Denver has always been a spot for tourists to visit the mountains and enjoy beautiful scenery. For the past few years, the city has welcomed more than 31 million annual visitors. If you are thinking about planning a trip out there and need to stick to a budget, having a planned itinerary can help reduce your overall cost. Here are several free things to do in Denver to add to your plans.
Free Things to Do in Denver
As the saying goes, the best things in life are free. Each of these free activities is enjoyable and will leave your wallet thanking you too. Consider adding some of them to your itinerary.
Explore Red Rocks Amphitheater
Red Rocks Amphitheater is a place many concerts and performances have been enjoyed. It is also something to behold when you aren’t enjoying entertainment there. There are often yoga classes being held there during the day and people can be seen jogging up and down the stairs. Best of all, it is free to roam around as long as there isn’t a concert taking place.
While you are there, you should also check out the Colorado Music Hall of Fame. Exhibits include memorabilia, photos, and artifacts from musicians who have shaped Denver’s music scene. Entry is free, although donations are welcome. The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. On event days, it is open until 7 p.m.
Tour Hammond’s Candy Factory
Hammond’s Candy Factory was established in Denver in 1920. The factory now offers free tours of the candy-making facilities. Best of all, you’ll be able to score free candy on the tour as well. Tours take place during business hours (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.) every 30 minutes or so.
Research Local Events
During the summer, Denver hosts a free summer concert series called the City Park Summer Jazz series. Every Sunday from June to early August, a free concert is held. You can pack chairs, blankets, and even a picnic to bring if you’d like. Other free events like this are available other times throughout the year as well.
Sample Beer at Coors Brewery
One thing you won’t want to miss during your trip to Denver is the Coors Brewery. The company has been making beer since 1873 and you can get a behind-the-scenes look at how they do it. Tours are free and you will also be able to get a few free samples at the end if you are of legal drinking age too. One free tour per person per day is permitted.
Learn About Coins at the Denver Mint
History and coin buffs will enjoy visiting the Denver U.S. Mint. It is only of two mints in the country still operating. You can get a guided tour to learn more about how coins are made as well as the history of U.S. currency. The 45-minute tours are available on Monday and Thursday, free of charge. Though it is free, you will need a ticket to enter. Tickets can be obtained from the ticket information center after 7 a.m. the day of your tour.
Admire Denver’s Art District
The art district in Denver has a number of galleries displaying art for sale, however, there is plenty of street art to take in as well. You can see murals and beautiful art everywhere. On the first Friday of every month you can also participate in the “First Friday Art Walk.” The monthly event offers a free shuttle gallery tours with some of the galleries opening their doors to visitors.
Get Lost on the Cherry Creek Trail
Well, don’t really get lost, but it is easy to do! The Cherry Creek Trail is a 42-mile trail that starts in downtown Denver. Walkers, joggers, and cyclists are all welcome on the trail. About halfway through the hike, the trail meets the Cherry Creek Reservoir, where many people go kayaking and tubing in the summer.
Do Some Window Shopping at 16th Street Mall
The 16th Street Mall is something to see in itself. There is some amazing architectural design that went into resurrecting the structure. That set aside, it is also a great place to people watch. Horse-drawn carriages can be seen taking people up and down the promenade. There is also a free shuttle called MallRide that makes it easy to explore the shopping plaza.
See Bison at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge
Not many cities have an animal refuge in them, but Denver does. The Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge is a 15,000-acre sanctuary where you can spot all types of animals, including white-tailed deer, hawks, owls, and bison, among other things. The sanctuary is open every day from sunrise until sunset and it is free to visit.
Have Tea Time at Celestial Seasonings
If you are a tea drinker, you have heard the name Celestial Seasonings before. It is one of the most popular tea brands out there. Although it is in nearby Boulder and not in Denver itself, a tour of the factory is free. You can learn about the entire tea-making process and, best of all, there are free samples at the end.
Hike a 14er
What’s a 14er, you ask? A 14er is a mountain range that sits 14,000 feet above sea level or higher. Colorado is home to 58 of these mountains. Mt. Bierstadt is a nearby 14er that is considered to be a good hike for first timers. If you are in good health and active, consider adding this to your itinerary.
Other Cheap Things to Do
Of course it is possible to stick to only free activities while you are on your trip, but it wouldn’t be nearly as fun. If you are still trying to stick to a tight budget, think about searching for low-cost things to do as well. Here are a few ideas you may consider.
Visit the Denver Botanical Gardens
Taking time to visit the Denver botanical gardens will not disappoint you. Entrance to the gardens costs $9 for children ages 3 to 15 and students, $9.50 for seniors, and $12.50 for adults. Depending on the season, the gardens at 9 a.m. and close between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Check the botanical gardens website before you plan your trip. They offer free days a few times a year and, if you’re lucky, this can be yet another one of the free things to do in Denver.
See the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave
Visit the Buffalo Bill museum to learn more about the life of William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody who created and starred in the Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show. You can see numerous artifacts from the show in the museum. Visitors can also go to the top of Lookout Mountain to visit where the iconic star’s grave is marked. Admission costs are as follows: $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, $1 for kids ages 6 to 15, and free for children under 5.
Learn About Counterterrorism at the C.E.L.L.
The Counterterrorism Education Learning Lab (C.E.L.L.) is a nonprofit learning center for people who want to learn more about terrorism and the methods being used to prevent it. Admission cost is $8 for adults, $5 for senior citizens, $5 for students and government employees (ID required). It is recommended that visitors to this attraction are at least 14 years of age. The learning experience is closed on Mondays with hours Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Sundays from 12 p.m. until 5 p.m.
Discover Information About the History of Firefighters
The Denver Firefighters Museum is a great place to visit while you are there as well. Though it isn’t one of the free things to do in Denver, it is super low-cost. You can get information about fire safety and the history of firefighters in Denver. Hours at the museum are 9:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. through August. Times are subject to change in the fall and winter months. Admission cost is $9 for adults, $6 for firefighters and kids, and it is free for children under the age of 4.
Catch a Drive-in Movie
Denver is home to the Denver Mart Drive-In theater. It holds about 275 cars and plays both older and newer films. Kids under the age of 6 are free. Admission for all others is $10 per person.
Check Out the National Ballpark Museum
Denver is home to the National Ballpark Museum, a nonprofit organization that uses Bruce Hillerstein’s love of baseball to display a collection of baseball memorabilia. You can see things like the first ticket to Bears Stadium, dated back to 1948. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tickets for adults are $10, seniors are $5, and kids under the age of 16 and active-duty military are free.
Peruse the Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art
Art lovers have a number of options for visiting galleries and art events in Denver. Typically, these activities are relatively low-cost. One of the best spots to visit is the Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art. There is an exhibit there that highlights the Bauhaus school in Germany. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. People ages 13+ cost $10 for admission. Students, seniors, teachers, and active-duty military pay $8 each.
If you enjoy your visit there, you may also consider adding the Clyfford Still Museum, which holds 95% of Still’s art that he created during his lifetime. This is the largest in-tact collections of any major artist. Admission costs are comparable to the Kirkland Museum.