstores that began in 1971. Visitors have compared the atmosphere to old libraries. This is an absolute must for anyone visiting Denver.
For ladies interested in fashion, Rosey’s is a must-see. This eccentric shop features a huge array of clothes and accessories from France, Canada, and several other countries. Shoppers love the mixture of colors and styles. Unfortunately, Rosey’s has remained closed through the pandemic.
16th Street Mall Events
Beyond shopping and eating, the 16th Street Mall has historically been the center of most civic events in Denver.
During the summer, the 16th Street Fair is a popular attraction. Held between June and October, vendors come to share a variety of art in this “celebration of fine art, handcrafted foods, and the 16th Street Mall”.
October brings about the annual Zombie Crawl, Denver’s celebration of everything and anything zombie. This event includes a costume contest, the “Organ Trail,” and plenty of vendors.
Throughout the month of December, the Mall is home to the Denver Christkindl Market.
Community Impact in Denver
The Mall’s initial purpose was to clear the way for better public transportation and to revitalize the city center. These goals were met well— the Mall has continued to be a communal hub for Denver since its construction.
As social distancing awareness increases, Denver, like all major cities, has had to access its approach to city life. The city now allows local restaurants to expand their outdoor seating into common areas.
This has been key to keeping the Mall going.
Restaurant owners have reported a decrease in sales as some of the attractions on the Mall are still not open.
The communal dining area at Glenarm Patio includes Lime, Maggiano’s Little Italy, 5280 Burger Bar, and Hard Rock Cafe.
Since the city approved this move, restaurants and bars have submitted over 200 applications to expand their patios.
A Must Visit Denver Landmark
The 16th Street Mall is a must-see when in Denver. With dozens of delicious restaurants and a host of fantastic shops, the Mall represents the city’s ingenuity.
If not for the shopping, the Mall is also a magnificent architecture designed to suit an ever-evolving and growing city. It serves as an intersection of art and life of the city of Denver.
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