Denver Cheat Sheet

Denver's mile-high quality of life is attracting newcomers in droves. With one of the most vibrant downtowns in the country and a location at the foot of the Rockies, it's easy to see why.

What You Have to See
  • Denver Art Museum: This museum is a dazzling piece of architecture and a rising star in the art world. In recent years, it has featured lauded exhibitions showcasing Yves St. Laurent, Georgia O'Keeffe and Vincent van Gogh.
  • Red Rocks Amphitheatre: One of the most legendary music venues on Earth, Red Rocks is a geological superstar just 15 miles southwest of downtown. The natural amphitheatre, framed by the looming red rocks of its namesake, is a great place to visit if there's not a concert, and even better if there is.
  • LoDo: At the heart of the city, the historic storefronts of LoDo-short for Lower Downtown-are perfectly complemented by the newly renovated Union Station, the city's light-rail hub.
Not Worth the Time
The ritzy Cherry Creek neighborhood is the biggest shopping destination for 1,000 miles, but it's hard to get to and to navigate (especially if you're using public transportation), parking can be a nightmare and locally owned establishments are few and far between.

Food Essential
Green chile. This spicy dish, named for its main ingredient that's sourced largely from New Mexico, is something of a culinary obsession in Denver. The norm is a pork-laden stew with a kick that's served in a bowl or smothered atop a burrito, but you'll find all sorts of variations, ranging from the authentic to the gourmet.

Drink Essential
Denver is at the forefront of the craft beer scene. Inside city limits, you'll find more than 30 breweries, and dozens more are in the planning stages. Among the oldest establishments are Wynkoop Brewing Company in LoDo, founded by John Hickenlooper, who graduated from brewer to Denver mayor to Colorado governor, and Great Divide Brewing Company, best known for its Yeti Imperial Stout.

What Things Cost
  • Standard fare on public transit: $2.25 one-way
  • Taxi from airport: $45
  • Weekend night in a 4-star hotel: about $200
  • Pint of beer (at standard bar): $5
  • Adult lift ticket at Loveland Ski Area: $51 to $63
Best Spot to Instagram

#washingtonpark #fallcolors

A photo posted by Erica Garcia (@ecurator) on

Local Terms to Know
  • LoDo: Lower Downtown, the city's historic heart
  • The 'Pec: El Chapultecpec, the best jazz club for 1,000 miles
  • Pow: The snow in the high country that makes for sick days galore
  • The 'Fax: Colfax Avenue, once called "the longest, wickedest street in America" by Playboy
Eric Peterson is a Denver-based travel writer who's authored dozens of guidebooks on the Rockies, including Ramble Colorado.