RiNo – where art is made
By Hollen Wheeler; courtesy photos
The River North Art District, or colloquially, “RiNo,” is a trending area northeast of downtown Denver. With the usual urban feel, including views of the city, plenty of good eats and drinks – not to mention a variety of shops and art galleries, what sets RiNo apart from other city pockets is the street art.
Only 30 minutes from Castle Pines, the artsy-industrial area has even adopted the rhinoceros as its logo and the slogan is “where art is made.”
But first, a few highlights of the restaurant scene.
Like many other developing areas of Denver, RiNo has embraced some of its history as it renovates. The Source Hotel + Market Hall is housed in a former ironworks building dating back to the 1800s. The Source’s culinary market has a coffee bar, butcher, and bakery to name a few of its gourmet vendors.
The popular Denver Central Market boasts many of the same eats and drinks The Source does. Highly rated by Bon Appetit magazine, this Denver gourmet marketplace and food hall has a pizzeria, a shop of chocolate and confections and High Point Creamery, an ice cream destination that offers specialty desserts and “flights” of ice cream, small samplings of several flavors.
For those on a caffeinated quest, Lekker Coffee House & Watering Hole offers a myriad of coffee and tea blends, as well as homemade, freshly-baked pastries.
And although there are hundreds of craft beer breweries in Colorado, RiNo boasts its fair share. One to check out is Epic Brewing Company. The beers are barrel-aged and made with some unclassical fruits, like raspberries and lemons. The venue offers a healthy amount of space, a fireplace for winter tasting, and the customer is allowed a peek in the barrel-aging area.
For a weekend brunch hotspot, try RiNo Beer Garden and enjoy the weather on its 4,000-square-foot patio. With 60 taps of beer, RiNo Beer Garden is also known for its food – most notably cheese curds and fried pickles.
And … to the art. Walking block to block or renting a bike or scooter is the best way to absorb the murals and the detail of the works. In almost every alleyway and on the facade of any building are colorful, dramatic, and sometimes psychedelic creations.
One such mural, “Reverberations,” is mind-bending. On the east side of Larimer Street, between 25th and 26th, geometric patterns, mainly concentric circles, allude to outer space and multiple dimensions; in short, an otherworldly experience.
Another gem on 27th and Larimer is a creation where the artist painted on both sides of the building’s protruding fins to create an optical illusion. “Larimer Boy and Girl” (pictured above) reveals a sad girl when the observer is walking one way, and a surprised boy when walking the opposite way.
The history of RiNo began in earnest in 2005. Two local artists, Tracy Weil and Jill Hadley-Hooper, formed the district to bring together all of the artists in the area. Today, RiNo has evolved into a must-see destination for out-of-towners and locals alike. It is young and cool and an education in street art. Take a trip to trippy RiNo.
For more information, visit rinoartdistrict.org.