Tight on a budget or looking to spend money on a few specific things while visiting Denver? We’ve put together a list of eight things to do within the mile-high city that are completely free. Regardless of your reason for saving money, this list of things to do won’t make you feeling like you’re penny pinching. While the possibility to spend money is there for each of them, not one requires you to spend a cent. This is particularly useful when unexpected expenses come up during your trip or you only have so much money budgeted for the trip. Read on and tell me in the comments below if you’ve had the chance to visit any one of these spots and if you have recommendations of your own.
16th Street Mall
1.25 miles long, the 16th Street Mall is a pedestrian mall with trolleys that run in both directions. It’s full of shops, stores and businesses including 42 outdoor cafes, 12 movie theaters, pedicabs and more. My personal favorite feature are the more than 200 trees throughout the mall lit with thousands of lights. It gives the mall a magical and elegant feeling, almost like it’s Christmas year-round! Right off the mall on Champa Street is this sandwich place called Cheba Hut. They make some of the best sandwiches you will ever eat. It made a great dinner for my first night back from the mountains.
Denver Art Museum
While the Denver Art Museum isn’t free daily, you can get free admission on the first Saturdays of each month! Tickets aren’t terrible if you go on a regular day ($10 for adults), but if you will be in the city during the first weekend in any given month, there’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of the free Saturday! Not one for museums? Denver has a ton of graffiti art all over the city. Walk the streets and admire the art around you.
Denver Beer Trail
If you’re a beer lover, this one is perfect for you. Disclaimer: you may not be able to go without spending money on this one if you’re deadset on trying a few brews. No judgement here though. Denver Brewery Guide has three different walking tours for breweries and tap houses in the LoDo and LoHi neighborhoods of Denver and Golden, Colorado, just West of the city. The walking tours are free and self-guided so pick how many you’d like to visit and maybe add one to the list for lunch so that you include the tasting in your food budget!
Denver Free Walking Tours
Less boozy and less likely to lead to money spending, Denver Free Walking Tours offers free tours year-round at 10am. Make sure to plan ahead though because from November 1st to April 30th, free tours are only available on weekends. While the tour is free, tipping is encouraged if you enjoyed your time. The tour is 1.8 miles with plenty of stops including the State Capitol, Denver Art Museum, U.S. Mint, Larimer Square, Coors Field and more.
First Friday Art Walks
Head to the RiNo Art District on the first Friday of each month for a free art walk throughout the neighborhood. Businesses open to the public offering everything from art openings to live music from 6-9pm. It’s a great opportunity to support local artists and businesses while also diving into Denver’s art culture, something they’ve become known for. Besides that, it’s a fun way to spend Friday night and the potential need to spend a few bucks is pretty slim but supporting the locals is always encouraged!
The oldest and most historic block in Denver, Larimer Square has everything from boutique shops to revered restaurants. Similar to the 16th Street Mall, my favorite part of Larimer Square is the canopied lights over the block. It’s wonderful to walk around the square and window shop but if you’re eager to experience one of the restaurants or stores, I recommend stopping in! There’s a dog shop on Larimer Street called Dog Savvy Boutique. They have tasty treats for the pups but they also provide spa treatments which blows my mind.
Tattered Cover Book Store
I read about Tattered Cover Book Store in a magazine article sharing the best bookstores in every state. I can’t remember who published it but it was after I knew I’d be visiting Denver and I knew I had to visit being a bookworm myself. Tattered Cover is “a large indie bookstore and cafe with the cozy feel and comfort of smaller bookshops.” There are several locations but I recommend visiting the one by the 16th Street Mall in LoDo.
Visit Union Station
Union Station quickly became my favorite spot in Denver. Located across the street from the first hotel I stayed at, Hotel Indigo Downtown Denver, I ventured to Union Station my first night for dinner. It was exactly the welcome into Denver that I needed after a long day. The station has a very classic, old-time feel to it. The main area is full of seating and tables for people traveling through or for those who want a light bustle noise while they work. There are about a dozen restaurants, a few shops and The Crawford Hotel is within the building as well. If you like to feel as if you’re in an old movie, you must visit Union Station.