Free Things to Do in Denver

You don’t have to burst your bank account to have fun in the Mile High City. Denver has several free attractions and activities to offer. Here are our top seven free picks, coming straight from the natives.

16th Street Mall
16th Street between Wynkoop Street and Broadway
Denver, Colorado 80202
303-534-6161
denver.com/16th-street-mall

Let’s start with one of Denver’s biggest tourist draws — the 16th Street Mall. The mall runs for 16 blocks along 16th Street, and is a great place to people watch. Scores of people flock to the strip from all over. Everyone from upscale business people to unusual spectacles can be caught loitering here.

Downtown restaurants, hotels and shops line the street. The public is not allowed to drive or bike in the area, but a free mall shuttle is available every few minutes, and there are bicycle and horse-drawn carriage rides as well.

The 16th Street Mall is also a great place to catch a cheap and tasty bite to eat. With carts parked during lunch-time hours, everything from delicious Mexican food to Denver “delicacies,” such as hot dogs and brats, can be found for almost pocket change. Don’t miss the Thai food cart, between Stout and Champa streets, which many say has some of the best Thai food in Denver. Be prepared to wait in line, however, as the native Thai chef whips up your order in a cramped wooden cart. More information can be found at thaifoodcartdowntowndenver.com.

1326351694The United States Mint
320 W. Colfax Ave.
Denver, Colorado 80204
(303) 405-4761
www.usmint.gov/mint_tours

The place where money is made is actually free to visit. The U.S. Mint receives more than $1 billion in annual revenue and, in turn, gives back. The Denver facility is one of only two that is open to the public.

After 1858, when gold was found in Colorado, there was no stopping the rush of settlers with hopes of striking it rich. One year later Denver was founded and, in 1863, the mint was established.

Tours include information on the history of the mint as well as the present manufacturing process. Reservations are required, so it is best to book early to get a spot on the tour. To find out more about the tour at the Denver Mint, visit their website for more information.

If you are a visitor who must spend your money, the mint also has a gift shop with coins, collectibles, books and games.

Denver Art Museum
100 W. 14th Ave.
Denver, Colorado 80204
720-865-5000
denverartmuseum.org

Many believe that the luxury of enjoying fine art should be available to everyone. The Denver Art Museum practices this philosophy. Admission is free on the first Saturday of every month. The museum has several floors of some of Denver’s finest art and displays.

The buildings themselves are pieces of art. The original building, opened in 1971 and now called the North Building, was designed by Italian architect Gio Ponti and James Sudler Associates of Denver. The second building, opened in 2006 and named the Hamilton Building, was designed by the modern and seemingly gravity-defying styling of architect Daniel Libeskind.

The area is a small district, with outdoor displays, restaurants and shopping — and even permanent residences.

The Denver Center for the Performing Artsdenver-performing-arts
1101 13th St.
Denver, Colorado 80204
303-893-4100
denvercenter.org

The Denver Center for the Performing Arts also hosts several performances throughout the year for free. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and children under 6 are not allowed. The best way to find out about these slightly hush-hush events is to call directly.

Colorado State Capitol
200 E. Colfax Ave.
Denver, Colorado 80203
303-866-2604
colorado.gov/cs/Satellite/CGA-LegislativeCouncil/CLC/1200536135302

There are three free tours at the Colorado State Capitol. The Dome Tour is a 99-step journey to the top of the golden dome, where panoramas of Denver, Capitol Hill and the Front Range can be seen.

Visitors will also walk through Mr. Brown’s Attic, located between the third floor and the dome. The attic contains displays on Colorado history, the legislative process and the construction of the capitol building. The Dome Tour is available from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. by reservation.

Detailed historical and legislative tours are also available. They include early Colorado history, the lawmaking process, capitol construction, and a tour of the House and Senate galleries. Legislative tours are available only during the legislative session (early January through early May). Historical tours are available year-round, Monday through Friday.

The Art Districts
artdistrictonsantafe.com
rivernorthart.com
tennysonst.com

Metro Denver has several art districts, which have emerged in recent years and are quickly growing.

Perhaps the most well known is the Art District on Santa Fe, located southwest of downtown. The north end of Santa Fe Drive is lined with more than 60 art galleries, shops and restaurants, each with its own unique, artistic flair.

The River North Art District, or RiNo, is just north of downtown and the Platte River. There are several galleries, restaurants, furniture stores and architectural firms. The Packing House Center for the Arts offers several workshops in performing arts.

The Tennyson Street Cultural District in the Highlands neighborhood also features more galleries, shops and dining.

The First Friday Art Walk is held every first Friday of each month from 6 to 9 p.m., when galleries of all three districts open their doors to the public. A free shuttle is offered at the 10th and Osage light rail station. There is also a $5, one-hour history tour that starts at the Byers Branch Library.

Confluence Park
Cherry Creek at the Platte River
Denver, Colorado 80201
www.denvergov.org/parks/FindaPark/tabid/430490/Default.aspx

Located at the confluence of Cherry Creek and the South Platte River, near lower downtown Denver, Confluence Park is filled with outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds. You will also find Denver Skatepark, along with two art-like pedestrian bridges, with magnificent views of the water. Visitors can even take a stepwell down to the water’s edge and dip their feet during warmer months.

REI’s flagship store is also located near the water’s edge. Inside is a free climbing wall and an enormous shopping area.

If You Go

16th Street Mall
16th Street between Wynkoop Street and Broadway
Denver, Colorado 80202
303-534-6161
denver.com/16th-street-mall

The United States Mint
320 W. Colfax Ave.
Denver, Colorado 80204
(303) 405-4761
www.usmint.gov/mint_tours

Denver Art Museum
100 W. 14th Ave.
Denver, Colorado 80204
720-865-5000
denverartmuseum.org

The Denver Center for the Performing Arts
1101 13th St.
Denver, Colorado 80204
303-893-4100
denvercenter.org

Colorado State Capitol
200 E. Colfax Ave.
Denver, Colorado 80203
303-866-2604
colorado.gov/cs/Satellite/CGA-LegislativeCouncil/CLC/1200536135302

The Art Districts
artdistrictonsantafe.com
rivernorthart.com
tennysonst.com

Confluence Park
Cherry Creek at the Platte River
Denver, Colorado 80201
www.denvergov.org/parks/FindaPark/tabid/430490/Default.aspx

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