There are times when you yearn for breathing space—just to step out of bounds for a day and invest in your mind, body and soul. Not far removed from home, historic downtown Littleton lovingly houses a unique congregation of merchants who refresh the weary woman and send solace to her spirit. Radiating its turn-of-the-century, small-business aura, this committed district honors the importance of local shopping and those who come to experience what a modern mall just can’t offer. Exhale and go forth, madame.
The first stop on the path to a little femme zen is a captivating visual to behold, extending an invitation of mellow but exotic aromas that pique the senses. Occupying too much worldly product to store in any conventional manner, an elephantine trellis of devout wooden cabinets with drawers holding more than 170 different teas escalates to the ceiling, momentarily stunning the tea newbie. One of the highly trained tea experts concentrates your focus, using a series of gentle questions aimed at quickly narrowing their offerings down to three that fit with your taste and mood on that particular day and time. If you remark upon the eclectic knobs gracing the drawers, they’ll tell you they are gifts from customers, brought back from all over the world.
From peaches and cream tea to vanilla coconut black tea to Wen Shan Bao Zhong oolong, these teas and tisanes are notably unique in their flavorful delivery. Some may stimulate your creativity, others may calm your center, a few may help with your cold; however, all prompt reason to pause during your day. You can enjoy local baked goods and sandwiches while you relax and savor the tea that’s brewed right before you get to sip it. It’s easy to see how routine tea consumption could be made a habit.
A true tea aficionado will go to the ends of the earth to drink the rare teas from the Connoisseur Collection. Sourced from around the globe, they start at $250 per pound but are sold in small quantities and brewed in-house for only $8.99 a pot. If a little spirit is called for, branching out to a clever tea-infused cocktail will likely hit the spot. The lass who finds tea a religious experience will find rapture brewing here.
Put your feet up, sister. Close your eyes and settle in for some concentrated contentment. A calming, modern, taupe-gray interior with splashes of energized orange greet you upon inside passage, drawing you further into this vintage Victorian home that was once a convent. Incorporating Chinese philosophy’s five ancient elements of water, wood, fire, earth and metal, this spa of many firsts operates on comfort and trust—and something that goes beyond conventional spas.
The realization of a dream for the owner, prodded on by her late husband who later died from pancreatic cancer, this place of rejuvenation is the first Denver institution to be certified as a Wellness for Cancer facility in the metro area. From the receptionist to the massage therapist, employees are trained to assist cancer patients and their caregivers, imparting a very necessary sense of stress reduction, nurturing and normalcy for them—a much-valued benefaction.
Beyond classic spa services, you will find otherworldly gemstone facials, bamboo massages and salt inhalation and sound resonance therapies. Imported from Germany, the heated quartz sand bed and the dry float bed are spectacular foundations for specialized treatments, the latter of which is one of the few known in the U.S. and the only one in Colorado. In selfless fashion, their restorative yoga studio, Shift, features a floor traditionally employed for deaf people, wired with 48 transducers so that music resonates into your being. There is nothing standard about any of these extraordinary services designed for your quiet bliss.
McKinner’s Pizza Bar
When your stomach is vacant after a spate of serious relaxation, this place invites you to sink into a roomy booth that has known decades of life. The historic aspect of downtown Littleton shines through when stepping into this authentically antique yet contemporary pizza bar known for outstandingly delicious, creative pizzas and its old-time bar area. Fondly held in the quarters of the old Valore Hardware building, the original plank flooring tells a story of seasoned commitment, much like you notice in the staff.
You’re in for a treat if you’re here for the handcrafted pizza that’s prepared with care for all to witness in a glass-partitioned area at the fore of the establishment. If you’re up for something unique, pick from notable pie choices like the prosciutto and pear or the Oystermiller, a pizza crafted with smoked oysters, mozzarella and house-made sausage. Designing your own pizza is an exercise in restraint with ingredients like cream cheese, capicola and garlic-stewed tomatoes in the offing.
Pizza pie aside, this fresh food is quite memorable, especially the Tomozz B (think caprese!) with the house-made balsamic reduction and the Tubbies Nummies, a culinary dream of fresh-baked, buttered and grilled banana bread topped with toasted coconut and maple cream. A lady can enjoy both at the behemoth bar that stretches across one of the timeworn walls, owning taps that dispense only distinctive local brews, reflecting their celebration of everything local, delicious and comfortable. Girls need carbs, too.
The Chocolate Therapist
Punctuating this "treat yourself" day, this downtown store delivers nothing short of an extra-sensory experience. Upon entry, one is hit with the deep, almost tangible, aroma of chocolate—virtually absorbed into your being as you stop a few feet beyond the door to gain your bearings. As you advance to acquire the house-made hot chocolate, a glance around tells you this is not your average chocolate purveyor. Taking a seat in this quaint shop to indulge in the locally roasted coffee lets you take it all in for a moment before you browse, which you will.
It certainly houses an outstanding selection of assorted chocolates, caramels, patties, mints, bars, barks and award-winning toffees made in the in-shop kitchen. But it also displays an array of chocolates that pair separately with tea, beer or whiskey, in addition to offering milk and dark chocolates that pair separately with wine. Furthering this chocolate venture, there are 12 varieties of chocolate bars that each pair with different wines, as explained by a handy chocolate-and-wine pairing guide, which, along with the other tomes on chocolate and nutrition, were all penned by the master behind the counter, Julie Nygard.
Founder, nutritionist, author and speaker on the nuances and health aspects of chocolate, Julie can not only tell you which of her rich, handmade chocolates to pair with a Beaujolais but she can also advise you how to eat chocolate every day in a healthy way. The dark chocolate is dairy-free, and her entire chocolate repertoire is all-natural, made with organic oils and is gluten-free—a nice surprise, considering the truly tantalizing taste.
This mouthwatering chocolate indulgence is an epic way to top off a groovy girl getaway in historic downtown Littleton. And you completely deserved it.