The capital of Colorado, nicknamed the “Mile High City” because its official elevation is exactly one mile above sea level, began as a settlement of gold seekers, many of them unsuccessful. In its early years, Denver almost lost out to several booming mountain mining centers in the race to become the state’s major city. Today Denver has won that race. With the Great Plains sweeping away to the east, the foothills of the Rocky Mountains immediately to the west, and a dry, mild climate (where you’ll find 300 days of sunshine), Denver is a growing city with 2.5 million people in the metropolitan area. A building boom in the 1990s resulted in a new airport; a downtown baseball park surrounded by a lively nightlife district dubbed LoDo (lower downtown); new football, basketball and hockey stadiums; and a redeveloped river valley just west of downtown with an aquarium, an amusement park and a shopping district.