Angry Natives... But Still a Nice Place
The best advice I can give to someone considering moving to Denver is to ignore half of these reviews. There's a small and very vocal segment of the population that enjoys what we have and will do anything to stop people from coming. I love it here, but I also want other people to have valid information about Denver when making big decisions and I just graduated from college so I'm bright-eyed and ready to fight some misinformation! Here's an honest (and kind of long) review from a 23 year-old Denver native.
First of all, I'll be frank about the negatives. You'll have to deal with a couple angry natives. Denver's going through some puberty right now and people who moved here in the 80s and 90s for the western sense of freedom are now upset that other people have discovered our little utopia. They express their anger over increasing traffic and home prices by saying Californians are taking over the roads and making the culture too uptight and ritzy. Obviously, there's no fact to back up those kinds of claims and it's easy to tell those kinds of comments are rooted in anger. Ignore them and move here if you want. 90% of us are the nicest people you'll ever meet.
Other negatives: Public transportation is VERY slowly improving in downtown Denver. We're trying really hard to make the bus and light rail reliable but a poorly run transit agency is holding us back. Denver is pretty walkable though and you can definitely find ways to get to everything you need using public transportation but it'll take some planning and patience since the bus in particular is known for being late. But using light rail to commute into the city from the suburbs is actually very reliable! I've heard riding a bike actually helps a lot too and the downtown area has a respectable (and also growing) network of bike lanes. Outside the city, riding a bike to the store is the easiest thing ever. I LOVE our trail system.
Okay, back to the Californians (really anybody from a coast). Please know you're welcome here. Honestly, the food sucked in Colorado before you showed up. Even just 10 years ago Colorado had nothing but bars, burger places and the occasional Mexican restaurant. Now there's Cuban, French, Cuban-French, Korean, molecular gastronomy places, whatever. Same with entertainment. Everything used to close at 10 PM. Now things are open later, there's more to do than just bowling and there's always the mountains and surrounding plains for exploring.
That excitement that comes with growth is actually one of the major reasons I think Denver is the best place to live in the country currently. Walking around, you can feel an energy to the city. It's growing but also staying true to its roots in a way that makes it a cultural destination. You can tell some of the museums that are just starting to hit their hey day will be national treasures in a hundred years. You can also feel that energy in all the dispensaries around town. Being on the cutting edge of a new industry has really made the city feel vibrant and important.
I've seen a lot of people complain about the weather because they heard Colorado weather was perfect before they came here. You'll have to deal with some annoying snow in May or the occasional rainy summer. Other than that, it really is more sunny here than most places and you don't have to deal with natural disasters that the coasts deal with like earthquakes. The Denver area is protected from tornadoes too because we're so close to the mountains. It's always dry which is a blessing on hot summer days. If it does get humid, it's only for a day after it rains a lot. Winter is nice because the warm, dry days melt any snowfall pretty quickly. The daytime temp in the summer can be anywhere from 70 to 100 and the winter daytime temp is 20 to 60 so you get a nice balance of really cold days, really hot days and then mostly nice mild days. It can change quickly like anywhere else but that's a general idea of the weather.
Explore the museums! Denver Art Museum is one of the greatest art museums in the country. History Colorado Center is great for kids and adults alike and is newly renovated so the exhibits are high tech and really interesting. Colorado has a surprisingly rich history, especially when you include Native American history, Colorado's black history and mining history.
Drive to Fairplay from Morrison for a nice drive through the mountains without I-70 traffic!
Make it back to the city before those summer afternoon showers start and eat at a place like Buckhorn Exchange or Euclid Hall. Denver's wild west identity is grounded in caring for animals and using them as effectively as possible. Trying new and less wasteful preparations of meat is one of my favorite culinary adventures to be had in Denver and it says a lot about Denver's culture of appreciating nature.
There's a really bad Trump-esque hatred of any outsider emanating through our culture right now and Colorado has definitely gotten swept up in it. Ignore the angry people who hate what you bring to the table and move wherever you want. Just bring your kindness and your desire to protect our wild places and you'll love it here!
James | Parker, CO