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Peyton Manning: Here are the best 18 things you need to know about Denver

Number 18, you're not in Indiana anymore. You may be Denver's most famous newcomer, but you're a newcomer, nonetheless -- and there are certain things that every newcomer needs to know. Over the last 28 years, the Best of Denver has celebrated what makes this city special -- and in advance of the Best of Denver 2012 hitting the streets today, here's a chance to catch up with this Denver playbook:

1) This city really is a Mile High. Remember to breathe -- and hydrate. Also be careful when you're out drinking -- but any NFL quarterback already knows that, right? And just in case, the Broncos appear to have defense attorney Harvey Steinberg on speed-dial.

2) Want proof that this city is really a Mile High? There's a plaque outside the State Capitol that marks the exact step that's 5,280 feet above sea level (more or less; like you, Peyton, it's settled some). A line around the top of the mayor's office in City Hall does the same; John Hickenlooper put it there when he ran the city (as governor, his desk is naturally higher). At City Park, you can work out along the Mile High Loop, which follows the city's contour lines and points out the spots where you're a mile high. And it's surprisingly easy to join the Mile High Club.

3) The mountains -- with 54 (by the Colorado Mountain Club count) peaks over 14,000 feet -- are to the west. Dove Valley is to the south. Indianapolis is to the east.

4) The City of Denver has not just one, but two bison herds. Buffalo Bill, who is buried on Lookout Mountain, was once the most famous man in the world -- but you could beat him if you bring Denver a Super Bowl.

5) Since you have year-old twins, you'll want to go to Casa Bonita at least once. And, yes, it's even weirder than it seems on South Park.

6) Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park, are from here. If they can make a blockbuster hit out of The Book of Mormon (coming to Denver in August), you can survive the fallout from the virgin sacrifice of Tim Tebow.

7) The Denver Mint, a top tourist attraction, is right downtown. And, yes, it prints money -- though perhaps not enough to cover your contract.

8) Although the Barnes Dance -- the engineering marvel that allowed pedestrians to cross streets on the diagonal -- disappeared last year, Denver's other infamous traffic-control invention, the Denver Boot, is still going strong. Two unpaid parking tickets in town and you could get sacked.

9) That yellow thing in the sky is the sun. And although those much-touted 300 days of sunshine a year in Denver actually translate to 300 days with at least one hour of sunshine, according to the Colorado Climate Center at Colorado State University, that's still a big improvement over Indiana.

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10) Medical marijuana is one of the city's biggest growth industries, which is why Thanksgiving is affectionately dubbed "Danksgiving" here. But at least you'll have no problem getting "medication" for your bad neck.

11) The other big growth industry on the Front Range is beer production, and we frequently clock in at number one for craft beer. And Colorado is certainly the only state whose governor got his start in the public eye as a bar owner.

12) The Tattered Cover. Any city is lucky to have an independent bookstore that cares about the intellectual health of the community: Denver has three Tattered Covers alone.

13) Green chile might have originated in New Mexico, but it reached its apotheosis in Denver, where breakfast-burrito vendors peddle their wares at office buildings each weekday morning, and you can enjoy a green-chile-smothered Mexican hamburger, a definite Denver creation (unlike the much-celebrated cheeseburger).

14) Speaking of cheeseburgers, the metro area just got its first Steak 'n Shake last fall, the only thing you might miss about Indiana.

15) Denver offers every kind of free public-park option: dog parks, skate parks, bike parks, walking parks, grassy parks, gay parks, terrain parks at Winter Park..and, above all, Red Rocks.

16) Jack Kerouac got the inspiration for On the Road during a trip to Denver; a plaque at My Brother's Bar commemorates the tab that Neal Cassady rang up there when it was known as Paul's Place. And the beat still goes on for the arts in this town, which sell more tickets than sporting events.

17) Our football stadium is not indoors. And Broncos purists will always refer to it as Mile High.

18) Broncos are a lot more rambunctious than Colts -- and so are their fans.

Looking for still more things to do in Colorado? Click to read "John Hickenlooper's bucket list for experiencing Colorado in 2012."


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