The Top 12 Free Things To Do In Denver
The Mile High City is filled with fun and interesting things to see and do! Imagine a tour of the city on a relaxing form of transport – the Free MallRide Bus. With Denver being the capital city of Colorado, tourism has surged in the past several years and initiatives like this bus route are welcomed perks. Travel from Union Station to Civic Center Station and see the sights.
And there is more! With the breathtaking mountain views, Denver has some of the best outdoor activities, like during the winter months when snowboarders and skiers head to Colorado for some fun in the snow. When you are looking for wonderful free things to do in Denver, the possibilities are endless. Drop your bags and backpacks at a Denver luggage storage locker before you head out to explore or take a free bus ride!
Colorado State Capitol Tour
Address: 200 E. Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80203
The State Capitol building was modeled after the majestic capitol in Washington, D.C. and is such a stunning building you will want to definitely spend some time here. The embellishments, including stained glass windows which depict important people and events in Colorado’s history, are simply awe-inspiring.
Complimentary tours are offered Monday through Friday where you can sign up for a free guided tour of this Corinthian-style building. Climb the spiral staircase, 99 steps in all, to the open-air observation deck that gives you panoramic views of the Denver skyline and the Rocky Mountains. There are even visitor galleries to explore and temporary exhibits that will grab your attention.
United States Mint Tour
Address: West Colfax & West 14th St, Denver, CO 80204
Learn about how the United States currency is created and how the U.S. Mint operates. The Denver branch of the U.S. Mint offers free guided tours that last for about 45 minutes and gives you a great look at the history of U.S. coinage. Kids and adults will find this tour interesting and will hopefully learn something new during the tour.
Tours are available Monday through Thursday and you are encouraged to get your free tickets in advance but there are some same-day tickets available, just check at the Tour Information window. The Denver mint is only one of two that are still operational, it is not your typical money museum. Remember, even though the tour is free, you will want to tip your guide.
Santa Fe Arts District Street Art
Address: 1100 N. Santa Fe Dr, Denver, CO 80204
The Santa Fe Art District is filled with galleries and art museums showcasing hundreds of local and international artists. You can spend an entire day in the art district and still not see everything, but remember, most galleries do require an admission fee and are not free. But street artists have created vibrant murals throughout Denver's art district.
You can stroll along Santa Fe Drive and check out the street art, take a few selfies with these amazing murals behind you for your social media followers, and simply enjoy the talent that these artists have showcased. Sign up for First Friday Art Walk where you can take a guided tour and visit several of the galleries for free. The tour starts at 5:30 p.m. and lasts for about 3 hours.
Golden Triangle Creative District
Address: 213 W. 13th Ave, Denver, CO 80204
With over 30 different art galleries and art studios, the Golden Triangle Creative District is made up of galleries along Speer Boulevard, Lincoln Street, and Colfax Avenue. While most of the galleries and studios in this art triangle do charge admission fees, you can stroll through and do a little window gazing at some of the fine and decorative art displayed in the big windows.
To visit the Golden Triangle Creative District for free, sign up for the First Friday Art Walk which is a shuttled gallery tour held on the first Friday of every month, except for holidays. Galleries open their doors to those on this tour for free and you can see more of this nationally renowned cultural district for free. The free shuttle leaves the Osage Street Light Rail Station at 5:30 p.m.
Hammond’s Candy Factory
Address: 5735 Washington St, Denver, CO 80216
Your sweet tooth will lead you right to Hammond’s Candy Factory where you can take a free behind the scenes tour of this iconic candy company. This sweet treat attraction has been a Denver mainstay since 1920 when it was just a small family business. You will definitely learn a lot and understand the candy industry just a bit better after taking this tour. Watch how candy canes and lollipops are pulled and formed as well as other classic candies.
Tours are offered during regular business hours and start every half hour. If you have a large group coming in, Hammond’s does require reservations. Aside from being a fantastic free activity in Denver, Hammond’s Candy Factory offers so many fabulous candy samples. Pace yourself or you may end up with a tummy ache from all the free samples of sugary goodness.
Summer Jazz Series at City Park
Address: 2001 Colorado Blvd, Denver, CO 80205
Home to the Denver Zoo and Denver Museum of Nature and Science, City Park is a great place to hang out and even enjoy a picnic. The best part is that it is free to stroll through the park, even if most of the attractions do cost money. There is still so much to see and experience without having to part with your hard-earned cash.
During the summer months, City Park is host to live jazz concerts every Sunday night. The series begins in late June and runs through early August. Get your seats early, this is a popular attraction for locals and tourists. The best part is that the live music concert is free, so pack a picnic, kick back and relax while listening to soulful jazz artists. The series has been held at the park’s bandstand for over 20 years. If you are looking for fun things to do at night, add this to your list.
Address: 1615 California St, Denver, CO 80202
This eclectic private collection is filled with interesting contemporary art including drawings, photography, sculptures, and paintings. The collection represents over 25 different artists from around the globe. This fun and exciting collection even has 16-foot-tall inflatable rubber bunnies that you cannot miss.
Head over to California Street on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday when the Dikeou Collection is open to the public for free self-guided tours from 11:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. You can also schedule an appointment for a private viewing which is also free of charge.
Colorado Music Hall of Fame
Address: 17900 Trading Post Rd, Morrison, CO 80465
Located in Red Rocks Park in the Red Rocks Amphitheater Visitor Centre, the Colorado Music Hall of Fame is an interesting and unique place to visit and learn more about the musicians that have shaped the music scene of Denver. Meander through the hall of fame and check out the photos, videos, and spectacular interactive displays that send you back in time.
It is free to enter Red Rocks and the Colorado Music Hall of Fame, but donations are strongly encouraged. You can also find some amazing souvenirs in the gift shop. The museum is open seven days a week from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. unless there is a show, then it closes at 7:00 p.m. It is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Cherry Creek Trail
Address: 2200 15th St, Denver, CO 80202
The Cherry Creek Trail begins in downtown Denver and is a 42-mile hiking trail that leads you through the city and then out to the Cherry Creek National Park and Cherry Creek Reservoir. You can choose to spend a few days hiking this trail and ending in Franktown; there are plenty of great campsites along the way. Or you can pick and choose the sections and hiking trails you want to explore.
Locals love to run, jog, walk, and even cycle along this trail. There really is so much to see and do along the trail including checking out where Cherry Creek dumps into the South Platte River in Denver’s Confluence Park. It is always free to explore this trail and stroll through the different parks that it crisscrosses along the Cherry Creek bike path.
Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge
Address: 6550 Gateway Rd, Commerce City, CO 80022
Located in the Denver area, the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge is a 15,000-acre sanctuary for Colorado wildlife. As you take a self-guided drive-through tour of the refuge you may spot bison, prairie dogs, white-tailed deer, painted turtles, white pelicans, coyotes, bald eagles, and hawks. You will also witness one of the most breathtakingly brilliant sunsets here.
Nestled to the northeast of Denver’s city limits, this untouched habitat offers a safe place for wildlife, even protecting several of the 330 species found here. The refuge is open every day, including holidays from sunrise to sunset. It is best to visit during the warmer months when the animals are most active and the natural beauty of the refuge is in full bloom.
Denver Union Station
Address: 1701 Wynkoop St, Denver, CO 80202
This must-see attraction is the main transport hub for light rail, Amtrak, and city buses. Amtrak trains leaving the station travel as far west as California and as far east as Chicago. This is more than just a local train station, step inside and find a city within the city complete with shops, restaurants boasting international cuisine options, and even a hotel. The station's rich history will amaze you and seeing it is like visiting a museum.
Toss a coin into the massive fountain out front for good luck and then spend time exploring Denver Union Station. It is free to enter Union Station but it will cost to dine or shop here. But you can window shop for free! You can always get a cup of coffee and sit in one of the cafes to take advantage of their free Wi-Fi and get a little work done or just amuse yourself by browsing the web.
Free Walking Tours
The best way to get out and see more of a new city is to sign up for a free walking tour. There are several tour companies that offer completely free walking tours with a local guide. Or you can download an app and have a virtual guide lead you through the city to check out some of the best places in Denver including restaurants, attractions, local hangouts, and nightclubs.
Some apps send you on a daily self-guided exploration of a specific area in the city so you get to know more of the city over a period of time. It gives you the opportunity to delve deeper into a neighborhood and learn about the history of that area. It is an especially useful tool if you have just moved to a city and are learning more about the different neighborhoods.
Much is Completely Free in Downtown Denver
Start with the 16th Street Mall, a mile long and all yours when you ride the Free MallRide Bus that allows you to hop on and off as you like. Or enjoy free tours like the Denver Story Trek or a meander through the Santa Fe Arts District.
See the Denver Central Library, visit a Denver art museum, take a free tour of Four Mile Historic Park, or check out the Denver Botanic Gardens. Do you have the kids along? Don't miss Red Rocks Park with sandstone formations millions of years old!
Explore all the Mile High City has to offer – much of the wonder of this fabulous vacation destination is complimentary.