By Angie Grenz
If you love good food and shopping, a vibrant art scene and a craft cocktail, Downtown Loveland should not be overlooked on your next free afternoon. In fact, Downtown Loveland and its surrounding areas have enough to keep you occupied for a couple days if you are looking for an easy change of pace without a long drive.
Loveland is large enough to offer variety and small enough to still feel neighborly. For so long, Loveland was viewed as that sleepy little town south of Fort Collins where your grandparents bought property to retire. Well, that thinking is so 2000. Today, Loveland has a growing downtown (right along with other areas of Loveland), and has simultaneously gotten younger and grown up all at the same time.
By younger, we mean younger. The median age has dropped. Young families have moved in and downtown now bustles with young professionals, kiddos playing at the Foundry’s splash park and live music on the weekends. Add to that Loveland’s penchant for art in public spaces, and this downtown makes a charming afternoon stop or an equally fun extended stay.
For our tour of Downtown Loveland, the NOCO Style crew got together for lunch at one of Loveland’s hidden gems, Taste Local. At Taste, breakfast and lunch are served until close and feature homemade, super-fresh options. We suggest always asking to see the specials menu, which changes weekly with very seasonal ingredients.
On this beautiful spring day, we ordered a variety of lunch and breakfast options. Mine was the Spring Pea Salad with crab. The dish featured a lemony dressing and plenty of sweet crab and fresh peas. But you can’t go wrong with anything here, and I was stealing the flaky biscuit off of our Publisher Tonja’s plate.
After lunch, I was accompanied by two of our sales representatives: Ashley Duval and Sydney Edwards. We decided to start on one end of 4th Street, which houses the bulk of Loveland’s retail shops and restaurants, but don’t miss the side streets with great stores and restaurants tucked in walking distance.
Our first stop was Rooster Browns, a fantastic little shop that leans heavily toward Colorado-made men’s gifts and clothing, with some women’s fashions thrown in the mix. We perused the selections of hats, men’s body products, gourmet soaps, tee shirts and more. Both Ashley and I landed on a hat. Mine was a fantastic trucker hat from the Yo Colorado apparel line, out of Golden.
Next, we ducked into Dickens Alley, a rare book, art and antique shop. Proprietor Don Pierson’s collection is an eclectic treasure hunt of goodies. On a previous visit, I found a reprint of an old book on beekeeping for my brother. On this trip, we looked through pottery, prints, furniture, books and walls lined with art. For the vintage lover, this place is a true jewel.
After Dickens, we continued west on 4th Street, stopping at Vintage Willows women’s boutique, which takes the southwest corner of 4th and Cleveland. This sunny little spot has a great selection of casual women’s fashions with a focus on comfortable styles and sunny dresses. The space is filled with the owner’s cactus collection, a carefully curated line of body products and jewelry and some very sweet gifts for baby and toddlers.
Across Cleveland on the same side of the street is Pilar, another women’s boutique, this time featuring casual to dressy fashions with some great accessories and handbags. Farther down the block is Pilar’s sister store, Cloz to Home, which features home décor, women’s fashions and jewelry. The stores are owned by mother-daughter team Penny and Ana.
At Railroad Ave., we took a left down to Artworks, Center for Contemporary Art. Artworks is comprised of artist’s studios and gallery space and is one of the largest studio artist communities in Northern Colorado. On this day, there were a handful of artists in residence, but the gallery space was getting ready for their Night on the Town gallery opening, Driven to Abstraction, the next day. We stopped in to say hello to Alex VanLemmeren, abstract painter, jewelry artist and floral designer. We visited with Alex, poked around her studio and watched her creative process.
Next, we made a quick duck into Verboten Brewing, my home away from the magazine. We popped in to check on my 8-month-old basset hound, Burt, and Josh, my spouse of 24-years. After our quick visit, we stopped off at Eclectic House Artisan Market on Cleveland Ave. Eclectic House features 30+ artisans, vintage finds, home décor and even a kitchen area currently inhabited by Loveland Chocolate Company and Across the Board Charcuterie & More. There is literally something for everyone at this shop of eclectic finds.
We headed back to 4th and east to Independence Gallery, which is one of my favorite art galleries in Loveland. It was our lucky day and we happened upon their Spring Art Sale, which features deep discounts on artwork by some extremely talented local artists. Owner Billie J. Colson was on hand and showed us around the shop. My eye caught and held at the colorful works of Thane Gorek, and I proudly took one home. I am already contemplating a second.
Having worked up a thirst, we made our next stop at Loveland Tap & Tavern for a cocktail. Owners David and Kat are around most days and always happy to pour you a beer or whip you up a cocktail from their extensive menu. I enjoyed the Rosemary Gin Gimlet, Sydney sipped on the tropical Bikinitini, and they were kind enough to mix up a beautiful mocktail for Ashley, who’s off the sauce till her baby arrives this summer.
Satiated, our troupe of shoppers parted ways. However, I recruited my sisters for an alfresco dinner at Door 222. This 4th Street staple features fresh, local ingredients, an extensive
tapas list and creative cocktails. My dinner was short ribs, while my sisters enjoyed the airline chicken and the Welcome Back burger. All were excellent, but the chicken was the star of the show. If you can (and we couldn’t), save room for dessert. Door 222’s delicious entrees are rivaled by an equally delicious dessert menu. Door 222’s menu changes frequently, so every dining experience feels unique.
Lest you think this is it, Downtown Loveland offers a wealth of other options, from shopping to dining to nightlife. With the new Foundry Plaza just south of 4th Street flanked on one end by TownePlace Suites hotel, an overnight stay is an easy option. Just strolling the streets offers a wealth of sculpture to enjoy, and plenty of construction hints at new treasures coming soon.
If you extend your visit, here are some suggested stops:
Doug’s Day Diner is known for huge portions and friendly service. Colorado Coffee Company has great coffee but try the cinnamon rolls and the gelato. Dark Heart Coffee Bar’s coffee doesn’t get any more craft than Dark Heart’s fantastic menu.
Little Piece of My Heart and Boutique by Sonja offer great gifts and clothing. Mrs. Torrelli’s Wine Flat is a unique little wine store with a carefully curated beer and spirits selections. Owner Sean is fun to visit with and loves to share the story behind every bottle.
All three of Loveland’s downtown breweries—Crow Hop, Loveland Aleworks and Verboten—are award-winning and feature taprooms with patio space available. Backyard Tap is a great Saturday spot with a craft beer and wine list, plenty of outdoor space, and live music and a food truck on the weekends.
Dinner choices abound. Henry’s is a local’s favorite and Loveland Chop House always has a great steak on the menu (make a reservation). Origins Wine Bar on Lincoln features wood-fired pizzas and an extensive wine list. Or head over to the Foundry and have a casual dinner at Vatos Tacos & Tequila or the iconic Betta Gumbo, complete with Mardi Gras beads.
Once dinner is done, head to The Laureate for a craft cocktail nightcap, play a round of pinball at The Flipside, or go listen to the beats at Wicked Tequila Room. If a movie is your perfect end to the night, the Metropolitan MetroLux Dine-In Theatre at the Foundry offers boozy shakes, cocktails and a full menu you can order right to your plush, reclining movie seat.
If Art is Your Thing:
Hop in the car and head to Muse Coffee & Tea, located a couple miles from downtown next to the compound of Loveland sculptor Jane DeDecker. After your repast, head over to Benson Sculpture Garden and stroll through the beautiful park with 148 unique bronze sculptures. Then return to downtown to the Loveland Museum and check out their latest exhibition.