Best Museum Shop 2017 | Denver Museum of Nature & Science | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
Aaron Thackeray

This town's museums and cultural facilities are as careful when stocking their gift shops as they are when booking their shows, choosing items that will expand on the institution's core mission...and maybe make some cash, too. The Denver Museum of Nature & Science gift shop does both, with a comprehensive library, a captivating collection of objects that encourage further exploration, and a wide selection of toys for all ages. Prices are reasonable — you won't break the bank buying a kitschy but educational item to quiet your kid, and maybe a little something to stimulate your mind, too. And you don't have to worry about breaking things, either: The staff lets you play with the toys, crack open the books and shop in a hands-on, brains-on sort of way.

Readers' Choice: Denver Art Museum

Best Place to Find High Fashion and Rising Artists


Whether it's clothing or canvas, Vanessa Barcus, the owner of Goldyn, knows how to curate. For nearly a decade, she's filled her boutique with art-minded pieces, including cutting-edge jewelry from the Woods, minimalist apparel from Shaina Mote, the classic modes of designer Helmut Lang and American-made denim by Simon Miller. But the real secret to Goldyn's upscale but approachable vibe comes from its connection with the local creative community: Painter Katy Zimmerman has designed a window display for the store, and her prints are always in stock and available for purchase, as are Kristen Hatgi-Sink's black-and-white photos and the meditational drawings of Gemma Danielle. Special shows and parties round out Goldyn's offerings. This place is dressed for success.

Stepping into the 5 Star Salt Caves can feel like an out-of-this-world experience: Here you are on South Pearl Street, but the soft pink glow of the place looks like the surface of another planet, complete with a fine, sandy salt floor. The state's first-ever salt cave is packed with the purported healing benefits of — you guessed it — salt, which is said to neutralize the electromagnetic radiation emanating off of our phones and computers and help to clean pollutants out of our respiratory system. The most immediate and gratifying perk of this healing zone is its calm: Each fifty-minute session at the 5 Star Salt Caves feels like it flies by, leaving frazzled patrons refreshed and recharged after a mid-day meditation in the briniest of seclusions.

We love it when shops team up in a space; as with co-working facilities, food courts and coffeehouse offices, it squeezes more good into a building, encouraging more meaningful conversations and better shopping. RiNo's Backyard on Blake is one of those places, with its blend of retail, restaurants, services and entrepreneurial studio spaces. And the marriage of Judith & Joe and La Lovely Vintage within its walls makes things that much cozier. At Judith & Joe, you can shop for new USA-made, sustainable, casual duds for him and her (and used records, btw!), while at La Lovely Vintage, the brick-and-mortar offshoot of a traveling boutique, you'll find curated vintage clothing and antique objects. Be hip, be retro: Suite 100's got you covered.

The name is layered with meaning, as is every tattoo created in this space. Bound by Design is a veteran tattoo and piercing shop that's definitely made its mark on Denver. Nearly twenty great tattoo artists — including Travis Koenig, Alissa Kendall, Kyle Porter, Jonathan Love, Corey Strange and Harry Catsis — use Bound by Design as their home base, and the staff is welcoming and friendly. You're bound to have a good experience here.

Readers' Choice: Black Voodoo Tattoo Parlour

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Want to get that tattoo before you lose your nerve? Head to Landmark Tattoo — quickly. This Capitol Hill tattoo parlor has five full-time tattoo artists, who create some of the most stunning, wildly imaginative black ink and American traditional tattoos in the city. And although many fans book appointments with the artists months in advance, the shop also takes walk-ins. You might have to wait a bit to sit down with an amazing artist like Seth Brown, Ben Thompson, Josh Ford or Nikolas Pew, but you can always pass the time chatting with owner and veteran graffiti artist Jher Seno.

Readers' Choice: Black Voodoo Tattoo Parlour

Ritual Tattoo & Gallery Facebook

If you're contemplating your first ink, there's nowhere better to get comfortable than Ritual Tattoo & Gallery. Owned by William Crandall and Sandi Calistro, this shop, hidden away on Jason Street in Sunnyside, boasts a roster of nine talented artists — Rochelle Marion, Rachel Paton, Sal Tino, Casey O, Jake Diamond and David Robinson among them — who all bring special points of view to tattoo designs. The space is decked out with original artwork by the artists, and a tiny pop-up of its witchy sister shop, RitualCravt, sits at the entrance, filled with talismans and charms that will help fortune smile on your new tat. Fair warning: Many of these artists, including Crandall and Calistro, are booked out six months in advance or more. But while you wait for your appointment to come up, you'll have plenty of time to decide on the perfect design. You can call for a consultation on that, too.

Readers' Choice: Black Voodoo Tattoo Parlour

Henna Luna

Longing for a full hand sleeve tattoo, but don't have the pain tolerance to get one? Henna Luna to the rescue! She specializes in temporary, safe henna tattoos that are as intricate and intensely vivid as the real thing — but they hurt less and last only a week or two. Henna Luna can take any tattoo design and make it her own; her portfolio includes everything from traditional Indian wedding hand tattoos to mandalas, animals, sacred geometry, flowers, all-seeing eyes and more. Henna Luna can be found Monday through Thursday at All Sacred Tattoo in Edgewater; she does private parties, too.


Lindsey Bartlett

We see a transformative psychic experience in your future, if you make a date with tarot-card reader, priestess, witch and spiritual guidance counselor Rory Lula McMahan. After nearly twenty years of tarot-card reading using the most classic form of cards, the Rider-Waite deck, McMahan will quickly tune in to your energy. Get a reading from her at Spirit Ways, RitualCravt or by scheduling a private appointment; she also runs Psychic Beauty, a metaphysical business that hosts classes on weekends.


Jon Solomon

Thirteenth Avenue — once a beacon for weirdos and a magnet for suburban teens aching to rub elbows with bona fide punks — has lost many of its eccentric tenants over the years, but Wax Trax remains. The record shop doesn't need to try hard to be cool: It embodies cool, with racks and rows of hand-picked albums, brand-new releases and collector's items expertly organized and resting comfortably in well-kept but ephemera-strewn rooms. Like any good music-selling institution, Wax Trax is staffed with knowledgeable, fairly approachable clerks, most of whom are in bands or were in bands (maybe even as an original member of your favorite band). Growth be damned: Wax Trax is a tried-and-true neighborhood record store that stays true to cool, despite the modernization all around it.

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