The Mile High City offers a little bit of everything, from arts and culture to award-winning dining options, an abundance of natural beauty and a thriving craft beer scene. But since we know that taking a trip anywhere means spending money — whether on flights, accommodations, food or all three — it’s nice to have a few things planned that won’t put too much of a dent in your wallet. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up some of the best things to do in Colorado’s capital that will only run you $10 or less. Note that all prices listed are in USD.
Explore a museum
Take a brewery tour
Catch a movie
Tour the U.S. Mint
Get your groove on
Satisfy your sweet tooth
Feast at a food truck
Enjoy some art
Travel to Tiny Town
Take a tea-tour
Get your skate on
Take advantage of First Friday
Play in a park
Shop a marketplace
Stroll the 16th Street Mall
Bonus: Mile High Culture Pass
Explore the Museum of Contemporary Art
Denver’s Museum of Contemporary Art gives you the chance to get cultured for under $10. Exhibitions rotate three to four times a year so there’s always something interesting to see. Getting in will set you back just $8, but if you visit during the week, from Tuesday to Friday, the cost drops to $5. Or visit after 5 p.m. and entry is free. Have kids with you? Children 18 and under are always free.
Take a brewery tour
Denver is a city that takes its beer seriously and you can easily learn more about the hoppy beverage with a brewery tour. Taking a tour of the Coors Brewery, the world’s largest single-site brewery, is a comprehensive experience during which you can learn about the malting, brewing and packaging process. Tours also include the chance to take a peek at historic photos and memorabilia, and end with a sample of beer – all for free.
Opened in 2012, Renegade Brewery prides itself on brewing creative beers that put a twist on traditional beer styles. A tour of the facility costs $7 and includes a look at the facility, two 10 ounce beers and a pint glass to take home.
Wynkoop Brewers, which opened its doors in 1988, was Denver’s first brewpub. They offer free tours of the brewery, which include free samples of beer and the chance to ask the brewers questions about the process and the product.
Catch a cheap flick at Elvis Cinemas
This theatre has three locations around Colorado, one of which is right in Denver. Although you might not be seeing first-run movies, what you do see won’t run you more than $3 before 6 p.m. and $4 after 6 p.m. Movies on offer are usually what would have been in theatres about a year ago, making it easy to catch up on anything you missed the first time it hit the big screen.
Tour the United States Mint
Anyone interested in how coins are produced can sign up for a free tour of the United States Mint, where you’ll get to see the facility and learn about its history. Guided tours are around 45 minutes in length and, depending on when you visit, you might actually get to see coins being produced. Just note that if you’ll be visiting with kids, the tour is recommended for little ones who are over the age of seven.
Get your groove on
Every Tuesday at Baur’s Restaurant and Listening Lounge you can enjoy free vintage jazz and swing dancing from 7:30 to 11 p.m., or request your favourite song on Wednesday night’s duelling piano show that runs from 7 to 11.p.m. Many of the venue’s other shows, which run the gamut from jazz to soul to blues, are also free.
Satisfy your sweet tooth with a candy factory tour
Hammond’s Candies has been making candy of all kinds since 1920, from lollipops and candy canes, to caramel corn and marshmallows. The free 30-minute tour takes you behind the scenes to learn how many of these iconic sweet treats are made.
Fest at a food truck
Food trucks are a big deal in Denver and definitely something worth experiencing while in the city. But more importantly, getting your grub from a food truck means getting to fill up for a lot less than you would at a sit-down restaurant. The Biscuit Bus was Denver’s first gourmet food truck with a focus on (as the name would suggest) biscuit sandwiches. Get gourmet grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwiches from PB&J, sweet or savoury crepes from Firetruck Crepes, old fashioned cheeseburgers from 5280 Sliders and Vietnamese-inspired eats from Manna from Heaven, just to name a handful of mobiles eateries to try.
Visit the Clyfford Still Museum
Clyfford Still was one of the first generation of Abstract Expressionist artists and this museum is dedicated to his art, housing approximately 3,125 works. Depending on what’s on, you might also get to see various letters, sketchbooks, manuscripts, photo albums and personal items. The museum is free every Friday from 5 to 8 p.m., otherwise a visit will cost you $10.
Feel tall with a trip to Tiny Town
Just a short hop west of Denver is where you’ll find Tiny Town, filled with over 100 miniature buildings, from homes to grocery stores (including a tiny Home Depot). This is a great place to go with smaller kids who will likely enjoy hanging out among buildings that are about their size. You can explore on foot or opt to take a train ride through town. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for kids two to 12 (kids under two are free). The train will set you back an extra $2.
Learn about tea with a tea factory tour
Tea drinkers may want to check out the Celestial Seasonings Factory, which takes visitors through the tea manufacturing facility. The 45-minute tours are free and offer the chance to see how your favourite comforting beverage gets from leaf to bag and into your mug.
Skate at Skyline Park
Downtown Denver’s Skyline Park is home to a host of free events throughout the year (including movies and concerts in the summer), so it’s worth a visit any time, but in the winter head to the park to get some skating in. Skating season runs from the end of November through to mid-February and it’s free if you have your own skates. If not, you can rent a pair for $2. In addition to skating, you can also expect live music, face painting and other events depending on the day you visit.
Explore the art scene on a First Friday
There are seven arts districts in Denver and on the first Friday of every month (if you time your visit right), you can take part in First Fridays, when galleries stay open late so you can explore what’s on offer. The largest is the Art District on Santa Fe, home to over 60 galleries, art studios and restaurants. Grab a free shuttle at the light rail station at 10th Avenue and Osage Street, which takes you around to all the galleries between 5:30 and 10 p.m. If you’re in the Golden Triangle Museum District you can hop on the free Art Bus, which takes you to all the gallery openings between 5:30 and 9 p.m.
Play in a park
Denver is home to a lot of green space — 4,000 acres of traditional parks and parkways to be exact — and exploring them won’t cost you a thing. Some of your best park-hopping options include Washington Park, City Park, Cheesman Park and Civic Center Park, which hosts many events through the year.
Check out events by The Big Wonderful
The Big Wonderful puts on various marketplaces throughout the city that involve local artisans, food vendors, live music and other fun activities. Admission to the marketplaces is always free and they offer a great way to get a feel for the local art and food scene in Denver.
Stroll the 16th Street Mall
This pedestrian-friendly mall stretches for nearly two kilometres filled with cafes, shops, bars, restaurants and attractions. Hop on the free shuttle bus that runs the length of the strip and hop off and on wherever you want. Do some people-watching, browse the shops or sip a coffee in one of the many cafes.
Bonus: Pick up a Mile High Culture Pass
A Mile High Culture Pass can save you money on various Denver attractions. A $25 pass will get you into three participating attractions of your choice over the course of three consecutive days, which works out to less than $10 for each attraction. Possible attractions include Clyfford Still Museum, Denver Art Museum, Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Denver Zoo, History Colorado Center and the Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art.
Any other recommendations for how to do the Mile High City on the cheap? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.Search for flights to Denver
Featured image: iStock Photo / gcosoveanu