When I was in Las Vegas there were some shops around me. I could technically walk to a Kohls, Smith’s, CVS, Jack ‘n the Box and other extremely boring stores. I’m not a huge “GO LOCAL!” person, so it didn’t really bother me, but I am continually amazed at the sheer number options here in Denver. A mile down the road from my new home is a bustling section of 32nd Ave full of local restaurants, bars, coffeehouses, book and clothing stores, pilates/spas/wellness centers, and (my favorite) a cheese shop. I’ve been frequenting some of these places regularly, but a recent surprise day off (they cancel school for snow here! Yay!) gave me an excuse to spend some quality time here. I walked down to Lowell and 32nd from my house. Since I’m the only person in Colorado without waterproof boots, I was employing the plastic-bags-between-my-socks method of keeping my feet dry. This quest was aided by all the Denverites who graciously shoveled snow from their sidewalks, making my winter jaunt much more enjoyable.

If you are heading east, cute houses with “no highrises in the highlands” signs in their yards turn into businesses around Perry Street. The Asian Highland Grill here is pretty good (though I’ve only had the Kung Pao Chicken, which admittedly isn’t too exciting), but don’t count on the free WiFi working.

Since it was snowing and all, I stopped in at Highlands Cork and Coffee for some hot chocolate. This coffee house/wine bar/tapas bar/happy hour hangout is very cozy. A repurposed house, the whole downstairs area contains warm rooms in which you can enjoy your free WiFi, hummus and chai tea. A few blocks down, Common Grounds is another fun coffeehouse. For later in the day, Three Dog Tavern and Mead Street Station are good places to drink and hang out.

Shopping wise, there is an overpriced baby boutique store and a surprisingly not overpriced women’s clothing store. Especially check out the sale section at Starlet, but even the new stuff isn’t too expensive. Usually a mere tank top at a boutique store would be upwards of $40, but things are about half that price here. It was hard to look at their new spring line with a foot of snow outside though. The jewelry and accessories store Kismet was pretty cute, as was Wordshop, the stationary store behind Kismet. Of course my favorite place was 32nd West Side Books. This (mostly) used bookstore had rows of stuffed shelves and the *interestingly* organized shelves that one would expect from a local book store.

In addition to coffeehouses and restaurants (Bang!, Julia Blackbird’s New Mexican Café, and Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill are some to try), there is also Heidi’s Brooklyn Deli, St. Kilian’s Cheese Shop, and Mondo Vino if you want to get some meats, cheeses, and/or wine to bring back home. The English sharp cheddar from St. Kilian’s was great on pasta and I’m very much looking forward to having Valdeon Spanish Bleu Cheese on my spinach salad tonight.

It seems like 32nd Ave peters out when it crosses Speer Blvd, but just past Highland Park and the newly renovated North High, things pick up again. Mexican joints, pizza places, and Highland Tap and Burger (try the macaroni with bacon!) keeps 32nd exciting as it leads you to LoDo and downtown.