7 Reasons Why Denver Is One of America’s Best Outdoor Cities
Denver ranks at or near the top of countless lists of the best outdoor cities to live in. But living in Denver comes with its own set of challenges. From the ongoing marijuana debate to the population growth in recent years, it’s easy to find a reason to overlook this outdoor minded paradise.
But one thing is beyond question: If you take your health and happiness seriously there may be no better place to call home than the Mile High City. Truth is, Denver offers a plethora of outdoor activities and unique urban pursuits that no other city in the U.S. can match. The Mile High City has long been regarded as an outdoor lovers paradise, and rightfully so. From the extensive trail system, to the thriving food scene, to the accessibility of the Front Range, living in Denver offers an assortment of outdoor and cultural options for your family to enjoy.
What does that list include? Consider just a few examples:
850 Miles of Paved Bike and Multiuse Trails
You rarely find yourself anywhere in Denver without noticing a plethora of people riding bikes. Mountain bikers, road racers, trail blazers, Coloradans love their wheels.
One of the crown jewels of the Colorado bike scene is the Cherry Creek Bike Path. If you haven’t explored Denver via the Cherry Creek Bike Path, you really haven’t seen the awesomeness of this progressive city. This beautiful trail runs along the Platte River and Cherry Creek through Downtown Denver, transporting cyclists, riders, runners, walkers and lots of furry companions through the highlights and charms of the city.
Start with brunch in the Lower Highlands (LoHi) neighborhood at the swanky Root Down restaurant, where all the food is organically grown or raised in Colorado. Then jump on your cruiser and head to Commons Park as you follow the creek through Downtown Denver, winding your way to the upscale shopping, dining and entertainment district, Cherry Creek. Some of the most beautiful parks, neighborhoods and sites of the city are at your fingertips when exploring this trail. Exercise, socialize and explore the tranquility of the creek along with the cities most notable attractions.
5,000 Acres of Parks and Parkways
Denverites can hold their heads high: They not only have a unique and amazing trail system, the city also has one of the countries best Park Systems. According to the Denver Post and Huffington Post, Denver has the 13th best Park System in the country, beating out world class cities like Chicago and Los Angeles.
Denver parks cover 6% of the land in the city, with an average park size of 6.3 acres. A few of the city’s favorites are Washington Park and City Park. Both are centrally located and offer the city’s outdoor enthusiast an array of activities in a city oasis.
Washington Park is always buzzing with runners, cyclist, volleyball games, frisbee golf, yoga classes, BBQs and basically most outdoor sports you can pull off in a park. The setting is majestic with the Rockies appearing to the west, several lily ponds, a quaint lake with paddle boats and charming boathouse. Weddings, 5Ks, and outdoor fundraisers are commonplace in Washington Park.
City Park is Denver’s largest park and, some would say, the city’s premier park. The park contains the Denver Zoo, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and IMAX, horseshoes, baseball, football and soccer fields, two lakes, historical monuments and hosts one of the summers most popular Sunday night events, Jazz in the Park. If you want to hit the links, the park is also home to the 18-hole City Park Golf Course, which features stunning city and mountain views.
300 Days of Sunshine
One of Colorado’s favorite sons, John Denver, knew a little bit about the blue-bird, sunny days, that grace Denver and the state.
“Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy, sunshine in my eyes can make me cry. Sunshine on the water looks so lovely, sunshine almost always makes me high.”
It’s true. Although Colorado is one of the countries snowiest states in the Continental U.S., it is also one the sunniest. This balance of sun and snow makes Denver an outdoor paradise all year round, during all four seasons.
Spend the spring and summer, biking on the Cherry Creek bike path, practicing yoga in the park, listening to jazz next to a lake or mountain biking on one of the many bike paths in the foothills of Red Rocks. Sunshine still blesses the state during fall and winter as well. You can’t beat a beautiful, blue day, filled with sun as you’re boarding or skiing through deep, white powder snow, in one of the many world-renowned ski resorts just west on I-70.
Vibrant Downtown With All Major Sports Represented
Most of Downtown Denver has been completely restored over the past decade. There is a section of downtown that includes Lower Downtown (LoDo), Lower Highlands (LoHi) and Riverfront Park. These neighborhoods are hot and lively, featuring dozens of entertainment, shopping and cultural options. These vibrant areas are like a playground for both young and old, offering 4 professional sports teams, including The Denver Broncos, The Colorado Rockies, The Colorado Avalanche and Denver Nuggets. Football, Baseball, Hockey and Basketball respectively.
Swanky restaurants with organic menus, neighbor pubs, hip coffee shops and local breweries. The Platte River and Commons Park are two popular attractions where you’ll catch an outdoor CrossFit class in the park and kayakers sharing the river with furry friends. Pedestrian bridges cross into each neighborhood, providing, walking, biking, skating and running options to jump from one activity to the next.
LoDo is also home to one of the nations largest infrastructure projects, the new Union Station, the cities bustling, ultra-modern, mixed-use, transit oriented hub, which celebrated its grand opening on July 26, 2014.
Following the 2008 National Democratic Convention in Denver, and a challenge to make the event one of the greenest in history, Denver is now home to one of the nation’s most sophisticated and extensive Bike Sharing systems. Today the shiny red bikes can be found all over the metro area, transporting pedestrians from neighborhood to neighborhood, arena to arena, park to park, pub to pub, playground to playground, etc.
Local Beer and Food
In 1973, a German immigrant Adolph Kuhrs began brewing beer in a shantytown area of Colorado now known as Metro Denver. Thus became the birth of Coors Brewing, touting the use of “pure Rocky Mountain spring water.”
Today, Denver is one of the nation’s hot spots for local brewing. A few of the trailblazers making a national name for themselves are; Boulder Beer Co., New Belgium Brewing, Oskar Blues and Odell Brewing Co.
Denver’s culinary scene is exploding as well, and if you’re into trendy, new, independent restaurants and cafes you’re in luck. Over the past several years, swanky restaurants have been sprouting up in well-established and up-and-coming neighborhoods, often time, offering local, organically grown, vegetables, meats, pork and chicken. Plenty of Vegan options as well for our vegetarian-friendly peoples out there.
One neighborhood in particular is as hot as a sizzling skillet when it comes to trendsetting, succulent eating options. Lower Highlands (LoHi) is becoming one of the city’s best little pockets to experience exceptional culinary delights.
- Linger, housed in a former mortuary (Ollinger), boasts a killer roof-top deck and worldly menu of fusion foods.
- Just down the street a popular noodles restaurant, Uncle, opened its doors in 2013 and you still have a 45 to 1.5-hour wait if you don’t get in before 5:30pm or after 8:30pm.
- Well worth the wait, just slip next door to Highland Tap & Burger for a beer or cold drink while you wait for your table and bowl of noodles.
- With an “in the now” vibe Old Major combines the scene of a rustic wood barn with a New York style, urban feel. Known for the “Nose-to-Tail” type of selections, from confit, ribs, ham and pig ears, the restaurant is also friendly to fish lovers, offering an assortment of shrimp, mussels and white fish.
And although Denver is the Mile High City, there is a wide variety of sushi restaurants that have some of the best sushi off of the coast. Sushi Den, combined with Izakaya Den (next door) is one of the cities best and its ever-fresh selection of seafood is impressive and abundant. To avoid the inevitable wait, leave your name with the hostess and head next door and up the stairs to Izakaya’s rooftop lounge, Ten Qoo (“Open Sky”) for a pre-dinner drink. Like the seafood and sushi collection at Sushi Den, whether a local or just traveling though, the culinary options in the new, progressive Denver are abundant.
People come from all around the world to visit the Rocky Mountains. Living in Denver provides residents easy access to this wondrous, natural playground.
Heading west on I-70, one of the first attractions, leading to the mountains is Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Red Rocks is the only completely natural amphitheater in the world. The astonishingly beautiful music venue plays host to the world’s biggest musical attractions and has also been the filming spot for the classic U2 film “Under a Blood Red Sky” and the recent Mumford & Sons video “On the Rocks.” There are also miles of hiking and biking trails there, a gift shop, restaurant and guided tours.
Heading further into the mountains you start to hit the world famous ski and summer mountain resorts such as Breckenridge, Vail, Beaver Creek and Aspen. World class winter and summer sports, entertainment, dining, and shopping are plentiful and playful in these mountaintop resorts. Winter offers blue-bird, white powder snow days, usually followed by a dip in the hot tub and dinner at a swanky new eatery in one of the quaint mountain villages. Summer presents sunny days full of hiking, rafting, trail running, horseback riding and whatever your mind can imagine and create.
So, is Denver really one of the best outdoor cities in the world?
We think so. We’ve logged miles and miles on the trails, bike paths, and urban sidewalks getting a closer look at the heart of the city. What we’ve discovered is that there is no place like home. And for us, home is Denver. Colorado is one of the nation’s most beautiful states and Denver is one of the nation’s most progressive cities.