The Denver area is a community packed with activity, opportunity and adventure, from the outdoor exploration opportunities to cultural activities downtown. And if you know where to go, many of these activities don’t cost much at all.
It’s always nice to save a few bucks, so next time you’re looking for something fun to do under $20, consult our list that includes experiences at a variety of price ranges. Happy exploring!
Jump ahead to your price range:
Take in the Views at Red Rocks
A trip to Red Rocks is one of our favorite free things to do in the area. The famous outdoor amphitheater is surrounded by, you guessed it, giant red rocks that have made this one of the most iconic music venues in the world. If there are no shows scheduled, the amphitheater is open one hour before sunrise and closed one hour after sunset, giving you ample time to explore without spending a dime.
Take a Yoga Class at Karma Yoga Center
One of the hardest parts about committing to a fitness class is the price. With Karma Yoga Center—you don’t have to worry about it! They offer free first classes to Denver residents, so you can try it out before you buy a membership. Click here to see their class schedule.
See Some Bison at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge
While this 15-acre expanse of prairie was originally established, in part, to protect the bald eagle, today the Arsenal is home to more than 330 species of animals, including bison, black-footed ferrets, deer, coyotes and burrowing owls. Spend an afternoon hiking one of the many easy trails or take the self-guided Wildlife Drive Auto Tour—and it’s all completely free!
Photo courtesy of Hammond’s Candy Factory
Hammond’s Candy Factory has been a Denver institution since 1920. What started as a small family business with a loyal local following has now grown into an iconic brand with international distribution. Pay them a visit and curb your sweet tooth, or just stop in for a tour of their factory, which you can do Monday-Saturday.
Take Advantage of the Library
It’s no secret that we love the library. Not only can you check out several books at a time for free—but you can also use their computers, take computer classes, participate in an event, reserve meeting spaces, participate in a book club, and so much more.
Learn About the City on the Denver Story Trek
Operated via smartphones and a website podcast, the Denver Story Trek is an interactive self-guided tour opportunity that provides information on some of the city’s most iconic historic landmarks. You can download your ideal route and listen to insightful commentary on landmarks as you see them!
Tour the Denver Mint
You don’t need to break open the piggy bank to go tour the United States Mint in Denver—because it’s completely free! Here, you’ll learn the present state of coin manufacturing and the history of the Mint. Afterward, don’t forget to stop by the gift shop, where you can get a few goodies to help remember your trip by! Tours are offered Monday-Friday, but there are a few exceptions. Click here for a full list of closures and the visitors’ policy.
Peruse Some Art on Santa Fe
Photo courtesy of the Art District on Santa Fe
Denver’s Art District on Santa Fe is a nationally renowned cultural district that is overseen by one of the nation’s first Certified Creative District nonprofit organizations, established in 2003. The district is home to a multitude of admission-less art studios, galleries, and cooperatives, representing the works of hundreds of local and regional artists working in a variety of mediums.
Play a Round of Disc Golf
The disc golf fervor is heavy in Colorado, probably because it’s one more way to get outside. Course options are plentiful, and most are free. Beginners should head to Arvada to play at Johnny Roberts, and if you’re more experienced, check out Adams Hollow in Brighton. Or go for the ultimate Colorado combo and pair your round of disc golf with craft beer at Dry Dock Brewery’s course.
Free Museum Days
Denver is chock full of incredible museums that showcase everything from the history of Colorado to the science of our weird and wonderful planet. While a visit to many of our area’s museums isn’t always free—many of them offer free admission days so you can see some of Denver’s famous attractions without breaking the bank! Click here to see 2019 Denver Free Days You Won’t Want to Miss.
Explore the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave
Learn all about the life and times of William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, the creator and star of the legendary “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West” show. While you’re exploring, don’t forget to check out all of the cool artifacts displayed around the museum—including the Stetson hat worn by Bill in his last performance to the firearms he used. Admission costs $5 for adults and $1 for children ages six to 15.
Stargaze at the Chamberlin Observatory
Gaze up at the stars at the University of Denver’s historic Chamberlin Observatory on one of their public nights! Admission is $4 for adults and allows you to use the famous telescope to see the moon, stars, planets and other wonders. If it’s cloudy, visitors will be treated to a tour of the observatory and a video display of the sky for the past month.
Ride a Few Rides at Lakeside Amusement Park
With free parking and only $3.50 admission, Lakeside Amusement Park is a fantastic (and cheap!) place to spend the day. Ride tickets cost 50 cents and rides can cost anywhere between one and six tickets. Your admission gets you one 50-cent ride credit—meaning you could potentially ride up to four rides for under $5!
Play a Few Rounds at 1UP
Photo courtesy of 1UP Arcade Bar
All you’ll need to play a few rounds at 1UP is the spare change from in between your couch cushions! This retro arcade/bar with locations all over Denver is full of pinball machines and other throwback games that start at just 25 cents. Make sure to visit their website before you go and check out their daily drink specials so you can save even more!
Take Advantage of Happy Hour at Ace Eat Serve
Located in Uptown, Ace Eat Serve has everything you could ever want—delicious cocktails, a great happy hour and ping pong—all for a reasonable price! On weeknights from 4-6 p.m. you can get $5 highballs, $4 kimchi fritters, $3 shumai, $2 veggie spring rolls, $1 wings, and $1 chocolate bonbons, giving you a massive selection of cheap eats under $5. And if you wanted to splurge a bit, you can throw in an hour of ping pong for $10.
Catch a Cheap Flick at Elvis Cinemas
Going to the movie theater can be pretty pricey, especially if you have multiple people to buy tickets and snacks for. Elvis Cinemas, however, is an extremely affordable choice! They offer movie tickets for $3 before 6 p.m. and $4 in the late evening along with reasonably priced concessions.
Grab a Slice at Hops & Pie
A slice of pizza is always a great choice when you’re trying to eat cheap and the deals at Hops & Pie make it even easier. Order a slice of cheese for $2.50 or go for the $3 slice of the day which sometimes includes combinations like chicken apple sausage and caramelized onions or sausage, sun-dried tomatoes and roasted garlic.
Ride the Platte River Trolley
Photo courtesy of Platte Valley Denver Trolley
Platte Valley Denver Trolley used to be part of Denver’s extensive 250-mile electric trail system that connected Denver to the cities of Golden and Boulder. Today, you can ride through popular Denver sites like Confluence Park, Elitch Gardens, the Downtown Aquarium, the Children’s Museum of Denver, Sports Authority Field at Mile High and downtown Denver. Fares are $5 for adults, $2 for children ages 4–13, and free for children 3 and under.
Dive into Pupusas at Tacos Acapulco
Regardless of price, Tacos Acapulco creates some of the best pupusas in town. Griddled corn rounds, juicy pork, cheese, beans or herbaceous licro, slaw and salsa? Count us in! Two makes for a delicious meal and will only cost you $4.
Explore Four Mile Historic Park
Visit this tranquil, 12-acre historic oasis and the site of Denver’s oldest house for $5! In addition to exploring the museum, your admission allows you to stroll through the gardens and grounds, pan for “gold” and visit some adorable farm animals.
Learn About Firefighters at the Denver Firefighters Museum
Visit this museum to learn about fire safety and the history of firefighting in Denver. Inside, you’ll find artifacts, documents and photos that the museum collects and preserves. Admission costs $9 for adults, $6 for firefighters and children ages 5-13, and free for children 4 and under.
Take Yourself Out to the National Ballpark Museum
This nonprofit museum has been recognized by Smithsonian Books as one of the top private baseball collections in the world. When you visit, you’ll get the opportunity to see the last pitching rubber used at Mile High Stadium for the Colorado Rockies, the historic first ticket to the Bear’s Stadium in 1948, and so much more. Admission costs $10 for adults, $5 for ages 65 and up, and free for kids ages 16 and under.
Go Skating in Skyline Park
This three-block park in the heart of downtown Denver is always bursting with things to do. In the summer, you can play free games like putt-putt and corn hole and drink in temporary beer gardens. During the winter months, you can go ice skating at the Skyline Rink! It’s free to skate and skate rentals start at $6.
Enjoy a Flight at American Cultures
Photo courtesy of American Cultures
At American Cultures, a nonalcoholic kombucha bar, $7 will get you a flight of four different varieties of their on-tap fermented beverages. Their location is nestled in the heart of the Denver Highlands, giving you a chance to do a little window shopping after you’ve gotten your probiotic fix.
Grab a Spoon at the Cereal Box
Got a sweet tooth? We have the perfect, budget-friendly restaurant for you! Take a trip out to the Cereal Box, a cereal-only restaurant whose menu is made up of 120 varieties from all around the world. Pour yourself a custom bowl or have one of their cerealogists concoct one of their custom mixes for a meal between $4–8.
Take a Budget-Friendly Trip to Golden
Golden is a quaint, adorable Denver suburb with plenty of fun things to do! Start with a tour of the Coors Brewery—which just happens to include several beers for $5. Then hit up Golden’s first food hall: Tributary for some oysters or a $5 gelato float.
See a Drive-In Movie
For decades, drive-in movie theaters have been a fun and wallet-friendly way to see your most anticipated flicks. Denver Mart Drive-In displays feature films on their 80-by-40-foot screen for $10 a person. Keep an eye on the theater’s website for news on double features and special events.
Get Cultured at the Museum of Contemporary Art
Photo courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver
The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver offers rotating exhibitions and public education programs that celebrate creativity, experimentation and cultural engagement through the works of regional, national and international artists. Admission is $10 during the day and $5 after 5 p.m. Tuesday–Friday. And if you want to save even more, they offer an “MCA Denver Broke Heart Club” which costs $1.95 a month and gives you free admission to all MCA Denver exhibitions along with several other cool perks.
Devour a Sandwich at the Chop Shop Casual Urban Eatery
We have a lot of delicious sandwiches in Denver, but one of the tastiest is the smoked chicken pastrami sandwich at the Chop Shop Casual Urban Eatery in Park Hill. House-smoked, layered with Swiss cheese and slaw—we’d pay a lot of money for this sandwich. Good thing it’s only $9.75.
Swing Dance at the Mercury Cafe
Do you dream of becoming a pro swing dancer? Or are you just looking for a fun, cheap date night activity? Regardless, Mercury Cafe has you covered. Every Thursday, they offer beginner swing dancing classes for just $10.
See Some Butterflies at the Butterfly Pavilion
The Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster is a tried-and-true family destination — and the first stand-alone, non-profit invertebrate zoo in the world. The butterfly pavilion provides unique, hands-on learning experiences to guests of all ages, all year round. Admission costs $12 for adults and $8 for children 2-12.
Take a Dip at Indian Hot Springs
Indian Hot Springs is the closest hot springs to Denver, located in the historic mining town of Idaho Springs and is easily accessible from the I-70 corridor. Officially discovered in 1859, this hot spring offers a multitude of swimming pools, geothermal caves and outdoor jacuzzis where you can warm up. Monday-Thursday, a visit to the springs costs $18, and $20 Friday-Sunday and on holidays.
Get Some Cheap Laughs at Comedy Works
One of the most popular comedy clubs on every comedian’s national tour, Comedy Works offers two venues: one in Larimer Square and one further south in Greenwood Village. They host some of the biggest names in comedy alongside undiscovered acts, so you could see Dave Chappelle and a local stand-up in the same week. If you aren’t hoping to see a hugely famous comedian, tickets are actually pretty cheap—running anywhere from $7 to $20.
Go to a Rockies Game
Photo courtesy of the Colorado Rockies
Coors Field, home to the Colorado Rockies, is one of our favorite places to spend a sunny afternoon. Tickets to a ballgame start at $14 with a $6 concession stand credit—which means more money for a hotdog and a box of Cracker Jacks.
Paint Some Pottery at Ceramics in the City
Ceramics in the City is more than just a “paint your own pottery studio”, but a place where you can express yourself through a variety of art forms. They offer plenty of pre-made pottery pieces or canvases for you to paint—many of which cost less than $20.
Play a Round of Putt-Putt Golf at Urban Putt
Putt-putt golf is back in style and is taking the Denver area by storm, with several bars around the area offering putt-putt courses in addition to a menu of craft cocktails. Golf at Urban Putt, a high-tech mini-golf course in LoDo, costs $11 for two courses, Monday-Thursday from 4 p.m.-close, Saturday 11 a.m.-6 p.m. and all day Sunday, or $14 on Friday and Saturday 6 p.m.-close.
Enjoy Wine and Hors d’oeuvres for Two
A romantic dinner doesn’t have to empty your wallet! The ViewHouse, an American restaurant with a rooftop bar and scenic seating, offers a “Wine & Board” special on Wednesday nights. This special includes a bottle of wine and any flatbread for $20—which you can enjoy while soaking in the impressive view.
Visit the Denver Botanic Gardens
Photo courtesy of the Denver Botanic Gardens
This public botanical garden is located in the Cheeseman Park neighborhood and consists of over 23 acres to explore. Tickets are $12.50 for adults and $9 for children 3-15. They also offer a ton of free events throughout the year, so check out their schedule and start marking up your calendar!
See a Show at Hi-Dive
This funky bar offers cheap drinks and live music from local and national acts in a variety of different musical genres. The best part? The majority of tickets cost around $14! Click here for a list of upcoming shows.
Get Classy with Champagne and Caviar at Bar Helix
If you want to get a little classy while still on a budget, there’s no better place than Bar Helix. The menu is full of interesting items—including the Bump + Bubbles deal, aka caviar and Champagne, for just $20.
What about you?
Tell us all about your favorite budget-friendly activities in the comments below!