13 Totally Free Ways to Have Fun in Denver Right Now
Fun doesn’t have to cost a thing.
Denver is full of fun, but the occasional budget adventure can be a refreshing change of pace. If you’re looking for some entertainment—perhaps watching a movie, checking out art, or breathing in the sweet scent of seasonal flowers—that won’t burn a hole in your wallet, this list is for you. The opportunity to spend is still there, whether it’s at the Denver Botanic Gardens gift shop or the taco truck posted up for First Friday, but each of the following suggestions provides the opportunity for free fun in and around Denver. And yes—hiking is on there (obviously).
The beloved food hall’s popular Monday Night Movies series is still going strong, and will be through October. The series, which runs throughout the summer and into fall, shows a mix of classics and modern favorites, plus themed movie nights (like Hocus Pocus in October). Bring your favorite blanket and cozy up for a few hours of Monday night fun.
Appreciate Denver’s public art
In addition to being an extremely artsy city, Denver also has multiple pockets where street art and sculptures are plentiful and a day can be well spent walking around and admiring it all. From the Santa Fe Arts District to RiNo (River North) and several spots in between, you can see for yourself the color and talent decorating the Mile-High. There are even some suggested routes and interest points you can find easily online if you’re not sure where to start.
Take advantage of free museum days
Denver is full of incredible art and history museums, and many offer free entry on certain days throughout the year. Be sure to check the calendars for free days at the Denver Art Museum, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and the Clyfford Still Museum, to name just a few.
Go for a hike
This one’s pretty self-explanatory, especially for Denverites—but in case you didn’t know, there are like, a ton of mountains, forests, and waterfalls to explore right next to our city. Even if you aren’t looking for a long drive or challenging hike, there’s truly something for everyone who needs a bit of a nature bath. Unless you’re entering a state or national park, in which case there is likely some kind of entry fee, you can wander the Rockies to your heart’s content for no cost at all.
Who says you have to pay hundreds of dollars to visit Red Rocks? If you’re game for going when there isn’t actually a concert happening, it’s still a worthwhile visit. Walk around the famous theater, take a peek at the Red Rocks and Colorado Halls of Fame, or venture off into the many hiking and biking trails surrounded by the vibrant Front Range scenery.
Take a trip to the zoo
While there is a little bit of effort and luck involved in entering the Denver Zoo’s lottery for its free days, there are a substantial amount of dates offered for those who win each year. If chosen, hop on over to see your favorite striped, spotted, or camouflaged friends for a free day of fun for the whole fam.
Go skating, blading, or something else that gets you moving
In addition to Denver’s many green parks, there are also several skate parks that are free to visit. Whether you’re a skater, blader, or biker, grab whatever your wheels are and head to the Downtown Denver skatepark, Central Park skate park, or about a half-dozen more.
Denver has a lot of unique attractions, events, and things to do, one being First Friday Art Walks. What started with the Sante Fe Art District (which is still the largest First Friday locus) has since grown to include several streets in RiNo, Tennyson Street, and a handful of other locations where businesses and galleries stay open late, food trucks gather, and crowds of people descend to enjoy the first Friday of every month with art, music, food, and the company of others.
If you’ve ever wondered about the creation of all your favorite sweet treats and have a morning or afternoon available, consider heading to Hammond’s Candies for a fun and family-friendly factory tour. All you need to do beforehand is reserve a spot for your group, and the rest is made easy once you’re there. Watch the beauty of melted chocolate, spun taffy, and so much more transform into the familiar candies you know and love. (And, if you’re willing to spare a couple of bucks at the end, take a souvenir or two home.)
Open year-round (weather permitting), there’s really never a bad time to visit the Denver Botanic Gardens. And throughout the year, there are specific days when you can visit for free. Be sure to check out the Gardens’ calendar to see which days are no charge, then simply arrive and be bewildered by the beauty of all things botany. (Fair warning: The gift shop may tempt you out of your budget.)
Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge
Itching to see some wildlife and feel like you’re getting out of the city? Just northeast of Denver is the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, where you can customize your trip based on how much time you have to visit. Drive, hike, or bike along the routes here and keep an eye out for various types of wildlife, depending on the season: Bison, coyotes, and birds of prey are just a few of the incredible creatures you might spot.
Read a few pages at Tattered Cover or the Denver Public Library
Denver’s own indie bookstore chain doesn’t cost anything to visit (unless you walk out with a few new reads, of course), but is a great way to spend some time, especially if the weather is less than ideal. From its Littleton outpost to its two-story McGregor Square location, each has the same cozy bookstore vibe with a unique style. Similarly, any of the numerous Denver Public Library locations are free to visit, and a good way to find your next book, get some work done, or simply have some peace and quiet.
Pack a picnic and head to a park
Got some snacks at home but need a change of scenery? Denver boasts more than 250 urban parks, which include off-street trails, historic parkways, and green spaces too. Pack your favorite outdoor blanket, something delicious, and a good book or playlist, and head out to Wash Park, City Park, Sloan’s Lake Park, or any other of the many wonderful, peaceful parks in the city for a day of relaxation and fun.