Also known as the Mile High City, Denver is the capital city of the state of Colorado. Located at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Denver is both the business and tourism hub of the state. Denver has many famous landmarks and is often associated with music, and these are just two of the reasons why people visit this city. During a stay in Denver, you will find lots of activities and attractions to keep you entertained. There are many activities that you can enjoy for free, so it is possible to enjoy a visit here even if you have a limited budget. Here are 20 awesome free things to do in Denver.
1. The Money Museum
Located on 16th Street Mall in the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, you will find The Money Museum. Visitors learn all about paper money, credit, counterfeit bills, and the role of banks. There are some fun activities for children to enjoy in the museum and exhibitions containing counterfeit bills to compare to authentic bills.
2. Children’s Museum of Denver
If you are traveling with children, then one of the best attractions for you to visit is the Children’s Museum of Denver. There is always something new to explore and children love the interactive elements. Just some examples of the fun activities children can enjoy include powering a hot air balloon, sculpting a clay masterpiece, scrambling through a climber, and the chance to step inside a six-foot bubble. The museum is divided into themed areas, such as an art studio, an outdoor adventure space, and the Assembly Plant, where kids get to use real tools.
3. Colorado State Capitol Building
One of the most striking buildings in Colorado is the Colorado State Capitol Building. This stunning building features stained glass windows that depict people and events that are relevant to the history of Colorado. The building is designed to replicate Washington D.C.’s Capitol Building. This venue has visitor galleries and exhibitions. You can take a free guided tour of the building, including climbing the 99 steps up the spiral staircase to the viewing gallery. From this viewing gallery, you can enjoy spectacular views across the city to the Rocky Mountains.
4. Hammond’s Candy Factory Tour
Hammond’s is probably the most famous candy factory in Colorado, and you can get a tour of the factory for free. The Hammond’s Candy Factory free tour shows you the production process and you will get the chance to take away some free samples with you.
5. Cherry Creek State Park
This state park covers 880-acres around the Cherry Creek Reservoir, and it is known as Denver’s backyard playground. Cherry Creek State Park boasts many activities that visitors can enjoy throughout the year. These include running and cycling trails, fishing, and boating. During the summer months, visitors are also permitted to swim in the reservoir. Other activities that people enjoy at this park include sledding, cross-country skiing, model aircraft flying, and bird watching. The park also has a bar and restaurant at the boathouse and there are campgrounds for visitors who want to stay the night, although there are costs attached to the bar, restaurant, and campground.
6. Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater
The Red Rocks Amphitheater is considered one of the top concert venues in Colorado. Some of the stars that have graced the stage at this venue include The Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, U2, and The Blues Brothers. The amphitheater is set in the natural surrounding of Ship Rock and Creation Rock, and it is a truly spectacular sight. Even when a concert isn’t on, people still visit the venue just to see it or to jog, take a local hike, or participate in a yoga session.
7. Denver Art Museum
Art enthusiasts will have a fantastic time at the Denver Art Museum. One of the highlights of the museum is the American Indian art collection which has pieces from almost all the tribes from across the United States. Other important collections include the displays of Pre-Columbian and Spanish Colonial art. There are also displays of Asian, European, and modern American art. The museum is housed in an architecturally interesting building and there are some interesting programs held at the museum.
8. Free Festivals
TripSavvy suggests that you try to visit Denver at a time when the city is hosting one of its amazing festivals. There are many festivals held throughout the year and most of these are free to enter. Two examples are the People’s Festival, which is held in June, and A Taste of Colorado, which is a food festival in September. During both festivals, there is entertainment, so you can listen to music while you wander around the stalls. At the food festivals, you can sample some of the local produce and dishes made by local eateries. Although these are usually free events, it is wise to take along some cash in case you want to buy some food or drink. Other examples of free festivals in Denver include the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival and the Cherry Creek Arts Festival, both of which are held in July.
9. United States Mint Tour
If you have ever wondered where American money comes from and how it is made, you can find out the answers when you take a free tour of the United States Mint. The guides give you a comprehensive talk about the history of American coinage and you have the chance to see the production line in action. The free tours are available from 8 a.m. to 3.30 pm from Monday to Thursday.
10. The Colorado Governor’s Mansion
With the exception of Governor John Hickenlooper, the Colorado Governor’s Mansion has been the official residence of every governor of Colorado since 1959. This landmark is called the Cheesman-Boettcher Mansion and it is a Georgian Revival-style building. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and it is open to the public for free guided tours.
11. The U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research
If you want to enjoy an activity that is interesting, educational, and a little bit different to the usual attractions on offer, then a trip to the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research is an activity to consider. This research facility is home to a broad spectrum of equipment and laboratories that are used to study the Earth’s Atmosphere. Within this facility is the I.M. Pei-designed Mesa Laboratory and Visitor Center, which has free admission for the public every day. Guided and tablet tours are available throughout the week and there are exhibits for visitors to enjoy
12. Celestial Seasonings Tour
A rather unusual free tour that you may choose to make is the tour of the Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory. You will learn everything you need to know about the world of tea, from seeing the raw ingredients to the finished products. Visitors also get to sample some of the teas during the visit.
13. Cherry Creek Trail
This trail is a great way to explore Denver. The Cherry Creek Trail is a 42-mile paved pathway that starts in downtown Denver and ends in Franktown. Most of the trail runs parallel to the Cherry Creek Reservoir, hence the trail’s name. The trail is in the greenbelt area around the reservoir and passes through many of Denver’s historic districts. Therefore, you will see many landmarks of historical significance along the way.
14. Denver’s Art District
Santa Fe is a nationally renowned art district that is known s the Art District of Denver. There are many free attractions that will appeal to art lovers, as it is home to a multitude of galleries and studios that are free to visit. The district is also home to museums and theaters, so you can have a complete cultural experience during your visit. Furthermore, this is a great district to visit in terms of dining out as there are some outstanding restaurants offering a variety of international cuisines.
15. Brewery Tours
Denver is known for its production of lager and beer, so taking a free tour of a brewery makes sense while you are in the area. There are two major breweries that offer tours in the area, so you can choose your favorite one or visit both. The first is Miller Coors Brewery. This is located in the Golden suburb of Denver and was established in 1873. There are free half-hour tours daily for people over the age of 21, and participants can enjoy a sample of the beer. The second is the Great Divide Brewing Company. This brewery has been open since 1994 and has a public taproom. There are daily tours for up to 20 people on a first-come, first served basis.
16. City Park
One of the most attractive outdoor spaces in Denver is City Park, which is located between 17th Avenue and York Street. The park has numerous walking and running trails and a public golf course. This park is also home to The Denver Zoo and Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Each year, this park hosts a variety of festivals, including the City Park Jazz festival throughout the summer and the Denver Black Arts Festival in July.
17. Denver Story Trek
An alternative to taking a guided tour of Denver is to join the Denver Story Trek. This is an interactive self-guided tour of some of the best landmarks in Denver. The tour is operated using website podcast and smartphone calls. There are several dozen Story Sites from which you can choose, or you can opt to follow one of the predetermined Story Trek routes. These are available to download off the Internet and you can listen to audio files that tell you about the history and cultural significance of each of the Denver Landmarks.
18. Washington Park
Another great park to visit in Denver is Washington Park. This park has fragrant flower beds and plenty of cycle paths and running trails. There are also several lakes where people can fish for free. Another way you can have fun for free at this park is to play tennis or basketball as the courts are free to use. You will find Washington Park at the intersection of S. Downing Street and E. Louisiana Avenue.
19. Colorado Music Hall of Fame
Colorado Music Hall of Fame is in the visitor center at the Red Rocks Amphitheater. This is an important place to visit because of Denver’s association with music. A free tour of the venue helps you to learn more about the history of music in Colorado and about the famous musicians who have shaped the music scene in Denver. Some of the exhibitions include music memorabilia, photos, videos, interactive displays, and displays relating to rock ‘n’ roll history in the city. Sometimes, there are also shows. The museum is free to enter and open daily, except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
20. Hanging Lake
While there are many fantastic hiking trails in and around Denver, one of the most iconic landmarks to hike to in the surrounding area is Hanging Lake. It is a 3.2-mile return hike that overs some steep and challenging terrain. Hanging Lake is the highlight of the hike, and this sits at the top of the Glenwood Canyon cliffs. You can sit and take a rest from your hike while listening to the hypnotic sound of the waterfalls cascading into the turquoise lake.