The term “Highlands” refers to both the upper Highland/West Highland and Lower Highland neighborhoods. The Tennyson Street Cultural District along with the Sunnyside and Berkeley neighborhoods are often grouped together into the Highlands as well. Located just minutes northwest of Denver, the central hub of this community is 32nd Avenue. This street is historically significant as one of Denver’s first streetcar destinations, making this one of the first “streetcar suburbs” in the state.
The Highlands townsite was laid out in 1858 by none other than William Larimer Jr. who had founded the city of Denver only one month prior. The Highland town company was formed in 1859 and a bridge over the Platte River was planned to connect the town to Auraria and Denver. When the May 1864 flood wiped out many areas in Denver, the Highlands area became a much more popular destination, and in later years became accessible by streetcar. The Town of Highlands was officially formed in 1885 and in 1896 the residents voted to let Denver annex the town. Throughout the twentieth century the area became a popular place for immigrants of first Italian and then Hispanic heritage (1). These heritages are still strongly felt in the area.
Today, Highlands is an incredibly popular destination, and is flourishing as Denver’s largest neighborhood. The community has a distinct Hispanic culture, and has been featured in Travel + Leisure Magazine and National Geographic Traveler. Much of its appeal comes from Highlands three large parks; Sloan’s Lake, Rocky Mountain Lake, and Berkeley Park. This area has experienced amazing growth over the past few years and is overflowing with some of the trendiest spots in Denver (2).
Linger is one of the best reviewed restaurants in the area and offers international cuisine and patio dining with an incredible view of the Denver skyline. It went from morbid to marvelous with its conversion from a mortuary to a restaurant, now featuring a rooftop lounge that offers an abundance of global small plates including Wagyu Sliders and Pork Belly Buns (3). If you want to indulge in the area’s Mexican heritage grab a margarita at Lola (named one of the Top Five Places to Drink Tequila in North America) and enjoy their tableside guacamole (4), or enjoy some fresh carnitas, molcajetes, and tamales at Paxia Authentic Mexican Cuisine (5). There are other tasty dining and convenient shopping options in the area, so be sure to check them out!
Highlands also offers a number of special events throughout the year. On the first Friday of every month the art galleries on Tennyson Street keep their doors open wide and artists display and sell their work. It’s an event that draws art lovers from all corners of the Front Range. Further, in June you can’t miss the Highlands Street Fair that brings live music on multiple stages, delicious food and cold beer and cocktails, arts and crafts, a classic car show, and 180+ artisan vendors of various different trades and specialties. Moreover, the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated in July to honor Asian culture. It’s opening year in 2001 commanded a respectable 15,000 guests, however due to acclaim from both visitors and the popular Denver magazine Westword, the Dragon Boat Festival has grown to accommodate over 125,000 people. With the growth, the number of competing teams has also skyrocketed from 16 to 52 teams, including newly implemented youth leagues and race brackets. You’ll find boat styles ranging from Taiwanese to Hong Kong, an Asian marketplace, and “Taste of Asia Food Court,” all aspects of the festival that show the dedication of the community members, its diversity, and the brilliance of the Highlands neighborhood (2).
Highlands – Real Estate Snapshot
Many homes in the Highlands were built between the late 1800′s and mid 1900′s. Housing type varies widely and includes prestigious Victorian and Queen Anne mansions, row houses, duplexes, apartments above businesses, and newly constructed condos. As both the upper and lower Highlands are incredibly sought-after neighborhoods, they attract builders looking to capitalize with new condos. As the popularity of the neighborhoods continues to increase, so do real estate prices. Expect to pay in the mid to high $300,000′s and up for anything move-in ready. Highlands is perfect for individuals, couples and families looking for a hip alternative to the suburbs.