Carved from towering red rock monuments, this 9,000-seat arena is one of the world’s most renowned concert venues. When there’s no concert, the free Visitor Center has a museum and Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, while the surrounding park has hiking trails that weave in, around and over the colorful red rocks.
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. http://www.usmint.gov/mint_tours
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.
The 165-acre park is one of Denver’s largest and consistently voted by locals as their favorite. Expansive lawns, manicured gardens and Smith Lake highlight the park with several trails, including one that goes around the perimeter of the park. This is an ideal setting for a family picnic, tossing the Frisbee around or just hanging out in the sunshine.
Denver’s history goes deep. Millions of years ago huge reptiles roamed the Front Range and today, you’ll find Jurassic dinosaur bones, such as Allosaurus, Apatosaurus and Stegosaurus at Dinosaur Ridge in Morrison. Take a free, self-guided tour that includes 16 interpretive signs that describe the fossil remains and other fascinating features of the area. Kids will love putting their hands in the fossilized footprints of these giant prehistoric beasts.
The first Tuesday of each month is free from 4pm to 8pm. 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.
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.
This expansive area – one of the largest and most renowned skate parks in the country – is filled with bowls for all levels of skating skill. Admission is free. Helmets are required.
Learn about global warming, the 21st century’s hottest topic, at this fascinating free museum. 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.