Denver is magnificent, though geographically isolated, sitting on a plateau exactly one mile above sea level and over 600 miles from the next closest major city. Concealed from the west by bold foothills and towering 14,000-foot Rocky Mountain peaks, and protected to the east by an expansive and high desert terrain, it is known for world-class skiing and biking, serene hiking and intense rock climbing.
Visitors converge from far and wide to sample the famous microbrews, stand in the presence of spectacular peaks, or to work in the booming computer and telecommunications economy. The result is a blend of culturally diverse neighborhoods, each lending an air of character and charm to the others.
Founded in 1859 as a gold mining camp, Denver is one of America's youngest cities, and one of the most exciting. This forward-looking metropolis has a population of 2.4 million. It is also the entertainment, shopping, cultural, sports and recreation capital of the Rocky Mountain West.
Denver is noted for its dozens of tree-lined boulevards, 200 city parks that cover more than 20,000 acres, and outstanding architecture ranging from Victorian to contemporary.
Downtown Denver presents a refreshing change from most large cities, in part because it doesn't feel big. Though it has many high-rise office towers, it also has century-old churches, grand hotels and stylishly modern museums. A good place to start is at the gold-domed state capitol, the most prominent structure downtown. From the capitol, which anchors Civic Center Park between the arts district to the south and the shopping and historic areas to the northwest, most of the downtown sights are within walking distance.
The view from Denver's State Capitol building showcases the Rocky Mountains that rise to the city's west. Informal free tours allow visitors to climb to the top of the capitol and take in the view, both of the bustling Denver downtown and the incredible landscape surrounding the city.
Some of the city's loveliest and most noteworthy old buildings can be found in the 16th Street area. The Brown Palace Hotel is a Gilded Age landmark and a point of special pride for Denverites. To the northwest is LoDo, (Denver's Lower Downtown District, where early 1900s brick warehouses have been renovated into classy jazz clubs, bookstores, restaurants and art galleries), The historic district ends at Union Station, Denver's Beaux Arts train station.
The focal points of the arts district are as modern as LoDo is old: the Denver Public Library (designed by architect Michael Graves with multicolored stone turrets and geometric shapes) and the Denver Art Museum (a striking contemporary fortress with an exceptional collection of Native American art).
Beyond downtown, there is an oasis of parks and recreation areas. City Park is home to the Denver Zoo and the acclaimed Museum of Nature and Science, with a planetarium and an IMAX theater. Colorado's Ocean Journey aquarium is an important part of a collection of attractions that is anchored by the popular Six Flags Elitch Gardens Amusement Park. With three large roller coasters, a bungee-jumping simulation, an extensive water park and a cartoon-themed kiddie arena, Elitch remains popular with locals as well as visitors. Live entertainment and dozens of other popular rides round out the experience.
Skiing enthusiasts rejoice in Denver's proximity to mountain ski resorts. Within an hour of the city are half a dozen ski areas, including Winter Park, Breckenridge, Keystone and Loveland. For those interested in warm-weather activities, day trips can be arranged for fly-fishing, horseback riding, ballooning, mountain biking, river rafting or even bungee jumping.
Denver's local music scene is lively, with bands playing almost every night of the week. Lower Downtown, between Wynkoop and Larimer streets and from 14th to 20th streets, is filled with bars, taverns and pubs ranging from retro martini lounges to hip dance clubs and smoky blues bars. Expect to see and hear up-and-coming rock, jazz, blues, country, folk and bluegrass artists.
Sports fans will need no introduction to The Colorado Rockies, The Denver Broncos, The Colorado Avalanche, and the Denver Nuggets. The Colorado Rapids and The Colorado Crush round out the fabulous teams competing year round on the Denver sports scene. The Nuggets, the Avalanche and the Crush play at the Pepsi Center, the Rockies at Coors Field, and the Broncos and the Rapids at Invesco Field at Mile High.
This is Denver: a fabulous city to visit and to experience in its many facets. Whether you are looking for total relaxation, intense sporting challenges, or something in between, Denver is a place to find fulfillment and renewed energy for a visit or for a lifetime.