Denver’s a good place to spend the day or a weekend, and recently, I was able to explore RiNo, Denver’s newest up-and-coming neighborhood. This hood has a sundry of restaurants, breweries, gyms and coffee shops to explore. Rather than hit them all, I explored a selection of businesses you won’t want to miss on your next visit to RiNo.

Qi Functional Training Center

Where: 2636 Walnut Street

Qi Functional Training Center's Downtown location offers a distinctive, urban workout experience. Photograph by Teresa Taylor

Qi Functional Training Center’s Downtown location offers a distinctive, urban workout experience. Photograph by Teresa Taylor

To begin your day, why not drop in on a morning yoga or spin class at Qi (pronounced “Chee”) Functional Training Center?

Qi is an urban, vibrant gym with modern equipment and distinctive classes which will really work you out.

At Qi, the teachers take on a no-limits mentality and heighten it to another level.

“To practice that which you cannot do, by practice and repetition, you can,” said Kylie Larson, manager of the Downtown Denver location, “this mindset, once practiced, translates off the mat and into your everyday life.”

With more than 15 different classes to choose from, this gym has something for everyone, and levels are all but enforced. Each class, from yoga for beginners to adult gymnastics, is designed so anyone can walk in, whether you work out daily or haven’t practiced in months, and be challenged.

In class, expect to sweat to an upbeat, fast-paced mix of Top 40 songs, dubstep and some classic rock, to keep you motivated and moving. Each class lasts for around an hour, and will help strengthen your endurance and train your body for optimal wellness.

Qi is more than the typical gym, where you go, pop in your headphones and run for an hour. At Qi, with small class sizes and a warm, friendly staff, it’s also a community.

“We have a huge community; you become friends with your teachers and classmates,” Larson said, “it’s not a pick-up joint; we’re a place where you make friends.”

From a walk in customer to an experienced yogi, this gym has something everyone can be challenged by — even the teachers. So, start the day off right with a morning workout, just remember to bring a towel, it’s going to get hot.

Crema Coffee

Where: 2862 Larimer Street

Crema gives customers full-bodied flavor in their coffee and décor. Photograph by Teresa Taylor

Crema gives customers full-bodied flavor in their coffee and décor. Photograph by Teresa Taylor

After an intense yoga class or workout at Qi you’ll want to refuel with coffee and maybe a bite to eat, and Crema Coffee is just the spot.

Crema offers the purest flavor behind every drink and aspect of this eclectic coffee-house. Established three years ago, Crema proudly serves the purest coffee without any additives from 10 different worldly roasters, giving you the freshest flavor available. With every sip, a warm, robust flavor clear of syrups and excess sugars satisfies the palate.

According to Noah Price, the founder of Crema Coffee, using syrups and sugars in coffee muddles with the coffee’s natural flavor.

“So many hands touch the coffee before you even get it, why spoil it with all of that,” said Price.

Along with their rich espresso and coffee drinks, Crema also serves an appetizing array of breakfast and lunch items created by The Populist’s Chef Jonathan Power and his culinary team.

Throughout the shop, a melange of local art and specifically curated thrifty finds, such as upholstered green, white and yellow fabrics, hangs along the walls and align the ceiling. The original flavor of Crema flows with the industrial, urban nature of RiNo and is a great place to refuel and relax.

Mile High Spirits

Where: 2920 Larimer Street

Whether you want to play a few billiards, listen to music or watch a game, Mile High Spirits is the go-to hangout bar in RiNo. Photograph by Brent Andeck

Whether you want to play a few billiards, listen to music or watch a game, Mile High Spirits is the go-to hangout bar in RiNo. Photograph by Brent Andeck

After stoping for coffee and a quick bite to eat at Crema, hit up Mile High Spirits for happy hour.

Established in an old warehouse in early 2012, the owners of Mile High Spirits wanted to make their distillery a distinctive part of the RiNo neighborhood.

“I knew it [RiNo] was a kind of wacky, cool place,” said Wyn Ferrell, co-owner of Mile High Spirits. “We wanted to become an icon and add culture to the neighborhood.”

This distillery, one of four in the world to use an all glass still, distills four premium brands, Fireside Whiskey, Elevate Vodka, Denver Dry Gin and Peg Leg Rum, and a wide array of infusions and liqueurs.

To start out, try one of their Mules, they’re known for them, and after one sip you’ll taste why. This tasty drink unites the pure, crisp taste of Elevate Vodka with Ginger Beer and a splash of lime juice to create a cool, refreshing drink.

If Mules aren’t your thing, take a taste of Tingala. This amber liqueur, made from the Brazilian ting flower, will leave your taste buds tingling, literally as the warm, cinnamon flavor rolls over your taste buds and warms your core.

Tasting room aside, Mile High Spirits is also a venue for trivia, live music, a 6-week cornhole league and more.

Whether you’re sitting at the cement bar top having a casual conversation with the bartender or relaxing in their ‘backyard’ playing a game of cornhole on the old football turf, Mile High Spirits is a great place to hangout and enjoy an afternoon sipping a refreshing drink.

The Walnut Room

Where: 3131 Walnut Street

The Walnut Room offers a delectable menu of food, drink and live music.  Photograph by Teresa Taylor

The Walnut Room offers a delectable menu of food, drink and live music.
Photograph by Teresa Taylor

Looking for a delicious and fun place to eat for dinner? Travel down the road and you’ll find The Walnut Room.

Established eight years ago, as a small music venue and pizzeria by owner John Burr, this restaurant-meets-concert venue has quickly evolved to something more. Now, The Walnut Room is an intimate setting for some of the hottest names in music and a full service restaurant serving a creative and flavorful menu.

“I want customers to think it’s [The Walnut Room] a really unique place, where you can get quality food and have a great experience,” said Leslie Odell, Director of Operations at The Walnut Room.

For an affordable, yet tasty lunch, check out the lunch special. This $7.50 deal gives you your choice of a personal pizza, tailored to your tastes, or half sandwich, a side and a drink.

For dinner, try one of 11 specialty Chicago-style thin crust pizzas or create one of your own with a multitude of fresh, local ingredients to chose from. For drinks, pair your pizza with one of the local selections, such as a glass of Infinite Monkey wine or a cocktail made with liqueur from Mile High Spirits.

After enjoying a pizza, you might want to end the night with a concert. Luckily, you can mosey over to the intimate music lounge and see the concert of the night. Artists from Jewel to local favorite, the Flobots, have visited the venue to play low-key performances for a small, but normally packed house.

Spending a day exploring RiNo and these businesses, in my opinion, was a great experience. This neighborhood truly has a lot to offer and is constantly bringing in new businesses. So if you’re bored or looking for a new hangout, check out RiNo and these happening businesses.

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Crystal Anderson is an adventure-seeking journalist, who loves geeking out to Lord of the Rings, meeting new people and traveling. She’s interested in exploring all of Denver’s hidden wonders and hot spots. Have a favorite hidden haunt you want covered? Divulge your secrets to [email protected]