The first issue of 5280 I ever held in my hands was the June/July 2001 “Top Of The Town” edition, in which editors and readers selected everything from Denver’s best burger to its most superlative sporting goods store. A bright bouquet of summery flowers graced the cover, and a veritable explosion of must-try restaurants, must-do adventures, and must-visit shops greeted 22-year-old, new-to-Denver me on the pages inside. Those were the pre-Yelp days, of course, so the insights delivered by not only 5280’s editors but also by readers’ paper survey responses—the original crowd-sourcing—were especially illuminating. I wanted to patronize every local company I read about and very nearly did.

As I edited this issue, I was reminded of that sensation of impending discovery I had all those years ago. The pandemic forced us to put “Top Of The Town” on hiatus in 2020 and 2021, and during those two years the small-business landscape of the Mile High City transformed. Yes, far too many restaurants and boutiques and bars and music venues were lost to the global calamity; however, based on what our reporters and writers (and readers) found, I think it’s fair to say that COVID-19 did not dispatch the city’s entrepreneurial spirit.

Don’t believe me? On our Top of the Town page is extravaganza celebrating 111 reasons we can all be proud to live in—and get excited to explore—Denver. From the Ethiopian food you must try to the hippest places to find new kicks to the only spots you should get your nails done, we’ve got Yelp beat with an insider’s guide to the most happening, most interesting, most exceptional businesses around, all of which you gotta get back out there to experience.