MEDIAN HOME PRICE $247,000
HOMETOWN HERO Mayor John Hickenlooper, who recently helped launch the country's largest bike-sharing program
THE LIVING: Denver is soaking up its 300 days of sun. Literally. Over the past two years, 17 solar- and wind-energy companies have moved to the Denver area. And while the cost of living remains near the national average, Denver's economy has been steadily humming away. Thanks to strong aerospace, aviation, and information-technology industries, the Mile High City is now home to the nation's second most highly educated workforce. Equally impressive is its dedication to public transportation. When it's completed in 2017, Denver's FasTracks project, a network of rail and bus routes along the Front Range, will be one of the country's largest mass-transit systems.
THE RUNNING: Forty running competitions a year. Eight hundred and fifty miles of paved trails. More than 200 parks (the country's largest park system). A "zillion" running clubs, according to a few sources (we lost count after 50). Add it up and it's easy to see why Denver is one of America's fittest cities. Practically every neighborhood has a marquee run, like Sloan's Lake Park's five-mile loop, in the Highlands neighborhood, or the famous lap around the eponymous park of the Wash Park neighborhood.
THE NEIGHBORHOOD: Highlands, just southwest of downtown, has been on the rise for years. For good reason. It's got great restaurants, fun bars, tons of parks, and (still) well-priced, brick brownstones and row houses.