Welcome to the Mile High City, where the Wild West meets the urban frontier, where towering peaks collide with the desert plains. From its humble beginnings as a jumping off point for the Colorado Gold Rush, Denver has grown into a vibrant city that proudly touts its 300 annual days of sunshine and close proximity to world-class skiing, hiking, mountain biking, and climbing.
Denver is a geographically isolated city sitting exactly one mile above sea level and over 600 barren miles from the next closest major city. Concealed from the west by bold foothills and towering 14,000-foot peaks, and protected to the east by an expansive and unforgiving high desert terrain, it is a place where everybody seems to be from somewhere else – at times, California and Texas license plates seem to outnumber the Colorado ones.
Although the outdoors are what made Denver famous, there's plenty to do for those city slickers who prefer a good metropolis to getting in touch with Mother Nature. For sports fans, there's top flight hockey, baseball, football, and soccer. If you'd rather not shell out the money for professional sports, the University of Denver's hockey team is always nationally ranked and competitive. And for those who'd rather play than watch, there are pickup games in soccer, baseball, and kickball (usually with alcohol involved) in the city's numerous parks, especially in Denver's favorite: Washington Park.
As for culinary delights, Denver is rightfully famous as one of the centers of Colorado's microbrew boom. Even former mayor (and now governor) John Hickenlooper ran a successful brewery in town. For foodies, downtown Denver hosts a bevy of fusion, Italian, American, and practically any type of cuisine one could wish for. Large Mexican, east African, and Korean populations also mean that spectacular ethnic cuisine is never far away.
However, to really understand what has caused so many people to transplant themselves all the way out here, you really have to get out into the mountains. During the winter, world-famous ski resorts like Breckenridge, Vail, and Keystone are within a short drive, not to mention even more local favorites like Arapahoe Basin, Winter Park, Loveland, and Eldora.
During the warmer months, Denverites turn to rafting and kayaking on the Colorado River and Clear Creek, climbing in Boulder Canyon and Devil's Head, and working their way towards scaling all of Colorado's 53 peaks over 14,000 feet. If all of that sounds a little out of your league, there's enough short and beautiful day hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park or one of the myriad local wilderness areas to keep you occupied.
The Mile High City has a little bit of something for everyone, and the only danger is that you may like it so much you may be the next inevitable transplant. That, or someone might talk you into trying the notorious Rocky Mountain Oysters.