Denver: First impressions and why my mom might be right about The Mile High City.

Flickr - Robin Zembrowski
In my post on Los Angeles, I wrote about the stereotypes and rumors people nationwide have about cities they've never been to. Until recently, my mental file on Denver was fairly sparse. Like San Diego, everything I heard was ravingly positive, but there wasn't much in the information to hold on to. Denver doesn't have a Golden Gate Bridge; it's not known for its weirdness or proximity to Silicon Valley. It has the Rockies, but I lived beside the Appalachians for years.
Didn't take us long to find some good pizza!
My mom, having spent a lot of time here, has been a long-time proponent, but I always pushed the city to the background with visions of Austin, Portland, and San Francisco dancing around in my mind. Now that we're here, it seems Denver has so much happening that it's hard to determine where to start. My praise might be premature since we haven't been here a week, but so far we're impressed. What a great city!

As I type this, I'm in our apartment, facing a window. Below is a large park spread along the river with a massive skate park, kayaking chutes, and bike trails that run for miles. Looking east I can see downtown, Coors Field, and the new Union Station. A couple blocks away are free buses that can take us from one end of downtown to the other on the 16th street mall. There are all the typical attractions of any big city like museums, stadiums, and tours, but there are also a large number of smaller bars and attractions that we haven't seen elsewhere. There is a low-key vibe mixed with creativity that allows for downtown bowling, a Bark Bar (bar +dog park), and event filled microbreweries. Open an event paper and the number of options are staggering: sidewalk chalk-fest, comedy open-mics, festivals. The music scene is well rounded with old, new, obscure, mainstream, indie, and more.

On top of all this, it seems like Denver is still accessible. While downtown living in other cities like Chicago and San Diego can cost upwards of a million for something nice. From the little we've looked, it appears it's still possible to get a house for under 300K within walking distance of
We call this juice where we come from
downtown Denver and all the city has to offer. With the city growing like it is, this might be a good investment. New train stations, regional rails, and buildings are going up everywhere. Denver has a shortage of construction workers. It's like Dallas a few years ago or Miami a few years further than that.

Denver has an average of 300 sunny days a year (more than San Diego, even!). The thin, drier air leads to bluer skies and a more intense sun. In addition to drinking more water and wearing sunscreen, it's recommended that visitors watch their alcohol intake. Just like golf balls, alcohol goes further. High Altitude Tips here.

Pot is legal in Colorado and the market is booming. I don't smoke, but watching the market bloom is fascinating. Denver has a store that sells chocolate dipped marijuana and the "apple store" of marijuana downtown. I'll post more pictures of this part of Denver later in our stay.

The one thing we thought we were leaving behind in California was cheap produce, but fruits and vegetables in Denver appear to be reasonably priced.

Finally, Denver police aren't quite like I've seen anywhere else. After only a few days here, we noticed a number of police in different areas hiding behind telephone poles and low walls with radar guns. Once they get someone (low speed areas), they jump out from hiding in front of the car, hail the car to a stop, and give the driver a ticket. Maybe they're trying to make up the money they're losing on traffic cameras fines that aren't being paid?

We haven't made a specific list of things we want to do, but we're keeping our eyes open. I'll be sure to post more on what we find and some pictures of our latest apartment.