Moving to Denver: 20 Particularly Helpful Things to Know

Chances are, you've heard of at least one person moving to Denver in the last few years. It seems that everyone is talking about Denver right now. And it makes sense--Denver is one of the fastest growing cities in the country and it boasts a rapidly expanding job market. We've all tossed around the idea of "moving out West" to Colorado at least once, haven't we?

If you're thinking of moving to Denver, it might be just as good as you're imagining it. The mile-high city offers gorgeous mountain views, an exploding beer and food scene, and plenty of green space to explore. Here at Bellhops, we've put together a thorough list of everything you need to know about moving to Denver. From popular neighborhoods to the lowdown on the food scene, you'll find all you need to know here.

Where to Live? A Denver Neighborhood Mini-Guide

Photo by John Matychuk.

1. West Side: Something for Everyone

Colfax Street is the longest street in the US and it spans Denver’s entire city from east to west. West Colfax Street offers a convenient location just west of downtown Denver. Once known as “No-Man’s Land” due to a high crime rate, the area has seen a rapid transition since c. 2013. Thanks to the West Colfax Business Improvement District (BID for short), millions of dollars have been put to work to revamp the neighborhood’s main street district and bring more businesses to the area. This neighborhood include easy access to Mile High Stadium for Broncos fans and a short travel time to I-25 and downtown. Houses in West Colfax tend to have lower prices than neighboring areas, appealing to young professionals and families alike.

Arvada is a popular northwest suburb with a mix of both houses and apartments. A short 25-minute drive from downtown, you're still near to the action. Best of all, you don’t have to deal with the crowds in central Denver. What's more, Olde-town Arvada has something for just about everyone. Highlights include Kline’s, a German Beer Hall, several centrally located restaurants of all cuisines, and convenient distance to I-70.

Smack dab between I-25 and I-70 and a little southwest of downtown Denver lies Lakewood. An outdoor lover's dream, Lakewood is home to over 180 miles of trails for biking, walking, and even horseback riding. Another perk: in the summer, the Lakewood Public Library hosts many summer concerts on their front porch for free. Finally, Lakewood provides easy access to shopping options and chain restaurants. For some, this makes Lakewood a majorly convenient West Side neighborhood to call home.

2. Downtown: All the Action

LoDo (short for Lower Downtown) is perfect for people who want to be in the middle of everything. With plenty of restaurants, rooftop bars, and proximity to Coors Field, this neighborhood is perfect for young professionals. Be warned though--housing costs are higher here (as one would expect). The downtown area is made up of several different neighborhoods, so let's dig in to a few of the more popular ones.

First, let's talk The Highlands. The Highlands is a diverse, proud community with something for everyone. Located between I-25 on the east and Speer St. to the south, the central location provides accessibility to major roads, yet with a homier feel than LoDo. The Highlands has gone through some redevelopment over the past few years, resulting in an increase in young professionals in the area. This is probably due to generally more affordable housing than other neighborhoods in Denver. Also, residents of The Highlands will likely boast that their neighborhood is home to the best ice cream in the mile-high city, Little Man Ice Cream. And they might just be right.

Secondly, there's Capitol Hill. Capitol Hill is located just south of the popular 16th St. Mall. The best part of the Capitol Hill neighborhood is the central location. With a walk score of 92/100, one could walk or bike practically anywhere. Apartment hunting can be a little tough here, so check out either rent.com or apartmentguide.com. Both are excellent apartment aggregators with impressive databases.

Looking for something to do on the weekend? Try visiting the former house and now museum of The Unsinkable Molly Brown, the Titanic’s most famous passenger. Afterwards, you can see the nearby Denver Art Museum. For your foodie needs, food trucks gather in the park in front of the Colorado State Capitol Building throughout the summer. This, of course, attracts many to enjoy a leisurely lunch. Other hotspots include the include The Filmore Auditorium and Voodoo Doughnuts.

To round out our list of popular downtown neighborhoods, we have to mention Cherry Creek. Cherry Creek is located just east of downtown bordered by East 6th Ave. and, of course, Cherry Creek. Predominately a residential area, there is a good mix of houses and apartments here. Most streets are lined with trees, and the Cherry Creek bike path cuts through the area, giving residents a greener sense of living. And, with over 160 retailers, you can shop to your heart's delight at the Cherry Creek Shopping Center.

3. East Side: Growth and Revitalization

To understand the East Side, let's talk about two neighborhoods: Stapleton and Aurora. Once the site of the old Denver airport, Stapleton has been revamped into one of the fastest growing home development areas in the nation. Perfect for young families or those looking to purchase a home rather than rent, the majority of real estate in Stapleton is less than 10 years old. For those who are active, the 80-acre Central Park provides a wide range of recreation for all ages. Businesses and restaurants are popping up all the time and the close proximity to the airport is a plus.

Aurora, located about 20 minutes east of downtown Denver, has the convenience of the suburbs and easy access to I-225. Frequently named one of Denver’s most affordable ‘burbs, the median house price is about half that of the neighborhoods in Denver proper. Aurora Town Center provides over 150 stores for shopping and well-known restaurants and it is sure to please everyone of all ages.

4. Getting Around Denver

You may have heard of the infamy of the Denver International Airport. It's a little notorious, and it's not because it's the largest airport in the United States. While we're not convinced of all the conspiracy theories surrounding the airport (just google it), we can give you a quick rundown. It services all major US airlines and has several international flights every day. In particular, DEN serves as a major a hub for United Airlines. Located about 15 miles east of Denver proper, several shuttles (including the light rail) provide transportation to and from the airport.

Getting around Denver itself is also fairly simple. Most residents do have a car, but bike lanes throughout the city make it possible to travel on two wheels. The regional transport district, Denver’s public transportation system, offers hundreds of bus routes and a growing light rail for easy travel throughout the city.

Finally, here's a transportation fun fact: the touristy 16th St. Mall houses its own rail system for transportation around the mall.

5. Storage Options

After moving to Denver, you may realize you have more stuff than you have room for. It happens to the best of us. If you find yourself in this situation, check out SpareFoot. SpareFoot is the world's largest marketplace for storage, making it easy to find your stuff a home. Their website lets you compare the storage options nationwide and reserve the best solution for your needs, whether it is traditional self-storage or on-demand full service storage. And lucky for you, they cover Denver.

Photo by Quan Ha. Image has been cropped. Creative Commons License.

Denver's Arts and Culture

6. Red Rock Amphitheater

Just a short drive away in Morrison resides the Red Rocks Amphitheater. The Amphitheater is located in Red Rocks park--a 738 acre, unique transitional zone where the Great Plains meet the Rocky Mountains.

The venue not only hosts big-time artists such as The Avett Brothers and Dave Matthews Band, it also hosts seasonal yoga and an Easter sunrise service. Not interested in live music? Red Rocks Amphitheater is open daily for your hiking, biking, and touring pleasure.

Photo by Kimon Berlin. Image has been cropped. Creative Commons License.

7. Denver Botanic Gardens

Love nature, but not quite ready to tackle the mountains? The centrally located Denver Botanic Gardens are the place for you. The 24 acre gardens are home to loads of fauna from both the Western United and around the world. Honestly, this is the perfect spot for a relaxing walk. Tickets are available for purchase, but the gardens also host several free days throughout the year. And, in the summer, the gardens host a concert series.

8. The Denver Art Museum

Nestled in the heart of downtown, the Denver Art Museum boasts an impressive and eclectic collection. From modern & contemporary art, to Spanish colonial art, to African art and so much more, there's something here for almost any art lover.

Tickets are an extremely affordable $10 and annual memberships are available as well. The first Saturday of the month is typically free to all.

9. Tattered Cover Bookstore

Family owned since 1971, the unique Tattered Cover Bookstore has locations around Denver and is a crowd favorite among the Denver literati. Each location includes a large spacious area for book browsing, comfy chairs for reading, and serves as a hotspot for literary events and readings.

Photo by Steven Bratman. Image has been cropped. Creative Commons License.

The Mountains are Calling: The Denver Outdoors

10. Mount Evans

Mount Evans is a perfect day trip and beginner mountain for those who aren’t ready to brave the National Park yet. The peak is accessible by car via the Mt. Evans Scenic Byway. The byway winds around the mountain, with a few lakes and picnic spots along the way. Drivers beware, the last stretch of road is not for the weary. Tourists flock to this famous mountain with a peak over 14,000 ft., so plan your visit accordingly.

11. Rocky Mountain National Park

Denver is just under 2 hours from one of the most breathtaking national parks in the United States--Rocky Mountain National Park. Hikers of all levels can find trails with beautiful views and perfect picnic spots. Many easy day hikes stem from Bear Lake. For those who prefer to see the park by car, Trail Ridge Road is what you need. The scenic splendor here is truly unmatched. Entry is $25 per car, or free for those with an annual pass.

12. That Colorado Skiing

If you enjoy hitting the slopes, moving to Denver is going to make you very happy. Colorado is the number one destination for skiing in all of North America. Popular ski resorts such as Breckenridge, Winter Park, and Copper Mountain are all within just a couple hours’ drive of Denver. Colorado.com has put together an excellent guide to all of the ski resorts throughout the state, which you can see right here.

Denver Food & Drink: Eating and Drinking in the Mile-High City

13. A Beer Scene Like No Other (Seriously)

Denver’s beer scene has exploded over the last two decades. If you follow the craft beer scene at all, you've probably heard of New Belgium and Left Hand Brewing, both of which are headquartered just outside Denver. There are several other great breweries in Denver as well, including Copper Kettle, Alpine Dog, and Great Divide. If you're a craft beer lover thinking of moving to Denver, it's okay to start getting excited.

For those less interested in the craft scene, the Coors Factory is located just west of Denver in Golden. Tours are free daily, with samples for those over 21 years old.

14. The Eats

Denver has a diverse and delightful food scene. Rather than breaking it down extensively, though (we'll leave that to Eatr, an amazing resource for finding all of the best local eats), we've opted to hit you with a few of our favorites.

Located in downtown Denver, Denver’s Union Station boasts an eclectic array of the city’s top restaurants and bars. Union Station was once a major railway station and central transportation hub in Denver. In 2012, the station underwent major renovations, and in 2014 it re-opened as a combination of the Crawford Hotel, several restaurants and retailers, and a train hall. Since we're talking food, it should be noted that Union Station houses several excellent eateries, including one of 5280 Magazine’s top 2016 restaurants, Mercantile.

Here are a few more of our favorites: Locally sourced sandwiches are a hit at Next Door. A few blocks away in downtown is Rioja. Centrally located on Larimer St., Rioja was a semi-finalist for the James Beard Foundation outstanding chef in 2016. The popular 16th Street Mall is lined with great places to eat, such as Illegal Pete’s for burritos and tacos and Mellow Mushroom for pizza. Finally, for a little dessert we recommend the ice cream. Check out Sweet Action Ice Cream and Liks for some Denver classics.

15. Denver is a City That Can Brunch

If your foodie comes out on weekend mornings, then moving to Denver will suit you well. Brunch-wise, there’s a little something for everyone’s taste throughout the mile-high city. Atomic Cowboy, home of the Denver Biscuit Company, has three locations throughout the city, offering creative biscuit sandwiches and dishes. Jelly is another popular choice with multiple locations, offering breakfast and lunch options that range from original takes on classics (like the "Molly Hot Brown," a Jelly-original, Denver-centric spin on the classic, old-timey "hot brown" sandwich), to savory eggs benedict, to sweet French toast and more.

Let's Talk Sports

16. The Denver Broncos

NFL fans are in luck, as Denver is home to the three-time super bowl champions, the Broncos. The Broncos play at Mile High stadium--full of orange and blue on every game day. The city always has a case of orange fever and rightfully so, as the Broncos have consistently proven themselves to be one of the top teams in the NFL.

17. The Colorado Rockies

America’s favorite pastime is alive and well in Denver, home to the baseball team, the Rockies. The Rockies call Coors Field home-- it's near the LoDo neighborhood we mentioned earlier. You can even see some of the Rocky Mountains from the stadium--can it get any better? Tickets are usually pretty inexpensive and the Coors flows liberally throughout the park.

Things You'll Grow to Love (A Few Pros and Cons)

18. Everyone Wants to Live Here

According to the 2014-15 U.S. Census, Denver had the 9th largest population increase of large cities in the US. The fastest growing industries in the mile high city are energy, tech, and healthcare. With the population boom, the traffic and the cost of living continue to rise dramatically for both renters and homeowners. But remember, Denver also claims one of the fastest growing job markets, with plenty of opportunities for you to make some cash money.

19. Traffic

As you know by now, Denver is quite close to the Rocky Mountains. As you probably also know, the Rocky Mountains are a popular destination--more or less year-round. What this means is that Denver can have its own share of traffic. In the summer, tourists flock through Denver on their way to the mountains. In the winter, weekend traffic with outgoing skiers can cause some frustration as well. It’s something you should be aware of if you are considering moving to Denver. That said, it’s really a small price to pay for having the most beautiful scenery in the country right in your backyard.

20. The Weather and the Altitude

For most people, the increase in altitude is no big deal. But for some, headaches and nausea can set in. It's important to stay hydrated in the mile-high city, especially the summers. While known for snowy winters, Denver temperatures are generally mild from December – April. The only weather-related downside is the unpredictability. One day it will be 60 and sunny, the next could bring a blizzard. Prepare for anything and go with the flow is how many Denver residents get their laid-back attitude.

Like what you see?

Denver has something for everyone. Whether you’re looking forward to hitting the slopes, finding your favorite beer, or designing the next viral app for smart phones, moving to Denver has endless possibilities. We hope you found this Denver guide helpful and that you engage in a mile-high adventure soon.

Header photo by Robert Kash. Image has been cropped. Creative Commons License.