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The Best Place in Denver to Spend an Inexpensive Afternoon: The 16th Street Mall

Updated on July 3, 2012

Denver's 16th Street Mall

One of Denver's Famous Painted Cows with 16th Street Free Mall Ride in the background.
One of Denver's Famous Painted Cows with 16th Street Free Mall Ride in the background.

Denver's 16th Street Mall: A Downtown Gem

In these recessionary days, it is nice to find a place of entertainment where it is not necessary to drop the entire contents of one's wallet in one sitting. One such place in the Denver Metro Area is the 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver.

There is always something going on down at "the Mall", which is a long stretch of 16th Street open only to pedestrians. No vehicles are allowed except the famous "Free Mall Ride" bus featured in the picture. You can zip from one place to another along the Mall or it's a great way to rest your feet for a time while deciding what to do there!

A map exists at the end of this article, to help those unfamiliar with downtown. Founding fathers (and mothers) turned the streets diagonally for some historic reason beyond the scope of this article.

The flipside of the famous "Denver Cow".
The flipside of the famous "Denver Cow".

Denver's Famous Painted Cows

A short time ago, there were literally 20 or 30 of these beautiful painted cows all along the 16th Street Mall in the Mile High City. However, most of these beautiful animals went off to other pastures when the Denver cowboys auctioned them off for charity. They brought in a pretty penny, I heard!

Only about two or three of these remain grazing on the 16th Street Mall. I think they kept the most attractive ones--what do you think? The painting on this one features the cowgirl's arm extending down the cow's leg. Very unique, IMHO.

One of the 16th Street Mall painted pianos.
One of the 16th Street Mall painted pianos.

Denver's Famous Painted Pianos

So I know you are asking yourself what the Mile High folks did on the 16th Street Mall to replace the cows? It is hardly bereft of excitement, my friends: the latest happenings are now a large number of painted pianos!

Now visitors can enjoy the tinkling of the ivories by whoever wishes to participate on these unusual pianos. I have not heard of any other city doing something similar, have you?

If you play or fancy yourself to play piano, sit right down! Otherwise, tune in to one of the various musicians who give performances daily.

Umphrey's McGee keyboardist Joel Cummins

An Inexpensive Afternoon Concludes

After a day's inexpensive sight-seeing at the 16th Street Mall, complete with a few rides on the Free Mall Ride and having been serenaded by the beautiful pianos there, now what?

There is a tourist information center right there on the Mall where you can investigate other local happenings which occur on a regular basis in Denver Area. There are free days at the many museums, festivals galore and just plain old street performer entertainment that is wallet-friendly in these cash-poor times!

PS. Tune in later for "A Great Place in Boulder to Spend as Inexpensive Afternoon: The Pearl Street Mall", which I am currently writing.

See also Some of the Finest Piano Music You Can Find and The Best Place in Boulder to Spend an Inexpensive Afternoon: The Pearl Street Mall

Denver's 16th Street Mall


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    • Laura in Denver profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura Deibel 

      6 years ago from Aurora

      I love the busker and piano activity, also. That Mall bus makes it so easy to get around a fairly long Mall. Thx!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I love the piano playing there and all the good active energy happening on the mall. It's a well-planned functional mall with good transportation. There's plenty of good places to eat and shop and easy access to the Capital and other building.

      Just a fun place to get to know Denver.

    • Laura in Denver profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura Deibel 

      6 years ago from Aurora

      There are all kinds of activities set for the Denver Metro area this summer! Although it's a scorcher at this particular time!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Another nice hub about doings in the Denver Metro area.

    • Laura in Denver profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura Deibel 

      7 years ago from Aurora

      I have moved south as well, but lived in Denver on starting HubPages.

      Best to you! Merry Christmas!

    • skye2day profile image


      7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      Laura in Denver Great tips laura. Downtown is a fun place to go. Me for one likes to have the bucks when I go downtown because of the great shopping. Another great tip is taking the light rail to downtown to avoid parking costs. The food, Coors field, Pepsi center, a horse n buggy ride, the plays are all great for our economy but can run into the big bucks. The Molly Brown House is really inexpensive and fun to tour. The museums are not a bad price. I like the lofts they add to the scenery. Walking around and looking is free but for me I like to have money so rarely go downtown. The Christmas lights and parades are lots of fun. Thank you for sharing. Hugs Galore to you. Do you live downtown? I am farther south. Merry Christmas Laura.

      I never noticed the pianos. I will take better notice next time around.

    • Laura in Denver profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura Deibel 

      7 years ago from Aurora

      Now that I have purchased a video camera, I think I'll go down and film some of the musicians there--truly the Mall is an exciting place. ;-)

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      7 years ago from England

      Hi, this is a great idea! I wish they would do that in my town, I love the cows! cheers nell

    • Laura in Denver profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura Deibel 

      8 years ago from Aurora

      Yes, plus there are one-person bands. Quite the showing of talent!

    • John  Lakewood profile image

      John Lakewood 

      8 years ago from Lakewood, CO

      There are a lot more street musicians there--guitarists, drummers, flute players, etc. They do make a visit quite festive. Thank you.

    • Laura in Denver profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura Deibel 

      8 years ago from Aurora

      The Mall is such a fun place with the avant-guard entertainment by the locals. During the DNC, there were some human robots and funny!

    • WoodsmensPost profile image


      8 years ago from Arizona

      My family and I loved the 16th street Mall when we lived in Westminster,Colorado along with our trips to Boulder. Great hub, the painted cows would have been a site to see. Denver is so exciting!!!


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