In 2016, US News and World Report declared Denver the best city to live in the country. Now, three years later, Denver is ranked No. 2, after Austin. So what's behind the Mile High City's continuing popularity? Here are the features you can expect to enjoy if you are considering living in Denver.
Get Fit and Enjoy the Fresh Air with Denver’s Parks, Trails, Slopes, and Waterways
Do you enjoy biking to work or going for a ride on the weekend? Denver has more than 85 miles of paved trails that follow the city’s waterways and offer scenic routes through its neighborhoods. Along these trails, you can rent a bike with a credit card and return it to any of 85 stations. The city’s trail system also accommodates walkers, runners, and skaters, and the city removes snow and ice to keep the paths accessible year-round. Denver’s paved trails are supplemented by hundreds of miles of dirt trails.
You’ll also find mountain park trails, one of which winds around the famous Red Rocks Amphitheater. Located 1 1/2 hours northwest of Denver, Rocky Mountain National Park (pictured above on the right) offers recreation and beauty at elevations over 14,000 feet. You can take a scenic drive, hike, camp, ride on horseback, and admire mountains, lakes, fall leaves, and wildlife such as moose, bighorn sheep, and mule deer. Combined, the city’s urban and mountain parks total almost 20,000 acres.
Like to ski? Near Denver, you’ll find plenty of quick day trips to the slopes. Loveland Ski Area off I-70 is 50 minutes from downtown Denver and Arapahoe Basin is often open longer each season than other area slopes. For a trip to a world-class ski resort, the Keystone and Breckenridge resorts and Copper Mountain Ski Resort are each about 90 minutes from Denver (though traffic can make the drive longer on weekends and holidays). Other options include Winter Park Ski Resort and Eldora Mountain Ski Resort.
More outdoor activities in and around Denver include rafting, paddle boarding, rock climbing, fishing, golfing, kayaking, and snowboarding.
Relax and Savor Life with Denver’s Breweries, Distilleries, Wineries and Legal Marijuana
Wine is poured at Infinite Monkey Theorem, photo by Usaj Realty
Colorado has more than 300 craft breweries. In Denver, Black Shirt Brewing Co. in the River North Art District (RiNo) specializes in red ales and offers live music and food; Glendale’s Bull and Bush Pub and Brewery, open since 1971, offers beer, food, whiskey and live music; and Northwest Denver is home to Call to Arms Brewing Co., known for its wide selection of beer styles. Eater’s 38 Essential Colorado Breweries has more great suggestions, and many breweries offer tours.
There are now more than 50 distilleries in Colorado, including Denver area Stranahan’s, Law’s Whiskey House, Family Jones Spirit House, Leopold Bros., Mythology, Rising Sun and State 38, to name just a few. Whiskey is the most widely available spirit, but you’ll also find rum, gin, and more.
Colorado’s warm valleys, cool mountain breezes, low humidity, and 300 days of sunshine per year provide a unique grape-growing climate. The best known growing region is on the Western Slope but within Denver, you’ll find more than a dozen wineries and tasting rooms, including RiNo’s Infinite Monkey Theorem Urban Winery, known for its canned—yes, canned—wines; Balistreri Vineyards, an actual vineyard in the middle of Denver offering port, muscat, cherry wine, and various reds and whites; and Bonacquisti Wine Co. in northwest Denver, which features rotating exhibits from local artists. On the edge of Boulder, Redstone Meadery offers something different: wine made from honey.
If drinking isn’t your thing, you might appreciate the recreational marijuana that’s legal statewide. But if you’re concerned about moving to a state full of stoners, fear not; marijuana sales is highly regulated. Since it became legal, the laws have been changing including where it can be consumed and opening the business to out-of-state investors. Legalizing cannabis has been credited with saving lives that might have been consumed by opioid addictions, and it’s raised hundreds of millions in tax revenue.
Get Where You Want to Go on Denver’s Highly Rated Light Rail
Whether you hate to drive, can’t afford a car, want to minimize your carbon footprint, or want to consume your controlled substances responsibly, Denver’s 86.5 miles of rail have you covered. RTD’s rail and light rail lines provide convenient access to the Denver airport, Anschutz Medical Campus, Mile High Stadium (where the Broncos play), Coors Field (where the Rockies play), the theater district, Union Station and more.
Users say the system is well organized, clean, easy to navigate, and money-saving. It’s one of the largest light-rail systems in the country, and it’s helped revitalize downtrodden communities and create new TODs. It connects the suburbs to the city, and it’s just a 37-minute ride from the airport to downtown. You can bring your bike on board, and many rail stations connect to bus stops or park-and-ride lots.
Get Cultured in Denver’s Theaters, Museums, Galleries and Concert Venues
Red Rocks Amphitheater is an open-air concert venue where red sandstone formations create perfect acoustics and historic acts including Dave Matthews, U2, Jimi Hendrix, and the Beatles have played. Opened in 1941, visitors and performers themselves have described Red Rocks as a bucket-list item, a natural beauty and a drop-dead gorgeous venue with amazing sound. Besides concerts, the venue also hosts film and yoga events. It seats fewer than 10,000, allowing for a more intimate experience.
The latest entertainment venue in town is the Mission Ballroom. According to its website, the facility features 60,000 square feet of scalable, state-of-the art space that anchors North Wynkoop, a new 14-acre mixed use project by Denver-developers Westfield Company, located at the north-end of the RiNo neighborhood. The Mission Ballroom features a moving stage that provides flexible capacity from 2,200 to 3,950 guests, unrivaled sight lines via tiered rows, state-of-the-art sound and lights, and a large dance floor. Full-service bars conveniently placed around the venue maximize flow, efficiency and patron experience.
Although its focus is that of a premier concert facility, it also serves as special event space for corporate meetings and other functions, award shows, galas, weddings, receptions, launch parties, trade shows, private events and more.
Another great place to take in a show is the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. It offers Broadway musicals, opera, world-class plays and local theater. And Denver is home to more than a dozen museums, including the Denver Art Museum, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, the Children’s Museum, and the History Colorado Center. Further, the Art District on Santa Fe has more than 100 galleries, studios, and creative businesses.
As you can see, Denver has plenty to offer: you’ll never be bored here, and whether you like city life, natural beauty, or both, you can find your niche. Come join us!
(Editor's Note: This blog was originally published in October of 2017. It has been updated with new information).