Although it is literally a 'Mile High City', situated one mile (1.6km) above sea level, Denver is flat and sprawling, overwhelmed by the backdrop of the majestic peaks of the Rocky Mountains. It was founded as a gold-mining camp in 1858 and, situated at the centre of the Old West, was filled with cowboys, gamblers, saloons, gunslingers, Native Americans, and crooked characters such as the infamous con artist, Jefferson 'Soapy' Smith. Although very little gold was actually discovered in the area, the city still grew from the gold rush.
Having since shed its cow-town image and most evidence of its cowboy past, Denver has developed into a modern city with wonderful museums, historic architecture, cultural attractions, shopping venues and a world-class airport. It has more than 200 parks, tree-lined boulevards and a completely refurbished lower downtown area (LoDo to the locals), where blocks of old Victorian buildings and warehouses have been carefully restored to house restaurants, galleries, antique shops and jazz clubs. Historic Larimer Square is the heart of the dining and nightlife scene. Besides Chicago and San Diego, Denver brews more beer than any other city in America and most of it can be sampled in LoDo, where the city's brewpubs proliferate.
Most residents are active nature lovers who take advantage of the city's beautiful setting, the pleasant climate and unlimited outdoor adventures just minutes from the centre, including skiing, hiking, mountain biking and fishing. Tourism focuses on its natural setting and the outdoors, and as such it is a major destination for travellers heading into the mountains. Visitors to Denver will be pleasantly surprised by its welcoming and friendly nature and by how good-looking the city is.