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Exploring Parker CO: Your Ultimate Guide to Living and Thriving in this Charming Town

February 12, 2024

Looking into Parker CO for a potential move or simply curious about this Denver suburb? Nestled 20 miles southeast of the city, Parker offers residents a high-quality lifestyle with ample amenities, vibrant events, and a sense of close-knit community. This article provides a snapshot of life in Parker—covering housing, culture, education, and more, without overwhelming detail.

Key Takeaways

  • Parker, CO has deep historical roots dating back to Native American hunting grounds and the 1858-1859 Colorado Gold Rush, with James Sample Parker being a key figure in its development.
  • Downtown Parker is a hub of activity with a diverse array of shops, restaurants, and cultural events such as the Parker Days Summer Festival, Wine Walk, and Country Christmas Parade.
  • Residents love Parker for its family-friendly vibe, outdoor activities, high-quality schools, and the balance it offers between small-town charm and proximity to bigger city amenities like Denver.

Discovering Parker, Colorado

The story of Parker traces back to 1864, beginning with Alfred Butters establishing the Pine Grove Way Station. Serving as a refuge for travelers, the station also offered mail services and a message exchange, laying the foundation for community life. But Parker’s roots delve even deeper. The area was first used as hunting grounds by Native American tribes, including:

  • Plains-Woodland Indians
  • Arapahoe
  • Cheyenne
  • Utes

During the Colorado Gold Rush of 1858-1859, Parker’s landscape underwent significant transformations. The influx of over 100,000 people led to the establishment of towns beyond the search for precious metals, including Parker. The community’s growth was significantly influenced by James Sample Parker, who acquired the 20-Mile House in 1874, establishing essential services like the first school and post office.

The advent of the Denver & New Orleans Railroad and the expansion of nearby Denver bolstered Parker’s growth into a town with a variety of businesses and amenities by the turn of the century. Parker’s official status as a town was cemented in 1981, starting with a small population and geographic area which has since expanded considerably. Today, Parker is a bustling town located just 20 miles southeast of Denver, one of the fastest-growing cities, yet retaining a dense suburban feel.

dual income was recorded at $47,066.23. These figures provide a snapshot of the Parker community – diverse, thriving, and vibrant.

Downtown Parker: A Hub of Local Charm

Downtown Parker is a testament to the town’s unique charm. The area is dotted with small mom and pop restaurants and shops, which provide a distinct, local flavor to the town. As you stroll down the streets, you’ll notice public art displays enhancing the cultural vibrancy of downtown Parker.

Downtown Parker’s offerings extend beyond this. We’ll examine the main street events, shopping, and dining options in the following sections.

Main Street Events

Downtown Parker’s Main Street is more than a thoroughfare; it serves as a focal point for events and celebrations that unite the community. One of the main highlights is the Parker Days Summer Festival, held in June. This four-day event features:

  • Carnival rides
  • Live music
  • Parade
  • Culinary demonstrations
  • Silent discos
  • Variety of food and drink options
  • Artists and vendors showcasing their goods and services at musical stages

The festival provides entertainment for all, including theater productions.

But the festivities are not limited to summer alone. Parker offers a variety of events throughout the year, including:

  • The Parker Wine Walk, which lets participants enjoy wine tastings at various downtown merchants
  • Trick or Treat on Mainstreet, a Halloween event where Main Street transforms into a festive showcase of street dancing and treats for kids
  • The Country Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony, which usher in the holiday season
  • Art in the Park, a cultural event showcasing local artists
  • Oktoberfest, a celebration of German culture

These events further enrich Parker’s cultural fabric.

Shopping and Dining

Once you’ve experienced the lively events, you can explore the distinctive shopping and dining options available in downtown Parker. Local restaurants like:

  • Black+Haus Tavern
  • Fika Coffee House
  • Indochine Cuisine
  • Parker Garage
  • Tailgate Tavern
  • West Main Taproom + Grill

offer a diversity of flavors and cuisines. For those with a sweet tooth, Kilwins’ hand-crafted chocolates, fudge, and ice cream or Swirls Frozen Yogurt’s wide variety of flavors and toppings are must-tries.

The community deeply supports the local businesses of Parker, especially those boutique shops and independent restaurants on Mainstreet and in Cottonwood Plaza. This support adds to the town’s appeal and vibrancy, making shopping and dining in downtown Parker not just a purchase or a meal, but a community experience.

The Cultural Pulse of Parker: PACE Center

The Parker Arts and Cultural Events center, known as PACE, is undeniably the pulse of Parker’s cultural scene. This center is a hub for diverse activities that enhance the cultural and economic vitality of the community. The PACE center hosts a multitude of cultural activities such as theatrical productions, concerts, lectures, and also serves as a venue for meetings and weddings, catering to a wide array of community needs and preferences.

PACE is home to two professionally curated galleries – the Bellco Credit Union Art Gallery and The Schoolhouse Gallery. These galleries feature works from local, regional, and national artists, including student works showcased in the Bright Futures Student Exhibit and the National Arts Program Front Range Exhibit.

In addition to this, the PACE Center houses a 536-seat theater, recognized as one of Colorado’s top venues. This theater showcases a wide range of high-quality productions that reflect the rich tapestry of Parker’s cultural offerings.

Living Spaces in Parker: Neighborhoods and Housing

Residing in Parker means more than just having a home; it involves being an integral part of a community. Parker’s neighborhoods offer:

  • Spacious homes on large lots
  • A tight-knit community atmosphere Despite the town’s growth, residents still experience a:
  • Family-friendly environment
  • Manageable population density.

The real estate market in Parker is dynamic, with the median property value recorded as $475,400 in 2021 and median sales prices for homes reaching $490k, indicating a continued demand for housing in the area. The construction industry is a significant element of Parker’s economy, suggesting incessant development and housing market activity.

Households in Parker typically consist of three members on average, and residents have a median age that caters to various stages of life. With an average commute time of approximately 26.9 minutes, and a norm of 2 cars per household, Parker offers a diverse range of living spaces to suit every lifestyle, whether you’re a young professional or raising a family.

Education Excellence in Parker

Just like any community, education forms a pivotal part of Parker. The town is home to 12 private schools serving a student population of 2,640. Parker’s commitment to education is evident, with a higher percentage of K-12 students in private schools at 12%, exceeding the Colorado state average of 8%.

About one-third of Parker’s private schools are religiously affiliated, primarily with Catholic and Christian organizations, offering diverse educational options for families. The town’s reputation as a safe, child-friendly place with a plethora of educational opportunities is a testament to the testimonials from residents.

Recreation and Outdoor Life in Parker

The recreational and outdoor activities in Parker, Douglas County, are as lively as its cultural scene. The town boasts over 250 acres of developed parkland, providing residents with extensive open space and parks such as Bar CCC Park, Bayou Gulch Regional Park, and McCabe Meadows. Among these facilities, you can also find batting cages for sports enthusiasts.

The town features a range of recreation facilities, including:

  • The state-of-the-art Parker Recreation Center with an inline rink
  • Sports turf fields at Trails at Crowfoot Community Park
  • The comprehensive sports and activities complex of the Parker Fieldhouse

Residents enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, including free summer concerts at Discovery Park and an annual Bike to Work Day that encourages cycling within the community. Whether you’re a fitness enthusiast or a nature lover, Parker offers something for everyone.

Year-Round Events and Festivities

Events and festivities in Parker throughout the year include:

  • Movies in the park
  • Art shows
  • Community barbecues
  • Festivities that highlight the town’s vibrant culture and inherent unity

There’s always something happening in Parker.

Signature events in Parker include:

  • Parker Days Festival
  • Parker Stars and Stripes Celebration
  • Fall Festival
  • Christmas Parade and Wine Walk

These events showcase the small-town charm and festivity of Parker, giving it that unique small town feel.

During the final months of the year, residents of Parker demonstrate their hometown spirit by artfully decorating their:

  • porches
  • yards
  • patios
  • balconies

for Halloween and the festive holiday season. Other community gatherings such as the Parker Farmers Market and the Community Messiah event in December foster a strong sense of community connectedness.

Health and Wellness Facilities

Parker is no slouch when it comes to healthcare. The town is served by two major hospitals – Parker Adventist Hospital and Sky Ridge Medical Center, providing comprehensive medical care to its residents. In 2021, 95.6% of Parker’s population had health coverage, with a majority being on employee plans, portraying a community with substantial access to healthcare services.

The town’s robust healthcare sector is evidenced by its 375 healthcare and social services establishments. These establishments underpin a significant portion of Parker’s economy and employment, ensuring that healthcare services are readily available to all residents.

Why Residents Love Parker

What makes Parker so beloved by its residents? A key draw for families and young professionals is the town’s highly rated schools and a plethora of outdoor activities. Residents describe Parker as an incredibly family-friendly place, filled with wonderful people and a plethora of activities.

The Town Manager’s Office Communications staff works to engage and educate the public, providing opportunities for involvement and fun, while preserving Parker’s hometown feel. Public art installations and parks honouring military and fallen heroes enhance the town’s streetscape, adding to the cultural fabric of Parker’s parks.

Even as Parker expands, residents relish the friendliness of a smaller community with the benefits of being near Denver and Cherry Creek. Parker provides the charm of a small town alongside access to larger city amenities, offering residents the best of both worlds.

Many individuals who were raised in Parker express their appreciation for the nurturing community that offered them unique educational and professional opportunities, such as attending an excellence charter school.


From its humble beginnings in the 19th century to its present-day charm, Parker, Colorado, offers a blend of history, culture, community, and natural beauty that’s hard to match. Whether you’re looking for top-notch education, vibrant cultural and recreational activities, a dynamic real estate market, or a strong sense of community, Parker has it all. As residents often say, Parker is not just a town; it’s a community, a lifestyle, and a place to call home.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is special about Parker Colorado?

Parker, Colorado is known for its unique Western-Victorian downtown and its preserved hometown vibe, as well as for being recognized as a Tree City USA for its impressive urban forestry efforts.

How far is Parker to Denver?

Parker is approximately 20 miles southeast of Denver, making it a commuter town within the Denver metropolitan area.

What is Parker Co known for?

Parker, Colorado is known for its excellent urban forestry and its unique Western-Victorian downtown, along with its hometown feel. It has been named a Tree City USA for 22 years.

Is Parker Colorado wealthy?

Yes, Parker Colorado is considered wealthy, with an average household income of $147,041 and a low poverty rate of 3.38%. It is also noted to have a relatively high per capita income.

Is Parker CO a good place to live?

Yes, Parker CO is a great place to live with a low poverty rate and a modest crime rate, making it ideal for families and retirees. Additionally, it’s a suburb of Denver with a dense suburban feel and many amenities, making it a desirable place to reside.

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