Where to stay in Denver for first time: 5 Safe areas

Hi guys, on my website, I already wrote an article about staying in Denver without a car (I will put the links to it at the end of this article). In today’s article, I will help you to find the best places to stay in Denver for first-time visitors and tourists.

I will share with you what I believe are the best and safe areas to stay in Denver for first-timers and tourists, along with a helpful map and areas to avoid. I’ll also share where I stayed in Denver and recommend some of the best hotels in Denver for various budgets.

Before get into the detail of the main topic, let’s look at some facts about Denver:

Denver, Mile-High City, is the capital and largest city of the state of Colorado, located  just east of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, in the South Platte River Valley.

The city offers a vibrant cultural scene with numerous museums, galleries, theaters, and music venues. Some of the city’s notable landmarks are the Colorado State Capitol, the Denver Art Museum, the Denver Botanic Gardens, and the historic Larimer Square.

It is also known for its outdoor recreational opportunities, with easy access to the Rocky Mountains for activities such as hiking, skiing, and mountain biking.

Denver is served by Denver International Airport, located northeast of the city. The Regional Transportation District (RTD) operates public transportation services, including buses and light rail, within the metropolitan area.

Denver is generally a safe city for tourists. While no place is completely free of crime, Denver’s downtown and popular tourist areas maintain a reasonable level of safety. 

Like any urban destination, it’s wise to stay aware of your surroundings, securing belongings and avoiding poorly lit areas at night to enhance your safety. 

Where to stay in Denver for the first time?

The best and safe areas to stay in Denver for first-timers and tourists are Union Station/Lower Downtown, Central Business District, RiNo, Capitol Hill/Uptown, and Cherry Creek. When choosing accommodations, it’s a good idea to read reviews and take precautions no matter where you stay.

Union Station/Lower Downtown (LoDo) is one of the most popular areas in Denver for first-timers to book their accommodations. It is a historic district with a central location, vibrant nightlife, proximity to Union Station and 16th Street Mall, trendy restaurants and bars.

The Central Business District (CBD) is a great base for business travelers and tourists who want to stay close to business and financial centers, cultural attractions like the Denver Art Museum, and easy access to public transportation. It can be quieter in the evenings compared to other areas.

RiNo (River North Art District) is located right next to LoDo and is a great base if you enjoy art and a more alternative scene. It offers an artsy and creative atmosphere, street art, trendy breweries, galleries, and unique shops.

Capitol Hill/Uptown is an eclectic and diverse neighborhood, historic architecture, close to City Park, a variety of dining and nightlife options. You can find some backpacker hostels and guest houses here.

Cherry Creek offers upscale shopping and dining, Cherry Creek Trail for outdoor activities, a more relaxed and affluent atmosphere. It is a bit further from downtown though.

During my trip to Denver, I stayed in the LoDo area at the Hotel Indigo Denver Downtown – Union Station. It was a great hotel in a good location next to Union station. My room was clean and the bed was comfortable. The Staff were super helpful and friendly.

Below is a map of the popular areas in Denver for first-time travelers. You can scroll down to view the live map.

Map of the safe areas to stay in Denver first time
Map of the safe areas to stay in Denver first time

Let’s get into the details of the recommended areas to stay in Denver, especially for first-time visitors. I’ll provide you with some suggestions for the best places to stay in each area, catering to every budget. 

All hotels in Denver have been carefully selected by me, with guest review scores of at least 8.0 or higher at the time I chose them. If you don’t like my suggestions (perhaps they don’t suit your budget or preferences), you can click the “MORE HOTEL DEALS” button where you can choose your own hotel.

5 Safe areas to stay in Denver for first-timers and tourists:

1. Union Station/Lower Downtown (LoDo) 

Lower Downtown is a popular choice for first-time visitors due to its central location, proximity to major sights, easy access to public transportation, and wide range of accommodation options. It is a vibrant and historic neighborhood in Denver. 

This area is home to Union Station, which is a transportation hub and a historic landmark. It underwent extensive renovations and now houses a variety of restaurants, bars, and shops. The Great Hall is particularly impressive.

You can find the 16th Street Mall, a pedestrian-friendly, mile-long promenade lined with shops, restaurants, and entertainment options. Free shuttle buses run along the mall, making it easy to explore.

LoDo is known for its diverse dining options, from casual eateries to upscale restaurants. The area comes alive at night with numerous bars, pubs, and clubs, making it a great place for nightlife.

If you’re a baseball fan, Coors Field, home to the Colorado Rockies, is located in LoDo. You might catch a game if you visit during the baseball season.

LoDo has a thriving arts scene, with numerous galleries and studios. The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver is also nearby, offering a collection of contemporary art.

LoDo is centrally located, making it easy to access other neighborhoods and attractions. It’s a good starting point for exploring the city. LoDo can be busy, especially during peak tourist seasons and events.

Best places to stay in Union Station/LoDo for first-timers:

  • Luxury ($$$): Hyatt Centric Downtown Denver, 5-star accommodation in the heart of the city, within walking distance from Union Station. It has a 24-hour front desk and Good Breakfast according to more than one thousand guests’ reviews from booking.com.
  • Mid-range ($$): Limelight Hotel Denver, great 4-star hotel, in the center of Denver, a short walk from the Union Station for connection to the airport. Also a short distance from The Ball Arena. It has an on-site restaurant and private parking for guests who drive. 
  • Budget ($): Hotel Indigo Denver Downtown – Union Station, 3-star hotel in central Denver, short walk from Union Station. Great base for the train and Coors Field.
  • Budget ($): Hostel Fish, 3-star accommodation, great base for solo travelers, located on 20th Street, in the heart of the city, within 5-10 mins walk from Coors Field and the 16th Street Mall. 

2. Central Business District (CBD)

The CBD is a bustling area that serves as the city’s commercial and financial hub. It is characterized by its modern skyline and tall office buildings. It’s a hub of business activity during the day, and the architecture adds to the city’s urban feel.

Located just south of the CBD, Civic Center Park is a green space with gardens, monuments, and the Colorado State Capitol. It’s a great place to relax and enjoy outdoor activities.

You can also find the Denver Performing Arts Complex, often referred to as “The Plex,” is one of the largest performing arts centers in the nation. It hosts a variety of theaters and venues for performing arts, including Broadway shows, concerts, and ballet.

Situated near the Civic Center, the Denver Art Museum is known for its diverse collection, including American Indian art and Western American art.

The 16th Street Mall extends into the CBD, offering a pedestrian-friendly environment with shops, restaurants, and free shuttle buses. It’s a popular destination for shopping and entertainment.

Located on the edge of the CBD, Larimer Square is a historic block with charming Victorian architecture, upscale boutiques, and fine dining restaurants. It’s a great place for a leisurely stroll.

To the northwest of the CBD, Confluence Park is where Cherry Creek and the South Platte River meet. It’s a lovely area for walking, biking, and enjoying the waterfront.

The CBD is home to numerous corporate offices, government buildings, and financial institutions, making it a significant economic center.

The CBD tends to be more active during weekdays, especially during business hours. While it may not have as vibrant a nightlife as areas like LoDo, it offers a sophisticated urban environment with cultural attractions, parks, and easy access to other parts of the city. 

Best places to stay in Denver CBD for first-time visitors:

  • Luxury ($$$): Four Seasons Hotel Denver, 5-star hotel, located in the CBD area of Denver, 5 mins walk from Colorado Convention Center. It has a rooftop pool and free shuttle service is offered within 3 miles of the hotel.
  • Mid-range ($$): Renaissance Denver Downtown City Center Hotel, great 4-star hotel located in central Denver, within walking distance from Convention Center and Coors Field. It has spacious and modern rooms, and paid valet parking. 
  • Budget ($): Hyatt Place Denver Downtown, popular 3-star hotel located on 14th Street in Downtown Denver, within a short distance from the United States Mint at Denver and Denver Art Museum. It features an Indoor swimming pool, Private Parking, and family rooms.

3. RiNo (River North Art District)

RiNo, short for the River North Art District, is a trendy and artistic neighborhood in Denver known for its vibrant street art, creative atmosphere, and diverse cultural scene. 

RiNo is renowned for its extensive collection of street art and murals. The neighborhood is essentially an open-air gallery, with colorful and dynamic artwork adorning many buildings.

The area is home to numerous art galleries and studios showcasing the work of local and international artists. The First Friday Art Walk is a popular monthly event where galleries open their doors to the 

RiNo has a thriving craft beverage scene, with numerous breweries, cideries, and distilleries. It’s a great place to explore if you’re a fan of craft beer or spirits.

The neighborhood offers a variety of trendy and eclectic dining options. From food trucks to upscale restaurants, RiNo has something to suit every taste.

RiNo is home to cultural venues such as the Denver Central Market, which features a mix of food vendors and artisan shops. The Source, a former iron foundry turned marketplace, is another popular spot for shopping and dining.

Larimer Street is a central thoroughfare in RiNo and is lined with boutiques, art galleries, and restaurants. It’s a great street to explore on foot.

RiNo has undergone significant urban development, with old industrial spaces being repurposed into creative hubs. This has contributed to the neighborhood’s unique and dynamic character.

The RiNo Art Park is a public space that hosts events and installations, adding to the neighborhood’s commitment to public art.

Best places to stay in Denver in  RiNo for first-time travelers:

  • Mid-range ($$): Catbird Hotel, great 4-star modern hotel in the River North Art District, featuring a cool lobby and lounge area and rooftop sunset yoga classes.
  • Mid-range ($$): The Source Hotel, 4-star accommodation, located in the Rino district, featuring a rooftop bar with an amazing view. It has 6 on-site restaurants.
  • Budget ($): Vīb Hotel by Best Western Denver RiNo, 3-star hotel situated on Brighton Blvd, central to everything in Denver, close to airport, highways, restaurants and nightlife.

4. Capitol Hill/Uptown

Capitol Hill and Uptown are adjacent neighborhoods in Denver. Capitol Hill is known for its historic residential architecture, including Victorian and Queen Anne-style homes.

The southern part of Capitol Hill is adjacent to Civic Center Park, a central gathering place with gardens, sculptures, and the Colorado State Capitol building. The park often hosts events and festivals.

Colfax Avenue, which runs through Capitol Hill, is one of the longest commercial streets in the U.S. It offers a mix of shops, restaurants, and bars, including historic venues.

Capitol Hill is home to various cultural institutions, including the Molly Brown House Museum and the Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art.

The neighborhood boasts a diverse range of dining options, from casual cafes to upscale restaurants. The nightlife scene is lively, with bars and clubs catering to different tastes.

Capitol Hill has a reputation for its live music scene, with venues like the Fillmore Auditorium and the Ogden Theatre attracting a variety of musical acts.

Uptown is known for its “Restaurant Row” along 17th Avenue, offering a wide array of dining options, from brunch spots to upscale eateries.

Uptown is adjacent to City Park, one of Denver’s largest parks. The park features lakes, walking paths, the Denver Zoo, and the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.

Uptown has a more residential feel with tree-lined streets, and it’s home to various coffee shops, boutiques, and local businesses.

Best places to stay in Denver in Capitol Hill/Uptown for first-timers:

  • Mid-range ($$): Patterson Inn, great 4-star accommodation set in the Capitol Hill area, within walking distance from Colorado State Capitol and Governor’s Mansion and Governor’s Park. It has Exceptional Breakfast and free parking which is a bonus for car travelers.
  • Budget ($): Element Denver Downtown East, popular 3-star accommodation located on North Elati Street, close to both the CBD and Capitol Hill area.
  • Budget ($): Ember Hostel, great backpackers accommodation in Capitol Hill that has free parking, dorm rooms, and 24-hour front desk.

5. Cherry Creek

Cherry Creek is an upscale and affluent neighborhood in Denver, known for its high-end shopping, dining, and residential offerings.

One of the main attractions in the area is the Cherry Creek Shopping Center, a premier shopping destination with a wide range of luxury retailers, department stores, and upscale boutiques.

The Cherry Creek North shopping district is an outdoor shopping area featuring a mix of high-end shops, galleries, spas, and restaurants. It’s a pedestrian-friendly district with a sophisticated atmosphere.

Cherry Creek is home to many fine dining restaurants and gourmet eateries, offering a diverse range of culinary experiences. The area is known for its upscale dining options.

The Cherry Creek Trail, a scenic urban trail, runs through the neighborhood, providing opportunities for walking, jogging, and biking. It’s a pleasant outdoor space within the city.

The neighborhood is home to cultural attractions such as the Cherry Creek Arts Festival, showcasing a wide array of visual and performing arts.

Cherry Creek features tree-lined streets and a mix of architectural styles in its residential areas. The housing tends to be upscale, including single-family homes and luxury condominiums.

While not located directly in the neighborhood, Cherry Creek State Park is nearby, offering outdoor activities such as boating, fishing, hiking, and camping.

The Cherry Creek Reservoir is a popular spot for water activities and picnics, providing a scenic escape just outside the neighborhood.

Best places to stay in Denver in Cherry Creek for tourists:


In conclusion, Union Station/LoDo, Central Business District, RiNo, Capitol Hill/Uptown, and Cherry Creek are the best places to stay in Denver for first-timers and tourists. These are general safe and popular areas for visitors where you can find a variety of accommodations to choose from.

You can continue reading about Denver in these articles:

There you have it, my recommendations for the most popular and safest neighborhoods that you can stay during your first trip to Denver. I hope you enjoyed my article and find it both informative and helpful.

If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Your feedback is invaluable and helps me continue to create more quality content.

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. This means that, at absolutely no additional cost to you, I'll earn a small commission if you click through and purchase something I've recommended. I only recommend products that I use myself or firmly believe in. Thank you!

4 thoughts on “Where to stay in Denver for first time: 5 Safe areas”

  1. Hello, Ocean- I am a female solo traveler visiting Denver for the first time in August. Your article was very helpful. I am looking for a safe, quiet, clean place for four nights near sights, good coffee, shopping and hiking. I am not a drinker nor am I a partier. I will be seeing a concert at the RR as well.
    Bon Voyage!

    • Hi Theresa,
      You consider staying in Downtown Denver, Boulder, Golden, Lakewood for Rezz rocks. Downtown Denver has the most things happening, lots of restaurants, cafes, shops. It is 20-30 mins drive by car, Shuttle/ Uber/Lyft / to the RR (getting out at the end of the concert by rideshare services can be tricky though, so prepare for it).

      Golden, Lakewood closer to the RR, Boulder is a little bit further. Boulder, Golden, and Lakewood are closer to the hiking trails. If staying in Downtown Denver, you can arrange transport to a hiking area, approx. 30 mins drive away to the nearest hiking trails.

      I suggest you go to booking.com, filter your budget, and read recent reviews from the travelers to find one that suits your preferences. You might not find a place that 100% fits your preferences but you can find something nearby.

      The city is generally safe; you might encounter some homeless people and people who look like they are on drugs, especially the areas around the train station (common problem in many stations in the world).

      Additionally, some hotels can be loud and noisy, particularly if you prefer a central location close to sights. Therefore, keep these factors in mind when reading reviews.

      Just like in any big city, the normal city common sense applies, like avoiding leaving your luggage unattended, securing your valuables to avoid pickpockets, and avoiding walking alone at night. By staying aware, prepared, and making smart choices, you can help ensure your safety while in Denver.

      I hope you find something that fits you and have an enjoyable trip in Denver!


  2. I read your article and it was very helpful. We are a couple traveling to Denver for a 2 day trip. We are planning to go to Rocky Mountain national park for a day and a few other places the next day. We will be renting a car as we would need to go to the national park. I found Hilton Garden inn, downtown Denver to stay in a package offer on Expedia. Just wanted to check if that’s a safe and convenient location. If we wanted to walk and go to some places the second day or late at night.

    • Hi Shirin,
      Thank you for letting me know that my article is helpful. Downtown Denver is generally safe; you’re traveling as a couple, so you should be fine. Common sense still applies, just as you would in any other city. Maybe consider using a reputable Uber service if you’re out late at night.

      Hilton Garden Inn has several hotels in Denver, including Hilton Garden Inn Denver-Union Station, Hilton Garden Inn Denver Downtown hotel, and Hilton Garden Inn Denver/Cherry Creek.

      I believe you mentioned The Hilton Garden Inn Denver Downtown. This hotel is in a central location, so you’ll be within walking distance of most of the downtown area, including the 16th St. Mall. Many guests say that the hotel has paid secure parking (not sure if it is included in your packet), which is good when you travel with a car.

      Many travelers choose to stay in this hotel because of its location and parking, so be sure to read some recent reviews to see if it fits your needs. Otherwise, it is a fine place to stay for a short visit.

      All the best,


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