Weathervane Cafe
Kristin Pazulski

There's a lot going on inside the quaint two-story carriage house that's home to Weathervane Cafe. The initial draw of this coffee shop is a menu of great coffee, vast tea options and a rotating selection of small plates and local sweets coming out of the petite kitchen. But Weathervane's self-described "retail pantry" is reason to stay for a little more to drink — and a lot of shopping. The uncluttered shelves of this pantry hold many delightful things: locally made jewelry, jams, pickles, honeys, tonics, housewares and even apparel. From healing bee pollens to decorative houseplants and distinctive pottery, this hip general store is a best-kept-secret one-stop shop for gifts, especially during the stressful holiday season.

The Wizard's Chest
By Lonnie Hanzon, courtesy of the Wizard's Chest

After more than three decades in Cherry Creek North, the Wizard's Chest decided to leave its quaint castle for a bigger, better kingdom on 4th and Broadway. Going from 8,500 to 18,000 square feet, Denver's beloved home base for Magic: The Gathering aficionados, puzzle masters and costume seekers creates a magical new world from the ground up. The store brought in artist and designer Lonnie Hanzon to craft the perfect facade for the new fortress of fun. Hanzon — who's been involved with the Wizard's Chest since its early-'80s beginnings — is the magician behind the store's iconic and bold castle aesthetic, and the new spot is just as whimsical and inviting as the original. Plus — abracadabra! — there's parking.

303-321-4304
wizardschest.com

Ever since Fifty Two 80's opened its doors two years ago, filled to the brim with every bit of pop culture that defined that tubular decade, the store's Denver Broncos memorabilia section has been front and center, no matter how the team has performed on any given Sunday. And while those classic pieces were a big draw during this winning Super Bowl season, there's still plenty left. So if you want to show off your team-rooting roots with a T-shirt or tumbler bearing that classic D logo with the sneering horse (a true throwback to the Elway era), then make your way to this South Broadway site to stock up for next year. After all, it's never too early — or too late — to be a fan.

1874 S. Broadway
720-363-9231
the80sareawesome.com
Ironwood Gallery

Curiosities abound within the walls of Ironwood, a shop specializing in decorative pieces for the home and human. Peek through the store's looking glass of a front window to see its uncommon treasures sparkle. Among other things, you'll find succulents and precious gems sharing shelf space with books and jewelry made from animal teeth. Inside, Ironwood wears its minimal square footage well, hosting art shows in which paintings and collages harmonize with the merchandise. Live music and small parties have been a part of the retail store's life, too, adding to the cozy house-show vibe. This old soul of a store has settled so nicely into the South Broadway 'hood over the past few years that you would swear it's been a part of the city's identity for decades.

Readers' choice: Buffalo Exchange
Spiritways

The magic begins before you even set foot inside Spirit Ways, with fairies peering out from underneath beautiful crystals and glass art hanging from ribbons in the store window. As you enter, you're greeted by the smell of incense and a staff of experts, ready with answers and information about all things metaphysical. For seasoned witches, wizards and spellcasters, Spirit Ways carries a great selection of healing herbs and crystals, essential oils, ceremonial apparel and more. Beginners just entering the magical realm can find tarot-reading instruction manuals, spell kits and lots of guidance from a rotating staff of in-store intuitives and spirit guides, available by appointment. For nearly twenty years, Spirit Ways has been enhancing Colfax with its enchanting inventory and spellbinding presence. Magic, indeed.

Readers' choice: Twist & Shout
I Heart Denver Store

I Heart Denver expanded late last year with a second store at Southwest Plaza in Littleton, giving us even more of this retailer to love. But don't miss the place where it all started, on the second level of the increasingly vibrant Denver Pavilions: More than 150 artists and designers from Denver and Colorado sell their products at I Heart Denver, and the array of items — from original artworks to hand-screened Colorado-centric tees — is amazing at both the downtown location and the new space. No matter what you walk away with — and it's likely to be a big bag of goodies — you can feel good knowing that you've shown some local love.

Readers' choice: Tattered Cover
Tattered Cover DIA
Denver International Airport

Did you forget to pick up gifts for the folks you left behind? No problem. Head to the center of the C Concourse, where Out West stocks an amazing array of Western and Southwestern-themed products — some actually made in the region rather than in China. (The owner, Avila, is based in Albuquerque.) You'll find Native American handcrafted pottery, hats, belts, toys, jewelry and T-shirts. And in case you're headed off on a business trip and neglected to pack proper apparel, you can even pick up an outfit that won't make you look too much like an extra in a Wild West show. There's a second store in the main terminal, but browsing here is a great way to pass the time when you discover that your flight's been delayed.

C Concourse
303-342-6446
avilaretail.com
Readers' choice: Tattered Cover

Tennyson Street has seen its share of turnover, much of it caused by a morass of a construction project five years ago, which decimated many shops along the beleaguered drag. But like America after the recession, Tennyson is back in business, with a fresh mix of shops, galleries and eateries that seem to click — and appear to have staying power. Sip some wine and browse for books at BookBar, shop for pre-loved secondhand garb at Clotheshorse, spoil your pet at Mouthfuls, find a handmade treasure at Jolly Goods or spruce up your man at Spruce — and when you're ready to take a load off, find a table at such popular restaurants as Parisi, El Chingon and Hops & Pie. Tennyson Street is back in the game.

tennysonst.com
tbbadenver.org
Readers' choice: South Broadway
Buffalo Bill Memorial Museum

High up on Lookout Mountain, the Buffalo Bill Museum & Grave — part of the Denver Mountain Parks systems — honors William F. Cody, aka Buffalo Bill, a legendary character of the Old West and sometime Denver resident (we had to fight Wyoming to keep Cody here permanently) who was the first great marketer, according to museum director Steve Friesen. The museum is filled with exhibits celebrating Cody's life and the way in which he affected our view of the West: At one point the showman was the most famous man in the world. But it's the gift shop next door — in a log structure that was the first building on this stunning site — that really shows how the West was fun. It's full of much more than rubber tomahawks, though; you'll find great jewelry, a big book collection, art and clothing along with the kitsch.

Readers' choice: Denver Museum of Nature & Science
Wax Trax Records

Although you can occasionally find rare local records at record stores around town, they're usually sitting unappreciated on a shelf or in a bin. A better choice is to head straight to Wax Trax, which has the best selection of local music — past and present — at a reasonable price. The 45s section of the vinyl store includes choice artifacts from Denver's past, including '90s indie pop, '80s and '90s hardcore and weirdo releases unique to this city. Also, in the Just In bin at the entrance, you can sometimes find old Ministry twelve-inches, way-out-of-print Fluid vinyl and early Pinhead Circus records.

Best Of Denver®

Best Of