Authored by Valarie Rose Johnson
U.S. News analyzed 150 metro areas in the United States to find the best places to live based on quality of life and the job market in each metro area, as well as the value of living there and people’s desire to live there. Boulder, Denver, Colorado Springs, and Fort Collins ranked in the top five (in that order, with Austin, TX in third place).
Why do you suppose that is? Not only do we have the pleasure of enjoying over 300 days of sunshine each year, Denver also boasts the most unique city park system in the country. We have more than 200 parks within the city and 14,000 acres of parks in the nearby mountains. Denver also has the second highest educated population in the US and culturally diversified residents. Denver Performing Arts Complex has nine theaters with a total seating capacity of 10,000 people. Lest we forget about the more intimate venues like Paramount Theatre and the world-renown Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre. No wonder people are coming in droves.
Last year marked a record-breaking year for both real estate sales and appreciation in our Centennial State, and it hasn’t stopped. Fear not: Even though it is, indeed, a sellers’ market, there are still plenty of stunning homes. Whether you seek a quiet residential neighborhood, bustling urban area, an intersection of nature and luxury, or a mountain-adjacent locale with spectacular views and access to adventure, exquisite homes await.
We sat down with brokers, agents, and an attorney here in the Mile High City to obtain innovative tips, advice, and recommendations for buyers and sellers alike. Discover the ideal home and neighborhood for your personality, lifestyle, and budget.
Homes for $500,000 to $800,000
The design-savvy Denver homes in this category invite homeowners to dwell alongside one of the city’s 200 parks in neighborhoods steeped in the city’s rich history, or perhaps meander farther into the suburban arena without losing desired style and character.
MEDIAN PRICE: $527,500
SQUARE FOOTAGE: 605 – 3,145
NEIGHBORHOOD HISTORY: One of Denver’s oldest neighborhoods, Baker, has seen many a heyday and revival. Victorian homes stand alongside funky old bungalows, freshly remodeled duplexes, and newer condo complexes. While filled with rich history, Baker is also home to one of Denver’s premier luxury condo buildings and to Fentress Architects (architect of Denver International Airport).
AMENITIES: Baker enjoys preserved historic homes; proximity to Broadway’s Main Street development, which promises diverse shopping; casual and fine dining; and an array of entertainment, as well as access to mass transit.
MEDIAN PRICE: $574,500
SQUARE FOOTAGE: 358 – 6,308
NEIGHBORHOOD HISTORY: Established in 1882, City Park is Denver’s largest urban park. Designed by civil engineers Henry Merryweather and Walter Graves in the 1880s and by Reinhard Schuetze in the 1890s and early 1900s, the park is known for its lakes, large fields, and scenic views of downtown Denver and the Front Range.
AMENITIES: The most popular park in the city, this 330-acre sanctuary offers recreation opportunities galore and houses the Denver Zoo, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and an IMAX Theatre.
MEDIAN PRICE: $619,000
SQUARE FOOTAGE: 389 – 7,426
NEIGHBORHOOD HISTORY: Until the 1850s, the neighborhood of Congress Park was Native American land. After a growth surge in Denver, the district provided housing for its growing population. Once the area was officially incorporated into the city in 1889, the streets were renamed to those we see today.
AMENITIES: The trees, the park, and the proximity to downtown offer urban proximity without sacrificing the tranquility and peace of a quieter neighborhood. It’s situated next to Cherry Creek, the Botanic Gardens, City Park, and all of the new things happening both on Colfax and 9th and within Colorado redevelopment.
MEDIAN PRICE: $519,250
SQUARE FOOTAGE: 515 – 4,818
NEIGHBORHOOD HISTORY: Cultures blend in historic Five Points, one of Denver’s oldest and most diverse neighborhoods. The district was known as the “Harlem of the West” because it was a frequent stop for jazz greats like Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, and Miles Davis.
AMENITIES: Today, historic Five Points’ creativity and vibrancy live on in a fusion of old and new. Enjoy nearby coffeehouses, craft breweries, museums, live music venues, and a wealth of restaurants.
MEDIAN PRICE: $500,000
SQUARE FOOTAGE: 768 – 3,342
NEIGHBORHOOD HISTORY: The Civic Center or Golden Triangle is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Denver, with many single-family Victorian homes and bungalows built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
AMENITIES: Visit one of the 16-plus galleries and museums; stroll through 25,000 square feet of flowers at Civic Center Park; enjoy world-class public art; and eat, drink, and shop at dozens of eclectic, surprising locales.
MEDIAN PRICE: $681,000
SQUARE FOOTAGE: 736 – 4,800
NEIGHBORHOOD HISTORY: The townsite of Highland was laid out in December 1858 by William Larimer, Jr., who had founded Denver City the previous month. In 1859 the Highland town company formed, and a Platte River bridge was planned to connect to Auraria and Denver.
AMENITIES: Victorian-era homes and buildings, lush gardens and parks, hip independently owned shops, art galleries, and restaurants all make the Denver Highlands neighborhood a great place to live in.
(Columbine, Sterling Ranch, Roxborough Park)
MEDIAN PRICE: $587,450
SQUARE FOOTAGE: 1,617 – 4,156
NEIGHBORHOOD HISTORY: The city of Littleton’s history dates back to the 1859 Pike’s Peak Gold Rush, which brought not only gold seekers, but merchants and farmers to the community. Richard Sullivan Little was an engineer from New Hampshire who made his way out west to work on irrigation systems. Little soon decided to settle in the area that is present-day Littleton and brought his wife Angeline out from the east in 1862. Subsequent booms in munitions and aerospace created a high demand for housing.
AMENITIES: Browse Main Street’s independently owned shops and galleries featuring local artists. Littleton offers nearly 1,500 acres of parks and open space, including Chatfield Reservoir.
MEDIAN PRICE: $585,000
SQUARE FOOTAGE: 525 – 2,688
NEIGHBORHOOD HISTORY: Lower Downtown (LoDo) is both the birthplace of our city and a recent revitalization success story, providing an important link between past and present. Today, LoDo contains one of the finest remaining collections of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century commercial buildings in the American West. The city of Denver was founded at the confluence of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek in November 1858 after a small amount of gold was discovered there.
AMENITIES: LoDo is also home to Coors Field (home of the Colorado Rockies), as well as numerous art studios, restaurants, boutiques, bars, and nightclubs. LoDo offers easy access to Downtown shopping.
Lone Tree Neighborhoods
(Fairways, Terra Ridge, The Charter, Carriage Club)
MEDIAN PRICE: $603,500
AVERAGE SQUARE FOOTAGE: 800 – 6,777
NEIGHBORHOOD HISTORY: This Colorado city was just 1.5 square miles when it was incorporated in 1995. It has since grown to nearly 10 square miles—and more development is coming in the next decade. The area that’s presently the 1.5 million-square- foot Park Meadows Mall was once a field surrounded by a handful of stores. It’s now brimming with excitement and growth and ready to celebrate its 25th anniversary.
AMENITIES: In addition to the mall, Lone Tree offers a wealth of outdoor recreational opportunities. With a large network of hiking and walking trails, there is plenty to offer the outdoor enthusiast. Additionally, performing arts, sky diving, and light rail locales drive Lone Trees’ appeal.
MEDIAN PRICE: $682,500
SQUARE FOOTAGE: 528 – 5,160
NEIGHBORHOOD HISTORY: Named after early Denver leader James Platt (not the Platte River, as it is commonly thought), Platt Park at one point in history was known as the Town of South Denver. In the 1880s, its citizens were politically active and promoted their city as a quiet alternative to Denver with its neighboring saloons and rowdiness. Today, it is a delightful mix of sturdy brick bungalows, charming Victorians, historic Tudors, and townhomes.
AMENITIES: Old South Pearl Streets’ charming shops, restaurants, and summer farmers market draw people from all over the city, as do the antique shops on South Broadway. The neighborhood also features a popular park.
MEDIAN PRICE: $450,000
SQUARE FOOTAGE: 601 – 3,444
NEIGHBORHOOD HISTORY: Nicknamed RiNo, the trendy River North Art District features contemporary art galleries and hip concert venues in revamped industrial buildings.
AMENITIES: In addition to the art scene, RiNo is well known for its ample foodie destinations. Food halls include Denver Central Market and The Source, a buzzy indoor venue with eclectic products and a bar serving small plates and craft beer. Upper Larimer Street, known for its colorful murals, also has cocktail lounges, late-night food trucks, and brewpubs with patios.
Sloan’s Lake (aka Sloan Lake)
MEDIAN PRICE: $680,500
SQUARE FOOTAGE: 606 – 5,378
NEIGHBORHOOD HISTORY: According to legend, in 1861 Thomas M. Sloan tapped into a water aquifer while digging a well to irrigate his farmland in what is now considered West Denver. Overnight, the lake spread to 200 acres and soon attracted onlookers to confirm rumors of a new body of water, graced with monikers such as “Sloan’s Leak,” “Sloan Lake,” and “Sloan’s Lake,” a name that continues to be debated over a century later.
AMENITIES: In what is known as one of Denver’s most-up-and coming places to live, Sloan’s Lake neighborhood offers choice sunsets, recreational activities (including the annual Dragon Boat Festival), restaurants, modern housing, and a swath of new development.
Homes for $800,000 and higher
Whether you are seeking the quintessential luxury neighborhood, colonial-contemporary design influences, a palatial estate, acres of vast greenery and open space, or proximity to the hip arts scene and warehouse district, these exquisite Denver neighborhoods appeal to discerning buyers.
MEDIAN PRICE: $1,100,000
SQUARE FOOTAGE: 1,756 – 6,029
NEIGHBORHOOD HISTORY: Bonnie Brae’s land was originally owned by the Kansas Pacific Railroad. When Denver businessman George W. Olinger later purchased the land as part of a new development in the 1920s, it became part of Denver. Borrowing the charming winding streets of Scotland, Olinger and his developers created what is now one of Denver’s most beloved neighborhoods.
AMENITIES: The Bonnie Brae Tavern has remained a thriving pizza destination since 1934, boasting original decor and family recipes. Katherine’s French Bakery & Cafe has served scrumptious pastries and European-inspired lunches to the Bonnie Brae neighborhood for over 10 years. And, Bonnie Brae Ice Cream remains a famed Denver location for made-on-site flavors.
MEDIAN PRICE: $1,200,000
AVERAGE SQUARE FOOTAGE: 2,960
NEIGHBORHOOD HISTORY: The name came by combining the monikers of two nearby attractions, Bowles Lake and Marston Lake, which were named after Joseph Bowles and John Marston, two farmers who put this area, which straddles the borders of Arapahoe and Jefferson County, on the map.
But you can trace its origins as a neighborhood to Lloyd King, who owned King Soopers. He and a Denver realtor bought the 575-acre subdivision that would become Bow Mar with the dream that it would be a self-governed luxury neighborhood.
Bow Mar was incorporated as a town in 1958, and as new homes were built, many were modeled after Frank Lloyd Wright’s prairie-style architecture.
AMENITIES: All home sites are at least one acre and afford expansive views of the Rocky Mountain foothills. This area is known for the private Bow Mar Lake, where one can sail, swim, and fish. Nearby, a dedicated bird sanctuary provides a wonderful outdoor experience. In general, Bow Mar residents are active, and the homeowners’ association serves to maintain a social, inclusive atmosphere at all communal sports facilities, including the lake, tennis courts, and a walking trail.
Castle Pines (Village)
MEDIAN PRICE: $1,090,000
SQUARE FOOTAGE: 2,652 – 11,991
NEIGHBORHOOD HISTORY: Over four decades ago, Jack A. Vickers looked over the landscape that would become Castle Pines Golf Club, the host of the International PGA Tour from 1986 to 2006.
The land was purchased in the late 1970s, and the Jack Nicklaus signature course was completed over the following decade. Since then, thousands of professional and amateur golfers from around the world have experienced the deeply wooded areas and rolling hills that make Castle Pines so unique.
AMENITIES: Castle Pines Village was designed to take advantage of all that Colorado has to offer, from the vast Ponderosa pine forest to sweeping views of the Rocky Mountains, and all that nature offers as well. The outlet mall is a short distance from the village and fine dining establishments.
Cherry Creek North
MEDIAN PRICE: $985,000
SQUARE FOOTAGE: 934 – 3,060
NEIGHBORHOOD HISTORY: One hundred and forty years ago, Cherry Creek North was part of a small town called Harman. Since then, it has emerged as a staple in the fabric of Denver and Colorado, blossoming into a very special mixed-use district.
Today, nearly 600 businesses make up the area’s 16 walkable blocks, where you can find a variety of independent and international retailers featuring unique fashion, jewelry, and home furnishing stores, as well as spas, salons, art galleries, and restaurants. Cherry Creek North is a walkable, mixed-use community in one of the most prestigious zip codes in Denver. With the highest concentration of high-end retail anywhere in the Rocky Mountain West, combined with 50 restaurants, 45 spas and salons, and a creek-side 24-mile biking and hiking trail, it’s not only where people want to hang out, it’s where they want to live.
Cherry Creek North provides everything you need to enjoy life within walking distance.
AMENITIES: Cherry Creek North is Denver’s premier outdoor retail and dining destination with over 260 shops, restaurants, art galleries, spas, salons, and more. With over 125 small and locally- owned businesses and four hotels, this walkable 16-block district offers endless ways to spend your day.
Cherry Hills Village
MEDIAN PRICE: $1,585,000
SQUARE FOOTAGE: 3,252 – 32,254
HISTORY OF NEIGHBORHOOD: Cherry Hills Village derived its name from the large cherry orchards near the original town site. Cherry Hills Village is mainly residential with a total area of 6.28 square miles. It boasts a unique landscape of stunningly luxurious properties, custom-designed mansions, and estates complete with a picturesque mountain backdrop. In fact, the city made it to Forbes Magazine’s list of Top 25 Places to Retire Rich.
AMENITIES: There are over 30 miles of trails, 47 acres of parklands, and two horse areas. The city is also the home of the exclusive Cherry Hills Country Club, where seven USGA championships and two PGA championships have been held. The club features a championship 18-hole golf course and a 9-hole, par-3 golf course. It also has a lap pool and eight tennis courts. Fine dining and retail are conveniently located close by.
Cherry Hills was able to preserve its semi-rural natural landscape against changing economic trends. Despite future developments, the city endeavors to maintain its unique character as a residential community.
MEDIAN PRICE: $1,286,670
SQUARE FOOTAGE: 1,534 – 6,598
NEIGHBORHOOD HISTORY: The neighborhood came to be known as Cory-Merrill in honor of two well-known Denver educators: John Cory, the first principal of South High School who remained there for 20 years; and Louise Merrill, a pioneer in junior-high education. Brick homes and bungalows replaced the first wood homes during the 1940s and 1950s.
The quiet enclave of Cory-Merrill features large lots and a mix of traditional brick ranches and tudors, as well as stately new and remodeled homes.
AMENITIES: Nearby Washington Park provides miles of recreational paths, lakes, and gardens. Residents have easy access to attractions in Cherry Creek and are close to the charming shops and restaurants of Bonnie Brae and Old South Gaylord. Big-city shopping is convenient along Colorado Boulevard, which lies nearby.
Denver Country Club
MEDIAN PRICE: $1,691,580
SQUARE FOOTAGE: 2,371 – 10,073
NEIGHBORHOOD HISTORY: The palatial homes neighboring the Denver Country Club (established in 1909) bespeak the area’s history of elegance and exclusivity. Situated along East First Avenue and across from its namesake, the elegant neighborhood features architectural gems created for some of the city’s most prestigious families. It also includes the city’s finest examples of the Denver Square style and the Gothic, Colonial, Mediterranean, and other early 20th century eclectic revival styles.
AMENITIES: Politicians, socialites, and successful entrepreneurs have felt at home in this stunningly beautiful and clubby atmosphere. Country Club is close to popular Cherry Creek and Washington Park, and Speer Boulevard provides easy access to downtown.
MEDIAN PRICE: $1,100,000
SQUARE FOOTAGE: 770 – 9,781
NEIGHBORHOOD HISTORY: Greenwood Village was developed during the 1860s when settlers came from the East and Midwest looking for gold. By the early 1900s, it had become a farming community.
AMENITIES: The town incorporated in 1950 and retained its open feel with more than 300 acres of parks and 100 acres of undeveloped open space. The trail system provides 40 miles of scenic walking and biking areas. Greenwood Village also houses the Denver Technological Center, a development of large buildings outside of Denver where many technology- oriented companies are based, and where there are plenty of lovely restaurants and coffee shops.
MEDIAN PRICE: $1,100,000
SQUARE FOOTAGE: 1,012 – 8,505
NEIGHBORHOOD HISTORY: Its first home was a humble log cabin built near the Cherry Creek Trail, which still stands today as a living history museum. True to its name, Hilltop was developed high on a hill in the 1920s, far from the pollution of the city. Tuberculosis was a threat and people sought the neighborhood’s clean and cool air. Around this time, the University of Colorado Hospital broke ground on 8th Avenue and the area was soon nicknamed “Pill Hill” for the influx of doctors who settled into Hilltop’s first homes. Now the neighborhood boasts over 22 architectural styles.
AMENITIES: Cranmer Park is at the center of it all, offering 23 acres of open space and playing fields. Excellent schools and wide, safe streets attract families and residents who appreciate Hilltop’s above-it- all location. There’s easy access to groceries, shops, and restaurants along Colorado Boulevard and in adjacent Cherry Creek.
Polo Club Place
MEDIAN PRICE: Inquire with broker
SQUARE FOOTAGE: 4,977 – 13,043
NEIGHBORHOOD HISTORY: Rich with history, Polo Club was originally a polo club for Denver’s elite. Created by four millionaires back in the ‘20s, the 160-acre parcel housed stables and polo fields offering entertainment and an exclusive country club for the rich until the late ‘30s. The old spot where the founders used to play, directly on the Denver Country Club Golf Course, was not adequate and was understandably frowned upon by the club’s golfers. This land, which was purchased for $62,000 is now home to one of Denver’s most distinguished multimillion dollar communities.
AMENITIES: Today’s real amenity for the Polo Club neighborhood is the nearby Cherry Creek shopping center, located just to the North. Polo Club is bounded by Cherry Creek Drive South and Exposition, University on the West, and Steele on the East. It is just minutes away from the excitement of downtown Denver and still maintains the prestige and grandeur of country club living.
Washington Park, Denver
MEDIAN PRICE: $1,665,000
SQUARE FOOTAGE: 768 – 6,351
NEIGHBORHOOD HISTORY: Developed in the 1890s and early 1900s, Washington Park is a scenic recreational area occupying about 160 acres just southeast of downtown Denver. Designed around a portion of City Ditch by landscape architects Reinhard Schuetze and Saco DeBoer, the park features two lakes and a large meadow and has a more rural, relaxed feel than Denver’s other major urban parks. Its historic structures include a 1911 bathhouse, a 1913 boathouse designed by Jules Jacques Benois Benedict, and the Eugene Field Cottage, which was moved to the park in 1930.
AMENITIES: Largely residential, Washington Park centers on its namesake green space, a rectangular expanse with sport facilities, formal flower gardens, and winding trails for cycling and jogging. An elegant boathouse overlooks Smith Lake, popular with kayakers and anglers. East of the park lies Old South Gaylord Street, a bustling shopping district with chic fashion boutiques, galleries, sports bars, and casual bistros.
Willow Springs and Willow Brook, Morrison
MEDIAN PRICE: $1,060,000
SQUARE FOOTAGE: 4,651 – 6,847
NEIGHBORHOOD HISTORY: In 1860, this former ranching community sat in the middle of two important routes for gold miners. Much later, custom home development on spacious lots began with Willow Brook in 1962. In the 1970s, Stan Harwood began developing his ranch property into custom homes and Willow Springs Country Willow Springs home club. By 1996, renamed Red Rocks Country Club, the 18-hole golf course, swimming pool, and playground became the primary amenity for resident members.
AMENITIES: In addition to golfing and swimming, residents and their guests can walk their dogs, hike, ride horses (boarded at a community stable), cross-country ski, snowshoe, and watch wildlife along 15 miles of private trails. Resident Cindy Rutledge favors the spectacular views of the foothills most of all. The quaint town of Morrison offers distinct Colorado eateries and shops. Nothing beats the world-renowned Red Rocks Amphitheater, just down the road.
* Prices subject to change. All homes listed at the time of publication