You don’t have to break the bank to have a great time in Denver. Throughout the city, there are countless attractions and activities that will cost you absolutely nothing, including museums, festivals and tours.
HEART OF ART
Denver's Golden Triangle neighborhood brims with more than 30 innovative art galleries and artists' studios showcasing the innovative wares of nationally renowned talent and regional up-and-comers. First Friday Art Walk, a shuttled gallery tour that takes place the first Friday of each month, is a terrific way to tour art marts like Walker Fine Art (300 W. 11th St.). The Golden Triangle art galleries are bordered by Speer Boulevard, Colfax Avenue and Lincoln Street. Shuttle tours begin at the Osage Street Light Rail Station.
COLORADO STATE CAPITOL TOUR
200 E. Colfax Ave.
The Colorado State Capitol, modeled after the Capitol Building in Washington D.C., is a stunning spectacle embellished with stained glass depicting events and people inherent to Colorado, coupled with gorgeous Colorado white granite, rose onyx and yule marble. To see if you've got what it takes to adjust to the altitude, climb the 99-step spiral staircase to an open-air deck affording jaw-dropping views of the city skyline and Rocky Mountains. The Corinthian-styled building, famed for its gold-plated dome rising 272 feet above the ground, offers temporary exhibits, visitor galleries, and complimentary tours by reservation. Note: The Capitol Dome will be undergoing major structural renovations for 2-3 years and not offering tours during that time-frame.
TATTERED COVER BOOKSTORE
2526 E. Colfax Ave.
No visit to Denver would be complete without a journey through the Tattered Cover Bookstore, one of the top independent booksellers in the country. This astounding literary marvel boasts several Metro Denver locations, but the newest store, in the renovated Lowenstein Theater on a burgeoning stretch of East Colfax, is the talk of the town. Grab a latte from the in-house java joint, plop down in one of the overstuffed chairs or sofas to wrap your hands around the latest best seller, or attend a free book signing or author lecture from big-names like John Gray, Al Gore, Annie Leibovitz, and Garrison Keillor
UNITED STATE MINT TOUR
320 W. Colfax Ave.
To see where your currency is conceived (sorry, no free handouts), follow the money trail to the Denver U.S. Mint, one of only two mints in the United States. Hour-long weekday tours led by knowledgeable guides provide a fascinating look into the history of coinage, and both kids and adults love getting up close and personal with the shiny pocket change that streams off the production lines. Admission is complimentary, but reservations must be booked in advance.
FREE FESTIVALS YEAR-ROUND
2 Steele St.
Denver's festivals are fun and often completely free. You'll be exposed to only-in-Denver sights, sounds and tastes. Don't miss the Cherry Creek Arts Festival, held every July 4th Weekend or the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival in Sloan's Lake Park in July. Learn more.
1101 13th St.
The Denver Center for the Performing Arts - home to the Newton Auditorium, Temple Buell Theatre, Ellie Caulkins Opera House, Garner Galleria Theatre and a wealth of smaller stages - hosts several free performances throughout the year. There are rules, of course: No advanced reservations are accepted; seating is general admission; children under six-years-old are not allowed; and tickets are only available on a first-come, first-served basis on the day of the performance. Despite the regulations, it's worth braving the lines to experience some of the best theater in the country.
RED ROCKS PARK & AMPHITHEATRE
18300 W. Alameda Pkwy., Morrison
Carved from towering red rock monuments, Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre is one of the world's most renowned concert venues. When there's no concert, the free Visitor Center has a museum and Performers Hall of Fame, while the surrounding park has hiking trails that weave in, around and over the colorful red rocks.
COORS BREWERY TOUR
13th & 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, self-guided tours show every step in the brewing process, and end with free samples for those over 21.
CELESTIAL SEASONINGS TOUR
4600 Sleepytime Dr., Boulder
Nearby Boulder is the home of this dream spot for tea lovers - the world's most advanced tea production plant. Free hour-long tours, offered every day, will take you through the intricate processes behind Celestial Seasonings' delicious concoctions. Of course, free samples are offered at every turn.
HAMMOND'S CANDY FACTORY
5735 N. Washington St.
Anyone with even the smallest sweet tooth will love this free tour, which gets you behind the scenes at Hammond's, a company that has been making candy in Denver since 1920. You'll come away with a newfound respect for the candy industry, plenty of free samples - and maybe a cavity or two.
CITY PARK JAZZ
17th Ave. & Colorado Blvd.
For more than 20 years, the bandstand at City Park has played host to some of Denver's greatest live jazz performances - and they've all been completely free. During the summer months, bring out your beach chair or picnic blanket and get ready for a foot-tappin' good time.
CHILDREN'S MUSEUM OF DENVER FREE TUESDAYS
2121 Children's Museum Dr.
The first Tuesday of each month is free from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Children's Museum of Denver. The museum has 11 interactive Playscapes where children can shoot baskets, climb on an authentic fire engine, build toy railroads and go shopping in a mini-supermarket. This hands-on learning experience is an ideal destination for children ages 3 to 8 years old.
1615 California St., Ste. 515
There's nowhere else you're going to see a pair of inflatable, 16-foot-tall rubber bunnies, right? One of the Mile High City's most fascinating art locales, The Dikeou Collection is a private collection of contemporary art, with photography, drawings, sculptures, and installations by more than 25 artists from around the world. Free and open to the public, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. or by appointment.