Another idea is in the metro area itself. The Washington Park neighborhood and surrounding communities like Platte Park and Bonnie Brae are old but with a new taste. They have been scraping houses like crazy. There is charm of the city park flavor too. My first home was a duplex or as they called it 104 years ago a Bungalow. It was right by the South Pearl restaurant district. The best Sushi in town was there and it was Close to Denver University so there was a night life too. But it was also family friendly. They have a farmers market every weekend where you can get fresh food. They have parks and its a beautiful neighborhood.
I regret moving out to the burbs but I bought a house that I can grow into knowing that its going to be a little while before the housing crash clears up.
But seriously look into the Washington Park areas. Pricey but worth it.