Skip to main content
Washington Park

Exploring Washington Park Denver: Your Ultimate Guide to Community & Local Charm

March 14, 2024

As Denver’s premier urban retreat, Washington Park Denver combines lush landscapes with rich history and a variety of activities. Whether you’re seeking relaxation by the lakes or engaging in sports, Wash Park caters to all. This guide will take you through its best features without spoiling the discovery.

Key Takeaways

  • Washington Park offers a harmonious blend of historic landmarks, recreational facilities, and natural beauty, providing a diverse range of activities within its sizable 165-acre expanse in south-central Denver.
  • The park is a focal point for community gatherings and events, such as the South Gaylord Street Days Block Party and the South Pearl Street Farmers’ Market, fostering a strong sense of community spirit and cultural engagement.
  • Accessibility and connectivity are key aspects of Washington Park, with pedestrian and bike-friendly pathways, excellent public transit options, and proximity to vibrant neighborhoods and attractions like Cherry Creek, Capitol Hill, and Golden Triangle.

Discovering Washington Park: A Denver Gem

Washington Park, an iconic gem in south Denver, is a testament to the city’s commitment to preserving its historical roots while fostering a sense of community. Spanning 165 acres, this Denver park offers:

  • A haven of tranquility amidst the city bustle
  • Beautiful gardens and flower beds
  • Two lakes for boating and fishing
  • Tennis courts and a recreation center
  • A playground and picnic areas
  • Walking and biking paths
  • Sports fields for soccer, baseball, and more

Whether you’re looking for a peaceful retreat or a place to enjoy outdoor activities, Washington Park, also known as Wash Park, has something for everyone.

The park’s historic structures, such as the 1913 Boathouse, winding carriage ways, and the scenic Smith and Grasmere lakes, led the American Planning Association to recognize Washington Park as one of its “Great Public Spaces in America” in 2012.

Historic Roots

The history of Washington Park is as diverse as its landscape. Created in 1889 and initially laid out by renowned architect Reinhard Schuetze, the park underwent a series of transformations under the guidance of city planner George Kessler and the famed Olmsted Brothers. Notable contributions include the design of Evergreen Hill, the Lily Pond, and the large Perennial Garden, the largest formal flower bed in the Denver parks system.

The park’s historical richness is underscored by features like:

  • The Eugene Field House, once the residence of poet Eugene Field
  • Relocated to the park in 1930
  • It functioned as the Eugene Field Branch of the Denver Public Library for numerous years.

Boundaries and Location

Washington Park, a beautiful area in the Washington Park neighborhood, is located in south-central Denver and is bordered by:

  • Virginia Avenue to the north
  • Downing Street to the west
  • Louisiana Avenue to the south
  • Franklin Street to the east

Covering an impressive 165 acres, this park is one of the largest in Denver, making it a vibrant hub of activity. The park’s layout, centered around two serene lakes and a large central meadow, is designed to encourage exploration, whether by foot, bike, or boat.

Within its boundaries, the park houses numerous amenities, ranging from tennis courts to basketball courts, lawn sports, and the busiest recreation center in the city, providing endless opportunities for fun and adventure.

Recreational Highlights

Considering its vast size and range of amenities, Washington Park naturally presents visitors with a wealth of recreational opportunities. Whether you’re a sports lover keen on a tennis match, an outdoor adventurer set for a biking or hiking trip, or a leisure chaser aiming for a peaceful fishing day or an energetic volleyball game, the park caters to all interests. With so many options, every visit promises a unique experience.

Outdoor Activities

Washington Park’s extensive green spaces offer the perfect backdrop for a variety of outdoor activities, including a well-maintained lawn bowling green. Visitors can enjoy a leisurely picnic amidst the park’s scenic views, rent a boat for a tranquil row on Smith Lake, or even try their hand at stand-up paddleboarding.

The park’s carefully planned landscape ensures that every visit offers a chance to connect with nature and engage in healthy, energizing activities, making it an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages.

Indoor Amenities

For those preferring indoor pursuits, the Washington Park Recreation Center offers a range of facilities. Designed in 1971 by the architectural firm Anderson Barker Rinker, the center houses an indoor pool, a full gymnasium for various sports, and dedicated rooms for cardio and weight training.

With versatile operating hours and locker room facilities, the recreation center ensures that visitors can enjoy its amenities at their own pace and convenience.

Natural Beauty and Attractions

The natural beauty of Washington Park is among its primary attractions. The park’s design, which revolves around Smith Lake and Grasmere Lake, offers stunning vistas and a tranquil atmosphere. With its diverse tree species and vibrant gardens, including the largest formal summer flower beds in Denver, the park offers a feast for the eyes and a haven for nature lovers.

Whether you’re a dedicated bird watcher, a tree lover, or simply someone who appreciates stunning landscapes, the park’s natural attractions are bound to mesmerize you.

Smith Lake and Grasmere Lake

At the heart of Washington Park lie Smith Lake and Grasmere Lake, offering picturesque views and peaceful settings for relaxation. The 1913 Boat House on Smith Lake, designed by Jules Jacques Benois Benedict, is a gem of historical architecture, while Grasmere Lake, named after a village in the English Lake District, adds a poetic touch to the park’s landscape. Both lakes feature a two-mile perimeter trail, inviting visitors to enjoy a leisurely stroll or an invigorating run while taking in the stunning views of the eastern snowcapped mountains.

Gardens and Green Spaces

In addition to its lakes, Washington Park is renowned for its beautiful gardens and green spaces. Some of the highlights include:

  • The Perennial Garden, the largest formal flower bed in the Denver parks system
  • The Mount Vernon Garden, a stunning showcase of horticultural artistry
  • The Great Meadow, a spacious green area where visitors can relax, play, or simply enjoy the beauty of the natural surroundings.

These gardens and green spaces enhance the park’s reputation as a top-notch destination for nature enthusiasts in Denver.

Neighborhood Charm: South Gaylord Street and South Pearl Street

The charm of Washington Park extends beyond its boundaries into the surrounding neighborhoods, particularly South Gaylord Street and South Pearl Street. These areas, known for their enchanting shopping and dining districts, complement the park’s appeal, providing visitors with a comprehensive Denver experience.

Whether your desire is to discover local boutiques, experience a variety of culinary delights, or indulge in a lively nightlife, these charming districts are sure to meet your expectations.

South Gaylord Street

Historic South Gaylord Street, a shopping and dining district, offers a distinct blend of local charm and cosmopolitan sophistication. Visitors can browse through a variety of boutique shops, dine at diverse eateries, or soak in the vibrant nightlife.

The street’s unique appeal lies in its ability to combine modern amenities with a sense of local history and community, ensuring a memorable experience for all who visit, as it was once a city ditch.

South Pearl Street

South Pearl Street serves as a historic shopping corridor in Denver, offering an array of restaurants, unique boutiques, and wellness services. Its tree-lined district provides a serene backdrop for leisurely strolls, shopping sprees, and culinary adventures. The street is also home to the Denver Folklore Center, one of Denver’s oldest and most reputable shops for acoustic music.

From art to music to food, South Pearl Street is a cultural hub that adds another layer of charm to the Washington Park experience.

Events and Festivals at Washington Park

Washington Park is not just a place of natural beauty and recreational fun, it’s also a hub of community activities, events, and festivals. From the lively South Gaylord Street Days Block Party on Memorial Day weekend to the vibrant South Pearl Street Farmers’ Market, the park hosts events that bring the local community together and invite visitors to experience Denver’s vibrant culture and spirit.

South Gaylord Street Days Block Party

The South Gaylord Street Days Block Party is a community highlight that adds to the neighborhood’s vibrant charm. Held on Memorial Day weekend, the event features live music, art, and diverse activities for all ages. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, the block party offers a wonderful opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture, meet new people, and create memorable experiences.

South Pearl Street Farmers’ Market

Between June and October, the South Pearl Street Farmers’ Market turns the street into a lively marketplace filled with locally sourced products. Managed by Jarman and Co Events, the market ensures that all products come from Colorado or nearby counties, promising freshness and quality.

With its meticulous vendor selection process and a variety of offerings, the market not only supports local businesses but also provides a delightful shopping experience for visitors.

Transportation and Accessibility

Accessibility is a key factor in Washington Park’s appeal. Whether you prefer biking, walking, or public transit, reaching the park is a breeze. Its central location and well-connected routes ensure that visitors can easily access the park’s many attractions and amenities.

Thus, whether you’re a local or a visitor, reaching and navigating Washington Park is guaranteed to be convenient and trouble-free.

Biking and Walking

Designed with pedestrian-friendly paths and bike-friendly streets, Washington Park encourages visitors to explore its landscapes on foot or by bike. The park’s design and Denver’s extensive network of bike lanes allow for easy and enjoyable travel around the park and to surrounding neighborhoods.

Whether you’re a passionate cyclist or a relaxed walker, Washington Park provides an ideal setting for outdoor enjoyment and promotes healthy, eco-friendly commuting.

Public Transit

For those who prefer public transit, Washington Park is conveniently accessible via the light rail’s E Line, which runs from Union Station to Louisiana and Pearl station. This easy access, combined with the park’s central location, makes it an ideal destination for those using public transportation.

Whether you’re commuting from downtown Denver or visiting from out of town, getting to Washington Park is just a ride away.

Nearby Neighborhoods and Attractions

Although Washington Park is a noteworthy destination on its own, the neighboring areas and attractions contribute to its allure. From the charming districts of Cherry Creek and Capitol Hill to the cultural hotspot of Golden Triangle, there’s much to explore beyond the park. Each area offers its unique shopping, dining, and cultural experiences, ensuring that your Denver adventure extends beyond the boundaries of Washington Park.

Cherry Creek

Just a stone’s throw away from Washington Park lies the upscale neighborhood of Cherry Creek. Known for its shopping and dining options, Cherry Creek features:

  • Over 160 stores in the Cherry Creek Shopping Center
  • An outdoor shopping district in Cherry Creek North
  • A variety of high-end brands and exclusive boutiques
  • Diverse eateries

Cherry Creek offers a shopping and dining experience like no other.

Capitol Hill & Golden Triangle

A short distance from Washington Park, Capitol Hill and Golden Triangle offer a mix of history, culture, and art. Capitol Hill, home to the golden-domed Colorado State Capitol and the historic Molly Brown House Museum, exudes a rich historical ambiance. The Golden Triangle Creative District, on the other hand, houses the Denver Art Museum and the Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art, serving as a cultural hub for art enthusiasts.

Offering a mix of history, art, and cuisine, these neighborhoods provide a broad spectrum of experiences for visitors.


From its rich historical roots and natural beauty to its array of recreational activities and charming neighborhoods, Washington Park truly is a gem in the heart of Denver. Its community spirit, vibrant events, and easy accessibility make it a beloved destination for locals and tourists alike. Whether you’re a nature lover, a history buff, a sports enthusiast, or a culinary adventurer, there’s something at Washington Park for everyone. So why wait? Pack a picnic, grab your bike, or lace up your walking shoes and discover the charm of Washington Park for yourself!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Washington Park Denver a good area?

Yes, Washington Park in Denver is a great area with well-kept properties, a broad mix of ages, and a beautiful park that encourages outdoor activities. It’s a beloved neighborhood that draws retirees, young families, and singles with its historic architecture and fantastic amenities.

How long is the walk around Washington Park Denver?

The walk around Washington Park in Denver is around 2.3 miles long. You can enjoy either a 2.6 mile outer loop with views of beautiful homes or a 2.3 mile inner loop that is free of cars and more park-like.

Are there bathrooms at Washington Park Denver?

Yes, public restrooms are available at Washington Park Denver, located at Race Street (open 9a-11p daily), Elm Street (open during events), and at the Children’s Playground (open from 9a-10p daily). They are regularly cleaned and stocked.

What is the history of Washington Park?

Washington Park has a rich history dating back to its creation in 1889. It has been influenced by notable figures such as Reinhard Schuetze, George Kessler, the Olmsted Brothers, and Margaret “Molly” Brown, and features notable designs like Evergreen Hill and the Perennial Garden.

How can I get to Washington Park?

You can easily get to Washington Park by biking, walking, or using public transit like the light rail’s E Line from Union Station to Louisiana and Pearl station. Enjoy your visit!

Latest Articles