“Downtown” is an artificial designation, given the old and the new downtown corridors, and given the neighborhoods assigned, we love the stretch of Longmont on either side of Main Street, from 3rd through Longs Peak Avenue, facing East and West.
The Downtown Longmont Development Authority says this is “Your destination for small town [read: country-esque, antiquey, but decidedly city] charm and modern urban grit [read: growth is afoot and this area is cracking]. With innovative businesses, authentic people, tangible history, and Colorado’s best craft culture [arguably some of the best on the Front Range], Downtown Longmont has something for everyone. Come explore and discover your new favorite place today.”
By favorite places, we mean Dickens 300 Prime (formerly Dickens Opera House), Jefe’s Tacos, Martini’s Bistro, Pumphouse Brewery, and any of the 40+ listed bars, distilleries, breweries, and restaurants on this stretch. Dine in, take out, sip up, and enjoy the goodness within walking distance of the neighborhoods flanking this epic area.
This area is also part of the Longmont Creative District, meaning the arts are not just present, but supported and flourishing. We all love to live in areas with museums, galleries, bookstores, and lots of public art. With grants to support struggling artists and art orgs during COVID, Longmont is ensuring continuity of vibrancy.
These neighborhoods are decidedly mixed country and city living with walkable streets on both sides of Main, generally quiet neighborhoods with entrepreneurs (like our friends at The Hop and Wibby Brewing) on side streets, and three notable parks – Roosevelt, Collyers, and Thompson – with others and Longmont Reservoir close by. We love the country access, with only one turn off Main needed to get to Lyons and Estes Park-cum-RMNP.
A special little development project in Broomfield, about 5 minutes drive from the Wadsworth exit off Highway 36, this is a perfected self-sustaining community with everything you need… except a supermarket.
Don’t let the Google Maps screenshot fool you. Broomfield and Boulder county have 2,397 acres of Inter Governmental Agreement land held in open space reserves, of a total 21,468.756 acres of Broomfield, with a goal to keep total open space of 9,567 acres as approved by the 1995 Master Plan (with updates), this area of Broomfield is decidedly city living and not as country as some areas of Broomfield can be.
The Arista website spells it out: “A thoughtful blend of urban living destined to be the energy epicenter of the northwest corridor. Dining, shopping, parks, entertainment, and the Aloft Hotel are all within walking distance. Arista offers incredible views of the Front Range’s pristine mountain peaks.”
“The cornerstone of Arista is the 1STBank Center,” a multi-purpose arena known for big name shows (even if not as popular as some downtown venues) and conveniently located 15 miles northwest of Downtown Denver. It is located near the Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport for folks who want to fly in and close the Flatiron Crossing Mall. It opened in 2006. Arista is one of the very few town center developments in the nation anchored by a major entertainment venue, though 1st Bank Center was there first, and provided the foundation for Arista to thrive.
“Arista Place is the town center of Arista, a fun, eclectic, two-block pedestrian mall featuring the Aloft Hotel, office space, and residential units. The buildings feature a unique, contemporary, urban design,” in an otherwise high energy, high impact area. The “daytime population is very strong, with about 173,000 people working within three miles of the site and the 10-mile population is approximately 644,000,” making this decidedly vibrant area definitively city living.
“The options for living at Arista include live/work lofts, flats & townhomes, paired homes, as well as two different apartment communities. Commuting is easy at Arista as the RTD park-n-ride is located on site,” meaning commutes to Boulder or Denver are easily accessible and easily done. Makes me want to head downtown for lunch and drinks just cause we can.
Definitive city living abounds in Louisville, one of the “Ls” as they’re called. With a population density of 3,522 per square mile in this area of town, according to Newborhood, a community data website built to help people pick neighborhoods to move to, and what seems like a million amenities in walking distance, you will lack for near nothing in Downtown Louisville.
Safely tucked away in a modest 2-bedroom with a beautiful yard, schools close by, and plenty of shopping options for the grown folk, you’ll be hard pressed to find a reason to leave town, save for the occasional concert or sporting event. Although, importantly, the Louisville Sports Complex is right across the way.
The Downtown Louisville website has almost 30 restaurants listed, and there are dozens of shops as well, including Eric Olson Master Jeweler – one of just a handful of certified Master Jewelers in Colorado. Whether you’re stepping out for some famed Melting Pot fine dining or an epic patio burger at Waterloo, or just browsing the incredible inventory on hand at Little Horse Vintage and Books, this neighborhood is ready to help you feel fun, flirty, and fancy free.
The downtown site also points out that, “When you visit Historic Downtown today you will find 100 year old wooden buildings lining Main, Front, and Pine streets. This frames an area that is home to over 100 businesses and a thriving art scene with galleries, studios and live music almost every night of the week. The Museum is here; so is City Hall and the Public Library.” Not only do you live in a vibrant area, it’s the seat of power and everything popping off is popping here.
YourBoulder neighborhood guide has a lot of great information on the history of Niwot, including that “the town was created in 1875 as a stop along the Colorado Central railroad which runs northeast from Boulder. The original business district built up on both sides of the tracks – those on the west having been razed for construction of the Diagonal Highway, while those on the east remain and house Niwot’s eclectic shops, stores and restaurants.”
Eclectic, they are, housing some of the most fun and quirky clothing and chotsky shops around. We also love that one of Boulder proper’s favorite chefs, Bradford Heap – of Salt and Wild Standard fame – also has a local favorite fine dining restaurant in Niwot called Colterra Food & Wine. It is, in fact, his flagship restaurant.
Old Town Niwot is roughly bounded, YourBoulder points out, by Highway 119 on the Northwest, Niwot Road on the South and North 83rd Street on the east, which is the area we’re specifically interested in. On the edge of a tiny town – Niwot boasts a population just over 4,000 and a about 4.005 mi² of land – these neighborhoods out on Niwot Rd. and 63rd are about as country as Boulder County gets. With coyotes on the prowl and prairie dogs digging holes, this is a great area for quiet living, knowing the neighbors, and knowing how to swing an axe to keep the woodshed stocked.
Don’t let the country edges confuse you, though. The IBM plant built in 1965 spurred a lot of growth for Niwot and Gunbarrel, and alongside the fine dining and $680K median home price, the quaint little unincorporated town of Niwot is also “home to an exotic automobile dealership. Yes, you can stroll down the street in Old Town Niwot and pick up a nice Aston Martin DB9 or a Porsche Carrera 4S at Gunbarrel Import Motors.” Country, indeed.
(Lafayette/Erie east of 287 between Erie Parkway and Jasper)
Shaped like a geometric flag on the tip of a flag pole, Brownsville – which is technically in Lafayette but edges west Erie – is a single family home neighborhood with a majority of houses built in the 90’s, according to City-Data.com. The average home price is $724,500, with closing in the area between $590,000 to $945,000. WOW. That’s some seriously comfortable country living.
NextDoor lists the neighborhood as having a population of 1784 residents with an average age of 54 years old. Homeowners are the majority, at 90 percent, which makes sense for the area, and heading into Erie, which has an absolute dearth of rental properties overall.
Compared to Lafayette overall, Brownsville has high income ($104k to $72k average), lower population density (251 to 3,057 per sq. mile), and larger households (including family size, amount of families to non-family households, and amount of married v single mother families).
While it’s not common knowledge outside of the area, these long country roads are excellent for bicycling. Great pavement, less traffic than cities, and absolutely gorgeous views in every direction. Even if the average household in Brownsville has more cars than Lafayette in general, we’d recommend a cruiser or road bike for the neighborhood. Distance cycling is also incredibly popular throughout the region so you can always grab some lycra and a 25-speed and get some miles under your belt. It’s the best way to stay in shape as you age, maintain strength and hip flexion, and enjoy the world around you.
Old Town Superior
When our publisher came to Colorado 30 years ago Superior was 230 some people. It was a small, quiet, out in the country, to themselves kind of community. Superior has grown, but some things remain the same.
Turning into the Old Town Superior neighborhood via Coal Creek the first thing you pass is the city hall building, a small, nondescript, slightly country-looking building. Cruisin’ down Coal Creek you pass Asti Park and Founders Park, open spaces between blocks, and families that clearly know each other passing each other in the streets. You pass conventional houses edged by the homes that have been here for generations, those one-story ranch-style brick houses and the wooden structures that look like they probably have a gun rack and a few antlers as decor.
The neighborhood becomes slightly industrial before turning into pure country with dirt roads criss-crossed by trails, dotted with singles and couples walking and running, bicycling, and the Flatirons in the distance. This is the kind of area where, leaving your driveway, if you go one direction you’re going to hit Target and Costco and a freeway, but if you go the other direction you’re going to need some outdoor gear and some trail shoes. Minutes after hitting the dirt road you’re in an alien landscape, back in old Colorado, back in country Colorado, with the added imposition of barbed wire fences.
There’s no lights out here, just sky. It’s beautiful, and you know these trails get a lot of wear and tear from passing feet of locals and regional adventurers (there are single tracks out here for the cycling community). Old Town may straddle both worlds, City and Country, but the old houses, and old families, and the very old trails, remind you that this is indeed country.
When you drive through that single track mountain biking area and you get to the 170, you find elegant homes nestled alongside old farm houses, Adobe inspired structures, and dilapidated corrals. It’s easy to forget that a few hundred yards away is highway 36. It’s a wonderful area for being in the middle of everything, halfway between Denver and Boulder, right next to everything you could possibly need, but decidedly cozy, comfy, quiet, country living.