Everything old is new again. There’s a lot of subtle meaning behind that phrase, but it’s quite literal for Denver’s historic Union Station. Once an abandoned building reserved for Denver’s seedier residents, Union Station is now a crown-jewel of moving from Denver to all parts of the country. Let’s learn everything you need to know about Union Station, including a little background and what you can enjoy in this beautiful and historic building.
History of Denver's Union Station
During the mid-19th century, Denver was a popular stop for trains utilizing the new Denver Pacific Railway that connected the Mile-High City and Cheyenne, Wyoming. By 1875 the line’s popularity created four different Denver stations, which made the transfer of goods and people tedious. To fix the situation, the Union Pacific Railroad came up with the idea for one central "Union Station" to connect and simplify the various lines.
The four major railroads in Denver agreed, and a site at the intersection of Denver’s Wynkoop and 17th Streets was chosen for the location. Kansas City-based architect A Taylor was selected to lead the design, and Union Station opened in 1894. In 1906 the famous arch was added to welcome travelers and visitors.
The station saw several transformations and historical figures throughout the 20th century, including Queen Marie of Romania, Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Franklin Roosevelt.
Union Station’s most significant update came after Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD) bought the station in 2001. Denver officials envisioned a new multi-transportation hub to serve residents and clean up the area. Construction of the new light rail lines and service hubs began in 2010, and though the development of new routes from Union Station is still ongoing, many of the major lines and 22-gate bus concourse have already opened. In 2014 the station house re-opened with a fresh new Romanesque Revival façade, restaurants and bars, coffee shops, ice cream, new platforms, and the 112-room Crawford Hotel.
What to Do at Union Station
A few years ago, no one would dream of hanging out at Union Station, but the renovations, updates, and new tenants have transformed the depot from a rundown building into ‘Denver’s living room.’ You can hang out at Union Station without any plans to take a bus or train.
What to Eat at Union Station
You don’t think of the train station for a great meal, but Union Station provides incredible dining options. You can find a deli, pizzeria, ice cream shop, breakfast food, and fine dining. The most popular Union Station dining experiences include the always-packed Snooze an AM Eatery, seafood at Stoic & Genuine, tapas at Ultreia, or steaks and cocktails at the Cooper Lounge. Union Station is also home to Mercantile Dining and Provision run by James Beard award winner Alex Seidel.
What to Drink at Union Station
Union Station is at the heart of Denver’s hip LoDo neighborhood and has become a destination in itself. The station’s primary watering hole is the Terminal Bar. Though not in its original location, the historic Terminal Bar has been slinging drinks to patrons for decades. It is currently home to thirty different local beers, cocktails, and an extensive wine list. Union Station patrons can grab a drink at several of the in-house restaurants, but if you’re going to Union Station for the good times, you must stop at the Terminal Bar.
Union Station Accommodations
The new station house opened in 2014 as a combination of eating/drinking hotspots, waiting platforms, and the 112-room Crawford Hotel. The Crawford is an independently owned luxury hotel that overlooks the Great Hall of Union Station. There are three unique types of rooms at the Crawford, including the convenient and affordable Pullman room, the Classic guest room, and a loft guest room overlooking the LoDo neighborhood.
Where Does Denver's Union Station Go?
Union Station is most famous for its A-Line, more popularly known as the train to the plane since it makes it last stop at Denver International Airport. Though popular for quick airport rides, Union Station is a primary transit hub with bus service around the Denver metro, several light rail lines, and Amtrak service to several parts of the country. You can catch an Amtrak to Chicago, take the free downtown shuttle to Denver’s Civic Center, take advantage of the light rail for quick passage around the city, or hop on the free Mallride to enjoy nearby 16th St Mall. If you’re going in or out of the city, the services at Union Station can get you there.
The station also offers temporary or seasonal trains and shuttles to the Front Range mountains and other destinations. You’ll have to check Union Station’s schedules for the unique and temporary shuttle and transportation services.
Nearby Union Station
Union Station provides a lot of entertainment, but the entire LoDo neighborhood is full of attractions and things to do. If you’ve seen enough, you can venture nearby to Coors Field for a baseball game, Larimer Square for live music and brews, or 16th St Mall for shopping. You don’t have to have a destination; take a walk, and you’ll find something fun to do.
Check Out Denver's Union Station Yourself
Falling apart years ago, Union Station is now a Denver landmark to grab a drink, eat award-winning food, board a bus for the other side of the city, or train for the other side of the country. If you find yourself in the LoDo neighborhood or need a ride to the airport, stop by Union Station for a unique Denver experience.