Oh Denver. I wanted to like you so much, but after only 8 months of living here, I'm already planning my exit. I grew up in southern Colorado, moved to Iowa for college, lived in NYC for five years, and moved to Denver last summer. Before moving, I grilled my friends who live here about Denver life. They all had nothing but rave reviews of the city. I was so excited for the new hipness, vibrancy, outdoors adventures, and great living Denver supposedly offers. Sadly, I've found that everything about Denver varies from being okay at best and painfully dull at worst.
Let's start with the outdoors. I will admit that having the mountains as your backyard is pretty nice. I went hiking a lot in summer and fall. There are some nice running trails throughout the city. I don't go skiing because of the cost and difficulty in driving to the resorts. While having outdoors options is nice, it's fairly easy to extinguish the easily accessible outdoors options. Once you've gone running through the brown parks several times or have done the same dry hike along the foothills, it gets a little boring and repetitive. To get the breathtaking Colorado mountain views, you have to drive 2-3 hours (not including the horrendous traffic) west of Denver into the mountains.
Be cautious of the "great" weather here. While summers are dry and hot (i.e. not totally miserable), this winter has been rough. We've only had a handful of days above freezing in the past four months with a fair amount of snowstorms. It is dry dry dry. My skin constantly feels itchy and my sinuses are killing me. Couple the dryness with the altitude and the thick layer of smog that blankets the city, and you've got a recipe for terrible breathing conditions. Every time I leave Denver for a couple of days, I immediately get a sinus infection when I return because of the dryness and bad air quality. What would be pleasant warm days are generally ruined by strong winds that whip down the mountains.
There are some great Asian and Mexican food options outside of the "cool" neighborhoods. The restaurants and bars that people gush about in the Highlands, RiNo, Five Points, etc. are so contrived and vastly overrated. It seems like they were all conceived, designed, and launched with the same boring, yuppie tastes in mind. Beyond the uninspired menus, these places tend to attract the worst of the worst of the Denver population.
Denver needs to learn that the Broncos aren't culture. Museums aren't culture. Theaters and performance spaces aren't culture. Retails shops aren't culture. Any city can drop those institutions in the landscape; they're not unique to Denver. It's so odd that Denver is fairly racially and ethnically diverse, has a ostensibly large LGBT community, and has tons of transplants flocking to the city every day, and yet there is no unique culture to speak of.
I think the lack of culture largely boils down to the fact that people in Denver have very little interest in experiencing anything outside their own individual bubble. The vast majority of Denver residents live in the suburbs, which are homogenous and conservative by nature. The young people who live in the city itself are just...weird. People tend to stick to themselves. I've never experienced so much difficulty in striking up a conversation and getting to know someone as I have experienced here. Everyone is severely guarded, standoffish, uninterested in anything that doesn't directly concern them, and overall pretty socially inept. As other commenters have noted, there is a very strong current of subtle racism through Denver. I'd also add homophobia and xenophobia. I don't see Denver becoming any more socially progressive, as the majority of people moving here are ignorant dude bros who just want to snowboard, smoke weed, and make places feel unsafe for anyone who is not a straight white dude. I've heard people compare living in Denver to living in a frat house, which is pretty spot on.
Denver has so much potential that is being squandered. Rather than apply experiences, cultures and talents to making the city interesting and vibrant, Denverites focus all of their attention on the mountains. Everything in Denver is just mediocre and normal because people here tend to not really explore outside of the safe, whitewashed, and mainstream. If you're considering a move here, I would suggest looking elsewhere, especially if an interesting, vibrant city culture and population are something you value.