Denver, Colorado is readily known for the scenic mountainscapes interwoven within this high-rise environment. Although the cost of living has steadily increased, there are still plenty of things to do in Denver that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.
Don’t believe us? Bask in this list of our favorite free cultural activities, events and tours and other things to do in the Mile High City.
Free Denver walking tours
Think walking tours are only for visitors? Think again! Walking tours are a great way to discover your city or spend an afternoon sightseeing.
In fact, depending on interests or time of year, they offer something for everyone. Here are some of our favorites:
Denver Story Trek is an interactive self-guided tour on some of the city’s most historic landmarks. The site offers several “treks” available via podcast and audio files.
Denver Public Art Tours explore prominent public art sites implemented as part of the city’s Public Art Program, offering free guided and self-guided tour opportunities of the 150 public works of art throughout the city.
For those intrigued with the supernatural, Ghost Tours begin promptly at 8p.m. and are Fridays and Saturdays, June through November.
Free annual Denver events
Doors Open Denver is an annual weekend event every April which literally opens Denver’s architectural gems and lesser-known treasures to visitors. expert tours led by members of the architectural community.
Denver Day of Rock is a one-day, jam-packed music festival with five stages of completely free musical acts nestled in downtown. It’s the official kickoff to summer in Denver and occurs Memorial Day weekend.
The Denver Chalk Art Festival is usually held the first weekend in June. Along with showcasing more than 200 artists creating their works of art directly on the streets of Larimer Square in downtown Denver, it also boasts live music, food trucks and other entertainment.
Cinco de Mayo is a time to celebrate at Civic Center Park. The annual May event features art, live entertainment, food and drink, and child-friendly activities.
A Taste of Colorado is an annual free concert held every Labor Day weekend. Attendees can enjoy listening country bands to rock, and everything in between.
The city’s Parade of Lights is a holiday tradition held on the first Saturday of December. The annual holiday parade runs for two miles throughout the downtown and features floats, marching bands, and other entertainment.
During the summer and Fall, enjoy several area farmer’s markets including those at Denver’s Union Station (on Saturday) and the Cherry Creek Mall (on Sunday).
Free cultural activities in Denver
On select Saturdays during the year, visitors can get free admission to Denver’s Art Museum, Natural History Museum and city Zoo. Check their website for a full schedule.
The Clyfford Still Museum offers free admission on the last Friday of each month and showcases more than 800 of abstract painter Clyfford Still’s works.
In addition, Denver also boasts many art galleries along Sante Fe drive and Rino. Each neighborhood offers summer “art walks” where galleries open their doors to patrons, often accompanied with music or beverages.
Free tours in Denver
Looking to do something fun but perhaps educational?
Hammond’s Candies factory tour offers a daily behind-the-scenes look at the local candy company. Hammond’s, which opened in 1920, is best known for their classic candy canes and chocolate candy bars infused with unique flavors.
Both the U.S.Mint (e.g., “the Money Museum”) and the Colorado State Capitol building, which is modeled after the one in Washington, D.C., run tours during the weekday.
The U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research center offers several tours throughout the week on meteorological, environmental, and climate science studies.
Tattered Cover Bookstore is one of the United States’ largest independent bookstore chains. Boasting three area locations with new and used books, the stores also host live author events, children storytime and themed events on the first Friday of the month.
Free outdoor activities in Denver
Aside from enjoying the thousands of acres of parkland throughout the Denver metro, many of the city parks and neighborhoods host everything from block parties and move nights to music events.
Two of the most popular events during the Summer is Sunday jazz in City Park as well as the nature trails around the Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre.
Cherry Creek State Park is a popular destination year-round for boating, running, paddle boarding, fishing, swimming and ice skating during the winter.
Other Colorado tours
Get off the beaten path with these free tours and events within driving distance of Denver:
Denver Broncos Training Camp is open to the public July-August at the UCHealth Training Center.
Celestial Seasons Factory tour in nearby Broomfield comes with complimentary free tea samples.
Coors Brewery in Golden, the original Coors beer factory, is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every weekday
Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every weekday