While Denver is known for its close proximity to the mountains, it also offers many of the amenities you'd expect to find in a big city. With so much to offer, it's no surprise many young professionals are moving here. If you're planning on joining those relocating to this Colorado city, here are some things to know.
1. Lots of people head to the mountains on the weekend.
Making a quick getaway is easy since you can reach hundreds of outdoor destinations in less than two-hours. With so many people looking to take advantage of the nearby natural areas, you can find lots of people who want to venture into the mountains to go hiking or go camping.
Rocky Mountain National Park is the most famous local outdoor area, and it's about an hour and a half away from Denver. The park is home to mountains, lakes, wildlife, and the famed Longs Peak.
Before you travel into the Rockies, remember that these are legitimate mountains! Some places are more than twice the elevation of Denver, so expect colder temperatures and increased snow and ice. Also, be aware that the weather in the mountains can rapidly change, so it's good to carry essentials like extra food and water.
Another popular outdoor destination is Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre. Located just 15 miles west of Denver, this park features seats amidst gorgeous red sandstone. Red Rocks hosts concerts, yoga sessions, and more.
Just because it's frigid and snowy in the winter, don't expect Denverites to stay inside. Once the snow begins falling, people flock to ski resorts or hit the trails to hike or snowshoe. If you don't love the cold, don't worry. Denver has plenty of coffee shops where you can snuggle up with a good book.
2. You can spend time outside without leaving the city.
If you don't want to spend time traveling outside the city but still want to spend some time outside, you're in luck. Washington Park covers 155 acres and has lakes and gorgeous flower gardens. You can fish in one of the two lakes, picnic on the grounds, or join in a game of volleyball. You can also find lakes and trails at City Park.
To find some of the best people-watching and outdoor dining in the city, head to the 16th Street Mall. This mile-long pedestrian mall features restaurants as well as movie theatres and boutiques.
If sports are your thing, head to Coors Field to root for the Colorado Rockies. Or catch a Broncos game at Empire Field at Mile High.
3. But you'll find plenty of indoor activities, too.
Lower Downtown (LoDo) is loaded with bars, restaurants, and pedestrians. Check out the improv shows at Voodoo Comedy and the artistically-prepared cocktails at the intimate yet friendly Union Lodge No. 1. While there is nightlife in Denver, few people stay out late.
You can also check out live performances at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts or stroll through the exhibits at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science or the Denver Art Museum. Or if you're feeling sporty during the colder weather, you can catch a Nuggets game.
4. The cost of living is relatively high.
While Denver is cheaper than Boston, San Francisco, and other cities, its housing costs are higher than the national average in the United States. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Denver is around $1,440. However, like any city, housing costs vary depending on the neighborhood. You'll pay more for housing in Union Station, Highland, and Five Point while you're more likely to find a deal Lincoln Park and University Hills.
Housing costs continue to increase as more people move to the area. Since there is such a young population, about half of the population rents their home, leading to a competitive rental market.
5. The mile-high city name is literal.
While recreational marijuana is legal throughout the city (though use is only legal in private residences), that's not where the city gets its nickname. Denver is situated one mile above sea level, making it one mile high.
This altitude can take a bit to get used to, especially if you moved from a coastal city like New York or Los Angeles. You really do have to follow the "high altitude" instructions on the back of that cake box, and you might find yourself getting out of breath faster than you're used to.
6. Denver is not a hub of cultural diversity.
If there's one noticeable area where Denver is lacking, it's diversity. The city is majority white and is noticeably less culturally diverse than cities like New York, Houston, and Washington, D.C.
7. The city is filled with youthful energy.
Sixty percent of Denver's residents are under the age of 40, and a lot of these residents are Millennials or members of Gen Z. In Denver, 38% are between the ages of 20-39. Compare that to New York City where 32% of residents fall within this age bracket, and to the United States where it's only 27%.
8. People care about the environment and physical fitness.
Some of the stereotypes about Denver ring true. Residents here do care more about the health of both themselves and the environment than residents in other cities.
The combination of these two interests may explain why the city is so bike-friendly. Even though the majority of residents own cars, you'll see people biking throughout the area. Whether you like to cruise along on the roads or go for a scenic ride on the Cherry Creek Bike Path, there's a spot where everyone can ride.
With that said, most people in Denver have a live and let live attitude. While people have their passions, they won't push them on you, as long as you don't push your interests on them.
9. Get ready to enjoy the sunshine...and sunscreen.
While you may think of snow when you think of Denver, it's also sunny. With that said, don't believe the city has 300 days of sunshine. In reality, the city has about 115 sunny days and 130 partly cloudy days each year.
When the sun does come out, remember that Denver is located 5,280 feet above sea level, so the sun is more intense than at lower elevations. Just because you're fine with sunny days in San Francisco or Los Angeles doesn't mean you can skip on sun safety. Sunburns are real.
10. The city feels new.
Much of Denver appears new in both its architecture and residents. While there are some gritty places filled with character and stories, a lot of restaurants and other businesses are new since many hole-in-the-wall places went under as rental prices increased.
11. Expect substantial traffic in the Denver Metro Area.
If you're moving from a city like Chicago or Austin, traffic here won't seem bad. Still, there's noticeable traffic, especially during rush hour. Denver drivers waste an average of 63 hours each year due to congestion.
Public transportation does exist, and you can take a bus or light rail to Boulder, Lakewood, and Aurora. There aren't a ton of stations though, so you'll likely have to walk or bike to your end destination.
12. There's a brewery for every week of the year...plus some.
If you like craft beer, you'll have plenty of chances to sample some different brews. The Denver Area has around 150 breweries — that's about 6 per every 50,000 city residents.
To check out a bunch in one place, head to Downtown Denver or the River North Arts District (RiNo).
Hit the trail and head to Denver.
Whether you're planning on spending your time inside or out, you can make yourself at home in Denver. As long as you don't get altitude sickness and are okay with the chilly weather, you'll feel at home in no time.
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