50 Free Summer Activities in Denver


Visit Mile High City This Summer Without Breaking the Bank 

 
Denver’s Blockbuster 2010 Summer is packed with free things to see and do, from fun festivals and outdoor movies to scenic drives and quaint mountain towns. Check out these fabulous freebies to keep you busy whether you’re a home-town resident or vacationing visitor. 
 
FREE FESTIVALS & EVENTS
 

Downtown Denver Arts Festival

May 28-30
Throughout Memorial Day Weekend at the Denver Pavilions mix and mingle with 150,000 art lovers at this free fest, featuring more than 125 of Colorado’s best artists.
 

First Friday Art Walks

June 4, July 2, August 6, September 3
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

June 5-6
Larimer Square’s Italian street-painting festival is a two-day pavement painting in Downtown Denver. More than 200 artists come down to turn the streets of the Mile High City’s oldest street into a virtual museum of chalk art.
 

Capitol Hill People’s Fair

June 5-6
The largest of Denver’s summer festivals, this fun and funky event in Civic Center Park features live music, one-of-a-kind arts and crafts, and a food bazaar with Colorado cuisine.
 

Denver PrideFest

June 19-20
One of the ten biggest PrideFests in the U.S., this free weekend event in Civic Center Park features a parade, live music, food, and dance, all celebrating the local gay and lesbian community.
 

Cherry Blossom Festival

June 26-27
A celebration of Japanese-American culture, food, music and dance, Downtown Denver’s Cherry Blossom Festival offers a taste of the Far East in the Mile High City.  
 

Cherry Creek Arts Festival

July 3-5
Over Fourth of July Weekend, 350,000 visitors enjoy the visual, culinary and performing arts and interactive activities for the whole family. Meet and talk with international visual artists, sample fine cuisine, and enjoy live musical performances and artist demonstrations.
 

Civic Center SOUNDS: Independence Eve Celebration

July 3
Kick off the U.S.A.’s birthday weekend with a bang in Civic Center with the area’s biggest and best fireworks display, accompanied by patriotic favorites performed by the Colorado Symphony Orchestra.
 

Mile High Movies

Stretch out beneath the stars and enjoy free, family friendly movies at Skyline Park in the heart of Downtown Denver.  This year’s schedule includes “Field of Dreams” (July 3), “Madagascar” (July 31), and “The Wizard of Oz” (August 21). All movies begin at dusk behind the historic Daniels & Fisher Clocktower on 16th and Arapahoe.
 

Farmers’ Markets

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

July 9-11
Boasting three stages filled with jazz, rhythm and blues, gospel, reggae, and hip hop, this free festival in Denver City Park celebrates African American heritage with a parade, special exhibits, a marketplace, children’s arts programming, and socio-civic organizations.
 

Latino Rhythms Heritage Festival

July 15
This annual celebration of Latino music and culture at La Alma/Lincoln Park features Panamanian superstar Horacio Valdes, along with dozens of other performers.
 

Colorado Dragon Boat Festival

July 24-25
Set sail for summer fun at Sloan’s Lake Park, where vibrantly decorated dragon boats race in an exciting pan-Asian sport. This weekend-long event also features music, cultural exhibits, and delicious Asian cuisine.
 

Golden Fine Arts Festival

August 21-22
Browse a variety of beautiful art at Colorado’s most accessible arts festival, the 20th annual Golden Fine Arts Festival. The juried festival is an open-air art gallery in a gorgeous foothills setting adjacent to the Clear Creek.
 

A Taste of Colorado

September 3-6
Held every year over Labor Day Weekend in Civic Center Park, A Taste of Colorado puts the spotlight on the diversity of Colorado cuisine. Delight your taste buds with creations from the state’s favorite restaurant and food establishments.
 
FREE CONCERTS
 

Five Points Jazz Festival

May 22
Denver’s historic Five Points neighborhood celebrates its rich African American heritage with a day filled with jazz music of all stripes, from bebop to swing, performed by Denver’s best musicians. Grab some BBQ or soul food and enjoy the free tunes.
 

Denver Day of Rock

May 29
Rock out all day long during this massive free concert when 20 bands, including the Romantics and Fishbone, take to four stages in Downtown Denver.
 

City Park Jazz

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.
 

Audio Picnic - Skyline Park Lunchtime Concerts

As you check out the shopping and dining options on the 16th Street Mall, you may hear the sound of live music emanating from Skyline Park. You’ve stumbled upon the Audio Picnic, a free lunch-hour concert series held every Friday, June through August.
 

Confluence Concerts

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.
 
FREE ATTRACTIONS & TOURS
 

U.S. Mint Tour

Learn how to make money! The 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

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 5, July 3, August 7, September 4 – free to all, not just Colorado residents); Denver Botanic Gardens at York Street (July 22, August 25); Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield (June 4, August 6); Denver Museum of Nature & Science (August 8, August 30, September 13).
 

Denver SkatePark

This expansive area – 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

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.
 

Red Rocks Hall of Fame/Trails

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.
 

Colorado State Capitol Tour

Tour Colorado’s magnificent gold-domed 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 Mondays through Fridays.
 

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 best of all, free of charge.
 

Littleton Historical Museum

Travel back in time at this free 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

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. There are three locations: Lower Downtown, East Colfax, and Highlands Ranch.
 

Coors Brewery Tour

“Taste the Rockies!” 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

See how 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

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

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

Housed in INVESCO Stadium (home of the Denver Broncos), this free 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

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.
 

REI Flagship

Located in the restored 1901 Denver Tramway building, the REI Denver Flagship store is a complete outdoor resource, a historic landmark and an award-winning architectural accomplishment. Don’t miss the interactive features, including mountain bike trails, a 45-foot climbing wall and more.
 
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, this 55-mile-long route 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.
 

El Dorado Canyon State Park

A hidden gem just outside of Boulder, El Dorado Canyon offers hiking amidst towering sandstone cliffs, picnicking along scenic South Boulder Creek and rock climbing on Eldo’s sheer golden walls.
 

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.
 

Clear Creek History Park

See how Colorado’s early settlers worked and played in the late 1800s at this two-acre living history park. Try your hand at gold panning in the river where a half-billion dollars of it was found.
 

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. This 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.
 

Georgetown

Nestled in a steep mountain valley, the “Silver Queen” 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. 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

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.  
 
 
About VISIT DENVER, The Convention & Visitors Bureau
Celebrating more than 100 years of promoting the Mile High City, VISIT DENVER is a nonprofit trade association that contracts with the City of Denver to market Denver as a convention and leisure destination, increasing economic development in the city, creating jobs and generating taxes.  Tourism is the second largest industry in Denver, generating $3.1 billion in annual spending in 2008, while supporting 65,000 jobs. For more information on Denver call 800-2-DENVER or visit Denver’s official Web site at VISITDENVER.com.   
 

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