12 In City/ Denver/ Expat life/ Living abroad/ Travel/ USA

New in Denver, my first discoveries as a European in America

Denver Millenium Bridge

We’re here! We made it all the way across ocean and settled safely into our new hometown, Denver in Colorado. About 8 weeks ago we arrived from Europe and the first weeks have been a lot of fun. Of course I could not leave my first impressions of my new home town out of this blog.  This city is great and there is so much to do! Especially if you are new in Denver, like I am.

So what’s up with Denver?

Most people come to this region for the mountains and that is indeed a real highlight of Colorado! But I have already discovered that there is so much more going on in this area. If you like dining, beer, an active lifestyle, festivals and sunshine, this is the place to be!

One of my first impressions is that there are tons of great farm to table restaurants, something I personally like a lot. Restaurants like Kitchen (Denver), Root Down (LoHi) and River and Woods (Boulder) are some that I have discovered. What I particularly like about the eating culture in Denver is that it suits almost every type of diet. Restaurants almost always have a gluten-free, vegan and/or vegetarian option available that is actually tasty! This will certainly increase the chance of embracing a healthy(-er)  lifestyle.

Furthermore you find a lot of micro breweries and beer festivals throughout the region. Even in the district where I live, LoHi, there are already 3 breweries, each with their own type of beer and outside (roof) terrace to enjoy the latest brew.

Colorado living means that you have to get active!

Hiking to the Flatirons

The second thing that really stands out is that the people of Colorado love an active lifestyle. With hundreds of miles of bicycle paths, lot’s of parks in the city and endless stretches of nature in the region, there is an opportunity to be active for everybody. Especially in the summer, people get out and enjoy the outdoors. Just by walking through one of the many parks, you will notice that there are always people around. They come to the parks to relax, play catch with their dog or to go for a run.

But there is much more that indicates the active mind set. Hiking, biking, skiing, climbing and even sailing on one of the many water reserves are some of the most obvious examples of how the locals get active and use nature to do so.

Entertainment

Red Rocks Theater near Denver, a must visit if you are new to Denver

The people that live in Denver, never have to be bored. Even though I am still new in Denver and have not seen anything yet, I have already discovered that there is always something going on! The annual Derby races, festivals, concerts, Sunday jazz in the park, performance art, live sports games, you name it, Denver has got it!

Did you know that Denver is one of the few states that has so many national sports teams? With national teams for Baseball, Basketball, Football, Hockey, Lacrosse and Soccer they are one of the most active states in terms of sports. Whether they perform well or not, the locals love them all!

For a truly unique experience I would recommend to join a concert or movie night at the Red Rocks theater. This outdoor venue is set in a stunning environment and surrounded with, yes you guessed it right, Red Rocks. Even though it is not in Denver, it is about a 40 minute drive to get there and absolutely worth the trip!

I haven’t managed to book a ticket yet, because shows sell out in the blink of an eye, but this is number one on my Colorado Bucket list.

Not too big, not too small but just about right!

Cities in Europe are quite different from the cities I’ve come to know within the US. Denver is the capital of Colorado and the biggest city that is around. I’d say that if you are new in Denver, it depends on where you are from to define it as a big or small city. Although it counts as a big city, it does not come with the hassle of the big cities. In general (outside of rush hour) the town is very well accessible by car. Other than let’s say traffic around L.A in example.

One of the best features is that there is a bicycle only path that runs all the way from the north of Denver to the south, that makes it super easy to take a bike and get where you want to go.

The city is divided into several districts that each have their own identity, LoDo, RiNo, Highlands, East Colefax, Cherry Creek and many more. You can find some information on each district in the Denver Neighborhood guide.

Loving LoHi (Highlands district)

We actually had our mind set to live in Boulder, but it seemed impossible to find something that matched with our needs for when it comes to housing. So we ended up living in LoHi in Denver. Despite the fact that it wasn’t our first choice, I have been exploring LoHi or Highlands and I like it a lot so far!

The Lohi district is one of the up and coming districts and due to that reason there are a lot of shops, restaurants and bars that currently pop-up throughout the district. So even if you are not new in Denver, but just here for a visit, I would certainly recommend a visit.

There are a lot of construction projects going on, transforming the neighborhood into a modern and lively place to live. LoHi is set up in a way that you can pretty much walk everywhere you want to go. Whether you want to visit the downtown area or go for an aperó in one of the many (rooftop) bars all is easily accessible from LoHi.

A more practical note for everybody who is new in Denver

16th Street in Denver

Since I have not lived in the US before, I am still not a 100% sure what is typical for Colorado and what is typical for the US in general. But still I managed to find some things that are useful to know when you are new in Denver. Here it goes:

The Weather

Colorado has one of the strangest climates that I have ever seen so far. The temperatures swing a lot and I have been told that this is especially the case in the spring time. Temperatures can drop from 20 to 5 degrees celsius within a day. Since I got here I always check the weather before making any plans. It is best to always keep an extra layer of clothing in your bag or car, just in case.

During my fourth week in Denver, the day started bright and sunny. I went grocery shopping and after I came home, the weather turned completely. Within a time slot of 2 hours it changed from sunny and 25 degrees into a thunder and hailstorm with hailstones in the size of golfballs.

The road

My comment on this, might have something to do with the fact that I moved here from Europe. But I find the road conditions are amongst the worst I have ever seen. Reading the local newspapers, I came to understand that there has been a lack of maintenance due to the big growth of the city. All I would say is; Be prepared for bumpy rides, holes in roads and dirt that lies around on the shoulder of the roads.

Also, Colorado uses sand to prevent slippery roads in times of snow, leading to a lot of windshield damages due to little pebbles on the road.

In general people over here love their 4×4 trucks, due to the winter conditions and mountain roads. This, in combination with the poorly maintained roads, make that there is a lot of traffic noise coming from the highway. Opposed to places where other, newer materials are used on the road surface.

The People

And last but not least, the people of Denver. One of the best features of Denver and Colorado are the people who live here. The atmosphere is very laid back and I find that I am never the only newby in town. Denver is currently one of the places in America that is booming. A lot of people want to live here due to the excellent climate. Other than that, the outdoor possibilities and the number of companies opening offices in the area also attract many people.

This makes it a great environment for meeting new people. A lot of events are organized for people who are new in Denver as everybody wants to make new friends.

In general people are always friendly and helpful if you need anything. Every time I go somewhere, people are happy to give me advice about great things to do in the area. To me it just shows how much people love to be here.

 

12 Comments

  • Reply
    Gabriela
    June 3, 2017 at 9:10 am

    Reading these posts I realized how little I’ve actually traveled in the US. I’ve never been to Denver either!

  • Reply
    gokulr27
    June 3, 2017 at 10:11 pm

    I have never been to this place but this post transported me there. Love the narration and your take on the city. Hoping to hear more about the place.

    • Reply
      Wenabroad
      June 4, 2017 at 2:48 am

      Thanks Gokrulr27 that is so kind of you. I am sure you will be hearing more about it since it is getting more and more popular.

  • Reply
    Sandy N Vyjay
    June 5, 2017 at 3:34 am

    I have not been to Denver. However, the mountains seem to be calling and I cannot resist! Hope to get there some day for the mountains and the Farm to Table restaurants.

  • Reply
    DEAN WILLIAMSON
    June 5, 2017 at 4:41 am

    All I ever see about Denver is stunning landscape photos so it was good to get a bit more of an insight into the actual city.

    • Reply
      Wenabroad
      June 5, 2017 at 5:55 am

      Thanks so much Dean, happy to hear that! I hope to also post more of the stunning landscape photos over time 😉

  • Reply
    corinnevail
    June 5, 2017 at 5:35 pm

    I always like reading what people’s impressions of America are. I have to agree on the roads.

  • Reply
    thevancaveproject
    June 5, 2017 at 9:59 pm

    Really looking forward to visiting Colorado on our trip to the US in a few years. Denver sounds a lot like Wellington, NZ. Great tips about the weather too!

  • Reply
    Elisa Subirats
    June 5, 2017 at 10:42 pm

    Glad that you like your new “home” and you are having so much fun. I love hiking so I am looking forward to your coming posts about that 😉

    • Reply
      Wenabroad
      June 6, 2017 at 4:18 pm

      Thanks! There certainly will be some posts coming up on that topic!

  • Reply
    Vicki Garside
    June 8, 2017 at 1:29 pm

    I’ve never been to Denver – and although I had heard of it, I had so idea there was so much going on there. It sounds like you picked a fabulous place to make your home.

  • Reply
    Claire
    June 9, 2017 at 5:59 pm

    I still have so much of the states to explore. Denver looks really cool and I’m always up for going anywhere with beautiful mountains. Would love to go hiking around here

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