Why families are moving to this Denver neighborhood

The Virginia Village neighborhood is still in Denver, but has a suburban feel that's great for families.

As cranes loom over downtown Denver's skyline and city center streets increasingly become home to younger millennials (hipsters) and retirees, families are increasingly heading to neighborhoods to the east.

That's because they tend to be more affordable, a bit less crowded and a have more of family-feel to them.

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Places like Virginia Village are top of the list.

The neighborhood is bounded by South Colorado Boulevard to the west, East Mississippi Avenue and East Cherry Creek North Drive to the north, South Poplar Street to the east and East Evans Avenue to the south.

This is part of our weekly #9Neighborhoods series! Join us on Instagram this afternoon for a photo tour of some of our favorite spots in the Virginia Village neighborhood!

A history full of farms, kids and black widow spiders

The history of Virginia Village starts in 1864, according to the neighborhood’s website. That’s when Levi Booth bought the stage stop that is now the Four Mile House, and the Kansas Pacific Railroad Company was granted some of the land in the area.

Of course, what’s now Virginia Village was mainly a rural, agricultural area for much of the early 20th century. Much of the land was used to grow grain, but there were also crops such as horseradish and asparagus.

View of the American Automobile Association building at 4100 East Arkansas Avenue in the Virginia Village neighborhood of Denver, Colorado. The two-story brick building has a glass entryway and a sign that reads: "The Auto Club."

The neighborhood as we know it officially began on Aug. 2, 1950, when it was platted and signed by Levi R. and Winnifred S. Roop.

Development in the neighborhood was halted during the Korean War, and in 1954, voters overwhelmingly chose to annex Virginia Village into Denver.

“Early homeowners in Virginia Village likened themselves to pioneer’s,” the neighborhood’s website reads. “There were no lawns, fences, trees or appliances. They were living on the outskirts of town in an area that still boasted many riding academies, bridle paths and pastures.”

Earlier in the story, we mentioned how the Virginia Village neighborhood is now full of many mature trees (think the opposite of Highlands Ranch). You can credit a free tree program by Denver businessman Marcus C. Bogue Jr. for that.

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Interior view of the Virginia Village Branch of the Denver Public Library in Denver, Colorado; people wait at the counter. Book titles include: "The Bell Jar" and "Portnoy's Complaint."

Another interesting tidbit in Virginia Village’s history? An influx of black widow spiders during the neighborhood’s 1950s and 1960s construction boom. These terrifying and poisonous creatures took to living in the concrete next to milk boxes, but luckily disappeared after a few years – so if you’re thinking of living in Virginia Village now, it should be all good.

For the record, that’s also good news because in the 1960s, it was common to have as many as 40 children living on one Virginia Village block!

View of brick apartments at 1144 Acoma Street in the Virginia Village Neighborhood of Denver, Colorado; features include balconies and California Bungalow style roofs

A neighborhood with lots for families to do

On the eastern edge of the neighborhood, along Cherry Creek South Drive, is the family-friendly Cook Park, complete with playground, picnic areas, athletic fields, grassy areas and a recreation center with an outdoor pool.

The Virginia Village pool is apparently hopping during the summer. However, when we visited, it was not swimming weather.

Tucked in the eastern corner of the neighborhood is Esters Neighborhood Pub (1950 Holly St.), a local favorite for its freshly-made thin-crust pizza and craft brews. Also in the area is Chakas Mexican Restaurant (6265 E. Evans Ave.) and Milo's Sports Tavern (6495 E. Evans Ave.), where you can get a combination of good happy hour deals and listen to acclaimed music like Lil Jon and the Eastside Boyz and Speakerboxxx/The Love Below-era Outkast during Broncos commercials.

Many folks are leaving downtown Denver to come to quieter eastern neighborhoods like Virginia Village.

The biggest business corridor in the area is along the South Colorado Boulevard edge of the neighborhood.

Besides many chain restaurants (think Good Times, Old Chicago, Hacienda and Black-Eyed Pea), several locally owned spots are worth a visit, too. Viale Pizza & Kitchen (1390 S. Colorado Blvd.) serves up Italian food, and just up the road, PokeCity (1128 S. Colorado Blvd.) is all about authentic Hawaiian cuisine.

A plate of nachos at Ester's in Virginia Village.

So you want to live in Virginia Village?

Virginia Village is mostly residential, with mature tree-lined streets and a wide array of homes — both new and old. The median home price is $370,000, according to real estate website Trulia.com. Two-bedroom apartments run $1,837.