Tips for Navigating Denver in Your 20s

The 15-29-year-olds in Denver make up the second largest age group in the city. But thriving in a metropolis as a young person isn’t always easy. As somebody who grew up in a small ski town, I’ve found that city living is about seeking out opportunities and being intentional about actions. So, how do you navigate Denver in your 20s?

“Go to as many events as you can in the fields that interest you! Go go go!” says Christine Stadnik-Poteroba, a 21-year-old Denver artist and small business owner. “There are running clubs, even ones at breweries, art nights, slam poetry, drag shows, comedy and more.” The options are endless, but how does one seek those options out? Well, it begins with the search.

Whether you’re adjusting to a newfound lifestyle out of college or just moved here, you may be wondering, “Where do I start?”, “How do I make a life and a community here?”  It all starts with some quick research. You’re a Gen Z for god sake, use the internet. It’s got all your favorite events and concerts just waiting to be found. It’s as simple as looking up “things going on in Denver tonight.” The results rarely fail.

Another search method is to peruse cool areas in the city and take photos of all the fliers hanging around. Different shops and bars are always promoting unique events. Plus, it’s an excuse to be out and about and get more familiar with the city. 

303 Guides has an endless compilation of lists on how to “Do Denver Better” if you’re ever feeling stumped. 

Get Involved in the Creative Scene 

A little art stand in the RINO district.
A little art stand in the RINO Art District. Photo by Britta Winans

There are always communal art events going on around Denver. If you’re a creative, attending them is a great way to meet people and get a feel for the spots around the city that speak to you. First Fridays and Sundays on Santa Fe are two monthly happenings in the art districts of RINO and Santa Fe that show off the array of artists living in the city. There are people from all walks of life creating art, selling homemade jewelry, making music and just thriving in a creative space. Grab a bite at one of the food trucks and strike up a conversation with a cool human. The same goes for summer farmers markets and other festivals that run through different parts of the city. 

The Rino District, South Broadway, Larimer Street, Santa Fe Art District and East Colfax Avenue are all creative hubs with great shops, restaurants and bars. There are always groovy young people roaming around those areas if you want to mingle. 

Jig Around the City 

The Spill Canvas playing at Marquis Theater. Photo courtesy of Marquis Denver on Facebook.

“Experiencing live music in Denver has always made me feel more connected to the community,” says Stadnik. Simply put, the music scene in Denver is popping. Whether you’re heading to a bigger show at Red Rocks or Mission Ballroom, or jigging at one of the many small venues Denver has to offer, you won’t be disappointed. The smaller venues usually make for an affordable, intimate show. So if you’re a music lover, check out some of the underground venues throughout the city. Your Mom’s House and the Marquis Theater are two standouts.

During the summer, there’s plenty of free live music throughout the city and in nearby mountain towns. You just have to seek it out. 303 Music will usually provide the goods and prove to be a helpful resource for you. 

Get Out & Get Active 

Hiking near Lake Isabelle.
A nice hike to Lake Isabelle, CO. Photo by Britta Winans

One of Denver’s unique perks is its proximity to the mountains. You can be adventuring the mountains during the day, then hitting the bars downtown at night. It’s oh-so versatile. Go hiking, go biking, go skiing! It doesn’t matter to us, just move your body in the mountains and thank us later. 

Getting involved in some outdoor activities is a great way to find community. The universal draw to the mountains seems to bring together many Denverites, and it’s pretty special to be a part of. 

Golden and Boulder are a mere half hour away from the city, so if you’re ever feeling trapped by buildings, there are plenty of close escapes. In the summer heat, heading to a body of water like Soda Lake, Clear Creek or Boulder Creek is a game changer. If you have more free time, you’ll never regret exploring the front-range mountains or perhaps taking a road trip to a special destination such as Telluride, Aspen or Crested Butte. 

Brew it up 

Our Mutual Friend Brewing Co
Brews! Photo courtesy of Our Mutual Friend Brewing Co. on Facebook.

The craft brew culture reigns strong in Colorado. With over 150 breweries just in the city of Denver, there’s a substantial amount of beer waiting to be drunk. As someone in your early 20s, what better time than to do just that? This Denver Beer Trail is a fun guide to the different breweries throughout the city. Some favorites include Our Mutual Friend Brewing Co., Odell Brewing Co. and Trve Brewing Co

Become a Regular Somewhere

A piece of quick but valuable advice is to become a regular somewhere. Whether you’re a cafe, restaurant, or bar person, it’s always comforting to have a go-to location. Walking into a facility, knowing the employees and being able to create a familiar space for yourself is very important. Forge your little habitats around the city. 

Get Random

Friends at Redrocks.
Friends at Red Rocks. Photo by Britta Winans.

To thrive in a new place in Denver in your 20s, you’ve got to get out of your comfort zone and do random shit. Go to a comedy show on Larimer Street on a Tuesday, reach out to that person you clicked with at the bars, take a yoga class, or go cliff jumping at Paradise Cove. There are endless opportunities for fun, so you might as well experiment while you’re young. Denver’s got all the ingredients to create a lively and fulfilling lifestyle. 

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