5 Dumb Things You Do When You Move to Denver


The Mile-High City: Home to John Elway, legal weed and an annual parade of cattle. Denver has always been a frontier city with a pioneering spirit, but in recent years the moderate weather, wealth of outdoor activities and laid-back culture have been discovered by the rest of the country.

Denver has been experiencing a population boom for the ages, and as someone who's been living in the area for 17 years I've been privileged enough to witness the plights of newcomers. If you're planning on moving here, allow me to give you a preview of the awkward pain you'll be putting yourself through soon.

Here are some of the dumbest things you'll do when you first move to Denver:

No. 1: Drive down 16th Street Mall

16th Street Mall.Richard Cummins/Getty

16th Street Mall is probably one of the first places you'll end up. It's sort of the default place to visit for tourists or to take your parents when you're in college and don't know where the hell else to take them (sorry mom and dad).

That said, the only vehicles that should be driving along the mall are the free city shuttles winding their way up and down, not your '97 Toyota Corolla with Ohio license plates. But it's going to happen: You're going to get lost downtown, you're going to forget and you're going to make that turn. Just take a deep breath, and get the f#$% off as soon as possible.

No. 2: Smoke weed in public

People in the crowd smoking pot at the 420 Cannabis Culture Music Festival, Civic Center Park, Downtown DenverGetty Images

Yes, Colorado was one of the first two states to legalize marijuana for recreational use. If you're 21 you can walk right into a pot shop, and for the uninitiated it is pretty mind-blowing.

But just because the skater brah a half block down is lighting up his spliff on the sidewalk doesn't make it OK. In fact, it's super-duper illegal. But that won't stop you. All you newcomers immediately want to go buy a joint and then light up down by the Cherry Creek bike path, where people are, you know, trying to ride a damn bike.

Just get it out of your system somewhere quietly, and then, please, do it at home.


No. 3: Take a taxi to the airport

airplane take off in denver...shutterstock

The airport is approximately 650 miles away from downtown Denver (scientific numbers). Don't think you're going to wake up an hour before your early flight and have plenty of time — and for the love of all that's holy, don't take a taxi there. Exception: You're the lead character from Brewster's Millions and have a time-limit to spend a bunch of money ('cuz that stuff gets expensive).

At some point you will be desperate and you'll have forgotten or never realized how far away Denver International Airport is. Just get the MasterCard ready (do people still use MasterCard?) and deal with your growing debt later.


No. 4: Drive like a mental patient

Traffic on I25 in DenverDenver Post via Getty Images

FOLLOW THE GPS. YOU DON'T KNOW BETTER. ALSO, STOP DRIVING WHILE HIGH.

I'm not bitter at all.


No. 5: Get way too drunk on craft beer

Travel 5 Free Things DenverASSOCIATED PRESS

Denver and Portland have a healthy competition to see who can produce the most and best craft beer around, with Denver only pummeling Portland slightly in all regards (once again: science).

What you won't realize when you first move here is that craft beer tends to have much higher ABV percentages than the beer you've probably been drinking. When you're two beers in and realize you've been ordering pints that are 10% ABV a pop, just enjoy the ride. Your tolerance will go up eventually ... a little.

James Kerley has lived in the Denver area for the last 17 years.