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This Denver neighborhood now known for its restaurants was once known for its clean water

Delve into the beauty and history that the streets of the Highlands can offer during your next adventure.
Credit: KUSA
Highland Square

DENVER — As a recent Arizona transplant, I found Colorado to be quite a change of scenery. The beauty of witnessing the seasons change and not dwelling over triple-digit temperatures is an incredible feeling. The opportunity to explore different local spots is definitely a plus, too. 

This week, I ventured to the Highlands neighborhood, where I got a taste of trendy and Yelp highly-reviewed spots that are an easy walk to get to. It would then switch off to historic, Victorian-era homes and buildings that made Highland a sight to see. 

With venues from quirky breweries to hip restaurants, there is something for everyone at Highlands. It all depends on the type of adventure you are trying to embark on. 

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This story is part of our weekly 9Neighborhoods series. Have a recommendation for where we should check out next? Email us at webteam@9news.com. 


Situated inside modified shipping containers, this modern food hall offers seven different restaurant concepts where you can indulge in a different mix of cuisine, according to its website. 

If you're looking for a spot with a killer view of the skyline and amazing Insta-worthy drinks, Avanti is the place to go. 

Credit: KUSA


Linger is another rooftop option for those seeking a great view of downtown, accompanied by some great food. Formerly the Olinger Mortuary, the eclectic restaurant offers history four-starred reviews on Yelp

Credit: KUSA
Linger restaurant

Little Man Ice Cream

Search ice cream on Yelp, and Little Man Ice Cream will triumph above all other ice cream shops in the area. With over 2,086 reviews, those who visit the ice cream shop boast of its incredible flavors and friendly environment.

Credit: KUSA
Little Man Ice Cream

Root Down

Linger's sister restaurant Root Down offers a vegan option for those seeking that option in Denver. Reviewers rave about its unique food and its brunch option along with their bottomless mimosas. 

Credit: KUSA
Root Down

Oasis Brewing Company

Ever thought about drinking beer inside of a church? Oasis Brewing Company makes that possibility a reality. The brewery opened its doors in 2017 and has seasonal and specialty beers on tap. 

Credit: KUSA
Oasis Brewing Company

And on that note, lets get to the history of the Highlands. 

A mini-city with clean water and even cleaner morals

Sure, the Highlands neighborhood of today is known for its plethora of bars and restaurants, but several decades ago, liquor was hard to come by. 

Highland was initially a separate city across the Platte from Denver. It was incorporated in 1875, and according to the Denver Public Library, touted “clean artesian water, and most important, clean morals.” That’s because it was so expensive to get a liquor license in the neighborhood that none were issued until long after Prohibition. 

As for the clean water, that came from a well first discovered near West 17th Avenue and Federal Boulevard by a guy boring for coal. The artesian water was a nice change for residents, who used to have to put strainers on their taps to filter out small fish and other things that made it into the supply. 

Credit: KUSA
Federal Blvd near 33rd Avenue

People started moving to the hills on the west side of the Platte in 1864 after a flood wiped out parts of Denver and made living way above the river more desirable. 

Credit: Denver Public Library
Platte River Drive

Back in the day, crossing the Platte to get to Denver was much more difficult, as well as climbing the hills in the neighborhoods. This led the Highland neighborhood’s citizens to vote to annex into Denver in 1896. 

Of course, it was still a different place from rough and tumble Denver. While folks in the city hung out in saloons and living in the frontier, up in the HIghlands, people were planting trees and gardens. 

The mansions attracted the town’s well-to-do, but there was also a large immigrant community, attracting people from Ireland and Italy. Later, Hispanics began moving to the neighborhood and still account for a large percentage of its population. 

Credit: KUSA
Residence at Highland Park

Full disclosure: For the purposes of this article, we lumped the official West Highland and Highland neighborhoods together. But, according to the city of Denver, these are actually two distinct neighborhoods. 

Living in the Highlands 

Let’s get this out of the way: LoHi and Slo-Hi are names invented by real estate agents, not actual neighborhoods in the Highlands. 

And the Highlands of today is something of a neighborhood where real estate agents would invent names, given that it’s one of the most sought-after in Denver. 

Homes in the neighborhood for sale right now range from $284,000 condos to $2 million renovated mansions, according to Trulia.com. 

According to Zillow, the median listing price of a home in the Highlands is $695,000 with a median sale price of $633,000. 

Rent, meanwhile, is an average of $2,499, according to Zillow — well above Denver’s average of $2,176. 

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