The Arts District on Santa Fe Dr in Denver was established in 2003 and has grown to represent hundreds of artists, galleries, studios, and theaters. In fact, the District is home to the highest density of art galleries in the United States, drawing thousands of visitors every year.
First Friday Art Walks are a great way to sample all the district has to offer. Since the majority of galleries are located within a walkable distance between 5th and 11th avenues, you can enjoy a significant amount of the District on foot. However, there is also a complimentary shuttle bus to transport visitors around the district.
While the District is a fantastic place to visit at any time, First Friday Walks are a special treat: every nook and cranny seems to burst with art and color as galleries extend their hours and street vendors fill the alleyways. The typically quiet district comes alive with music, art, and food as local creatives educate and sell their work to hundreds of visitors.
Where to Go on First Friday
If you prefer to have more of an itinerary during your visit, there are a few sites in the Santa Fe District that are well worth adding to your checklist.
Museo de las Americas
The entire Santa Fe Arts District is heavily rooted in Latinx culture, which can be appreciated from its colorful murals and specialty galleries. One of these galleries is the Museo de las Americas, a “celebration of the artistic and cultural achievements” of the Latin community in Colorado.
Now in its 30th year, the museum offers a wide array of collections, from ancient pottery pieces to contemporary fabric art. Each collection has been carefully curated to inspire a dialogue in order to further bolster the Latin artistic community.
Room of Lost Things
Room of Lost Things is a boutique specializing in oddities, curiosities, and taxidermy specimens. Peruse various macabre trinkets and trophies for your own collection or for a truly unique gift. All items, including animal specimens, have been ethically acquired and are presented in a way that appreciates their strange beauty. Room of Lost Things is open late on First Fridays and often has new items on display. It’s well worth a visit, even if you’re not planning on buying anything.
In keeping with a taxidermy theme, the Buckhorn Exchange boasts over 500 pieces of game on its walls. Denver’s oldest restaurant was founded in 1893 and is a living, breathing time capsule of the Old West. A massive gun collection includes antique Colt .45 pistols and Winchester rifles, while the original white oak bar (imported from Germany in 1857) still stands as the centerpiece of the Victorian-style lounge.
Today, guests can enjoy a meal on the heated roof garten and look down on the bustling Arts District. The menu is, unsurprisingly, carnivore-friendly; in addition to prime cuts of steak, elk, lamb, and buffalo, you’ll also find elevated Cowboy cuisine like rocky mountain oysters, fried alligator tails, and chile-marinated rattlesnake served with queso and tortillas chips.
Santa Fe Art District First Friday General Information
Dates: first Friday of each month
Family friendly: yes
Pet friendly: dogs are permitted outside on the main walk, but you will need to ask individual gallery owners if you can bring your dog inside.
Light Rail Stop: 10th & Osage