Here’s how to stay on a local’s good side the next time you’re in the Mile High City.
In recent years, Denver has gone from being a quiet town at the edge of the Rockies to a mini-metropolis with a booming population, growing job market, and tons of attractions. There’s art walks down Santa Fe Drive, live music at Colfax’s multiple venues, festivals at the SIE Film Center, nearly every sport imaginable, plus proximity to some of the most beautiful natural landscapes you’ll ever see. It’s no wonder that in 2017, they welcomed over 17 million tourists. But while these numbers mean that its great business, the locals aren’t always fond of tourists. If you’re hoping to visit soon, here’s how to enjoy your time at the Mile-High City while being respectful to the residents.
Visiting for the Cannabis and Assuming Everyone Here Is Stoned
Cannabis was legalized in Colorado back in 2014, and since then, marijuana aficionados have flocked here in droves. Take a drive down any main road in central Denver and you’ll definitely run into the green plus signs that signal both medical and recreational dispensaries. That said, not everyone who lives in Denver sports a tie-dye printed tee and frequents Native Roots (though hey, some of us do and that’s alright, too.) Make sure to ask locals about their favorite indie theater or coffee shop, or how the Rockies are doing, or where the best tacos can be found. And don’t forget it’s still not legal to smoke your herb out on the street—even the stoniest of Denver local stoners know better than that.
Not Taking the Altitude Seriously
There’s an extreme need for hydration and sunblock (especially in summertime) while in town due to the high altitude. Unfortunately, many locals report that friends and relatives visiting often ignore their warnings, which often leads to folks getting inebriated way too quickly at bars, developing avoidable headaches, and getting ridiculously sunburnt while on hikes. Denverites don’t want to hear about how poorly you’re feeling during A Taste of Colorado, a free music and food festival hosted by the city, due to lack of planning. Stay hydrated and slather on that sunscreen (stat!) before you ruin everyone else’s fun.
Drinking a Non-Craft Beer
Nearby city Golden is the home of Coors Brewery, but that doesn’t mean it’s all the exclusive beverage of choice for the locals. BizJournals reports that Colorado has the second-highest number of breweries in the nation (second only to California)—with Denver ranking third in number of breweries altogether. That means folks have a huge variety of craft beers to choose from, and we’re proud of that. Now that you know, next time you visit, make sure you’re not requesting a Budweiser during happy hour (cue the eye rolls).
Assuming Denver Is in the Mountains
While you can certainly get some great views of the mountains from, say, Viewhouse Eatery, Denver is not actually located in the mountains. In fact, it’s about a 20-minute drive from the foothills in any direction. If you’re visiting, make sure you brush up on your geography a tad before asking the locals if you can go skiing in Denver.
Gushing Over RiNo Without Recognizing Five Points
Many locals have serious concerns over the amount of gentrification going on in Denver. One of the major changes is in the form of the RiNo (that’s River North) Arts District, just on the outskirts of the historically black Five Points neighborhood. Sadly, this has led some tourists to completely overlook some of the amazing things Five Points has to offer, like live shows at Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom (where stars like James Brown and Tina Turner once played) and the Mercury Cafe where on any given night you might listen to spoken word poetry, swing dance, or simply enjoy some solid cocktails.
Sticking to the Yuppie Bars in LoDo
On any given night, you’ll find plenty of 9-to-5ers flooding out of WeWork (and every other Downtown and Lower Downtown Denver (LoDo) building) and directly into any of the adjacent yuppie bars for happy hour. While it’s not that those bars are necessarily bad, locals know that the best bars are found all over town. Although locals might venture into a yuppie bar on occasion, they frequent places like Vesper Lounge in Capitol Hill.
Assuming Everyone Here Is Huge Into the Outdoors
Denver is known as one of the fittest cities in America—and it’s true. Plenty of folks here love to stay active by going hiking, biking and mountain climbing. Oh, and also skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding, ice climbing, rock climbing, kayaking and, well, you get the picture. But many locals also don’t really care much about climbing that next 14er. Don’t assume locals are only about hitting the slopes: they’re big on the arts and culture scene as well. There are amazing live performances and music classes at Swallow Hill Music, crafting and drinking at Grandma’s House—the list goes on. Just ask a local.
Failing to Pack for All Four Seasons
Colorado’s weather is quite mercurial, especially in Denver. In any given week, there will be 85-degree (Fahrenheit) days followed by blizzards the next. Locals know that wearing layers is the best strategy to be able to stay out and explore the city. Don’t get caught going to an Avalanche game at the Pepsi Center in a T-shirt in September when a random cold front hits (and complain about it when you walk out into 30-degree weather) or you’ll definitely be getting the side-eye from your local friends whose warnings you didn’t heed.