Every time I return from a trip, put the key in my doorknob, and open the door – a feeling of relief washes over me. I’m home. I can unpack and put my stuff back in its place, kick my feet up on the couch and enjoy the process of having my own place again. I’ve been in Denver now for 10 months and it has gone by so fast. I feel rather new here yet, but I look back on the 10 months and I have made some decent progress in getting settled in and finding things to do in Denver.
I forgot how challenging it can be to move to a new city. And since my life is anything but normal, I’ve run into a few challenges as I try to settle into Denver. I’m really only home about 50% of the time, so the getting-settled process is taking a little longer than it has for me in the past. It’s hard to join any regular groups since much of the time my schedule has me traveling out of town. Plus, in the past, I’ve moved to a new city and always had a corporate job, which is sort of like an instant jump into networking and social circles. However, in Denver, I work from home, and unless I make a point to go out, I rarely ever see or talk to anyone during the day. I know, I know – every work-at-home entrepreneur has to deal with that challenge.
Putting down roots is about getting grounded. Some of the grounding is about necessities like insurance/doctors, registering to vote, and learning your way around a new city. But the fun part about getting grounded in a new city is finding new restaurants, bars, events, and activities. In these 10 months, I have found a few favorites in Denver that I’m excited to introduce to visitors and newcomers like me!
I’ve been focusing on all the important things about living in a new city and having a home again; like networking and making new friends, getting a pet (sort of), finding a favorite brewery (very important in Denver!), finding a hair stylist, joining a gym, finding ways to volunteer, discovering my favorite restaurants, and finding an ever important martini bar. In between all of that I’m also trying to explore a bit of Colorado when possible.
My Favorite Things to Do in Denver…So far…
I used to make fun of cities that said they had the ‘best craft beer scene’; Denver was one of those cities. But now after living here, I have realized there is some truth to that statement about being the best craft beer scene. I’ve never lived in such a beer-crazed city; there are 72 breweries in Denver alone. And it’s beer–crazed for good reason…because the breweries and the brewing culture are really phenomenal here.
The variety of beers and specialty beers you can find in little breweries around the city is pretty impressive. In fact, I’ve been spoiled because you can walk into practically any brewery here and ask for a sour beer (my favorite) and they have one. My favorite neighborhood brewery, Baere Brewing, actually specialized in sours. And the best part is they are only a short 10-minute walk from my apartment.
Denver also seems to be the epicenter of beer festivals which is a nice perk. Not only are they host to the Great American Beer Festival which has been compared to Germany’s Oktoberfest (not sure I agree with that comparison – but it is sure fun!), but it’s also home to a number of unique little festivals that true beer aficionados would love. I’m actually going to one of them this weekend – Collaboration Fest.
The Collaboration Fest is a time to experiment like a mad beer scientist! The popular beer festival showcases the collaborative nature of the craft beer industry. Each brewery chooses who they want to work with, and what style of beer they want to make, allowing for the brewers’ imagination to run wild. They come together for the brew day and make a one-of-a-kind beer to be only enjoyed at the festival. This year’s festival features 123 projects from more than 200 breweries with 144 Colorado breweries, 42 states, and six countries
I recently went to participate in one of the brew days watching and documenting one of those local collaborations being made! Hats off to guys at Little Machine Beer and Mason Ale Works who created a Colorado-forward beer. They used snow from the Rockies, and hops from the CSU agriculture college to create a Zero IBU IPA. I can’t wait to taste it this weekend!
Two Beer Festivals in Denver Not to Miss
Discover Denver’s coffee-flavored whiskey
Attend Networking Meetups in Denver
You have to make friends and connections when you move to a new place. Denver loves to have meetups. In fact, I’ve never lived in a city where the meetup culture is so strong. I believe it’s because the city itself is growing and the population is transient coming in from all over the country to live here; making people really hungry to find their social groups. Meetups are a great way to build social groups. Normally I just focus on the travel industry when it comes to networking, however, I decided maybe I should branch out a bit outside of travel…just in case…
I found the Lady Killas meetup group that meets about once a month with various speakers and networking opportunities. Lady Killas is a female-owned and operated organization devoted to the growth of female leadership in the workplace. Oh yes – and somehow I weaseled my way into speaking at the March event about Career Break Travel! Regardless, it’s a fun way to meet other women outside of travel who are driven to succeed.
I also got involved in the Travel Massive Colorado meetup group. This is a worldwide networking community for travel industry professionals! It includes people like me in media, but also travel companies, hotels, travel brands, destinations, travel agents, and more. And I didn’t just get involved in it – I have become a Chapter Leader for Colorado!
Find Some Pets to Hang Out With
It seems like everyone in Denver has a dog or cat. This is a pet-friendly city! Ever since my cat passed away last year and I got home again, I’ve been longing for a pet. However, my travel lifestyle is not at all conducive to a pet and I know that. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t volunteer to foster a pet when I’m home! In fact, short-term pet fostering might be the perfect solution! Since December I’ve been looking into fostering cats in Denver. I came across one of the biggest animal shelters in Denver (and one of the biggest in the US), the Dumb Friends League. They have an incredible volunteer and foster program. Not to mention it’s a super place to adopt a dog/cat/animal or just go for an hour and play with the animals in their state-of-the-art shelter.
I’m currently going through the process of becoming a foster parent! I’m so excited to get the ball rolling and take care of kitties for a few weeks at a time when I’m home! And you can be sure I’ll be taking lots of pictures!
Discovering Denver Restaurants
I love moving to a new city and trying its restaurants…and there’s a plethora of places to try in Denver. I have slowly been checking out the restaurant scene here and found a few favorites so far.
The Family Jones Spirit House – don’t let the name fool you, it’s not just spirits, there is also delicious food. But I think my favorite thing about this new restaurant in LOHI is the design and cozy atmosphere. With the distillery overhead, I suggest you sit at the sunken bar, get a prohibition-era cocktail and try the delicious plates to share!
Chocolate Lab – I love this place for its great cocktails and innovative dishes that all include chocolate! It’s a small restaurant – so make reservations. They also sell their homemade truffles and chocolates! Plus, you absolutely can’t miss their brownie sundae for dessert!
Saigon Bowl – I can’t live somewhere without a thriving Vietnamese food scene, and surprisingly Denver has it. I have tried a number of Vietnamese restaurants along Federal Blvd, but I have firmly landed on my favorite – Saigon Bowl. This was the most authentic Vietnamese menu I’ve found here – it has much more than simply Pho. Sure, their Pho is good, but there’s more to Vietnamese food than Pho. Be sure to try their rice paper wraps – they were so good they made me miss Ho Chi Minh City! Plus, you’ll find authentic Vietnamese ice coffee here too! This place is so authentic you’ll even find frog on the menu!
Discover 19 things to do in Denver
Get a Denver Makeover
One of the first things a girl has to do when you move to a new city is to find a new hairstylist. I was pretty excited about the prospect of having a regular hair stylist again since I had a decade of trying someone new practically every trip to the salon.
Boy did I get lucky, right in my neighborhood, only a few blocks from me I found the perfect independent hair studio filled with awesome, mature women that were anything but pretentious. Indie Six hair studio in Denver is my go-to place for all things Colorado cool and girly. You’ll find lots of tattoos and some shocking hair colors, but you’ll also find real down-to-earth women there. I think I’m too old to go to fancy hair studios any longer, it’s just too much work. Alicia at Indie Six not only does my hair but she also helped me get updated in the world of makeup again; something I rarely wore for 10 years while traveling! She’s been a lifesaver teaching me how to have a little style again in my life!
It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere
One of the most important things for me to find upon moving to Denver was a martini bar. Martinis make me happy, especially if you throw a blue cheese stuffed olive in there. It didn’t take me long to find The Corner Office near Denver Center for the Performing Arts. You know it has to be good if they have a whole part of their menu dedicated to Martini Experiences.
Volunteering in Denver
I think an important part of putting down roots is finding ways to give back to the city you call home; I choose to do that through volunteering. I’m still learning about various opportunities to volunteer around Denver, but I did come across a great Denver-based non-profit organization, Wish of a Lifetime that resonated with me. I was happy to spend my time and effort helping fight senior isolation. I plan to continue to work with them throughout the year. If you were one of the many who donated to my Valentine fundraising campaign – thank you! We raised $600 in just a few weeks for a great cause!
Not Settled Yet!
In some areas, I have made good progress settling into Denver, however, I’m still working on others. I’m hoping I can get outdoors more this summer and be more active around here, so my next update will hopefully include Denver day hikes and bike trails – fingers crossed.
Also, one thing I’ve really failed at so far is making my apartment a home. I seemed to stop once I got furniture and the necessities. I never put up a single thing on the walls! I have a plan for wall décor, I just haven’t seemed to execute it. Nor do I have a single personal picture in a frame, which also makes me sort of sad. For someone who loves photography, I’m not really sure why I’m so deficient on this!
Settling into a new home takes time. In my case, where I’m only here 50% of the time, it takes even more time. Most of all I’m trying to be patient with myself and embrace the exploration element of settling into a new city!
Read more about my move to Denver – from nomad to normal
5 Travel Essentials to Take on Every Trip
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Packing organizers are the key to packing happiness – they turn your bag into a piece of furniture. I use mine to organize my different types of clothes, just like I would a dresser; one has t-shits, one has pants, one has sweaters. You get the idea – it’s packing bliss. I use and love Eagle Creek packing solutions.
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