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DESTINATIONS
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Best thing about living in Denver? Just about everything.

What It’s Like Living in Denver

BY SUZANNE DAVIS
Breweries galore, postcard-worthy mountain views, topnotch Mexican food, and a statewide wardrobe that’s so comfy it could double as hiking gear. Thinking of moving to Denver and wondering what to expect?
Here it is, your unofficial guide to what it’s like living in Denver.
Think you may like living in Denver? Here’s what you need to know.

DENVER’S VIBE IS…

…chillaxed. We work hard, but we play hard, too — and take our mountain sports very seriously. Denverites are way more likely to take Fridays off to catch a powder day on the ski hill than to don a power suit for a business meeting.

THE WEATHER IN DENVER IS…

…almost like Southern California (shhh, tell no one!). It’s pretty mild with a handful of truly frigid days and snowstorms per year. Everything you’ve heard about our sunny skies is true: Denver is one of the sunniest spots in the nation with an average of 245 sun-dappled days a year. In the winter, freshly fallen snow is a guarantee, but so is sunshine that turns it into a winter wonderland. Plus, our “high and dry” location — at 5,280 feet above sea level — means it often feels way warmer outside than the actual temperature.

PEOPLE IN DENVER ARE KNOWN FOR…

…their friendly, often “Midwestern Nice,” demeanor. Denver is a mecca for folks that grew up in Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota, and more, and they often bring their farm fresh values west to the big city along with them. (Just know that you can’t really trust Yelp reviews for restaurants here, which are often way kinder than they should be.)

YOU’LL NEVER SEE A DENVERITE…

…wear a tie. Well, never say never, but they’re almost as rare a sighting as a bobcat in the city, which, yes, are occasionally spotted. (Also relatively common early morning or late night animal sightings given our proximity to the mountains: whitetail deer, elk, coyotes, hawks, and bald eagles.)

COST OF LIVING IN DENVER

While the cost of living in Denver, like many cities in the U.S., has skyrocketed, it’s also a top example of “you get what you pay for.” Because what you get in Denver for your hard-earned buck is often a way more livable compared to other urban centers: bigger floor plans (with amenities galore!), sun streaming in the windows, and outdoor spaces where you can live large.
Sentral Union Station
offers a prime example — residents have everything from a cabana-flanked, heated saltwater pool to fire pit and grill-stocked courtyards right on the premises. (And
pets are always welcome
too!)

THE BEST NEIGHBORHOODS IN DENVER

Each Denver neighborhood has its own charms.
Honestly, Denver has a seemingly bottomless well of awesome neighborhoods to explore. (If you want to do a deep dive, check out
this comprehensive list.
) LoDo, where Sentral Union Station is located, is abuzz with
cocktail bars
, history (like the beaux arts Union Train Station), and proximity to museums (like the newly revamped — to the tune of $175 million — Denver Art Museum). Just north of Lodo, in the Highlands, you’ll find bountiful hip streets to discover, including Tennyson — home to the beloved Tuscan restaurant
Firenze a Tavola
and
Atomic Cowboy
, where cocktails include barrel-aged Manhattans. Another beloved district is just south of Downtown: Washington Park, near the 23-acre Denver Botanic Gardens, which hosts al fresco concerts each summer on the manicured grounds.

TRANSPORTATION IN DENVER

Walkscore.com gives
Denver
a walk score of 61 (though the neighborhoods downtown are very walkable and close together) and a transit score of 45, thanks to available public transportation options, like light rail and buses (see below). Denver’s bike score does better at 72, and indeed, cyclists have plenty of gorgeous places to ride, including the
Clear Creek Trail,
which goes all the way from Denver to Golden, the Coors Factory town tucked under the Front Range.
The
RTD rail system
operates light and commuter rail lines to more than 50 stations throughout the metro area — you can even easily go straight from the airport to the city center. (Another bonus: Sentral Union Station is right across the street Denver’s landmark transportation hub,
Union Station
, that’s just as convenient as it is cool, thanks to gorgeous architecture and a wealth of shops and restaurants.)
For going further afield,
Bustang and Pegasus shuttle buses
are two public transit options from Union Station to the mountains. And, for an iconic ride, you can hop on the
Winter Park Express ski train
to Winter Park, which leaves from Union Station and drops you off in the main village at Winter Park.
That all said, when living in Denver, you’ll still likely want a car, though, for no other reason than the
Rocky Mountains
and all their myriad hiking trails, ski towns, and hot springs await…many of them just an hour or two drive away.

ART AND CULTURE IN DENVER

The Red Rocks Amphitheatre is just 10 miles outside of Denver.
Thanks to recent major investments in its art scene, Denver can go toe to toe with most other American cities when it comes to culture. Besides the aforementioned Denver Art Museum, which was designed by modernist starchitect Gio Ponti and now includes a restaurant by James Beard Award winning chef Jennifer Jasinski, there are plenty of other spots to get your dose of haute art. The 27,000-square-foot
Museum of Contemporary Art Denver
is just a few blocks away from Sentral and was designed by Sir David Adjaye.
Meow Wolf
, Santa Fe’s trippy and iconic arts exhibition, opened a Denver outpost in 2021. Smaller museums add jewels to our crown, too, including the
Clyfford Still Museum
(where 93% of the abstract expressionist’s works can be found) and the
Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Art
, where exhibitions include original furniture by everyone from Hans Olsen to Frank Lloyd Wright. Denver’s
RiNo (River Arts North District)
is immediately northwest of LoDo and known as the city’s cultural hub with street art, music, restaurants, and galleries galore.  
Of course, when it comes to art and culture, you can’t mention Denver without mentioning the iconic
Red Rocks Amphitheatre
, just 10 miles out of the city.

FOOD AND DINING IN DENVER

Denver offers practically anything a foodie could be hankering for, from on-point dim sum (
Star Kitchen
is a go-to and worth the wait) to a proper afternoon tea (make a reservation far in advance at
The Brown Palace
, the city’s grande dame hotel). With a Latinx population of nearly 30%, you can bet you’ll find some of the best south-of-the-border food available north of the border.
Comal Heritage Food Incubator
is a favorite — the always changing menus are based on the immigrant and refugee chef’s ancestral recipes.
In the summer months, a wealth of farmers markets await in multiple city parks (find them
here
), all of them laden with some of Colorado’s best produce, including our world famous Palisade peaches. Of course, the city is also known for its craft brewing scene — see some of our go-to
Denver breweries and beer experiences
here. 
Plus, depending on where you live, you’ll have a ton of dining and drinking options within easy walking distance. At Sentral Union Station, for example, you just need to pop downstairs for tasty Japanese barbecue at
Gyu-Kaku
or any groceries and takeaway food you need from Whole Foods. 

HEALTH AND WELLNESS IN DENVER

Denver straddles the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains to its west and the rolling plains to its east, giving plenty of opportunity for skiing, hiking, biking, rock climbing…the list goes on. Insiders get ski season passes at
Loveland
, a practically crowd-free nearby ski area that doesn’t attract out-of-towners because it doesn’t have a hotel but is only an hour away.
In town, you’ll have all the healthy classes and fitness opportunities you’d expect in a world class city, from SoulCycle to CrossFit.

WHERE TO GET OUTDOORS IN DENVER

While the crowds flock to
Red Rocks Mountain Park
and
Rocky Mountain National Park
— just an hour and a half drive from the city — Denverites know that some of the most beautiful healthy exploits can be had in our state parks. Two must-sees:
Eldorado Canyon
, where you can traipse along a rushing creek under towering sandstone cliffs, and
Roxborough State Park
, where the red rock formations look almost exactly like those at touristy Garden of the Gods but without the crowds.  
You don’t need to leave town to get outside, however. You can easily find a range of parks within the city, from leafy green spaces to the 60,000-square-foot Downtown Denver Skatepark, or “D Park” that draws in skate boarders, bikers, and rollerbladers from all over.

SPORTS IN DENVER

Whatever floats your sporty boat, Denver’s probably got it. (And despite our inland location,
actual boats
, too.) Baseball? The
Colorado Rockies
await. Football? Maybe you’ve heard of a little bucking team called the
Denver Broncos
. We’ve been home to NBA team
The Nuggets
since 1974, and fittingly have a hockey team, too: the aptly named
Colorado Avalanche
, who’ve won two Stanley Cups (no big deal!).

APARTMENTS IN DENVER

A peek inside Sentral Union Station apartments in Denver.
Are the mountains calling your name? Make the move, or simply stay for a while, at Sentral Union Station in the heart of Denver.
Choose unfurnished units that you can style yourself or opt for a designer-furnished unit that’s 100% move-in ready. As a resident, you can also make some cash by homesharing your apartment in Denver while you’re out of town. (Just visiting Denver or want to test drive the city before committing? You can also stay at Sentral Union Station short-term with stays up to 30 nights.)
Click through to learn more and book a tour at
Denver Union Station
.

ABOUT THE WRITER
After a decade as a magazine writer and editor in New York City, writing for everyone from Travel + Leisure to The New York Times, Suzanne Davis settled in sunny Denver. She's as obsessed with hiking 14ers (the region’s mountain peaks with at least 14,000 feet of elevation) as she is with seeking out Colorado's best local ciders, sourdough bakeries and dim sum spots.

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