Secrets of the Suburbs

From gourmet pizzerias and beer gardens to eclectic boutiques and Asian markets, our Mile High suburbs are overflowing with places worth discovering. We’ve pulled together an assortment of spots that embody the vibrant, appealingly quirky spirit of our city’s outlying areas. 

April 2011

Getting Connected

Why social media soothes my suburban soul. By Jefferson Panis

A few weeks ago, I was riding the morning train through south metro Denver to the office downtown, browsing my smart phone for news of the day, when I stumbled onto a post announcing Smashburger’s new Sin City burger. It was the fried egg on top that caught my eye. Since I had time to kill before my stop, I threw a note on my Facebook wall, figuring someone from my family would notice, prompting a tasty burger dinner sometime soon. My family did notice—but they weren’t the only ones. Within an hour, my friend Eric commented on the post: “I’ve never been, but I’ve heard good things....” Then Shannon piped in: “Love!” So, Eric replied, suggesting we all check it out: “Preferably together?” The thread continued to grow; Mike joined with “I’m in!” After some back-and-forth we settled on a time and location—all before my afternoon coffee break. It was a date.

That mundane exchange might not appear extraordinary, but that same outing likely wouldn’t have happened so easily a few years ago—before the onslaught of social media. Back then, I’d occasionally see Eric and Mike on the disc golf course. We’d talk about how much our kids had grown, share recent drama at work, and at the end of the round agree that we should all meet up for dinner with our wives and kids. It rarely happened. We are scattered across the metro suburbs—Eric and Caroline live in Parker, Mike and Shannon in Highlands Ranch, my family in Littleton—and we just didn’t run into each other often.

Living in the suburbs, as opposed to, say, Wash Park, one doesn’t often end up getting groceries at the same Whole Foods where all of his neighbors shop. And while my city-dwelling friends find that gathering at a local watering hole is relatively easy—in fact, they can often walk or bike down the street and bump into friends wherever they decide to stop—I don’t have the same drop-it-and-go ability from our house down south. This isolation was always my biggest issue with suburban life, and it created a nagging envy of my downtown friends, who seemed able to meet up with each other without any trouble and without much planning.

Then social media was born. The random, organic gatherings and frequent exchanges online have helped smother that sense of isolation. Now, I look forward to the train commute to and from work, wondering where the next meet-up will be. It might be a drink with friends after work or a day game at Coors Field; the randomness makes the journey interesting. And, because I no longer feel so alone out here, I’ve come to embrace my suburban home—the open space, the family vibe, the relaxed pace—knowing that my friends are always at my fingertips.


So You Think You Can Dance

When you want to hit the dance floor in a major way, you might think of clubbing in downtown Denver. But when you actually want to learn to dance—as in, less awkward gyration, more legitimately sweet moves—consider heading outside the city lines. Arthur Murray Dance Studios (www.coloradodancestudios.com)—of which there are three in the metro area and dozens around the country—will get your body moving and your heart pumping. Whether you’re looking to master salsa, rumba, fox-trot, swing, or waltz, the super-friendly (and, OK, kinda sexy) dance instructors can show you the basic steps or get you in top shape for future dance competitions. The flexible class schedule offers both private sessions and group lessons.