Step 2: Cities and Areas

In common conversation, "Denver" could refer to many things.
The City of Denver,
The County of Denver,
The Denver Metro Area,
The Denver Omelet,
John Denver....
...I can't help you if you're trying to drive a Denver omelet,and I don't think John gets around much anymore...

In reality, there are 20 or so adjacent cities that make up the "Denver Metro Area", which is what most people use to refer to, um, the denver metro area.
A nifty  map with all the cities is below, but I'll outline the most common ones:

Downtown: Slang for the City of Denver, which encompasses all the big skyscrapers and sports teams; the center of all that is Colorado
Lakewood: The west side of town; the biggest city gets the naming convention. Populous.
Aurora: Conversely, the east side of town. Shady folk here.
Wheat Ridge/Arvada: Northwest Denver, mostly residential, except when it's not.
Littleton: Southwest Denver, suburbs and Lockheed Martin MI complex; stay away unless you have a missile to sell.
The Tech Center: Included: Englewood, Centennial, and Highlands Ranch; Straight south down I-25, headquarters and branches of seemingly every white collar corporation ever, and the mother source of all of Denver's rush hour traffic. Seriously.
Westminster: Like Arvada North, except, well, it's Arvada North.

Also notable:
Golden and Morrison: Make up the far west and southwest edges of The DMA, very nice little towns, except for the foul monstrosity of the Coors plant. (Red Rocks is in Morrison, though, so it balances out)
Boulder: Far far away up to the Northwest, everyone should know where Boulder is so they can avoid it like the plague, unless it's April 20th.
Castle Rock: Surprisingly Stephen King free, CR is in between Denver and Colorado Springs, and has a rock that is apparently heavily fortified. Detour around if unarmed.

If you're new in town, you'll probably have experience with the airport, which is currently Denver International (there's been like twenty airports in the last 50 years, whatever.)
DIA is kind of interesting, it sits 40 miles northeast of downtown, but the city bought up all the land along I70 and now the city and county of Denver extends wayy on up, for some reason.  DIA is actually pretty nice, considering it sits in the middle of a cornfield and is shaped like a swastika...
Caution: 6th Avenue has no relationship with Highway 6, other than being the western/northern termination point at right angles to the parallel route (yea, that sorta happens a lot as you get to the mountain wall west of Denver). Highway 6 runs from theTip of Cape Cod to Bishop, CA, and is never part of Denver's 6th Ave. The E/W convention of Avenues in Denver gets really confused when they approach the mountains and mainly run N/S, conflicting with N/S running numbered Streets, much less Hwys. When 6th Ave crosses Colfax (nee 15th Ave), a parallel street 9 blocks north, and then ends far north of 44th Ave (aka 10th St. in Golden) one can appreciate the confusion of those trying to turn E/W on a route that only offers N/S choices. CDOT needs to rename conventions when they change directions.
Excellent advice! Except not ALL Aurorans are shady ;) Some of us just like affordable housing in quiet neighborhoods and inexpensive/awesome ethnic restaurants :) Note that I did not refer to NORTH Aurora, as that's the shady zone.
Useful!<br />If I still lived in Boston I'd cover that city - it definitely takes some insider know-how to navigate quickly and successfully.
I need that. I moved here over the summer from the lower Midwest and wow. It's taken me 4 months just to learn some basic driving survival skills, and that mostly means how to get around about half the potholes, how to figure out when there's one lane or two, how to drive to work in a flood (bka rain), and how to effectively survive the people pulling out into traffic that don't see you (ie, don't care). <br><br>I went to Denver about 10 years ago on vacation and I learned to navigate by which shoulder the mountains were on. Once I figured that out, I didn't feel too lost, except for that one time I went downtown. But it wasn't too bad. Away from the mountains = east, towards the mountains = west. Left shoulder = north, right shoulder = south. My hotel was west. :)
That would be very interesting- How one would navigate through the maze of potholes dug by yankees fans and filled by the Irish with week old whiskey-based vomit particularly intrigues me... Do you prefer bulletproof glass or steel shutters when you drive in Boston? :-)
Ha! When I lived there, they were changing up major (and minor) routes through the city on a daily basis as part of the Big Dig. It was a lot of fun to keep track of, and navigate smoothly.<br /><br />Of course, I actually prefer biking in Boston! You get there faster, and can actually find a place to park.
Lol i use to drive truck... I hated Denver.
You forgot a few key points.... <p> First, if a light turns yellow, keep going - don't even bother to slow down (or you'll get honked at). <br>Next, there is a mandatory 3 car minimum for running red lights. So if your in the first three vehicles when a light turns red, you have to go through (or suffer the wrath of the idiots behind you as they get infuriated because you didn't go when you had the chance).<br>Also, on the highways the speed limit is more like this; slow lane = add 5. Center lane(s) = add 10. Fast lane = add 15-20. And yes, I am serious. I get passed ALL THE TIME when I am doing 5-10 over in the center lane. And I frequently am passed right and left, one of the slowest cars on the highway, doing 5-10 MPH over the limit.</p>
Haha, very true. I assumed those are rules for driving anywhere, though my numbers may be a bit conservative to reflect my current vehicle's inability to make 60 in under ten minutes...
Having driven in Texas (Dallas, Houston, and Austin as well as smaller cities), Northen Cali (several silicon valley cities as well as SanFran), New York (Up State as well as NYC, Manhattan, and even down to Jersey), and having made many cross country trips by car, I can feel confident when I say Colorado (especially Denver) has the worst {public*} drivers I have ever encountered. <p>Now, the traffic can be worse elsewhere... but that is generally due to the constraints of the roads and such. Here in Colorado the drivers are just horrible!</p><p>*Now, for public transit and such, D.C. has the worst drivers in America... I have had taxi drivers go an entire block on the wrong side of the street (into oncoming traffic) to get past cars stopped at a light, just make a left hand turn. I was scared... very scared.</p>
I grew up in Detroit, home of &quot;Malfunction Junction,&quot; a massive snarl of overlapping highway bridges and ramps. If a car breaks down on any one of the highways or ramps, ALL traffic stops. You're there for hours, hope ya brought a sammich. But I still think Atlanta has the worst traffic, hands-down (sorry Denver, you're on the list, well ahead of Detroit, and probably just behind LA and Atlanta.)
I agree that Denver doesn't have the worst traffic here, as I said in my previous reply... but we do have the worst *drivers*
You gotta make one of these for the Springs. I moved here from a small city in Michigan, where people are alot more &quot;conservative&quot; while driving. It's taken me 2 years just to learn to accelerate fast instead of easing into a lane.
Very nicely done! The sad part, of course, is that some very simple global search-and-replace can turn this into a description of just about any Western U.S. metro area :-)
Thanks, and it's not really the advice, but the manner in which it's dispensed that makes the 'ible unique, so I'm looking forward to others!

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