PSST… A Newcomer’s Guide to Denver | 16 Things You Need to Know

Denvers Newcomers Guide

While Denver used to be a hidden gem nestled at the bottom of the Rocky Mountains, it’s anything but hidden these days! Of course, we’ve still held on to our small city values and amazing features, but the secret is out and it seems like everyone is moving to Denver.

If that’s you—welcome! We don’t blame you for wanting to live here. But before you’ve officially settled in, there are a few things you should know. From our casual dress to our weather, we’ve created a complete guide to help your transition into being a Denverite a little easier!

Denver Basics:

  • Estimated Population (2019): 664,200

  • Land Area: 155 Square Miles

  • Rainfall: 15.54 Inches

  • Snowfall: 60 Inches

  • Average Annual High Temperature: 64 Degrees

  • Average Annual Temperature: 50.15 Degrees

  • Average Annual Low Temperature: 36.3 Degrees

We’re a pretty “high” city

City Park Denver where to take out of town guests

If you haven’t heard yet, Denver is also known as The Mile High City. While most of the city isn’t technically 5280 feet above sea level, there are several spots that actually are, including the Mile High Step and a row of seats at Coors Field. This means that it may take you a bit to get used to the elevation (you can find oxygen canisters at stores all over the area if you need a little help breathing). Oh, and cannabis products are legal—but you probably knew that already.

Our weather is indecisive

Rule number one of living in Denver: always be prepared. That means you should always wear sunscreen, keep an umbrella and ice scraper in your car, and always try to park under an overhang to avoid hail. While we are lucky enough to have about 300 glorious days of sunshine a year, the weather can change drastically. Just this year we had an 83-degree day followed by a snowstorm—it’s all just a part of being a true Denverite!

You should almost always dress down

Other than our skiing, legal marijuana and Rocky Mountain Oysters, there’s one thing Denver is pretty famous for—our casual dress. No matter where you’re headed in the city, a t-shirt and jeans is a pretty standard outfit. If you’re looking to dress up a little, just throw on some boots and a flannel. But definitely don’t ever forget your sunglasses.

Our fashion scene is thriving

Denver Fashion Week

Photo courtesy of Denver Fashion Week

Yes, we know we just said that casual dress is normal here—and it is! But that doesn’t mean we don’t still have a thriving community of fashion bloggers, designers and enthusiasts. Denver Fashion Week is one of the most popular events of the year, featuring the work of designers from all around the country. And we’re home to several iconic fashion Instagrammers—just check out 13 Denver Fashion Bloggers and Instagrammers You Need to Follow.

Our zoo is one of the oldest in the United States

Yes, you heard us correctly! The Denver Zoo was one of the first zoos to set up shop in America and was one of the first American institutions to implement a new zoo strategy—putting visitors face-to-face with the animals in their natural habitats without bars or fences. Today, you can still benefit from that concept with innovative modern exhibits like Toyota Elephant Passage, where you can see elephants cross a bridge over your head, and EDGE, which allows you to get closer to Amur tigers than you ever knew you wanted to be!

We love our sports

The Broncos (football), The Rockies (baseball), The Avalanche (hockey) and The Nuggets (basketball) are all essential Denver pastimes you should know about. And because sports are so popular in this neck of the woods, it’s pretty impossible not to become a fan. Pretty soon you’ll be painting your face, donning a jersey, and heading out to Mile High.

…Almost as much as we love beer

Denver Newcomers Guide

Craft beer is practically a religion in Denver. In fact, we have more microbreweries than any city outside of Portland, Oregon and have even been called “The Napa Valley of Beer”. If you want to get a quick taste of our beer culture, head to RiNo, one of Denver’s favorite neighborhoods, and just walk around. There you’ll find several fantastic breweries all with something different to offer you.

We’re kind of known for our blue animals

There’s no shortage of big, blue statues in the Denver area. Near the Denver International Airport, you’ll find Blucifer, a 32-foot tall blue mustang sculpture with glowing red eyes. And, if you visit the Colorado Convention Center downtown, you can take a gander at the Big Blue Bear. Our beloved bear is 40 feet tall and can be seen peeking into the convention center playfully among several bright blue trees.

Bring a bike

Denver is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country for plenty of reasons. Not only is it because we boast so much sunshine, but we also happen to have a plethora of bike trails for you to explore. One of our favorites is the Cherry Creek Bike Trail which covers more than 24 miles—we even have a whole guide to stops along the way! Plus, parking can be hard to find sometimes in Denver so it’s often easier (and cheaper) just to hop on your bike.

Our restaurants are top notch

With new restaurants opening their doors frequently, the hardest decision you’ll have to make is deciding which one to try out! No matter what you’re craving, you can usually find it in Denver. We have some of the best Mexican food in the country along with terrific Vietnamese and Ethiopian food. Check out our guide to the 10 Best Restaurants in the Denver Area, According to Yelp for a taste of our spectacular food scene.

And our food halls are legendary

Zeppelin Station

Photo courtesy of Zeppelin Station

The Denver/Fort Collins/Boulder area is home to more than 12 food and market halls with plenty more in the works. These halls are all home to fantastic restaurants, bars, butcher shops, boutique stores and more—and are usually located inside old foundries, shipping containers or airports. A few of our favorites include Zeppelin Station, The Source, Avanti Food and Beverage and The Central Market.

We’re a cultured community

Here in Denver, our cultural scene is thriving. We play host to several live music events throughout the year and you can catch a show at the Denver Performing Arts Complex whenever the mood hits you! We also have some of the best live theater and museums in the west. One must-see stop is the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, where you can view some of the most revolutionary modern art in the world.

We love a good party

Because of our increase in breweries, bars and distilleries over the past few years, we’ve become a great place for nightlife. In fact, Apartment Guide just named us as one of the top 10 best cities for nightlife in America! Plus, we throw some of the best festivals in the country, including the gigantic Taste of Colorado, the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival, the Great American Beer Fest and the Five Points Jazz Festival—just to name a few.

We’re very proud of our neighborhoods

Newcomers Gide to Denver

Each Denver neighborhood has its own vibe and personality. Capitol Hill (Cap Hill) is professional yet lively, Country Club is upscale and expensive, Cherry Creek has spectacular shopping, and Highlands is full of trendy restaurants—and we love all of them. No matter your interests or needs, you can find a Denver neighborhood that suits you!

Physical activity will become your new hobby

Denver is bursting with parks, bike trails and other places where you can get a little physical. Not to mention the world-famous ski resorts that are just a hop, skip and a jump away in the mountains. We’re also home to a few new, unique extreme sports like Bad Axe Throwing and Archery Dodgeball, so you have plenty of choices when it comes to exercise. Just don’t be surprised when it becomes your new favorite thing to do!

We love local

Shopping local is extremely popular in Denver. We’re home to some amazing small businesses where you can get everything you could ever need. Whether you’re looking for clothes, home decor, a delicious meal or a holiday present for a loved one, you can find it right here—no online shopping required.

Welcome to Denver!

We hope you love living in our amazing city. If you’re still learning your way around, make sure to follow The Denver Ear to keep up with local events, businesses and everything else happening in The Mile High City!