Calling Denver Dopers

So I just found out today that my company is transferring me to Denver and I leave on Tuesday. I have only passed through the Mile High city once, and that was on my way to visit family in Fort Collins. So, here is a list of questions I have for those who live or have lived in Denver:

Some backround info first: I’m a 23 year old male, single with no kids and no pets.

-What is the best neighborhood to live in the Denver Metro area? I was told Capitol Park, but I have no idea. By best I dont mean most expensive, just one that has newer housing, safe streets, plenty of consuming options etc.

-What is the traffic like? Hours that are the worst? Streets/expressways to avoid at all costs?

-Nightlife highlights? Im not really into trendy places, just somewhere that is known for getting great musical acts works for me.

-Cultural influence? Does the Univ of Denver offer an extensive selection of museums/art galleries and such? Or will I have to go to Boulder?

-Best places to eat? Again, I dont care what is trendy/upscale or whatever, just somewhere that serves an awesome selection and does it well.

-The outdoors? I love to go backpacking/hiking/rafting, but Im not really much of a snow sporter (that might change now).

-Feel free to offer advice on anything else that makes Denver unique.

Hi Tree Boy
You will be joining the legions of young singles which seem to be descending upon the Denver-Boulder area.

Choosing the best neighborhood is tricky. Depends what kind of housing you seek. The Capitol Hill neighborhood is on the funky side, but to me is less pretentious and more down-home than LoDo (Lower Downtown.) (And priced accordingly.) Others may disagree with me about LoDo. You can always head out to the 'burbs if you want to lose that edgy urban atmosphere. Other central Denver neighborhoods: Cherry Creek and Washington Park. Rent will not be cheap in C.C. or Wash Park.

Traffic is becoming pretty bad. However, visitors from LA and NYC scoff at my complaints. Good news: I-25 is being enlarged. Bad news: I-25 is being enlarged. Know what I mean? :wink:
Rush hour heading east/southeast out of downtown is nightmarish, and on a Friday, can start at 3.
Speaking of traffic, yes, there are the mountains. Weekend traffic heading into or down from the mountains, to me, is now almost unbearable. (But spouse and I are twice your age, have lived here many years, and remember the good old days.) If you like hiking and rafting, you are coming to the right place. You might notice the altitude change and dryness. The year I moved here I had constant nosebleeds.

There is a lively music scene in Denver. Smaller venues include the Fillmore and myriad clubs. Jazz at Chapultapec. Tons of restaurants. Get yourself the alternative weekly newspaper, Westword, find it online. Lots of info there.

Denver has an art museum, huge central library, museum of nature and science, a symphony, Botanic Gardens (nice concert scene there in summer) etc. Red Rocks, an open-air amphitheater in the foothills, is a concert experience not to be missed.

Denver has lots of sunshine and a beautiful public park system. We seem to be coming out of our drought, which would make things a bit greener around here.

Hope this helps a bit. Perhaps a 20-something Denver Doper could give you another perspective. Good luck, and welcome!

There are so many areas to live in, it totally depends on how far you want to travel, how much you want to spend, house or condo, etc. etc. Housing is not cheap though. Prices have skyrocketed since I lived there in 1997 my friends tell me. I was paying $450/month for a 1-bedroom in 1997, that same place is going for over $600/month now (this was 3 blocks from Washington Park). Oh, where will you work? Downtown or maybe in the Denver Tech center on the southside?

Traffic sucks everywhere now I’m told. Luckily there are a few good radio stations to listen to (KTCL), so relax and enjoy the scenery of bumpers.

As mentioned, check Westword.com. But LoDo is the easiest place to go. Restaurants, bars, clubs, pool halls, etc. You can always find something to do there.

Univ. of Denver (DU) is not like other ‘City’ Universities. It is a private school with a shitty hockey team and obnoxious frat-boys. (Gee, can you tell that I went to CC?). What you probably mean is something on the order of CU Denver & Metro State and Community College of Denver. It is a 3-school campus located a few blocks west of Downtown that does have community stuff and it also has the Tivoli center on site with bars, movie theaters, etc. Boulder is a universe unto itself. Just go, you will see. Also, the Westword will keep you up-to-date on the cultural offerings of Denver.

As stated, TONS of choices. Westword has a yearly ‘Best of’ with its restaurant sections broken down by cuisine. When I go back for visits though, I usually eat at the Blue Bonnet (Mexican with killer margaritas and salsa near I-25 and Broadway), Tommy’s Thai (fast-food Thai that kicks ass! Colfax and Cook I believe), The Sushi Den (been a long time…can’t remember the address, S. Grant? near I-25?), The Wynkoop Brewing Co. (Cool place, great variety of food and an upscale pool hall upstairs, comedy club downstairs, LoDo near the train station.).

Can’t do any better than Colorado for all of that. Go to REI outdoor sports store and talk to them, or look on a billboard there or ??? They used to organize groups and at the very least sell books on all the trails and maps and etc. in Colorado.

I think there is also a ‘singles’ adventure group that advertises in Denver. They put together everything from restaurant and bar outings to rafting and ski trips. I heard from one person that it was cool because they didn’t need to worry about finding people to do things with, they just showed up and had fun. YMMV.

I left Denver in 97, so my experience is outdated. I go back once a year and pretty much do the same things I used to when living there. I never went to the mountains nearly enough, and when I return I’m making it a point to change that. But have fun, there is lots to do if you so choose.

-Tcat

Plan to live close to where you work or on a bus/train line that’s near to your workplace. Surface street commuting can be a real bear here so commuting by Public Train/Bus is low stress & low cost (compared to parking downtown, anyway).

The commute from a potential employer in the Denver Tech center (south-side) to my home in the Northwest suburbs took about an hour-and-a-half at rush hour - and this was before I-25 was shredded for the big expansion project.

I have three kids so there’s no nightlife opinion from me. LoDo (west-side of the downtown district) would be my only suggestion. Northwest residents might also consider running to The Republic of Boulder & hanging out with the myriad students from CU.

The closer you live to downtown, the more expensive. A friend bought a house in the Wash Park district that ran about $200/sq foot and needed a ton of work. My suburb house was more like $100/sq-foot 4 years ago and would probably be more like $120/sq-foot today.

Luckily for you, the employment market is way down here & there’s a glut of sellers & apartments - lots of choices.

Here’s a list of links I put together for another poster:
Art Museum http://www.denverartmuseum.org
Performing Arts: http://www.denvercenter.org
Nature & Science Museum: http://www.dmns.org/
Airport: http://www.flydenver.com
National Parks: http://165.83.219.77/parksearch/state/state.cfm?statevar=co
City & Downtown: http://www.denvergov.org/panoramas/scenic.asp
Newspapers: http://www.rockymountainnews.com or http://www.denverpost.com or http://www.westword.com
Ski: http://www.skicolorado.com

My little schpiel on Denver.

Capitol Hill is nice, but it depends on what you mean by safe streets. If you are talking safe streets copaired to Mayberry, then no, Capitol hill has some crime, but if you are talking safe streets copaired to New York or Detroit, the Capitol hill is Mayberry. personally I live in Nortwest Denver, basically 1 mile or so west of Downtown. It’s a nice area(the highlands) with lots of bar, restauraunt, young people action. Are you looking to buy or rent? SA other people said where you live should depend on where you work.
Denvers musuems and cultural theaters are pretty good, but unrelated to any school.

The big theaters get the big acts. There is also a pretty good amature music scene in bars like Ziggies(highlands) Cricket on the hill(Cap hill) Soiled Dove (Lodo) Hermans hideaway(south of downtown) and about 40 others depending on location.

Eating. Chipotle has good decent priced lunch. Great pizza will take some searching whereever you end up living. I hear Sonada or Tommy Tsunamis for sushi, but I’m not a expert in that area. Some good cheap Itialian places in Northwest Denver like Patsy’s inn, and that one place where those two streets intersect(can’t remember the name right now). Brothers BBQ in Cap hill is damn good BBQ as well.

If it’s a factor for ya, Cap Hill is the center of Gay life in Denver also.

Out doors: Look west, see those mountains? Good, now drive toward and them enjoy them. Seriuosly though, near Idaho Springs, Ward and Poudre canyon are some nice Camping fishing spots within an 1.5 hour drive of Denver.

Neighborhoods: Well, the Denver metro area is pretty spread out, so you’ll have a lot of variation to choose from. Knowing where your job is would put some limits on the suggestions. If you’re going to be in the Denver Tech center (on the south side), Parker and Highlands Ranch are some newer divisions that I’ve heard good things about.

Traffic: The basic highway commute is probably going to include I-25 (north/south), I-70 (east/west) and/or C-470 (basically circles the city from DIA in the NE to I-70 on the west). I think the I-25 expansion is actually going really well for the amount of changes they’re doing. Rush hour ends about 9:30-10 am and 6:30-7 pm (unless there’s an event like a football/baseball/hocky game or a big concert). I don’t have much in the way of start times since I work a later shift. I haven’t found any non-highway streets that are serious problems (although any Dopers working downtown might jump on me for that comment).

Nightlife: I’m not much into the clubbing scene, but some places I’ve had good times are: Buffalo Rose, Sing Sing, and Comedy Works. The Rose is in Golden (about 15 miles west of Denver proper), the other two are in LoDo. And then there are the little local bars/clubs that you can find in any town.

Oh, speaking of Golden, hitting the Coors Brewery tour at least once is always interesting.

Outdoors: Denver has a lot of it. And I will never choose to live anywhere with a flat horizon.

Hope you like it here, let us know how things work out for you.

And yes, Boulder IS world unto itself. And I don’t necessarily mean that in a positive way. But, on the other hand, if you’re a relaxed and easygoing person, the entertainment value of Boulder can be priceless. But anyway, let’s get to Denver!

I can’t help you about real estate in Denver. I don’t like the idea of LoDo as a place to live, but that’s me…

-What is the traffic like? Hours that are the worst? Streets/expressways to avoid at all costs?

It’s not pretty and it’s getting worse. There’s a big construction project totally screwing up the major north-south artery, I-25. The project is cutely named T-REX (transportation road extension project, I think), but you won’t think it’s cute after sitting through your 7th rush hour on south I-25. v:P This is such a major reconstruction project it has its own damn website: http://www.trexproject.com

All of south I-25 is pretty much bad. Starting at about Colfax Blvd (just south of downtown) south is hell between 8-9 and 4:30-6:30 every weekday. The road that leads between Boulder and Denver, US-26, is also pretty nasty.

As others have said, we’re nowhere near LA (I’ve seen that with my own eyes - DAMN) and we’re not even as bad as Dallas-Ft.Worth (which, to be fair, is almost as bad as LA). But it’s still pretty bad. Try and live fairly close to where you work.

  • -Nightlife highlights? Im not really into trendy places, just somewhere that is known for getting great musical acts works for me.*

There are plenty of little clubs in Denver, but the live music scene isn’t as good as I would like. I’ve been to two good concerts in the last five years. One was at the Onyx club (http://www.onyxdenver.com), a new year’s show by Seraphim Shock, which I had a great time at. But normally the Onyx isn’t quite my speed. I tend to enjoy going to The Church (http://www.the-church.com) sometimes. I’m not much of a clubber, actually. Mostly just go when my friends do. I can’t stand Country music, but my friends who do like it tend to speak well of the Grizzly Rose club.

The other good show I saw was Type O Negative at The Ogden Theater. There are three mid-sized theaters along Colfax in Denver that I tend to catch shows at. The Ogden, The Bluebird and The Gothic. They have websites, throw “denver ogden” or “denver gothic theater” or “denver bluebird” into google if you care.

Other people have mentioned the smaller cafe venus like Chapultapec, and so on. Lots of these, huge variation in atmosphere and quality. I happen to know that they give swing dancing lessons at the Mercury Cafe, if that’s your thing. Tried it, didn’t enjoy it. The local artsy newspaper, Westword (no points for guessing the website), publishes a “Best of Denver” issue yearly. Lots of ideas there.

  • -Cultural influence? Does the Univ of Denver offer an extensive selection of museums/art galleries and such? Or will I have to go to Boulder?*

As for more high-brow stuff, I’ve often criticized Denver as a “cow town with delusions of adequacy.” There is a performing arts center here, though I’ve never seen any of the productions they put on. I think we have a symphony… I think.

Denver does have a modern art museum, I can’t comment on the quality as I haven’t been there since I was 12. The natural history museum is fun once every several years. There is a zoo here as well.

You may not find as much culture as you think in Boulder. CU has an art museum but it ain’t big. We have a Dairy Center for the Arts but it’s not putting on shows every night or anything. I can think of exactly one playhouse in Boulder, The Nomad. Oh, we have a dinner theater up here too, but I don’t count that for much…

  • -Best places to eat? Again, I dont care what is trendy/upscale or whatever, just somewhere that serves an awesome selection and does it well. *

Jackpot! There are lots of great places to eat in Denver and Boulder both. I think I once heard it bandied about that Boulder had more restaurants per capita than all but three other 100k+ cities in the nation.

I have no particular favorites, really. I like Mori, a sushi bar in LoDo. Real unpretentious, but the fish is excellent. I like The Chop house. It’s a chain but damn do they serve an amazing porterhouse steak. Up in Boulder I’ve been eating at Moe’s Broaedway Bagel shops a whole lot. Very no frills but I dig the ambience and the food very much. Just walk around LoDo, or grab a Westword “best of” issue and check it out. Denver is a great city if you love to eat.

*-The outdoors? I love to go backpacking/hiking/rafting, but Im not really much of a snow sporter (that might change now). *

The major way to get to the mountains is I-70, which goes East/West. On any morning during ski season it’ll be crowded as fuck. The skiing is amazing, but you’ll have to drive and wait in line a combined total of three hours most of the time. Breckenridge ski resort is probably the best place to start learning to ski or snowboard. I like A-Basin (up the hill 7 miles from Breck) but it is STEEP.

In the summer, all the ski resort towns convert to summer tourist towns - mountain biking, hiking, horse riding, etc. It’s all good, if expensive.

Hope you enjoy Denver.
-Ben

Thank you very much…I knew I could turn to this fountain of information and get my fill. I am going to be managing the Old Spaghetti Factory, which I am told is very close to Coors Field. So what neighborhood does that put me in and where should I be looking for housing then?

You’re looking at downtown. Coors Field, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 16th St. Mall, Larimer Square, Denver Public Libary, Art Museum,Civic Center, Pepsi Center…and you can get on the Cherry Creek bikepath and head over to tony Cherry Creek North for coffee, art galleries, Tattered Cover bookstore, shopping.
There are loft apartments downtown.
The Fire Clay Lofts are supposed to be affordable.
Or you could look for a place to live either on the northwest side of town, or in Capitol Hill. It would be to your advantage if you found a place to live that would allow you to walk, use public transport or a bike for your commute.

What I remember most about Denver was the sky opened up and rained everyday at 5:00pm.

Another thing was you can’t get lost in Denver cos if you can see that line of Rocky Mountains you know thats west.

Good luck with your new job.

*What I remember most about Denver was the sky opened up and rained everyday at 5:00pm. *

Not quite accurate. The typical Colorado weather pattern in Spring and Summer is for it to be clear until about noon, the skies to cloud up and rain by 1-2, rain, then clear by 4-5, and then have an amazing sunset by about 6-7. In the fall things dry out and you just get nice weather all day.

*Another thing was you can’t get lost in Denver cos if you can see that line of Rocky Mountains you know thats west. *

True dat! I always get lost in other cities because I don’t have the mountains to keep my bearings by.
-Ben

*What I remember most about Denver was the sky opened up and rained everyday at 5:00pm. *

Not quite accurate. The typical Colorado weather pattern in Spring and Summer is for it to be clear until about noon, the skies to cloud up and rain by 1-2, rain, then clear by 4-5, and then have an amazing sunset by about 6-7. In the fall things dry out and you just get nice weather all day.

*Another thing was you can’t get lost in Denver cos if you can see that line of Rocky Mountains you know thats west. *

True dat! I always get lost in other cities because I don’t have the mountains to keep my bearings by.
-Ben

Well that puts you right on the edge between Lodo and downtown. Not a big distinction really, they are pretty much the same place. You can live Capitol hill, Nortwest Denver(only a 5-8 minute comute unless you get caught Rockies game day) Capitol Hill, Downtown loft or apartment. You can also get a place cheaper north of downtown near the five points area. It’s a step or two down in street safety, but still not too bad, and is a rebuilding neigborhood. Downtown is the only place you could get by without a car. Cars are just part of Colorado life, everybody has one since the Public transport is bad but improving. Within a five block radius of the spaghetti factory you can find every type of restauraunt and bar you want, so boredom won’t be a problem.

I lived in the south Metro area, three blocks from Greenwood Village. I rented a two bedroom townhouse for about $845 a month by the time I moved back to Colorado Springs in August of 1998. It really depends on the area for

Housing shouldn’t be a problem though as the rental market has softened a bit. Even mushy down here in C Springs (Worldcomm laid off a buttload of people, about a 1/4 of the people.) It really depends on if you want to commute or not. You’ll be in the more renovated area (employment wise) of the downtown area which I assume will be higher in pricing than say in the 'burbs.

I don’t think you will have too much of a problem with entertainment there. The nightlife of Denver certainly isn’t New York or Las Vegas but it has it’s own quality. Lots of good brew pubs around the city, lots of varied live music from local musicians, good acts come to town and even some of the best of touring Broadway plays. There are trail systems all over the city so invest in a good bike or excellent athletic shoes.

If you are into golfing, you’ll like it here, it can be snowing and cold one day and the next 60º and people gather at the golf course.

The mountains are far or close depending on what area you are living in. Aurora, is far, Arvada is close.

I freakin’ hate the traffic up there but then I again I hate the traffic here too. With the building of T-Rex, I-25 has become a nightmare. Public transportation sucks so a car is important.

Don’t let the “Colorado” after Denver’s name fool you. It can get in the upper 90s and lower 100s in the summer so make sure your AC is running well in your car.

Regardless of the “bad” points, Denver is a nice city to live in. I miss living up there because it’s so sleepy down here, this city is more for families than singles. Which is ridiculous because we do have a lot of military down here.

Anyhow, good luck on your move and maybe we can get a Denver Dopefest going this summer. I miss those, we used to have some fun.

I forgot to add: Denver has some great culture. The zoo, the Museum of Natural History, lots of art galleries, etc… There are a lot of great special events throughout the summer. Brewfest, art festivals, etc…also the mountain resort towns hold a lot of their own special events from jazz and other music festivals to arts and or crafts festivals.

If you are so inclined to be a tourist while you establish your residence here, email me for some fun places to go. Coors offers tours, Celestial Tea has tours, Garden of the Gods down here is pretty cool, Royal Gorge (southwest of me) is incredible while scary…for just a few ideas.

Good luck on your move and keep us informed of your transition. BTW, maybe if we do a Dopefest, you can meet some new people so you aren’t feeling so alone in your new surroundings.

I really only can answer two of these.

I live near the Washington Park area. I have a one bedroom apartment, completly remodeled with new paint, carpet and new appliances for $510 a month.

AS for hiking you have the every kind you could ever imagine here, I love to go in the mountains, just drive there till I find a cool spot that I haven’t been to before and get out and hike all over.

More advice…sorry I am kinda bored this afternoon.

Invest in a good lotion. Seriously, men and women alike have dry skin here and those that move here from more humid areas complain about that a lot. Not as dry as Phoenix or Vegas but not that far off either. The summer isn’t that bad but the winters leave ya very itchy.

If you like to shop, there are a ton of shopping centers around. Down in Castle Rock they have an outlet mall, up in Silverthorne they have one there too. But there are shopping opportunities all over the place. The more exclusive shopping is up in Cherry Creek though. Hide your credit cards when you go there, they jump out of your wallet and cause you shock when the cc bill comes in.

There is an IMAX theater at the Museum but C Springs has the only 3D one in the state, last I heard anyway.

As mentioned, Westword is an excellent source for local happenings.

If you enjoy watching major sports, Denver is a good place to be. Broncos, Avalanche, Rockies, and the sad Nuggets. Coors Field is fun to go and people watch and a good value for your $. Mile High is loud and a blast. Never been to an Avs game though because they are hard to get and expensive and I am not big on basketball.

Like most cities, Denver continuously has road construction. KOA 850 am has excellent coverage of the traffic as do the three major television stations in the morning and afternoon. The typical rush hours are from about 6:00 am to 8:30 am and 3:30 pm to about 6:00 pm.

If you like Mexican/Southwestern food, you are close to heaven here. It’s a little more “traditional” than say California because of our local growing season. The Blue Bonnet (strange name for a Mexican eatery) used to be very good. But you can find many other excellent ethnic restaurants as well. However, some of the meat and potato restaurants rock here. The beginnings of Denver focused a lot on agriculture before the gold and silver rushes so getting a good cut of beef is easily had here.

There are a lot of good rafting opportunities around here. Just west/southwest of me is Buena Vista where a lot of rafting companies launch from. Very popular in the state. I am guessing that’s about an hour and a half from the very southwest part of the Denver area. There are other launch points but that one is pretty good when the Arkansas has good run off.

When you get into town, invest in the Denver Regional (Close Up) Atlas - Street Guide published by Pierson Graphics. This was a God-send for me when I moved there in 1995.

If you want to gamble (limited stakes as they call it here) there are three towns; Black Hawk and Central City are not that far from Denver and Cripple Creek which is just west of Colorado Springs.

I think what sets Denver apart from the bigger cities I have been to is the friendly people. It’s changing a bit but we still have some of that friendly western mentality, that is when we aren’t behind the wheel though. :wink:

Also, it really doesn’t take that much to get to the recreational areas. Denver Metro has half the population of our state, approx two million people but it’s pretty spread out.

Count yourself lucky. There’s noplace I’d rather be than back home.

UPDATE:

I just moved into a duplex in Central Denver (Near 8th and Colorado) and I love the neighborhood. Very green and quiet, and near the CU campus. Yesterday I made the drive out to Red Rocks/Golden and I was shocked that such beautiful landscape was only 30 mins from a major city. I can’t wait until a good band plays that ampitheater. I picked up a Westword when I first got here on Tusday and thats where I found the listing for the duplex, so thank you dopers for that nugget of info, because the For Rent magazine was not helping at all.

So far so good, but I am just waiting until the snow season hits to start freaking out. Maybe I will see some of you at a Denver Dopefest sometime.
See you on the boards

Tree Boy,

Welcome to Colorado…sometime this summer we will have to have a Dopefest to officially welcome you to our wonderful state. I am personally having a difficult time with finances and my car needs some serious work so I don’t dare drive it up to Denver but maybe once I get a part-time job I will step up to the plate and start a Dopefest thread. I enjoy setting them up and of course attending them as well.

Welcome to Colorado Tree Boy!!!