The Denver Broncos seem intent on making it difficult for New England Patriots fans to see their team in this weekend’s AFC Championship game. But the game isn’t the only thing the city has going for it. Here are 10 things you may not know about the Mile High City.
1. Denver has 300 days of annual sunshine
Denver is located just east of the Rocky Mountain range, which contributes to the city’s mild, dry, and sunny climate. City officials claim Denver enjoys more sunshine than San Diego or Miami Beach. Winter temperatures can reach an average high of 45 degrees, and the city is about as rainy as Los Angeles. City golf courses are open year round, and have been played as many as 30 days in January.
2. Denver’s arts and cultural scene can be quirky or classical
In its Old West days, Denver staged Macbeth before it built a school or a hospital. Today, the Mile-High City rakes in more public money for the arts per capita than any other American city. The performing arts complex houses 10 stages for opera, symphony, ballet, theater, and touring Broadway shows. Perhaps the boldest testament to the city’s commitment to art is the 40-foot tall sculpture of a blue bear that peers into the convention center.
3. Denver is near the mountains, not in them
Denver was built on high rolling plains 12 miles east of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, which reach around 11,000 feet. The range visible from the city spans 140 miles: See if you can count the 200 named mountain peaks.
Denver is serious about preserving its mountain vista. According to the visitors bureau, it is illegal for any new buildings to obstruct the view of the mountains from Colorado State Capitol building.
4. Denver is a city of many cultures
Every week for 10 years in the 1990s, Denver welcomed 1,000 new residents. By the time the population boom calmed, the city’s racial and ethnic makeup had changed. Currently, a third of the city claims Hispanic heritage, and African Americans make up 10 percent of the population.
Denver’s diversity is celebrated at numerous festivals and events throughout the year; the city enjoys elaborate celebrations for Cinco de Mayo and Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
5. Denver’s history is short but colorful
The Gold Rush grew Denver from a sprawling rest stop for migrating Arapaho tribes to a booming mining town. During the latter decades of that 30-year boom, many Wild West legends of the era earned their fame, including Buffalo Bill, pictured.
To learn more about Denver’s past, visit the Black American West Museum and Heritage Center, Colorado History Museum, or the Four Mile Historic Park.
Or just plan a night out in the historic LoDo district, where restaurants and bars stand next to Victorian homes and buildings from a bygone era.
6. Denver loves its sports
The city has eight professional sports teams, including the NFL Denver Broncos, NBA Denver Nuggets, NHL Colorado Avalanche, and MLB’s Colorado Rockies. Also catch professional lacrosse, soccer, and one of the world’s largest rodeos.
7. Denver brews more beer than any other city
More than 80 different beers are brewed in Denver on any given day, including Coors, which built one of the world’s largest breweries in the city. Denver’s reputation as a beer destination began auspiciously enough. The first building ever constructed in the city was a saloon.
That heritage should sit well with visitors from a city that planned the Boston Tea Party in a bar.
8. The Mile High City is exactly one mile high
Walking up the west side stairs to the Colorado State Capitol, visitors reach exactly one mile above sea level at the 13th step.
The high altitude means golf balls travel 10 percent farther, water requires a higher temperature to boil, the sun feels warmer, and alcoholic beverages affect drinkers more strongly.
Everyone is urged to wear sunblock with a high SPF because the thinner atmosphere means there is 25 percent less protection from the sun. Also, visitors unused to the dry air should drink more water than they would at home.
9. Denver has the 10th largest downtown in the United States
Denver boasts a distinctive, exciting, and walkable downtown. Within a one-mile radius, take in a game at one of three sports stadiums, see a show at the massive performing arts center, or wander through a variety of art and history museums.
Families can enjoy visiting an amusement park, touring the aquarium, or whitewater rafting on a downtown river.
Whatever your interest, rest assured Denver has plenty of hotels, and more than 300 restaurants, brewpubs, and music clubs.
10. Denver has the largest city park system in the country
There are 200 parks within the city limits and 20,000 acres of park land in the nearby mountains.
Want to stretch your legs between games? Check out the Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Echo Lake Park, or Buffalo Bill’s grave on top of Lookout Mountain.
If you don’t want to stray too far from the stadium, enjoy the more than 800 miles of off-street bike paths, 90 golf courses, and extensive urban trail network.