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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrBetween the Mississippi River and the West Coast, there is certainly a lack of large cities. One of the most notable cities in this area is the thriving metropolis of Denver, Colorado, the largest city in the Rocky Mountains region in the United States. Known as the “Mile High City”, Denver is situated at an altitude of exactly one mile (5,280 feet) above sea level. The city lies at the western edge of the Great Plains and at the foot of the majestic Rocky Mountains. It is one of the fastest growing cities in the country and currently has a population of around 600,000, with a metropolitan area that is home to almost three million people. The pace of Denver's growth sometimes exceeds the capabilities of public transport though. In other words, the city expands faster than the infrastructure can keep up with.
Denver has a lot of history that has been preserved but is also a modern gem in a vast region of the country. In terms of demographics, Denver is 88.4% White, 5.1% African American, 2.6% Native American, and 3.7% Asian. It also boasts one of the highest Hispanic populations in America with 31.8% reporting Hispanic heritage. The city embraces its cowboy, Far West and mining past, but also keeps an eye on the future, with a lively arts scene, many annual festivals and performing arts shows. Denver has everything you expect from a modern cosmopolitan city and ever more: the stunning Rocky Mountains lie at the city's doorstep, barely twelve miles away.
HistoryDenver did not have a high population in the mid-1800s, when it was part of Kansas and known as Denver City. The reason it finally became populated was because of the mining potential that was found during the Gold Rush. Still, it wasn't populated enough to be considered as a reasonable town to be named the seat of a county. The town was named after Kansas Territorial Governor James W. Denver.
Denver wasn't recognized as an official American city until Colorado was admitted into the Union in 1861. Railroads finally started to be built through Denver, and many stopped to find prosperity in the new city. The mining industry continued to thrive and people made Denver their home. Over the last century, it has grown to a white-collar town that is known as one of the most progressive cities in the United States.
Sightseeing in DenverDenver has a lot of great attractions on offer. It is a vibrant city with plenty of microbreweries, beautiful green parks, lakes, a rich pioneer history, a plethora of museums, and various great sports stadiums. Denver consists of many neighborhoods, each offering a different experience and a wide variety of sights. The mix of old apartment buildings and homes with gardens filled with flowers is certainly interesting.
Coors BreweryCoors is arguably the most famous of all American beers and this is where it is brewed. Coors beer is brewed with water that comes straight from the Rocky Mountains. Tours of the Coors Brewery show visitors how the beer is made, bottled and packed. As usual, they end with several samples.
Larimer SquareThis trendy block of old Victorian buildings used to be the location of an old pioneer camp. It is now a vibrant area, filled with restaurants, shops, bars, a comedy club and nightclubs. It is always busy and one of the best places in the city for a night out.
Colorado State CapitolThe golden-domed Colorado State Capitol stands exactly one mile above sea level. The impressive building can be visited for free on guided as well as self-guided tours. The rotunda offers a breathtaking panoramic views of 200 named snow-capped mountain peaks of the Rocky Mountains.
Sports StadiumsDenver is home to some of the country's top sports teams. A visit to the city is really not complete without catching a game. Coors Field is the home base of the Colorado Rockies baseball team, while the Sports Authority Field at Mile High is where the Denver Broncos football team plays its home games. Both stadiums can also be visited on guided tours.
Denver Museum of Nature and ScienceAlthough it may not big as big as other natural history museums in the United States, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science is absolutely worth visiting. It covers a wide variety of scientific areas, from zoology and anthropology to space exploration and geology. Highlights range from mummies from Egypt to huge dinosaur skeletons.
U.S. MintThe working U.S. Mint produces no less than 50 million coins each day. Visitors can go on free guided tours and learn more about the process of coin production.
16th Street Mall16th Street Mall is a mile-long pedestrian street lined with dozens of stores, restaurants and entertainment venues. This may be the very best place to people-watch in Denver. People who don't want to walk can hop on the free shuttle bus that commutes between the two ends of the street.
Denver Art MuseumHome to one of the finest collections of art in the western United States, the Denver Art Museum features works by artists such as Dali, Van Gogh and O'Keeffe, and a large collection of western American art. It is in fact home to the largest collection of Native American art in the world and 68,000 other works of art.
Denver ZooDenver Zoo is located in the vast City Park and features about 4,000 individual animals, including orangutans, rhinos, tigers and kangaroos. It is huge zoo, so visitors are advised to allow enough time to see everything.
Washington ParkAnother enormous park, Washington Park covers 165 acres and consists of extensive lawns, beautifully kept gardens, hundreds of trees, ten tennis courts, jogging tracks, two large lakes and plenty of other facilities. It is a very popular hangout spot for locals and tourists alike. Boats and bikes can be rented. The Recreation Center houses a pool and offers fitness classes and swimming lessons. Locals are known to compare this park to other great urban parks, such as Central Park and the Boston Common.
Denver Botanic GardensThe 23-acre green oasis is located in the middle of the city. It is made up of 45 different gardens, approximately 33,000 plants, including 700 species than are native to Colorado and one of the country's finest plant conservatories. Examples of plant habitats that can be seen in the Denver Botanic Gardens are the Rock Alpine Garden, the South African Plaza and the Japanese Garden.
Mount EvansThis is a little further afield - it starts about 30 miles west of the city - yet absolutely recommended. The Mount Evans Scenic Byway is the highest paved road in all of North America. From Denver it climbs through five life zones and ends at the 14,264-foot summit. This is one of only two 14-footers (mountains higher than 14,000 feet) that can be accessed on wheels.
Red Rocks Park and AmphitheaterThe most notable attraction in Denver is the concert venue of Red Rocks Park and Red Rocks Amphitheater. Not only is it a national park, but some of the biggest acts in America have played there. This open-air concert venue, set amid towering red rock pillars and cliffs is without question one of the greatest concert venues in the country, possibly even in the world.
DistrictsOfficially, there are nearly 80 neighborhoods established in the city of Denver. The neighborhoods are divided into these different districts: Central, East, North, Northeast, Northwest, South, Southeast, Southwest, and West. Clearly, you will want to visit the downtown area if you plan to do some extensive shopping or high-end eating. Tourists flock to downtown Denver everyday to take in the breathtaking buildings and shops. If you want to experience more of an urban park, though, you should head to City Park. This is where the zoo and museum of Nature and Science are located. It's a great place to spend an evening or play some golf. For a nice stroll, you will want to head to Cherry Creek. It's a neighborhood that is exceptionally clean and has a lot of natural beauty to take in, as well as some of the finest homes in all of Denver.
FoodWhile some people think of Rocky Mountain Oysters (testicles of bull calves for human consumption) when it comes to Denver, it's more of a tourist attraction than a popular dish. Instead, there is a diverse mix of foods that are popular in Denver. These dishes include Chili, Macaroni and Cheese, Fried Chicken and Pasta. It may seem like a strange mix, but they do all of these dishes right.
Colorado produces more beer than any other American state and Denver is the number 1 beer brewing city. Even the Colorado Governor, who also was the Mayor of Denver for a while, used to be a beer brewer before going into politics. Therefore, Denver is home to a vast number of pubs, bars, micro-breweries and restaurants with several beers on tap.
HotelsThere was a time when Denver was a far west , frontier town. As a result, many hotels and inns were built that still stand today. One of the most famous is the Oxford Hotel which was built in 1891. When it was built, it had a very Western look, but was given an Art Deco renovation in 1920. It still maintains its beauty and is the oldest operating hotel in Denver. However, it's only a couple of months older than The Brown Palace, which is known for its glass atrium. Even in the Wild West days, it was the most luxurious hotel in Denver and still holds up that high standard.
SuburbsDenver is a large city in an otherwise empty area of the United States. Because of this, people flock to the city and have spilled out into the suburbs in great numbers over the past few decades. There are a total of six suburbs outside of Denver that have over 100,000 residents. These are Arvada, Aurora; Centennial, Lakewood; Thornton, and Westminster. These are all notable areas that have been deemed great places to visit and even live.
SportsDenver residents love their sports, and as a result they have been awarded with a professional team in all of the major sports in the United States. The most popular team is the Broncos of the National Football League, who call Invesco Field at Mile High their home. As for the National Basketball Association, the Denver Nuggets have been a staple of the city, while the Colorado Avalanche of the National Hockey League are still relatively new. The two newest teams in the fold are the Rockies of Major League Baseball and the Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer.
SafetyThe suburbs of Denver have low crime rates, but the city itself tends to be higher than average. There are some areas of Denver, however, that report almost no crime. Sticking to Quincy Avenue, Holly Hills, or Yale Avenue will help you stay safe while in Denver. Crime is not something you should worry about when visiting Denver.
You should, however, be aware of the altitude of the city. Located a mile above sea level, the air in Denver has less oxygen that what you are probably used to. Altitude sickness normally occurs at altitudes above 8000 feet, but it has happened to visitors to Denver. Drinking plenty of water can help reduce the risk is getting altitude sickness, also known as acute mountain sickness. Another concern for places at higher altitudes is sunburns. Denver, with its high altitude and sunny climate, receives a lot of sunshine and therefore it is always advised to put on sunscreen when you are out and about. It is always better to be safe than sorry.
TransportationThere are a half dozen airports in the Denver area that get passengers to the city. The most notable of these is the famous Denver International Airport, which is home to some very unique sculptures. Also in the area are Centennial Airport , Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport, Front Range Airport, Boulder Municipal Airport, and Erie Municipal Airport. Without flying, Denver can be a hard place to get to since the state of Colorado itself is surrounded by states with very low populations (such as Kansas and Nevada).
Denver is also a very environment-conscious city and has one of the country's first so-called municipal Green Fleets. The vehicles used for public transport all run on alternative and hybrid fuels. You can get around on a green bus, grab a rental bike pretty much anywhere in the city, or just walk around in the green parks or tree-lined streets.
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Author: koreydbeckett. Last updated: Jan 16, 2015