I've been in Denver for just over 6 weeks now and I can honestly tell you one thing; Denver is (almost) the best thing that has happened to me! Buenos Aires still ranks up there, but who knows, maybe Denver will overtake it in the coming months.
This city is absolutely amazing. I'm not even sure where to begin. Don't expect any sort of uniformity to this post, it'll be stream-of-consciousness for sure.
Denver is an outdoorsman's paradise. In the past six weeks, I've already hiked two 13,000 foot mountains, with many more 14ers on my list for the summer. I've driven past pristine rivers, dotted with the occasional fly-fisherman casting for trout amongst the rapids. I used to fly fish in high school and will be restarting come Fall. I've already connected with the local paragliding scene and should be flying 2-4 times per week in Boulder once I get my own car in the coming weeks. I've biked over 100 miles and done my fair share of foothills hike.
If you're an outdoors enthusiast, Denver is the place to be. I'm sure one could live even further into the mountains, perhaps in Vail or Breckenridge, but I prefer being located in a big city with nature at my fingertips, and Denver is just that.
Connected to the outdoorsy aspect of "Why Denver Kicks Ass" is the use of pubic space aspect. There's a park, Wash Park, located in Southwest-ish Denver. It's about 3 blocks wide by 10 blocks long, and it is brimming with people hanging out, jogging, picnicing, throwing frizbee, playing volleyball, and just all around enjoying life. It doesnt matter what day of the week it is, as soon as 5pm rolls around, the park starts filling up with people. Miami was severely lacking public parks (minus the beach) and those parks that were there were hardly utilized like the ones here in Denver.
What's next....the beer culture. I'll write a whole post of this when I have a minute, but I'd just like to point out that good beer is EVERYWHERE and it's woven into the culture of the state/city. I don't think I've seen one city social event that wasn't sponsored by a local brewery that happily shows up and gives out free pints of their newest seasonal.
People here often times ask me, "So why did you ever move to Miami?"
After four fun years in the Twin Cities, I was done with them. I knew I needed a change.
I still had a few good friends in Minneapolis during my nine post-college months, but I could foresee that the post-college years would be quite different. Two were planning on moving to (and currently live in) Taiwan, one was still in college and planning on getting engaged (I'm standing up in his wedding in two weeks) and the rest of my friends (mostly from study abroad in Buenos Aires) were scattered around the US. I didn't feel like I was connected to the city in any way, and I felt it was the perfect time to get the eff out!
So, why Miami? It seemed like the polar opposite of Minneapolis/St.Paul and it had a bustling Spanish-speaking population. I, naively, thought it would be like a North American Buenos Aires, and I was totally wrong (as you can read here). So, I packed my bags and flew to MIA.
However, I can't say that I'm upset that I moved to Miami and lived there as long as I did. As I said, I needed a radical change from the Midwest. I was tired of it and wanted something new. Miami was just that, something completely new.
Had I moved to Denver directly after finishing college, hearing myself say "Wow, Denver is so similar to Minneapolis!" would have had a negative inflection, as opposed to a positive one. This phrase now, however, comes as one of the highest compliments I could possibly bestow upon a city. I have a feeling that Minneapolis/St.Paul and Denver had their initial population booms at the same time, because the three cities looks eerily similar. Besides the foothills in the distance, it'd be hard to tell the cities apart. Lots of red brick houses, old warehouses, and a similar rolling landscape. Only difference, Denver is wickedly dry and a bit brown, and the Twin Cities are rather lush and green.
I never learned to appreciate Midwestern values while I was living in the Midwest, because it was all I knew. However, after spending 16 months in Miami and finding myself constantly surrounded by some very unscrupulous individuals, I have a new found appreciation for the strong morals and values of Middle America.
Obviously there's a "honeymoon phase" whenever you move to a new city. There was definitely one when I moved to Miami, but looking back, I see that I was more enthralled by the fancy cars, big houses and other status symbols, as opposed to values of the population. I would bike through nice neighborhoods and see nice cars and think "Wow, how can they ever afford all of this?" Now I know, they couldn't. ;-)
I'm not impressed with the houses or cars of Denver, there's nothing too shocking to see. What I am impressed with is the active lifestyle and friendly demeanor of the general population.