Virtually everyone is familiar with the most commonly cited reasons to move to the Denver area: For one, western Colorado boasts many of the best ski resorts in the country, and most are within a three-hour drive of the city.
Denver is also a sports fan’s paradise, home to the Broncos (NFL), Rockies (MLB), Avalanche (NHL), Nuggets (NBA) and Rapids (MLS), as well as two professional lacrosse teams.
But the Denver area is also one of the most livable parts of the country, with three municipalities on the list of the 2014 Top 100 most livable cities: Boulder (No. 2), Aurora (No. 50) and Lakewood (No. 88), the former 35 miles northwest of the city, and Aurora and Lakewood just 10 miles from downtown Denver.
Here are six communities, each giving good reason to move to the Denver area:
Budget a full day for a visit to the National Center for Atmospheric Research Mesa Laboratory and Visitor Center, which offers free, state-of-the-art exhibits about climate, severe storms and weather prediction, as well as guided and self-guided tours and an outdoor weather trail.
North Boulder: NoBo is an old residential neighborhood less than 2 miles from downtown Boulder, yet it has taken off in recent years thanks to a growing restaurant and retail shopping scene, as well as parks and paved trails that are great for hiking, cycling or just taking a leisurely stroll.
Littleton: Littleton Museum, located on 39 acres at 6028 S. Gallup St., is regarded as one of the finest local museums in the U.S., and includes two living history farms, which give visitors the opportunity to learn about farm life in 1860s and 1890s Colorado. Each farm features period-appropriate livestock and plants, not to mention interpretive staff and volunteers dressed in costumes from that era.
Not far from the museum is MC’s Pizza by the Slice, one of the most beloved eateries in town, popular for its reasonably priced salads and calzones. But it’s the stone oven-cooked pizzas that always earn rave reviews, attracting locals from all over town.
Aurora: Cherry Creek Park is arguably the favorite recreation destination in Aurora, hardly a surprise considering that it offers 12 miles of paved trails and 35 miles of multi-use trails, as well as camping, fishing, boating, swimming, water skiing and jet skiing. There’s even a model airplane airfield on the west side of the park. And 12 Mile Stables at Cherry Creek furnish hay rides and riding lessons.
Arapahoe Park: Residents and visitors who enjoy watching horses run can venture over to Arapahoe Park, Colorado’s only horse racing venue, which offers Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse and Arabian racing during a season that runs from mid-May through mid-August. Free parking and a $3 general admission fee make Arapahoe Park an inexpensive place to spend an afternoon.