Acclimating to a new environment (and, now, altitude) is on par with your experience as a travel nurse, and Denver is an ideal spot for those looking to set up base camp in a growing city that offers top-notch healthcare and quality living.
Between its breathtaking rocky mountain views, rich outdoor life, and local eats, there’s little the Mile High City doesn’t offer.
That’s why we’ve put together a handy guide brimming with local expertise, complete with Denver’s most beautiful neighborhoods, delicious eateries, and most popular attractions to help you live as a true Denver native during your upcoming travel nursing assignment.
Denver Living: Cost and Neighborhoods
If you’re planning on relocating to any Denver area, it’s important to know that Denver’s cost of living is almost as high as Colorado’s purple peaks.
Cost of Living in Denver, CO
A combination of city-specific inflation and nationwide price booms has created a sharp increase in Denver, Colorado’s cost of living, no matter the neighborhood. Within the last two decades, homes in Denver have appreciated in value by over 125%.1
The city currently stands as about 12.5% more expensive to live in than the national average.2
Neighborhoods to Know
Despite the high costs, Denver residents love living in this city for its sunshine-filled days, ample outdoor space, and eclectic neighborhoods that combine classic design with modern comfort. If you are wondering where and how to find housing as a travel nurse in Denver, start with these neighborhoods first.
#1 River North (RiNo) Art District
RiNo is an up-and-coming Denver neighborhood that’s amassing the trendiest nightlife and restaurants along the Front Range. Its industrial surroundings are contrasted with classy and urban breweries, jazz clubs, art galleries, and vibrant graffiti murals around every corner.
It’s the centerpoint of the Denver social scene, featuring a variety of vibrant venues, such as:
- The Source Hotel and Market Hall – What was once an iron factory is now a mecca of culinary treats. Safta brings the flavors of the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe to Denver with wood-fired pita bread, whipped feta, and salmon crudo. And that’s just one of many dining and brewery options in the market. You’ll also find boutiques that offer modern artwork, vintage clothing, and flower bouquets.
- Wonderbound – The nonprofit ballet company hosts live contemporary dance performances that bring the whole community together. You’ll encounter rock and pop tunes, multimedia visuals, and a cast of talented artists, whether you’re tuning into a burlesque show or a western chronicle.
- Infinite Monkey Theorem – The women-owned-and-operated winery cultivates bottled, kegged, and canned wines, alongside exceptional vibes. You can also stop by for puppy yoga, calligraphy lessons, and meditation.
- The Mission Ballroom – The newest addition to the Denver music scene, the Mission Ballroom features a never-ending lineup of live performances and one giant disco ball. Before the show, sip on brews from Breckenridge Brewery, Odell Brewing, and Skyy Vodka.
#2 Capitol Hill
Capitol Hill is Denver’s oldest neighborhood, boasting beautiful Victorian homes, historical architecture, and a rumored-to-be-haunted cemetery-turned-park just outside of Denver’s Botanical Gardens.
Located within the heart of Denver, it’s one of the more affordable and versatile locations for living, and you’ll have a front-seat view of the city’s gold-crested Capitol Building. You can also mosey down to the Molly Brown House Museum, the former home of Titanic-survivor and heroine, Molly Brown.
For vegetarian-friendly eats, head to City, O’ City, a trendy eatery with tasty renditions of chicken and waffles, chowder soup, and whoopie pies. And The 9th Door offers enough Spanish-inspired tapas to fill your stomach and fridge for days.
#3 City Park
Designed with the outdoorsy types in mind, the City Park neighborhood of Denver is famously popular—for good reason. Adjacent to the area’s biggest residential parks, it offers expansive green spaces within the city limits.
City Park is also home to a variety of cultural attractions, including the:
- Denver Zoo
- Denver Museum of Nature and Science
- The Beer Spa
It currently stands as the city’s cheapest locale, making it the perfect Denver neighborhood for young and on-the-go professionals.
Places to Explore in Denver, Colorado
Just because you might be moving to Denver for work doesn’t mean your days will be all work and no play. Over the course of its history, the city has cultivated a host of places to inspire fun, relaxation, and creativity.
#1 Larimer Square
This historic block is the self-proclaimed beating heart and creative soul of downtown Denver.3 Larimer Square is a lively urban shopping district with varied boutiques, cozy shops, and the city’s most highly-rated, one-of-a-kind restaurants.
As one of the city’s most direct ties to its historical lineage, finding fun here also serves as a celebration of modern preservation.4 And it’s just a few blocks away from Denver’s Union Station, which features plenty of chic restaurants, coffee shops, and markets.
#2 Union Station
Once the highly in-demand “Denver Union Depot” of the 1880s, the now-named Denver Union Station is a cultural hub of the Colorado capital today. With an eclectic assortment of bars, restaurants, and shops, the historic landmark is a great option to familiarize yourself with the local luxuries of living in Denver. Plus, learning how to make friends in a new city as a travel nurse couldn’t be easier here!
#3 Denver Botanic Gardens
The 23 acres of Denver’s Botanic Gardens host a conservatory, a multitude of unique gardens (ranging from a traditional Japanese Garden to specially designed Romantic Gardens), and rotating botanical art exhibitions.5
With year-long programming and community celebrations, this public garden makes for a great solo adventure or unforgettable outing with friends.
Exceptional Eateries in Denver, Colorado
One of the best parts about moving to a new place is all of the new and delightful experiences. If you take any advice when moving to a new city, let it be to eat well and enjoy the experiences that come with it. When moving to Denver, Colorado, this is no different (if anything, it’s even more delightful). But it takes time to get a lay of a city’s culinary land, so we’ve curated a list of some of the best for you below.
#1 El Five
Perched five stories above the Lower Highlands (LoHi) neighborhood, El Five is a first-rate option for dining in Denver.
Enjoy gourmet dishes from the far-off Spanish and Mediterranean coasts while taking in the panoramic view of the city’s skyline and surrounding natural scenery.6
#2 Happy Camper
At Happy Camper, you don’t have to drive two hours into the mountains to get the camping experience. With string lights and ever-blazing fire pits, this cozy pizza restaurant dazzles both in vibe and menu options.
Vegans and meat-eaters alike can try out a full menu of unique pizzas. Wash it down with Canteen-a-Rita and end on a sweet note with an ooey-gooey s’mores skillet.
For a lively, hip atmosphere and an even livelier culinary selection, head to Linger. Its rooftop bar and rustic interiors give a bright, young feel to a restaurant whose menu spans traditional and modern cuisine. Its culinary inspirations span internationally, so there are bound to be several options for you and your friends to try—surely making you linger around to try them all.
Fun Things to Do in Denver, Colorado
If you’re living in Denver, Colorado, there are plenty of homegrown riches and wonders to fill your time.
#1 See live music at Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater
A nationally-renowned venue for its open-air construction, this amphitheater is carved into two jutting red rocks along the hillside, making it a go-to destination for a one-of-a-kind experience with breathtaking views of both the range and the city. Performers come from around the globe to play shows on the Red Rocks stage.
#2 Catch a sports game
Denver is a sports city—baseball, hockey, and football are cornerstones of Denver culture and recreation. Head to Empower Field at Mile High to watch the Broncos, three-time Super Bowl champs, or hop on an e-scooter to Coors Field to support the Rockies at the baseball diamond.
During hockey season, the Ball Arena hosts the Colorado Avalanche for a night.
#3 Appreciate art around the city
If you’re looking to take in the best of Denver’s visual art, you’ve got a wealth of options.
An iconic artistic spot in the city is the Museum of Contemporary Art (commonly shortened to “MCA Denver” or just “MCA”). Priding itself on its duality of sophistication and unpretentiousness, MCA Denver provides both rotating fine-arts exhibitions and unique, eclectic events and educational programming.
For more interactive fun, head to Meow Wolf in downtown Denver. Meow Wolf is an expansive art collective hosting an enormous, permanent art installation, Convergence Station. Walk through the many rooms of this multi-story exhibit to experience a true innovation in storytelling, maximalism, and imaginative material artistry. Denver doesn’t get more whimsical than this.
Ready, Set, Go: The Essentials to Know Before Your Move
By now, the original question—is Denver, Colorado a good place to live? It sure has surely received its answer: a resounding yes. Now what? Make sure to keep these few things in mind before you pack your bags.
- Elevation – Denver’s “Mile High City” nickname isn’t an exaggeration. At 5,280 feet above sea level, Denver has air that is both thinner and dryer than you might be used to. As a result, it’s important to drink plenty of water, make sure to not overexert yourself, and remember that the effects of alcohol can feel stronger at elevation.7
- Weather – Part of living in Denver, CO is getting used to not only elevation from a tall mountain range but also a rather wide temperature range. The lowest temperatures throughout the year can reach sub-20 Fahrenheit, while the highest get into the 90s with regularity. As a result, winters are blustery with frequent snowfall, and summers are hot and dry.8 Day-to-day, weather can fluctuate fast, so it’s always smart to dress in layers.
Host Healthcare: See The Sights, Serve Others
Whether you’re trying out the myriad of stellar restaurants or joining in on the artistic fun, anyone deserves to get to know one of the most booming and creative cities on the map.
With Host Healthcare, travel nurses and allied professionals can find their dream positions in cities across the United States. Our dedicated team is here to support you 24/7 during your entire journey.
Apply to get started with Host Healthcare today.
Cindy Cook, BSN, RN, CCRN
Nursing Specialty: Emergency, Cardiac, Pre-op, PACU
I have been working in the medical field for 22 years. I started as a back office, medical assistent in orthopaedics, which made me realize my calling was to help patients, and inspired me to go to nursing school. As a nurse I have worked in oncology, cardiac, emergency, and I am now currently working in Pre-op and PACU.
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- Salary. Cost of Living in Denver, CO. https://www.salary.com/research/cost-of-living/denver-co#locationdesc
- Larimer Square. This is Larimer Square, where Downtown Denver comes together. https://www.larimersquare.com/
- Historic Denver. Larimer Square. https://historicdenver.org/larimer-square/
- Denver. Denver Botanic Gardens. https://www.denver.org/listing/denver-botanic-gardens/3655/
- Denver. El Five. https://www.denver.org/listing/el-five/21146/
- Denver. High-Altitude Tips. https://www.denver.org/about-denver/resources/high-altitude-tips/
- Climates to Travel. Climate – Denver (Colorado). https://www.climatestotravel.com/climate/united-states/denver
- Upwardli. New to America: What is the Average Monthly Cost of Living in USA? https://www.upwardli.com/resources/new-to-america-what-is-the-average-monthly-cost-of-living-in-usa
- American Football Wiki. Denver Broncos. https://americanfootball.fandom.com/wiki/Denver_Broncos