Your Guide to the
Denver Metro Area
Perhaps it is the three hundred days of sunshine that lead to Denver being built in its unlikely location. Built on the banks of the South Platte River close to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Denver was founded as a gold mining town. Originally a railway city, new roads, and improvements to air travel in the early twentieth century has made the Colorado capital a transportation hub of The West.
Until World War II, Denver’s economy was dependent mainly on the processing and shipping of minerals and ranch products. After the war, oil and gas companies fueled the skyscraper boom in the downtown area. With the combined investment of energy companies and the federal government, Denver went from a small urban core surrounded by rural farms, to the booming downtown it is today, dotted with skyscrapers and surrounded by blossoming suburbs.
Bolstered by the recent redevelopment of the historic Union Station, the last decade has seen a transformation of the downtown Denver area. The food and culture in the Mile High City have kept up with the influx of newcomers. The 16th Street Mall is the heart of Downtown, a mile-long promenade lined with cafes and shops. The Baker neighbourhood is alive with bars, high-end restaurants and independent boutiques and Denver’s burgeoning art scene has established itself in the River North (RiNo) art district.
With world class skiing and hiking just outside of the city, Denver has an undeniably outdoorsy culture. Some of the top weekend vacation destinations are located within a few hour’s drive of the capital. And don’t forget cannabis has been legalized in Colorado for recreational use.
Day trips out of Denver easily lead to Rocky Mountain National Park that showcases the rugged beauty of Colorado’s mountains. Roads weave through small, historic towns and drive over alpine passes that are home to wildlife like elk, black bears, and moose. With trails that extend right up into the Colorado Front Range, you’ll find an incredible diversity of hikes close to the city, with some truly jaw-dropping views. In the winter, the Rockies feature world class skiing and vacation resorts.
Nearby Boulder, a 30-minute bus or drive, is consistently listed as one of the happiest and healthiest cities in America. The breath-taking scenery, pleasant climate, and charming downtown with its own unique bar and restaurant scene make it a quick escape from busy Denver.
Despite its bustling food scene, you are far more likely to find a food hall than a white tablecloth in Denver. Craft beer features prominently throughout the city with more than a hundred breweries. There is a reason Denver has been coined the Napa Valley of Beer.
The booming restaurant scene centres in the Lower Downtown (LoDo) district. Its beacon is the rejuvenated Union Station. Also widely accepted as one of the most desirable places to live, the Highlands, and Lower Highlands (LoHi), are filled with innovative restaurant concepts, hip rooftops, patios and boutique shops. This is truly a city where you can find whatever you like, whether it be après ski cuisine or an international fusion menu.
Some of the country’s best skiing is less than two hours away. In addition to the ski resorts, the front range is an easy drive for sight-seeing and camping in Rocky Mountain National Park. Fly fishing and rafting are prominent in Routt National Forest and the sand dunes in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains are a must see. Nature doesn’t start at the city limits, either. Denver houses a robust trail system that connects neighbourhoods throughout the city and follows scenic waterways.
Denver is also home to major baseball, basketball, football and hockey teams, as well as a plethora of other minor league teams. In other words, there is always a great game to catch. If you are looking to get out and play, there are also many recreation centres that have leagues of their own. Whether you’re into boating or bike parks, Denver has something for everyone.
The major congestion in Denver traffic is routinely out to the mountains. Denver is situated next to dozens of world-renowned ski resorts. Weekend traffic along the I-70 corridor into ski country can be a quick drive or a slow crawl.
Denver’s new light rail lines include one that goes to the airport. The light rail connects some suburbs to the city covering nearly 66 miles and serving 44 stations. Parking downtown in the capital can be expensive, making rail the more affordable choice. The Denver area also has 1,000 city buses with more than 10,000 local stops in eight counties. Local buses are an especially good way to travel from the airport to the city center and suburbs. An express bus also runs between Denver and Boulder. And if you prefer your own ride, taxis are available through Denver Yellow Cab or rideshare companies Lyft, Uber, and Migo.
Metro Denver is one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation, leaving the city scrambling to develop the infrastructure, transit, and housing needed to keep pace with the demand. The biggest hurdle new residents face when moving to Denver is housing costs. Other than that, most cost-of-living expenses are comparable to other cities.
Denver neighborhoods vary significantly. These neighborhoods feature everything from large skyscrapers to houses from the late 19th century to modern, suburban-style developments. Generally, the neighborhoods closest to the city center are denser, older, and contain more brick building material. Many neighborhoods away from the city center were developed after World War II and are built with more modern materials and style. Neighborhoods farther from the city center have either suburban characteristics or new urbanist aesthetics that attempt to recreate the feel of older neighborhoods.