When we grew tired of city life in Denver, we bought the 1998 book, “100 Best Small Art Towns in America” by John Villani. Ryan went to art school and I am a writer. We wanted a town that was inspiring and creative. We decided to visit the Colorado art towns listed in the book. Loveland is number 8. Better yet, this city, and its longtime, vibrant, sculpture scene, inspired the writing of the book.
We drove through Loveland in the spring, while the big trees downtown were beginning to bud and immediately began shopping for a house. Five months later, we bought our Loveland home. That was in 2003. We’ve seen Loveland undergo a lot of change, for one thing, it’s grown. However, the best changes have been downtown.
No longer sleepy, it’s busy on any given weekend. There are restaurants, breweries, shops, galleries, and even a movie theater and parking garage. Downtown Loveland has come a long, long way.
Earlier this month, we spent time reacquainting ourselves with the artistic side of downtown Loveland.
First up, we toured the Loveland Museum, a place we hadn’t visited in years. There is a Main Gallery, currently hosting a John Mellencamp art show (not installed in time for our visit), a Dunning Gallery, currently featuring the story of James Disney, a number of historical exhibits, a huge topographical map of the area, and a room dedicated to the Valentine’s Remailing Program (since 1946).
The Main Gallery plays host to the Colorado Governor’s Art Show scheduled for 2023, May 6 through June 11. This is a collection of some of the best and most astounding artists in Colorado. Having been to this art show a handful of times, I encourage everyone to schedule it now.
Anyone with even the slightest interest in Loveland should visit the Loveland Museum. Admission is free but the Main Gallery show is $7 per person over 13 years old.
Next up, we ran around downtown, on foot, searching for murals to photograph. We scampered down alleys, mosied down sidewalks, and gazed at dozens of brick buildings. Murals are everywhere in downtown Loveland, and finding them is a nice way to spend the afternoon.
While searching for murals we stumbled on the holiday art market at Art Space Loveland. The building, on the site of Loveland’s historic feed and grain, provides 30 live/work spaces for artists. The market featured artists who work and/or live here (other artists as well). The market fit our artsy downtown Loveland theme nicely.
This town is brimming with artists and has been for many years. In the 1970s, there were three foundries in town, so it has always been known for sculpture, and these can be seen around town.
The night before we had been downtown for the Festival of Lights and the lighting of the Christmas tree that stands in front of The Rialto Theater. The theater hosts the likes of Hazel Miller & The Collective, The Petty Nicks Experience, local plays and old movies. A 102-year-old theater, it is the undeniable cornerstone of downtown.
That evening we dined on juicy pepper steak at The Black Steer, what I believe to be Loveland’s most iconic restaurant. This is our go-to place for steak and hamburgers downtown. Having been around since 1966, in this world of posh and new, The Black Steer is a refreshing blast from the past. And the food is always delicious. If these walls could talk!
Earlier, we’d had a glass of wine at Door 222 Food & Drink (2013). I believe, it set the bar for amazing food in modern-day downtown, and other restaurant owners have stepped up to the plate.
For lunch, during our art day in downtown Loveland, we stopped in at Taste Local. One can always depend on this charming eatery to have tasty, not to mention beautiful, food. I am a huge fan of the potato salad and there’s no better sandwich in Loveland. By the way, their Instagram page makes my mouth water.
I’d be remiss not to mention the fact that downtown is home to six breweries. I’ve written about all of them in this article. Also, Loveland Tap & Tavern, though not a brewery, is a personal downtown favorite.
Please note that Downtown Loveland has a gift card program, which we used for all our dining and drinking. It is good at 40 downtown businesses, including retail shops, and makes the perfect gift for anyone with a pension for supporting mom-and-pop stores.
By the way, I am not much of a shopper (my longtime readers are aware of this), however, I do love Independence Gallery in the middle of downtown Loveland. Art is something that last and this is why we often give it as a gift, and I can always find something at this Loveland gallery. Featuring local artists like the owner and artist Billie J. Colson and my friend, Kerri Sewolt of Chuckles Studios, and approachable prices, Independence Gallery is our go-to for gifts in downtown Loveland.
This “trip” to my hometown of Loveland, Colorado, was a good reminder of why we moved here. It’s not the small town it used to be, but nearly nothing on Colorado’s Front Range has remained the same in the last twenty years.
Loveland has sprawl, but there’s a lot to do here—a lot more than when we made the move in 2003. Every day, we enjoy amazing creativity in Loveland, from murals and sculptures to delicious, Instagram-worthy sandwiches and craft beer.
Whether you need a reminder of why it is good to live in Loveland, or whether you are visiting for the first time, take it from a local, this town is absolutely worth a first or a fresh, new look.
READ my previous post on Loveland – Light up the Holidays: Green Chile & Hockey in Loveland, Colorado
Thank you to Visit Loveland for hosting us during our staycation in Loveland, Colorado.