Take it from a 28-year resident of Colorado – there are few cities in the country where you can find as many things to see and do for free, or for very little money, as you can find in Denver, Colorado.
For starters, Denver is situated in one of the most beautiful settings you can imagine – it is just a day trip from the Rocky Mountains, where you can surround yourself with beautiful forests and lakes and fishing streams and roaring waterfalls, quaint little tourist towns, historical sites and landmarks, hiking trails and off-road trails and biking trails. Visiting Denver on a budget is a simple matter if you are a photographer or outdoor enthusiast. Other than the fees to enter national or state parks, it costs very little to view the beauty that is Colorado.
But if you would also like to spend some time in Denver, here are a few summer travel guide tips to help you save money in the process.
1. Light Rail and RTD.
While Denver is not New York City or San Francisco, with their wide-ranging subway and BART systems, Denver does have a decent bus system (part of the Regional Transportation District, or RTD, system), and a nice light rail system that links many of the southern suburbs to the downtown area. Light Rail map Once downtown, you will also find the free MallRide shuttle bus on the 16th Street Mall.
2. Stay in the ‘burbs.
As is true in most big cities, you find that it is generally cheaper to stay in the suburbs surrounding Denver than to stay right in downtown Denver. You will find most all the major hotel chains in the Denver Metro Area, including Embassy Suites, Hilton, Holiday Inn, Hampton Inn, Hyatt, La Quinta, and Marriott. If you plan on using light rail, you might want to center your search for a hotel in the suburbs southeast (Highlands Ranch, Greenwood Village, Denver Tech Center, etc.) or southwest (Littleton, Lakewood, etc) of the Denver Metro Area. Check out websites like Trip Advisor for reviews and suggestions.
3. Rent from the locals.
Another way to find a unique place to stay is to rent a home, condo or even a room in Denver through the Vacation Rentals by Owner website.
4. Free Tours.
Many downtown landmarks, like the State Capitol Building, the Denver Mint , the Brown Palace Hotel, the Denver Art Museum, the Tattered Cover Bookstore and the Botanic Gardens offer daily or weekly tours. Check the Denver.org website for many details. There is also a Denver walking tour .
You will also find free or low price tours outside Denver proper. Near the foothills, you will find Dinosaur Ridge and Red Rocks for those who enjoy being outdoors in this beautiful locale. The MillerCoors Brewery in Golden, Colorado offers tours Thursday through Monday (including free beer samples!), and the Celestial Seasonings facilities in Boulder, Colorado has daily free tours and a tea sampling room.
5. Coupons and Specials!
The Denver Entertainment Book contains hundreds of coupons for discounts on food, hotels, events, and entertainment. And when you register your book online, you get access to additional coupons that you can print from your computer!
Tuesdays are big “kids eat free” days at a variety of Denver restaurants, including Perkins, IHOP, Denny’s, Lone Star, Fazoli’s and Gunther Toody’s.
This Great Restaurant Websites for Colorado article has several options for finding additional dining specials, as well as the ability to make reservations online.
6. Check out the websites!
Denver.org , Let’s Talk Colorado and Colorado For Free are among the great sites to check for up-to-the-minute specials in the Denver area.
Last, but not least, here are a couple of “non-money-related” tips if you are planning to vacation in Denver.
- Bring clothes that you can layer – a t-shirt may be enough for the daytime, but you may want to add a long-sleeved shirt, sweat shirt, or light jacket as the temperature or weather changes. This is especially true if you will be venturing into the mountains.
- Drink lots of water and sports beverages before you come and also while you are here. It is much easier to become dehydrated at altitude.
- The air is thinner here, too – don’t over-exert yourself. There’s lots to see and do in the Mile Hi City – take your time, save your money, and have a wonderful inexpensive vacation in Denver, Colorado!
All of the websites noted above