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50 Free Things To Do This Summer In Denver

Denver’s summer is packed with free things to see and do, from fun festivals and outdoor movies to scenic drives and quaint mountain towns.

FREE FESTIVALS & EVENTS

Downtown Denver Arts Festival

WHEN: May 23-25 950 13th St.
WHERE: Denver Performing Arts Complex, 950 13th St.

The Downtown Denver Arts Festival is held Memorial Day weekend and features the best of Colorado visual artists. More than 125 artists from around the state will be exhibiting and selling their art all weekend long. Come meet the artists and join the 150,000 people that visit this show.

First Friday Art Walks

WHEN: June 6, July 4, August 1, September 5
WHERE: Denver's Art Districts
Discover Denver's thriving creative community during a First Friday celebration, held every first Friday of the month, during which galleries in Denver's art districts stay open late for a festive, street party-like event.

Denver Chalk Art Festival

WHEN: May 31-June 1 
WHERE: Larimer Square, Larimer St., between 14th and 15th Sts.

A little bit of Italy comes to the Mile High City this summer, thanks to the annual Denver Chalk Art Festival. The art you'll encounter during the festival isn't in galleries -- it's on the pavement! The event features more than 150 professional and amateur artists who will spend hours on their hands and knees over the course of two days transforming Larimer Square into a bright and colorful street museum using vivid pastel chalks. 

Capitol Hill People's Fair

WHEN: June 7-8
WHERE: Civic Center Park, Broadway and Colfax Ave.

The Capitol Hill People's Fair is a celebration of Denver's diverse urban community in Civic Center Park. The uniqueness and magic of Capitol Hill People's Fair is created by the careful blending of great family fun, carefully selected handmade arts & crafts, delicious culinary delights, fabulous entertainment and the commitment to raise funds for and promote the missions of non-profit organizations.

Denver PrideFest

WHEN: June 21-22
WHERE: Civic Center Park, Broadway and Colfax Ave.
Denver's Lesbian, Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community throws an enormous party every summer with Denver PrideFest in Civic Center Park. Recognized as one of the top ten pride events in the country, Denver PrideFest is a celebration of community and culture that is welcoming -- and fun! -- to all attendees, regardless of sexual orientation. Produced by the Gay Lesbian Bisexual & Transgender Community Center of Colorado, the two-day festival gets bigger. Last year attracted more than 200,000 people from Colorado and the surrounding areas. This year should draw even more revelers.

Cherry Creek Arts Festival

WHEN: July 4-6 
WHERE: Cherry Creek North from 2nd to 3rd Aves., on the seven streets between Columbine and Steele Sts.

Cherry Creek Arts Festival is a world-class and award-winning celebration of the visual, culinary and performing arts, and enjoys an attendance of 350,000 visitors over the 3-day event. CCAF gives patrons the rare and special opportunity to meet and talk with international visual artists, sample fine cuisine, visit special exhibits and artist demonstrations, and entertain their families with interactive "Artivities" and exciting performing arts.

Farmers' Markets

WHEN: All summer long
WHERE: Throughout Denver

The many farmers' markets spread throughout The Mile High City aren't just about locally grown farm-fresh produce, delicious baked goods and good-to-the-last bite prepared foods - though you'll find more than enough of those things. Each Denver Farmers' Market is a festive, weekly street fair, with live entertainment, family friendly activities and a vibrant crowd of locals.

Colorado Black Arts Festival

WHEN: July 11-13
WHERE: City Park West, 17th Ave. and Colorado Blvd. 

The Colorado Black Arts Festival is a three-day festival that presents an array of exciting African-American arts and cultural delights. A wide array of art will adorn the grounds and live music (including jazz, hip hop, R&B, rock 'n' roll and more) from the people of African descent will give way to a memorable weekend. This is a family friendly event with programming and activities for the entire family. 

Colorado Dragon Boat Festival

WHEN: July 19-20
WHERE: Sloan's Lake Park, 1700 S. Sheridan Blvd.

Founded in 2001 to celebrate Colorado's rich Asian Pacific American (APA) culture, the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival has become the region's fastest growing fun, family-friendly summer festival. Named "Top Annual Festival" by the Rocky Mountain News and a "Best of Denver" event by Westword, it offers festival-goers the opportunity to explore APA customs through performances, arts and crafts, shopping, dining and the exciting athletic competition of dragon boat racing.

Golden Fine Arts Festival

WHEN: August 16-17
WHERE: 11th St. and Arapahoe St., Golden

Come browse a variety of beautiful art at the Golden Fine Arts Festival. The festival hosts more than 140 high-quality artists (many of which are Coloradoans) in a variety of media, including ceramic arts, fiber arts, glass, jewelry, mixed media, painting, photography, sculpture. 

A Taste of Colorado

WHEN: Aug. 29 - Sept. 1 
WHERE: Civic Center Park, Broadway and Colfax Ave.

A Taste of Colorado stands proud as the end-of-summer celebration of community pride and spirit in the Denver region. Over 500,000 people make the four-day festival their Labor Day Weekend celebration, enjoying the offerings of more 50 area restaurants, 250 marketplace artisans and vendors, seven stages, and educational programs promoting the diverse cultural and western heritage of the region.

Outdoor Movies in the Parks

WHEN: All summer long
WHERE: In Denver's city parks

Spread out a blanket in one of Denver's gorgeous parks for FREE, family friendly Outdoor Movies in the Parks. Check back soon for dates and locations.  


FREE LIVE MUSIC

Denver Day of Rock

WHEN: May 24
WHERE: Downtown Denver

Downtown Denver will be transformed into a massive free rock concert when 25 bands take to five stages for the annual Denver Day of Rock. The performance areas will be along the 16th Street Mall, Denver's mile-long pedestrian promenade, making it easy to roam from act to act. Food and beverage booths will be set up throughout downtown for the event (which benefits Concerts For Kids, a Denver charity), with free music rocking the city from 2:30 to 9:30 p.m. Additionally, there will be a special evening concert in Skyline Park on May 23.

City Park Jazz

WHEN: Sunday evenings in June and July
WHERE: City Park, 17th Ave. and Colorado Blvd.

Every Sunday night in June and July, the City Park Bandstand and Pavilion turns into a swinging, open-air jazz club as music lovers of all ages congregate for the free City Park Jazz.

Confluence Concerts

WHEN: Thursdays in July
WHERE: Confluence Park, 2250 15th St.

Nothing beats a cool summer evening kicking back in Confluence Park with some great free live music as the soundtrack. Every Thursday in July at 6:30 p.m., some of The Mile High City's best musicians set up shop along the banks of the river and jam the night away.

Civic Center Park's Independence Eve

WHEN: July 3
WHERE: Civic Center Park, Broadway and Colfax Ave.
The annual Independence Eve Celebration will feature a free patriotic concert by The Colorado Symphony, an innovative light show on the Denver City and County Building and a stunning fireworks finale. 


FREE ATTRACTIONS AND TOURS

U.S. Mint Tour

320 W. Colfax Ave.
Learn how to make money! The U.S. Mint produces 50 million coins a day, each one stamped with a little "D" for Denver. Free tours show every step in the process of turning a dull, blank, metal slug into shiny pocket change.

Garden of the Gods

1805 N. 30th St., Colorado Springs
Located 60 miles from Denver, the awe-inspiring Garden of the Gods features gigantic 500-foot high red sandstone rock monuments at the base of Pikes Peak.

Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD) Free Days

Colorado residents can enjoy the following cultural attractions for free on select days throughout the summer: The Denver Art Museum (June 7, July 5, August 2, September 6 - free to all, not just Colorado residents); Denver Botanic Gardens at York Street (August 4); Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield (June 3, August 5); Denver Museum of Nature & Science (June 2, June 30, July 20, September 8); Clyfford Still Museum (June 20, August 7); Denver Firefighters Museum (August 2). Check out the full calendar.

Denver SkatePark

19th and Little Raven Sts.
The expansive Denver Skate Park - one of the most renowned skate parks in the country - is filled with bowls for all levels of skating skill. Admission is free. Helmets are required.

National Center for Atmospheric Research

1850 Table Mesa Dr., Boulder
Learn about global warming, the 21st century's hottest topic, at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. See a hailstone the size of a softball, watch as a miniature tornado is whipped up in front of your eyes, and get an up close look at how lightning is created.

Red Rocks Amphitheatre & Park

18300 W. Alameda Pkwy., Morrison
Carved from towering red rock monuments, Red Rocks Amphitheatre & Park is one of the world's most renowned concert venues. When there's no concert, the free Visitor Center has a museum Performers' Hall of Fame, while the surrounding park has hiking trails that weave in, around and over the colorful red rocks.

Colorado State Capitol Tour

200 E. Colfax Ave.
Tour magnificent, gold-domed Colorado Capitol Building. Stand at exactly a mile high on the steps, see Allen True's beautiful murals, listen in on the Colorado General Assembly, and check out the gorgeous Rose Onyx wainscoting. Free tours are available 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Mondays through Fridays.

Children's Museum Free Target Tuesdays

2121 Children's Museum Dr.
A perfect after-school activity -- the extremely fun Children's Museum of Denver is FREE every first Tuesday of the month from 4-8 p.m.

Denver Story Trek

Ever wonder about the stories of the places you pass? On Denver Story Trek you'll explore the stories behind Denver's historic landscapes and landmarks on an interactive, self-guided tour of the city. It's simple to use and free!

Littleton Historical Museum

6028 S. Gallup St., Littleton
Travel back in time at the Littleton Historical Museum and get a glimpse into Colorado's pioneer past. Located on 39 acres, the museum consists of two living history farms (one from the 1860s and one from the 1890s), with a working farm, a blacksmith shop and more than 40,000 historically Colorado artifacts.

Tattered Cover Bookstore

1628 16th St.
The Tattered Cover is one of the nation's largest and most well-known independent bookstores and often hosts free signings by some of the literary world's most famous authors. They also offer free wi-fi if you want to surf the net while you're there.

Coors Brewery Tour

13th and Ford, Golden
"Taste the Rockies!" Coors Brewery, the world's largest brewing site still uses the same Rocky Mountain spring water that Adolph Coors discovered in 1873. Free tours show every step in the brewing process, and end with free samples for those over 21.

Celestial Seasonings Tour

4600 Sleepytime Dr., Boulder
See how Celestial Seasonings, the largest specialty tea manufacturer in North America, blends, packages and ships its teas, then enjoy free samples of every variety they make, and discover a gallery of original artwork from their famous tea boxes.

Great Divide Brewery Tour

2201 Arapahoe St.
Get a behind-the-scenes look at Denver's craft beer world on a free tour at the Great Divide Brewery in downtown Denver. Tours take place at 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. Monday - Friday and each hour starting at 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Dinosaur Ridge

16831 W. Alameda Pkwy., Morrison
See some dinos - or what's left of them anyway. Dinosaur Ridge features famous Jurassic dinosaur bones, such as Stegosaurus and Apatosaurus, discovered in 1877, and Cretaceous dinosaur footprints. A guidebook is available for use on self-guided tours.

Colorado Sports Hall of Fame Museum

1701 Mile High Stadium Cir.
Housed in Sports Authority Field At Mile High Stadium (home of the Denver Broncos), the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame Museum honors the legacies of The Mile High City's greatest sports heroes, and features the Gallery of Legends, a "Great Moments in Colorado Sports" exhibit and a section celebrating the achievements of girls and women in Colorado Sports.

Rockmount Ranch Wear

1626 Wazee St.
Browse the racks and enjoy the free museum at Lower Downtown's historic Rockmount Ranch Wear, the originator of the western snap-button shirt. The walls are adorned with photos of the many celebs who have worn Rockmount shirts, including Eric Clapton, Robert Redford and Elvis Presley.

Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City-Denver Branch's Money Museum

1020 16th St.
The Money Museum offers an opportunity to learn about the Federal Reserve Bank. And, best of all, it's free! Walk-ins are welcome and groups can make advance reservations. Photo ID required for visitors 18 and older. On your way out, don't forget to get your bag of shredded money. 

FREE DAYTRIPS

Lariat Loop Byway

Retrace the motoring adventures of the early 1920s and experience the thrill of foothills exploration at the dawn of the Age of Motorcars on this 40-mile scenic circle in the foothills west of Denver. The Lariat Loop takes motorists to several popular attractions, including Buffalo Bill's Grave & Museum, the Colorado Railroad Museum and the Mother Cabrini Shrine.

Denver Parks & Lakes

Denver may not be anywhere near the ocean, but that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of places to kick back by a shimmering body of water. Confluence Park, located within walking distance of downtown, offers sandy shores for sunbathing and wading, a kayak practice route, and bike paths. Up in the Highlands neighborhood, explore Sloan's Lake Park, an urban oasis with the enormous Sloan's Lake taking center stage.

Estes Park

At the entrance to the legendary Rocky Mountain National, the historic resort village of Estes Park offers shopping and dining - as well as the hotel that inspired Stephen King's The Shining!

Boulder

A recent study pegged Boulder as the "happiest" city in America. You'll find out why when you stroll past the shops, cafes and street performers on the Pearl Street Mall, or take a hike on the city's 200 miles of trails.

Peak To Peak Scenic & Historic Byway

Less than an hour from Denver, the 55-mile-long Peak To Peak Scenic & Historic Byway provides matchless views of the Continental Divide. From Black Hawk to Estes Park, the pleasantly winding road - the oldest scenic byway in Colorado - meanders through valleys and ridges, with shimmering aspens visible throughout the entire route.

Denver Bike Trails

Denver is home to a massive network of more than 850 miles of paved, off-road trails that crisscross throughout the seven county metro area, making it a two-wheeled paradise. Paved trails connect to hundreds of additional miles of dirt trails, offering mountain bike adventures.

Mount Evans Scenic Byway & Echo Lake

The highest paved road in North America climbs 9,000 feet from Denver, passing through five life zones en route to the 14,264-foot high summit. Mount Evans is one of Colorado's 54 fourteeners (peaks that climb to 14,000 feet and above), and one of only two in the nation that you can drive up. Note: Driving the Scenic Byway is $10 per vehicle, but hiking to Echo Lake is free - as is all that magnificent fresh mountain air. Generally open Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Georgetown

Nestled in a steep mountain valley, Georgetown is one of Colorado's most elegant mining towns with 200 Victorian buildings. Ride the Georgetown Loop Railroad over a 100-foot high trestle to neighboring Silver Plume.

Golden

The authentically Western town of Golden was Colorado's first capital city. Today, visitors encounter a mix of outdoor cafes, Western stores and museums with a quaint main street that in places still has covered walkways, false-front buildings and plankboard sidewalks. An award-winning kayak course runs through the center of the town.

The Highlands

Explore one of Denver's most happening ‘hoods - the Highlands. Sip a mojito while relaxing on a patio with a panoramic view of the city skyline. Go bargain hunting at one of Highland Square's unique boutiques. Get a delicious treat at an artisan cheese shop or a bakery devoted to cupcakes.

South Park

South Park, the mountain town that inspired the long-running animated TV series of the same name, is actually a charming spot, offering plenty of adventures, just up U.S. 285 from Denver. Try hiking, biking, horseback riding, excellent fishing and hunting, and ATV/jeep trails. Tour historic sites and visit shops full of local crafts.

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