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Day trippin’ to Union Station

Union Station has its fair share of history, as well as upscale restaurants and shopping to explore.

Article and photos by Kathy Fallert

Where can you go in Denver that offers Snooze restaurant, Acme Delicatessen, Stoic & Genuine restaurant, The Tattered Cover, Milkbox Ice Creamery, Next Door Eatery, Cooper Lounge, the luxurious Crawford Hotel, artsy gift shops Bloom and 5 Green Boxes all under one roof?  The wonderfully refurbished Union Station is the place.  A jewel in the heart of Denver, Union Station is a destination in itself and has easy access to the 16th Street Mall shuttle, Coors Field and Larimer Square, just to name a few.

First opening in June of 1881, the historic Union Station building is considered a Beaux Arts masterpiece.  The central portion of the building contains the Great Hall, which was used historically as the passenger waiting room complete with a barber shop and a smoking lounge.  The interior of the Great Hall, while not quite as ornamented as other train stations of its day, integrates the Colorado state flower, the Columbine, as a motif around its large arched windows.  

The main historic building closed to the public in December of 2012 for renovations, and it re-opened in July 2014.  The elegant and nostalgic Great Hall is central to the building and serves as the Crawford Hotel lobby, the train waiting room, and public space.  An adjacent 22,000 square feet is used for independent restaurants and retail.  The Great Hall has been dubbed “Denver’s Living Room” due to the diversity of its functions.  The majority of the terminal building’s upper levels have now become the 112-room hotel.

From the Union Station Light Rail Terminal, the possibilities are endless!  Head to the 16th Street Mall, catch a Rockies game, or simply hang out in and around the historical station for some good food, drinks and a run through the water feature.

Union Station is a fun day trip for the family.  I suggest starting off at Lincoln Station in Lone Tree and taking the light rail.  How often do you take a train ride?  Kids love it, and for the price of $2.50 each way plus not having to hassle with downtown parking, it’s a worthy investment.  When arriving in Denver, a two-block-long pedestrian walkway links the Union Station Light Rail Terminal to the historic Union Station building and on to LoDo to the east.  Underground, from the Light Rail Terminal is the Union Station Bus Concourse, which is an alternate way to get to the Union Station building if there is a need to get out of the weather.

The focal point inside the Great Hall of Union Station is the Terminal Bar, which is the restored old ticket station.  While there is a large variety of places to eat and drink at Union Station, do not forget to stop at the Milkbox Ice Creamery just to the west of the Terminal Bar.  Milkbox Ice Creamery offers 16 rotating flavors of Denver’s ever-popular Little Man Ice Cream along with spiked milkshakes for the adults.  The plaza just outside offers a fun water feature for kids to frolic in during the warmer months.  So if that’s part of your plan, do not forget the bathing suits and towels.

If you have more time, spending the night at the Crawford Hotel would be an adventure as well.  The rooms have a nostalgic twist reminiscent of the Pullman-era of train travel with some rooms decorated as luxury train sleeping cars.  The hotel offers complimentary Tesla service within a two-mile radius, which can get you to Mile High Stadium for a Broncos game or to the popular Highlands neighborhood.  

To learn more about Union Station, visit

Hop aboard the E Line at Lincoln Station to Union Station in Denver.  It is less than a 40-minute ride that kids and adults alike will enjoy.



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