Denver, Colorado, also known as ‘The Mile High City’ because of its high elevation, is by far one of the most beautiful cities in America.
Denver is surrounded by picturesque mountains and is home to an incredible park system. There are around 200 different parks scattered throughout Denver, each of which offers its own unique view of the city.
The city can also lay claim to an astonishing 20,000 acres of parks in the surrounding mountains, making it the perfect destination for any nature lover.
The one downside to visiting these state parks is the fact that you’ll need to pay an entrance fee to enjoy the natural space.
But thankfully, not every activity in Denver will require you to pay. In fact, there are quite a few fun things to do in Denver that you can enjoy without spending a single cent.
In this guide, we’ll be looking at some of the best free things to do in Denver that the whole family can take part in.
Things to do in Denver For Free
Spending a day out in Denver with your friends and family doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. In fact, the city is home to quite a few activities that are totally free!
It doesn’t matter if you’re looking to spend time outdoors, learn about the city’s long history, or just want to get lost in one of the many museums and galleries. Denver is bound to have a free alternative for you to take advantage of.
Join us as we take a look at some of the best free places and activities in Denver, Colorado.
Fun Free Things to do in Denver, Colorado: Tour the Colorado State Capitol
One of the most recognizable buildings in Denver has to be the Colorado State Capitol Building, and it’s easy to see why.
With columns that seem to stretch into the sky and a bright gold dome at the very top which looks as if it could light up the whole city, it’s no wonder this huge monument attracts so many visitors each year.
The best thing about the Colorado State Capitol Building is the fact that it’s completely free to visit.
Every Monday to Friday from 10:00 am to 11:00 am, you and your family can take a free guided tour of the building and learn about its long and illustrious history.
There is, however, one caveat to this offer. The free tour runs on a first-come, first-serve basis, so you’ll need to make sure you’re one of the first to arrive to take part in this deal.
If you’re looking to take part in a more daring part of the tour, visitors are welcome to take a guided trip to the dome at the very top of the building.
The dome tour is, however, only available from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm. A tour of the dome will take around 15-20 minutes to complete.
If you do choose to take the dome tour, be sure to wear comfortable shoes. The only way to access the dome is via a 99-step staircase. For those who can’t make it all the way up, there is a closed-captioned virtual tour that you can watch.
Free Nature Parks in Denver, Colorado: Trek Along the Cherry Creek Trail
Denver is known for its beauty and abundance of hiking trails. One of the best ways to experience the unrivaled scenery without actually having to leave the city is to take a walk along the Cherry Creek Trail.
Located in the heart of Denver, the Cherry Creek Trail is a 40-mile trail that starts in downtown Denver and ends in Franktown. As you make your way along the trail, you’ll be treated to magnificent waterfalls and ever-changing scenery.
You can also stop for a picnic at the famous Cherry Creek Reservoir, which is located at the halfway point of the trail.
The Cherry Creek Trail is an excellent place for those looking to enjoy a leisurely walk, run, jog, or bike ride. Although if you are looking to enjoy a bike ride, keep in mind that no gas-powered motors are allowed.
You’re welcome to bring your four-legged friend along with you for the walk, but they will have to be kept on a leash throughout your visit.
If you’re feeling more adventurous with your hike, here’s a list of the best trails in Colorado. These range from easy to hard, and quick day trip hikes from Denver to more strenuous multi day ones.
On a normal day, visiting the Botanic Gardens in Denver would cost you a pretty penny.
However, thanks to a collaboration with the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD), visitors can get lost in the beauty of the Botanic Gardens without spending a single dollar.
The Botanic Garden is split into two parts — namely the York Street & Chatfield Farms, and the Plains Conservation Center. Both of these are free to enter on certain days of the year.
If you’re looking to spend the day at York Street & Chatfield Farms, you will need to make an online booking ahead of time. Advance registration is, however, not required for the Plains Conservation Center.
Free Museums in Denver: Explore The Denver Museum of Nature and Science
Museums are not only a great way to learn about the past, but they also offer us great entertainment and can even inspire us to go and achieve bigger and better things. The only downside with museums is the fact that they can sometimes be quite pricey to enter.
Thankfully, one of the largest museums in Denver, The Denver Museum of Nature and Science, has recognized this issue and taken steps to rectify it.
Thanks to a collaboration with The Scientific & Cultural Facilities District, free admission to the museum is available on specific dates throughout the year, so be sure to review the museum’s schedule.
The Museum also has a unique ‘free night’ offer, during which visitors can see the facility in a way few people have ever seen before.
Admission to the free nights is available on several Wednesdays throughout the year, so be sure not to miss out on this opportunity.
The Denver Museum of Nature and Science is not the only place you can visit for free in Mile High City. If you have a passion for art or are looking to get your children into art, the Clyfford Still Museum (CSM) is the perfect place for you.
As part of its latest initiative, the CMS has organized its gallery with the sole purpose of engaging young children and their families. The gallery is now split into five distinct sections: High Contrast, Pattern, Scale, Color, and The World Around Us.
As you enter the gallery, the first exhibit you encounter is made up of only black, white, and red paintings. This wasn’t just a stylistic choice. Studies have shown that infants are attracted to and even stimulated by images that have high contrast.
You would expect to pay a pretty penny to visit a gallery that has put this much thought into its exhibits, but that is not the case with The Clyfford Still Museum.
As part of another collaboration with The Scientific & Cultural Facilities District, you can now visit the CSM for free on selected days of the year, so don’t miss out!
Denver, Colorado is best known for its untouched beauty, endless stretch of mountains, and stunning scenery as far as the eye can see. There is, however, more to the city than just a beautiful backdrop.
The Mile High City is filled to the brim with fun and exciting activities that the whole family can take part in. What makes these activities even better is the fact that you don’t have to spend a single cent to enjoy any of them.
Whether you’re a history buff who wants to learn about the stunning State Capitol Building, a nature lover looking for a new trail to explore, or a parent looking to unlock their child’s artistic side, Dever is the place for you.
If you’re looking for tips on how to save money during your travels, check out this post on how to fit expensive destinations into a backpacker’s budget.
Essential Info: Logistical Tips and Tricks to Book your Trip
BOOK YOUR FLIGHT
When it comes to cheap airfare, I highly recommend using Skyscanner, Expedia, and CheapAir. These are three of the sites I use the most due to their exhaustive search on several websites and airlines around the world. They usually bring the cheapest fares.
BOOK YOUR ACCOMMODATION
For hotels, guesthouses, apartments, and other types of accommodation, I highly recommend Booking.com. They are my go-to booking site because they usually have the cheapest fares.
If you’re a registered Booking.com user (“Genius”), you can take advantage of their “Genius discount” to save even more money. I almost always book my accommodation with Booking, and I’ve saved thousands of dollars with their Genius discount.
And of course, as one of the largest travel booking sites in the world, Expedia is another excellent accommodation booking site with a free reward program and discounted member prices.
If you’re looking to save money by staying at a hostel, HostelWorld has the largest inventory of hostels with shared dorms and private rooms. On the other hand, Vrbo offers a wide variety of rooms and apartments at affordable prices.
DON’T FORGET YOUR TRAVEL INSURANCE
Travel insurance with comprehensive coverage will protect you against unexpected events like theft, cancellations, injury, and illness. I use World Nomads to insure my trips.
If you’re a nomad and travel often or long-term, then SafetyWing could help you save a lot of money on long-term travel insurance.
FIND THE BEST TOURS AT THE BEST PRICES
If you’re looking for the best day tours and cheapest ticket entrances to local attractions, I recommend checking Viator, as they have the largest selection of attractions, passes, and activities all around the world.
BOOK YOUR LOCAL TRANSPORTATION AHEAD OF TIME
Bookaway offers the easiest and most accessible way to book overland transportation with local operators, be it by bus, train, ferry, plane, mini-van, or even private transfers.
If renting a car, then I highly recommend DiscoverCars to get the largest car selection at the best price.
OTHER TRAVEL AND MONEY-SAVING TIPS?
Lastly, check out my resources page for some of the best products and companies to use for your trip. If you like saving money (like I do!), then this page will help.
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