Very few people refer to Washington Park with a somber tone. For those who know and love this neighborhood and for most Denverites, it is simply, Wash Park. And if you live in Wash Park and have not just tucked your recumbent bike back into the garage after a long ride around the lake, you might just be getting home from this years Furry Scurry where every year thousands of dog enthusiasts stampede to the nation’s largest dog walking event. This year drew nearly 12,000 people and 5,000 dogs and two goats to one of Denver’s best-known parks, Washington Park. You see, Wash Park is dog friendly, kid friendly, well, every kind of friendly you can imagine, but with a unique flare.
So, lets get down to it and say right off the bat what the top ten reasons people flock to live in Wash Park are: It’s all about family walks to Sweet Action Ice Cream during the summer, and about the extreme exercise to be had from cycling, jogging, volley ball, rollerblading and bocce and that’s not just in the state of the art park, but all over the neighborhood which surrounds the 155 acre park dedicated to fun, family and beauty.
Ok, we said dog friendly so how about the fact that everyone in this neighborhood has at least …one dog. The charming historic homes are photo ops, the majestic tree lined streets are stunning, and you and all your dogs can go every Wednesday evening to the Farmers Market. There is the amazing Art Students League and the Community Gardens and private gardens in every yard to boot. You can bike or walk to sweet spots like Bittersweet, sip coffee at Café Bar, linger at Carmines, which is the most romantic gluten friendly restaurant around. And Luciles Creole Café still serves the best breakfast in Denver after 32 years. You can’t beat the farm to table dining at Fruition and will simply walk through the front door of Beatrice and Woodsley and realize you are seeing the most artistic and creative eatery in Denver, where dim lighting and cozy booths tuck you in among real aspen trees that ooze with romance and white twinkle lights. (What is it with how much people just love twinkle lights?)
Voted the best pre-school in Denver The Montessori School is located in Wash Park, as well as the best yoga studio, Karma Yoga and if you don’t want to walk, you can bus to downtown in minutes. Ok, I think that is at least 10 top reasons to relocate to pretty much the coolest area of Denver. So much for the dazzling amenities.
Wash Park wasn’t always as chic as it is now or the nerve center for the area. Although the neighborhood is a blend of historic and contemporary styles of architecture, Washington Park itself with its lakes, tennis courts, lawns, large flower gardens, and recreation center was influenced the Olmsted brothers and the famous philanthropist “The Unsinkable” Molly Brown. Today Washington Park is designated as one of the “Great Public Spaces in America”.
The park itself includes several trails, including one that goes around the perimeter of the park, tennis courts, a lawn bowling/croquet field, and two playgrounds. A recreation center with an indoor pool, free weights, and other athletic facilities is also located in the park. Smith Lake has a great boathouse that can be rented out for weddings or special events. But it’s those warm Denver nights in Wash Park you really remember, where hundreds of blankets and picnic baskets filled wine and cheese dot the entire park while kids play, lovers walk and a heated game of horseshoes is under way.
“Great running paths, easy to access from the Cherry Creek bike trail for a nice ride, volleyball courts every summer…what’s not to love? I love the park, and even if I hadn’t grown up in the neighborhood, I’d still say that it’s the one of prettiest places you could imagine: the trees, the lakes, even the Canada a Geese.” Washparkian
The park is well known for the largest flower garden in Denver, which was built in 1917. It was a Victorian-style Perennial Garden that included an elliptical lawn and symmetrical flowerbeds with 15,000 flower varieties and was initially designed by the German, landscape architect Shuetze, in 1899. His design remains intact and included Smith and Grasmere lakes, and the Lily Pond, all fed with a city ditch that Shuetze had edged with Russian Willows. And don’t let the word ditch fool you, it is just a wonderful waterway that bikers and joggers alike know well. Washington Park, as a neighborhood, started development soon after the founding of Denver though it was still fairly rural in nature.
The Wash Park neighborhood is one of the oldest in Denver and includes many early twentieth century brick houses and even some late nineteenth century brick houses in West Wash Park. There are several commercial enclaves in the neighborhood such as South Gaylord Street and Alameda Avenue, as well as smaller corner store areas located at stops of the former streetcars that ran down the residential streets.
Wash Park has about 7,000 residents and is predominantly single-family homes with a few apartments and condos. 50% of the residents are married couples as Wash Park is a younger professional area with the median age being 40 years old.
Wash Park is a feast of opportunity for the whole family. There are several country clubs nearby and bike paths that go for miles along the Platte River. The 28.5-mile trail follows the winding Platte River, coursing through Denver’s urban landscape and incorporating high plains grassland landscapes with the towering Rockies as a backdrop.
Take a stroll on Old Gaylord Street along the tree-lined sidewalks after dinner, or meander over to the park once you have sipped wine next to the fireplace at Max Gill and Grill. “Old South Gaylord” with it boutiques, has three eateries, a bike shop, antique store, sushi bar, and indoor mall. The outdoor patios attract local residents especially in the summer when the patios are open all day. The demographics here range from the 20-somethings to generation X. More and more, baby strollers and toddlers are becoming the norm. And, Wash Park has several local schools in the neighborhood, although Denver Public Schools allows students to pick the schools they want to attend. South High is one of Denver’s four original high schools.
And there are a few eccentric characteristics about living in Wash Park: That ditch I mentioned runs through Washington Park and is actually a National Historic Landmark known as… wait for it… City Ditch. Washington Park was named after our first president. And on the east side of the park is a replica of the Martha Washington garden at Mt. Vernon, Virginia.
Homes here are predominately Denver bungalow style. There are a few 2-story homes and some “scrap offs” (or new custom-built) homes, which have replaced older homes. People living in Washington Park have an easy commute over to the Cherry Creek shopping center which is brimming with elite stores, a Whole Foods Market that is as big as a football field, state of the art movie theaters and an abundance of ethnic food. Downtown Denver is around the corner, and you can walk to the new light rail system.
Fun, Athletic, Historic, Beautiful, Innovative and did I say Fun? That just about covers Wash Park. Whose up for a game of Frisbee Golf?