Holiday Amble

Union Station Christmas Lights Denver

Downtown Denver during December – ya gotta love all that there is to do. Walking from Union Station to Civic Center offers up a host of shopping, eating, and ambling that you and your family will love. Here’s a guide to more fun and food than you can handle. Thank heavens you’ll be walking the entire time!

Start at Union Station. The best way to get to this historic train depot is to take the train! Jump on the A Train or any of the light rail routes that travel throughout Denver and make their way to Union Station. Jump off the train into the station to discover Denver’s largest indoor holiday tree, and a host of great tastes and treats. We love Next Door Eatery–grab the best beet burger in town.

Denver Union Station chandeliers
Recreated chandeliers light up the gorgeous grand lobby at Union Station.

Before leaving Union Station, be sure to pause and enjoy the story of the 105th meridian at the southeast entrance. Read the great information about how the station sits on this geographic longitude. Also, enjoy the recreated chandeliers in the lobby and the two original wooden benches in the waiting area for Amtrak. The Great Lobby is non-stop action of people-watching, traveling and transitioning.

Walking in downtown Denver, you can go on almost any street and safely enjoy the storefronts.

Walk up 16th Street, passing Bill Gian’s buffalo sculpture on the 1300 block of 16th St. Take a right on Larimer and continue your urban adventure in Larimer Square.

Shop ‘til you drop–or until you can make it to the Dana Crawford-inspired Market on Central Square. Be sure to get the best Egg Salad sandwich in town and then head across the street to the Kettle Arcade. In there, look up. You’ll find historic paintings on the ceiling that depict Denver’s founding. If you’re up for it, follow the wall plaques around Larimer Square that denote spots on the Larimer Walking Tour Guide.

The entrance to the Christkindl Market is on 16th & Arapahoe

From Larimer Square, head back toward 16th Street. Walk two blocks to the fun and tasty Christkindl Market at the corner of 16th and Arapahoe. Check out the entertainment schedule, then stroll through the quaint vendors selling everything from paper stars to alpaca hair hats. Nosh on a Bavarian soft pretzel and grab a glass of mulled wine or hot chocolate, then cross the street to the Daniels & Fisher Tower and the Skyline Park ice skating arena.

Skating is free, and rentals are $8. The Downtown Partnership runs the rink. Whether you’re a great skater or brand new, take a spin, enjoy the atmosphere, and heat up on the ice. Ice skating at Skyline is perfect for a first date or a family night out. When you’ve had enough skating, continue your downtown amble to our next stop. If you’re tired, jump on RTD’s Free 16th Street MallRide bus and make your way to the Glenarm stop. Or, continue your walk along 16th Street Mall.

Denver German market pretzel
Big, yummy Bavarian pretzels await you at the Christkindlmarket.

At Glenarm, take a left and walk to the Brown Palace Hotel at 321 17th St. (Labeled D on the map) Drop in on the hotel that tells a thousand stories, all linked to politics, water, land, and sex. Try to time your walk so you get to enjoy the infamous High Tea experience that bathes you in luxury. Whether or not you stay for high tea or a Brandy Alexander, walk through the hotel’s lobby, reading about its history and impact on Denver.

We’ve got one more stop that is a must-see. Leave the Palace and stop at the corner of Broadway and 17th, you’ll see the Wall Street of the Rockies Gridlock medallion in the ground. It explains why Denver’s streets make cattywampus intersections. The entire collection lies on 17th, but to finish this walk, continue along Broadway toward the state capitol.

Denver Gridlock medallion
The Gridlock medallion tells Denver’s cattywampus street design.

At the capitol, climb up the steps and finish your walk on the famous 5280 step. There are actually two of them–the higher one is the “correct” one. Give a cheer to the city and enjoy the view from Denver’s official Mile High marker. If you need to get back to Union Station, head back over to the 16th Street Mall and take the mall bus back.

Denver Walking Map
A) Union Station B) Larimer Square C) Christkindl Market and Skyline Park D) Brown Palace E) Capitol building

Chris Englert walked all of Denver’s 78 Neighborhoods in 2017. Read about it at and keep an eye out for her ebook about Denver’s neighborhoods in early 2018.