1. The Population of Denver
The map of Denver’s neighborhoods seems endless. Less than a million people live in Denver proper — and roughly 3 million in the greater metro area — there are dozens of neighborhoods in the City and County of Denver, each with unique characteristics and identities. Make sure to check out our 15 Best Denver Neighborhoods to Live article.
2. Pedestrian-friendly areas
If walkable, happening neighborhoods interest you, Denver has heaps of them. Hot on the map these days are Lower Highlands (LoHi), Highlands Square (W. 32nd Ave.), Berkeley (Tennyson Street), RiNo, Riverfront Park, Cherry Creek, Baker, Platt Park, Larimer Square, Sloan’s Lake and Wash Park.
The 16th Street Mall is perhaps one of Denver’s most well-known walkable streets, but here’s a little insider’s secret: locals don’t spend much time there. The Mall stretches from the revitalized Union Station in Lower Downtown (LoDo) west through the Central Business District and has a free shuttle bus service and public art displays throughout the corridor.
3. Getting around
Denver has expanded its mass transit service in recent years, most notably with rail lines connecting downtown Denver (Union Station) to Denver International Airport. Denver RTD (Rapid Transit Denver) also opened an expanded service in 2019, connecting downtown Denver with Denver “suburb” towns – Olde Town Arvada and Wheat Ridge on the G Line. Make sure to check out our 5 Surrounding Suburbs of Denver article.
As for getting around by car, ride-share services such as Uber and Lyft are wildly popular. Denver is pretty spread out, though, so depending on which neighborhoods you’re traveling to and from, fares can top $20 each way. An Uber to the airport is roughly $30, compared to the $10.50 rail fare (in 2021), and both options take approximately 40 minutes.
4. Getting Oriented with Denver’s “unruly” street grid
The mountains are always to the west, but other than that, you’ll have to spend some time getting to know what the Denver Public Library has referred to as Denver’s “unruly street grid.”
Numbered avenues run east-west, divided by the north-south thoroughfare of Broadway. North-south streets are separated by Ellsworth Avenue, south of which the numbered avenues turn to names such as Alameda, Mississippi, Evans and Hampden.
The major east-west artery of Colfax Avenue — the longest continuous commercial Street in the United States — passes by the Colorado State Capitol in downtown Denver. From there, it continues east through Aurora or west through Lakewood and into Golden.
Interstate 70 is the major east-west highway, brushing the north side of Denver and heading west into the mountains or east through the industrial part of town, toward the airport and the eastern plains.
Interstate 25, the north-south interstate, skirts the western portion of downtown and then curves east between Washington Park and Platt Park before continuing south toward Centennial.
5. Access to the Great Outdoors
Denver’s elevation is 5,280 feet, hence its nickname as the Mile High City, but city life isn’t the same as mountain life. Thankfully, there are plenty of mountains within a 20 or 30 minutes drive for city slickers to quench their thirst for altitude. The closest and most visible from the city are the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, which mark the beginning of Colorado’s Front Range. These “hills” are where you’ll find Denverites taking to local trails to hike, rock climb, mountain bike, snowshoe, cross-country ski and more. Access the most popular trailheads from Golden, Morrison, Genesee, Estes Park, Boulder, Arvada and other nearby Front Range towns.
In the wintertime, you’ll have to head a bit farther west to find Colorado’s world-class skiing and snowboarding. The closest ski areas to Denver include Eldora, Winter Park, Loveland, Arapahoe Basin, Keystone and Breckenridge.
Pro tip: Traffic to and from mountain ski resorts can be brutal, so make sure you leave yourself enough time or try traveling during off-peak hours. Some Denverites hit the road before 5 a.m. on weekends to get a head start! Visit www.cotrip.org for current road and traffic conditions.
6. Choice of public schools
If you’ve fallen in love with one of Denver’s many neighborhoods but you’re not in love with the school choices, fear not: Denver Public Schools is one of the only school districts in the U.S. where parents can have their pick of (most) schools, regardless of location.
“Because of its commitment to real choice, DPS was twice rated the No. 1 school district in the country for school choice by the Brookings Institution,” according to the school district.
7. Red Rocks Park & Amphitheater: A right of passage
Seeing a concert at Red Rocks is a bucket list item for many Americans. Luckily for Denverites, the world-famous venue is just a short drive away. Located in Morrison and owned and operated by the City and County of Denver, Red Rocks is a National Historic Landmark and was once listed among the Seven Wonders of the World. Concert season, which runs from about April to November, attracts globally renowned acts each year. The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, U2, Dave Matthews Band, and countless other bands spanning all genres of music have graced the Red Rocks stage over the years.
8. Beyond Denver
While there are dozens of Denver neighborhoods to choose from, but don’t let Denver’s city limits confine you. Take a short drive in any direction from the city and you’ll find other exciting areas throughout Denver’s outskirts to explore, most notably Golden, Central Park, Olde Town Arvada, Edgewater, the Denver Tech Center, Louisville and Boulder.
Take a longer drive, and you’ll find charming, world-famous mountain towns such as Aspen, Vail, Breckenridge, Telluride, Crested Butte and Steamboat Springs, etc.
9. Denver is a Sports Town
The Mile High City is home to franchises in all five major professional sports leagues:
- Denver Broncos (NFL)
- Colorado Rockies (MLB)
- Colorado Avalance (NHL)
- Denver Nuggets (NBA)
- Colorado Rapids (MLS)
Four of the teams’ stadiums can be found downtown, including Empower Field at Mile High (Broncos), Coors Field (Rockies), and the Ball Arena (shared by the Nuggets and Avalanche).
10. Denver is a Food Town
The food scene in Denver has exploded in recent years. There’s an almost dizzying array of delicious places to try, from culturally diverse hole-in-the-wall joints along Federal Boulevard to fine-dining showstoppers scattered all across the city. Independent, creative restauranteurs have put Denver’s food scene on the map — the city hosted many episodes of the 15th season of Top Chef, and The James Beard Award Foundation recognizes local chefs regularly (there were 10 semifinalists in the Best Chef: Mountain category in 2020 alone, seven of which were in metro Denver). It’s impossible to list them all, but some of our favorite Denver-area dining destinations include:
Uncle Ramen, Super Mega Bien, The Wolf’s Tailor, Work & Class, ChoLon, Tavernetta, Sushi Den, Senor Bear, Rioja, Spuntino, Mercantile Dining and Provision, Blue Pan Pizza, Stoic & Genuine, Annette, Sunday Vinyl, Uchi, and Safta.
The best part about Denver’s food scene is that it can transport you to anywhere in the world. In the mood for an authentic bahn mi? Check out the New Saigon Bakery. Craving an authentic New York bagel or East Coast Italian grinder? Rosenberg’s Bagels & Delicatessen and Lou’s Italian Specialties have you covered.
There you have it. We’ve undoubtedly missed describing some of the most notable points that make Denver one of America’s greatest cities, but this list should give you a feel for what’s to expect when you arrive in our beloved city.
Good Good Denver, a division of Good Good Realty, is a boutique real estate brokerage. We specialize in helping out-of-town buyers find good homes in Denver. If you’re looking for a local guide in the Denver area, we may be a good good fit for you. Give us a call if you’d like to chat. We’re here to answer any questions you may have about the Denver area and/or give you a tour, with no strings attached.
Katie | 303.928.1298