Here's What its Like to Live in Denver
Regularly voted as one of the country's best places to live, Denver has become a hot spot for Americans who enjoy the great outdoors. Keep reading to learn more about Colorado's booming capital before making it your home.
Denver is a picturesque city located just east of the Rocky Mountains in the South Platte River Valley. It is 30 miles southeast of Boulder and 70 miles north of Colorado Springs, and U.S. Highway 36 and Interstate 25 make it easy to access these major Colorado cities.
It's easy to see why Denver is known as the "Mile High City." The city is approximately 5,280 feet above sea level, so prepare for a little altitude adjustment after moving!
Denver's Most Popular Neighborhoods
Denver has a variety of great neighborhoods, and each has its unique character. Which one will you call home?
The Highlands is a family-friendly neighborhood with Victorian homes and beautiful parks and gardens. There are many independent stores, galleries, and restaurants in this perennial favorite.
Capitol Hill is a cool bohemian community located east of the Golden Triangle. You'll love its hipster bars, coffee shops, and the live music and food trucks hosted by the Civic Center Park between May and October. Capitol Hill is also home to many of Denver's best museums, such as the Denver Art Museum, Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art, and Molly Brown House Museum.
River North Art District
The River North Art District (or RiNo, as the locals call it) is predicted to be the natural successor to Capitol Hill. It has a similar counterculture ethos, but it's more punk rock than Capitol Hill is. Its old factories have been transformed into jazz bars, brewpubs, eateries, and galleries. Street murals add extra color to this dynamic community.
Uptown is a vibrant area popular among college graduates. Studio apartments in this neighborhood are modern and are located near the best eateries and bars of Restaurant Row. With miles of jogging and bike paths that offer panoramic views of the area, you'll never need a gym membership.
Just outside Denver's buzzing business and tourist districts you'll find Lower Downtown (or LoDo). This central neighborhood is popular among wealthy millennials who want to be near everything that Denver offers. Its historic brick buildings are pricey but charming. It is centrally located and near the coolest bars, stores, and businesses.
If you have cash to spare, you'll love the ultra-exclusive Country Club neighborhood. This suburban community has beautiful parks, excellent schools, and high-quality restaurants and bars. The area attracts established couples and families who are looking to buy homes.
If you love the high-end atmosphere of Country Club but don't want to spend a fortune on a house, try Cherry Creek. This neighborhood has a sophisticated atmosphere, but the homes aren't as expensive as those in its elite neighbor. It's also home to many of Denver's finest restaurants and luxury stores. The neighborhood hosts an arts festival during the 4th of July weekend and a food and wine festival every August, which bring together locals and visitors.
Living in Denver
Denver's excellent facilities and recreational opportunities make it a fantastic place to live. Since there are affordable accommodations near important business areas, many Denver residents don't have long commutes. Most of the locals enjoy a healthy work-life balance.
Denver's proximity to the Rocky Mountains and expansive network of jogging and bike paths have helped make its residents some of the most active in the nation. The city also has exceptional arts and cultural facilities. Denver regularly hosts theatrical productions, art exhibitions, and concerts by musicians of all genres.
“Colorado courtesy” is legendary. Denver is a very inclusive city, and its bars, restaurants, and nightspots were designed to get locals to talk to each other. If you get nervous about the prospect of making new friends, eat at a restaurant that has communal tables, such as Uncle or Vine Street Pub. It won't take long before you feel at home in this friendly city.
Working in Denver
Denver has a strong economy with a booming job market and an unemployment rate that's lower than the national average. New residents will find job opportunities in a variety of industries and in businesses of all sizes, from small family-owned companies and start-ups to multinational organizations. The following are a few of the largest job sectors in Denver.
Colorado is home to the densest concentration of private aerospace employees in the country. In fact, its aerospace economy is second only to California's. Denver is home to aerospace firms such as:
- Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.
- The Boeing Company.
- Harris Corporation.
- Lockheed Martin.
- Northrop Grumman.
- Sierra Nevada Corporation.
- United Launch Alliance.
Lockheed Martin's Denver branch built the InSight spacecraft that NASA sent to Mars. Sierra Nevada made the Dream Chaser that resupplied the International Space Station. Ball Aerospace's spacecraft will be integral to efforts to explore black holes and neutron stars. All these achievements have made Colorado one step closer to its ambition of becoming “Aerospace Alley.”
Denver International Airport is one of the busiest transport hubs in the country. It generates $26 billion of the $28 billion in total revenue of the aviation industry in the Metro Denver and Northern Colorado area. Though headquartered in Chicago, United Airlines' Central and Western hub is based at Denver International Airport. This airline represents 42 percent of the airport's traffic.
The future looks bright for the next generation of local aviation workers. The Aviation and Aerospace Science Department at Metropolitan State University of Denver is one of the nation's largest and most advanced college aviation programs. The campus is also home to Robert K. Mock World Indoor Airport, a leading college aviation and aerospace computer and flight simulation training lab.
With its major banks and brokerage firms, Denver's 17th Street has been dubbed the “Wall Street of the Rockies.” This street and others nearby make up the largest financial center between Chicago and Los Angeles. It's home to the Denver Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and the Denver Mint, the largest coin producer in the world. Approximately 80 percent of Colorado's finance employees work in Denver. These are just a few of the many leading financial service companies headquartered in Denver:
- Janus Capital Group.
- Bank of Denver.
- Western Union.
- Fortis Private Bank.
- Summit Investment Management.
Health Care and Wellness
Since Denver has one of the most active populations in the country, it's no surprise that it has many businesses focused on health care and wellness. In addition to gymnasia and recreational centers, the city has several prestigious hospitals and health care facilities, including:
- Porter Adventist Hospital.
- Rose Medical Center.
- SCL Health Saint Joseph Hospital.
- Colorado Acute Long-Term Hospital.
- Colorado Mental Health Institute at Fort Logan.
- Denver Health.
In addition to traditional health care companies, Denver also has many start-ups that have been shaking up the industry. NextHealth Technologies has developed software to help people with high-cost health care plans find more cost-effective options. OrthoFi's software helps orthodontists grow their practices. WellTok's CaféWell platform incentivizes health insurance members to make healthier choices.
Regardless of what area of health and wellness you're interested in, you'll find many opportunities in Denver.
Educational Opportunities in Denver
Denver regularly ranks as the most educated city in the nation. Its population has more high school and college graduates than any other major city.
Most students go through the Denver Public Schools system, which has more than 200 schools and approximately 92,000 students at any given time. Some of the best schools in this system are:
- Denver School of the Arts.
- D'Evelyn Junior/Senior High School.
- Slavens Elementary School.
- McAuliffe International.
- Denver School of Science & Technology: Byers Middle School.
- Carson Elementary School.
- Cory Elementary School.
Students who want to pursue higher education have several options close to home, including the following highly regarded universities and colleges:
- University of Denver.
- Regis University.
- University of Colorado Denver.
- Metropolitan State University of Denver.
Weather in Denver
Denver has a semi-arid continental climate with four distinct seasons. Rain is rare, however, and Denver enjoys an average of 300 days of sunshine annually. Weather on the High Plains can change quickly, so you should get used to dressing in layers and carrying an umbrella.
Summers in Denver range from mild to hot, with average temperatures in the mid-70s in July. Thunderstorms are most common during this season.
Skiers and snowboarders love Denver during the winter. The city usually receives around 53.5 inches of snow between late fall and early spring. The Chinook winds can make some winter days mild. On a given day, it could be as cold as zero degrees or as warm as 60 degrees.
Spring and fall bring pleasant weather with occasional snow. Many locals enjoy these seasons the most because the weather is comfortable and moderate, perfect for spending time outdoors.
Getting Around Denver
It can take some time to become familiar with downtown Denver's diagonal layout. Streets running from southeast to northwest are numbered, while streets running from southwest to northeast have names. Outside the downtown area, numbered streets run from east to west, while named streets run from north to south. Driving from the downtown area to the suburbs can be tricky, so you'll want to leave plenty of time to reach your destination.
Most Denver residents drive, so you should expect some congestion during peak hours. Allowing extra travel time is especially crucial in the mornings and evenings.
Parking is metered in downtown Denver, though you can usually park for free between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. during the week and all day on weekends. Look out for the new smart meters; these charge a discounted rate late at night and early in the morning. If you fail to pay these, you'll receive a parking fine. All meters accept credit card payments.
Several places outside the downtown area stop metered parking at 6 p.m. during the week, and weekend parking is usually free. Many residential areas allow resident parking only, so look for signs before leaving your car.
The Regional Transportation District (RTD) oversees Denver's bus and light rail networks. RTD buses are the most popular form of public transportation because they can take you virtually anywhere in the city. For single journeys, you can get a low fixed rate. Your ticket also entitles you to a return journey within one hour after reaching your destination.
RTD also operates a free shuttle bus along the 16th Street pedestrian mall. This is a convenient way to get around Denver's popular tourist area.
When exploring outside the city, use one of the RTD regional coaches. These buses travel to Boulder, Longmont, and Denver's northern suburbs. These services are limited, though, so you'll want to check the timetable while planning your journey.
Denver's light rail will take you from the downtown area to key points in the metropolitan area and to Englewood, Littleton, Aurora, Golden, and Wheat Ridge. You can purchase a ticket from one of the machines at your light rail station.
Denver's extensive bike network encourages locals to explore the city on two wheels. The main bike paths run along Cherry Creek and the Platte, but there are bike lanes on several key downtown streets. Grab a bike map at the downtown information center or a bike shop around the city to familiarize yourself with these lanes. If you want to ride somewhere that doesn't have a designated bike lane, don't stress. Local drivers respect cyclists and will typically give you the space you need.
Bikes are treated as vehicles, so you'll have to follow the rules of the road. If you run a red light or stop sign, you'll get a ticket. You should keep as far right as possible, unless you're riding with at least two others. In that case, you can take up an entire lane. If you plan on riding after dark, fit your bike with a front light. Bike theft is common in Denver, so chain your bike with a combination lock when you're not using it.
If you don't own a bike, consider joining Denver's bike share program, B-cycle. Memberships are available online and at any of the city's bike share stations. After joining, you can take rides that are less than 30 minutes for free. You can take longer rides for a small fee.
Denver's Culinary Scene
When you're as active as the people of Denver, you work up an appetite. The city has a culinary scene that rivals those in many other major metropolitan areas. However, the restaurants aren't as pretentious as the restaurants in Los Angeles or New York. They do away with the white linen tablecloths and let the dishes speak for themselves.
Denver's dining scene was built on meat and potatoes, but more exotic influences have begun to creep in. Challenge your taste buds with Sichuan dishes at Yum Yum Spice, Ghanaian meals at African Grill & Bar, and authentic curries at India Tavern.
Denver has also reinvented the concept of the food court. The city has replaced the fast food joints associated with shopping mall food courts with delicious contemporary dining options. There's something for everyone at exciting venues such as the Denver Central Market, Union Station, and Stanley Marketplace.
For traditionalists, Denver has several homegrown dishes that you won't find anywhere else — for better or worse! A Denver omelet isn't too daring; it's filled with onions, green peppers, and diced ham. However, Rocky Mountain Oysters aren't for the fainthearted. Though they sound like a seafood delicacy, they're actually deep-fried bull testicles. If you're feeling brave, try them at Buckhorn Exchange, the city's oldest restaurant.
When in doubt, you can always find great food on these popular Denver eat streets:
- Larimer Square, LoDo.
- 17th Street, Uptown.
- Colfax Avenue, City Park.
- South Broadway, Speer.
Have Fun in Denver
With a variety of attractions that will appeal to any taste, Denver is a dynamic city with so much for its residents to enjoy. You'll never be bored here. Here are just a few of the fun ways you can pass the time.
Escape to a Park
Denver's beautiful parks are green refuges. As you stroll around the paths, admire the gardens, and look for wildlife, you'll feel the pressure of the nine-to-five grind slip away. Check out these popular parks:
- City Park: A sprawling 330-acre space with two lakes, a golf course, the Denver Zoo, and the Museum of Nature and Science.
- Washington Park: With 160 acres of beautiful parklands surrounded by historic 19th-century homes, it's a favorite summer hangout for young Denver residents.
- Cheesman Park: This park used to be a cemetery, but it's worth risking a ghostly encounter to admire the Denver skyline from the park's pavilion.
- Confluence Park: Denver's residents love swimming in and taking kayaks down the Platte River, which passes through this suburban park.
Visit a Museum
Denver's museums offer fascinating glimpses into our past and how our world works. Play tourist at these great museums:
- Denver Art Museum: This museum showcases art from across the world. Take a few hours to really appreciate its vast collection.
- Children's Museum of Denver: Great fun for little ones, this museum features interactive exhibits that were designed to engage and educate young minds.
- Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls, and Toys: With its displays of childhood treasures, this is another museum that appeals to the young and the young at heart.
- History Colorado Center: Learn more about Colorado's history with exhibits about Native American life, prairie settlements, mining, and more.
- Black American West Museum & Heritage Center: The former home of Dr. Justina Ford, Colorado's first black female doctor, has been transformed into a museum honoring the contributions of African Americans in the Old West.
Enjoy the Nightlife
Denver loves to party, so you'll want to take advantage of all the great nightlife opportunities. Denver is home to several great watering holes, from rowdy dive bars to hipster brewpubs that serve fine craft beers. Sophisticated cocktail lounges and secret speakeasies are perfect for a special night out.
Musicians of every genre play at bars and clubs in Larimer Square and LoDo. If you want to dance until the early hours of the morning, hit the nightspots in the South of Colfax.
Regardless of what you do to have fun, Denver has you covered.
Annual Events in Denver
With its mild weather and abundant sunshine, Denver is the perfect place for community events all year long. The following are just a few of the exciting celebrations that bring together residents and tourists every year.
- International Sportsmen's Expo: Lovers of the great outdoors converge on the Colorado Convention Center for this celebration of active living.
- Denver Boat Show: Held at the Colorado Convention Center, this is a must-see event for current and aspiring boat owners.
- Denver Brew Fest: Taste local ales and beers at this two-day event.
- Denver Restaurant Week: A 10-day event that encourages locals to sample multi-course meals at local eateries.
- Denver Jewish Film Festival: Nearly two weeks of Jewish film screenings at the Jewish Community Center of Denver.
- Colorado Garden and Home Show: One of the state's oldest and largest garden and home shows.
- St. Patrick's Day Parade: A massive parade featuring bagpipers, marching bands, and floats that goes from the Coors Field parking lot to 27th and Blake Streets.
- Denver March Powwow: Held at the Denver Coliseum, this is an annual event with dancing, drumming, and crafts that honors Native American traditions.
- Collaboration Fest: Local breweries work together to create unique beers to showcase at this festival.
- Elitch Gardens' Opening Day: Tickets for the first day of this theme park's summer season are always popular.
- XicanIndie Film Festival: A four-day film festival that showcases the best short- and long-form independent Latin cinema.
- Cherry Creek Sneak: A family-friendly fun run that benefits the Food Bank of the Rockies.
- Denver Day of Rock: Every Memorial Day weekend at the 16th Street Mall, rock bands play across five stages at this one-day event to benefit Amp the Cause.
- Beer and Bacon Classic: Sample local beers and bacon-filled creations from Denver chefs at Mile High Stadium.
- Colorado Chocolate Festival: Indulge your sweet tooth at this two-day event, which is held every Mother's Day weekend.
- PrideFest: Celebrate with Denver's LGBTQI community at this event at Civic Center Park. It features a parade, a pet costume contest, the Big Gay 5K, and more.
- Juneteenth Music Festival: This music festival features African-American artists and commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.
- Denver BBQ Festival: This carnivorous celebration is held during Father's Day weekend at Mile High Stadium.
- Denver County Fair: Billed as the “craziest county fair in America,” it mixes traditional county fair entertainment with quirkier elements such as unicorn rides and a drag queen beauty pageant.
- Cherry Creek Arts Festival: Held on the first weekend of July, this festival features art exhibitions, music, and fun for the whole family.
- The Big Eat: Bring your appetite to this celebration of local restaurants at the Denver Performing Arts Complex.
- Cherry Creek North Food & Wine Festival: Local restaurants serve their best dishes with amazing wines at this popular evening event.
- AIDS Walk Colorado: A 5K walk for HIV and AIDS charities in Capitol Hill. The event is followed by the Celebration of Life Festival.
- Tour De Fat: A bike ride that supports local nonprofits and features great food and beer.
- Great American Beer Festival: Serious beer lovers flock to the Colorado Convention Center for this festival, which has more than 800 breweries. This festival offers tastings, lectures, and a competition for the title of the country's best beer.
- A Taste of Colorado: Held at Civic Center Park during Labor Day weekend, this event lets you sample dishes from more than 50 local restaurants.
- Grandoozy Music Festival: The creators of Bonnaroo and Outside Lands are behind this youthful arts and music festival.
- HalloWeekend Pub Crawl: One of Denver's most popular Halloween traditions, revelers don their spooky best and hit the bars in LoDo.
- Halloween Parade: For more traditional Halloween fun, visit South Pearl Street to see the annual Halloween parade.
- Firefighter Chili Cook-Off: For more than 30 years, this event has pitted local firefighters against each other to crown the ultimate chili champion. It raises funds for the Colorado Muscular Dystrophy Association.
- Downtown Denver Grand Illumination: Stand anywhere between Union Station and the heart of the city and watch the Christmas lights switch on.
- L'Esprit de Noel Holiday Home Tour: Enjoy a rare opportunity to see inside some of Denver's most beautiful homes.
- Denver Film Festival: A month-long celebration that features films, documentaries, and shorts from around the world at local venues such as the Sie FilmCenter, the UA Denver Pavilions Complex, and the McNichols Civic Center Building.
- Parade of Lights: See Major Waddles the Penguin, Santa Claus, and Christmas lights at this annual holiday event in Civic City Park.
- Ugly Sweater Run: Don your best Christmas sweater for this unique charity run, which raises funds for One Warm Coat.
Just Outside the City
Denver's location encourages its residents to explore, so don't restrict yourself to the city limits. Enjoy the many great spots within driving distance.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park, located an hour and a half from Denver, is a must-see attraction for nature lovers. Bring your hiking shoes and explore the 355 miles of hiking trails. Look for the moose, elk, and bighorn sheep that call this natural wonder home.
Mount Evans Scenic Byway
The Mount Evans Scenic Byway, the highest paved road in North America, is located only 60 miles west from Denver. The drive takes you up nearly 9,000 feet to the 14,264-foot summit. Snow makes the drive treacherous, so people are allowed to scale the slope only between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Make sure that your phone is charged so that you can take pictures of the view.
Dinosaur Ridge is a prehistoric paradise in Morrison, just 23 miles from Denver. Admire bones from Jurassic monsters such as the Stegosaurus and the Apatosaurus, as well as dinosaur footprints from the Cretaceous area. You can use the guidebook to explore the area on your own or arrange a tour through the Friends of Dinosaur Ridge.
Casinos of Central City and Black Hawk
You don't have to go all the way to Vegas to try your luck at the tables. Central City and Black Hawk are only 40 miles from the heart of Denver. These cities have more than 30 casinos that never close their doors. High gambling stakes of $100 make these casinos perfect for high rollers. However, you can also play conservatively with roulette, craps, and blackjack, and at any of the 10,000 slot machines. These casinos never close, so you'll never need to cut short your winning streak.
Historic Homes of Georgetown
The historic Victorian village of Georgetown, located 42 miles west of Denver, will feel like it's a world away from your modern Colorado home. Hundreds of buildings that were constructed in the 1870s have been lovingly transformed into antique stores, boutiques, and restaurants. Take some time to stroll the streets and admire the architecture. In the summer, you can ride the steam locomotives of the Georgetown Loop Railroad.
Final Thoughts: Moving to Denver
As one of the United States' fastest-growing cities, Denver is constantly changing and evolving. Its proximity to the Rocky Mountains and its recreational facilities attract many active people. However, with fantastic breweries, restaurants, galleries, and stores, the city offers much more than the great outdoors. Denver is more affordable than many large metropolises and offers a plentiful selection of jobs, especially in science and technology. Regardless of why you are moving to Denver, Allied Van Lines will ensure that your move goes smoothly.