1. The Western Heritage is vibrant in Denver. You can still see cows walking through downtown.
This is only true one day a year — during the annual National Western Stock Show kick-off parade. The other 364 days you are more likely to see a Vespa, a unicycle, or a segue than you are a cow. It is still possible to ride with your sweetheart under the flickering snow in a horse-drawn carriage, but be prepared to be the target of some friendly snickering and finger pointing by the locals.
2. Win or lose, the sports teams continue to imbue the city with a sense of pride.
Do not ever bash John Elway. But if you want to make some quick friends at a bar, bring your best “Rockies suck” joke and feel free to ask that guy wearing a Nuggets jersey if he has any pot.
3. The best times to visit are spring and fall when the weather isn’t as intense and there are fewer tourists.
Actually, the weather in spring and fall is just as unpredictable as winter or summer. March is historically the snowiest month, and in May we often see a 70-degree day followed by snow. While your lift ticket is cheaper during off-peak seasons, there is also less going on in the apres-ski scene. In the heat of summer, you can catch a good beer and music festival just about every weekend.
4. The best nightlife is situated downtown and in LoDo.
South Broadway is quickly catching up. The strip between Alameda and 6th Avenue has some of the best bars and nightclubs in town and the area hasn’t quite caught the eye of the majority of tourists yet, meaning meals are slightly cheaper and reservations easier to snag. Head further south past I-25 and you’ll find the renovated Antique Row, now dubbed the “Green Mile” because it is home to the highest concentration of marijuana stores anywhere in the world. A collection of hip bars and restaurants are settling into the area as well, anchored by the longstanding Herman’s Hideaway and Dive Inn.
5. Schedule a tour of the Coors Brewery.
The tour isn’t bad, in all honesty. They even get you a little sauced before tossing you out into wild streets of Golden. But the Denver area has 70+ breweries. It’s not uncommon for a cookie-cutter suburban shopping center to be home a thriving brewpub. If you want to see Denver for what it is, check out the little guys.
6. Denver is a beer town.
This is true. But, like an onion, the city has many layers. There is also a booming craft distilling scene here, where some of the city’s top chemists are concocting everything from green chili whiskey to absinthe. It is possible to take a Monday Distillery Bus Tour and get a good feel for how the city likes to whet its whistle.
7. Larimer Square is a super hip area.
It was, before Denver became trendier than a 1999 Abercrombie & Fitch catalog. These days, it depends what you consider ‘hip.’ If overpriced restaurants and creative lighting are what you are looking for, you’ve found your spot. But hipness has moved over to Highlands.
8. It’s easy to get around
In recent years, Denver has been plagued by constant construction. Traffic has gotten worse. If you plan on driving, ask for some advice and don’t be afraid to try some backroads because I-25 can be a nightmare.
9. Denverites love Rocky Mountain Oysters
I don’t know anyone that eats cow balls regularly. It’s become an urban legend.
10. Most tourists fly into DIA, jump on I-70, and head straight to the mountains
Denver’s tourism has been steadily increasing as the city grows. It often feels the heat of peak travel seasons and the town is ready for the rush.