In this article, I'll guide you through some of the free things to do in Aurora, Colorado.
So, sit back, relax, and prepare to discover the hidden gems of this city that are sure to make your experience unforgettable.
Discover the Beauty of the Plains Conservation Center
Sometimes, even though I have been living here for years, I find myself amazed by the hidden treasures that our city has to offer.
One such gem is the Plains Conservation Center.
Tucked away in a corner of our city, this natural area is a breath of fresh air.
One of the most striking features of the Plains Conservation Center is the reconstructed prairie homestead, which is a living testament to our city's history.
Walking through the homestead and the Cheyenne camp, I felt as if I had stepped into the past.
The historic farm equipment and the sod home settlement gave me a glimpse into the hardy life of our ancestors.
Likewise, the Plains Conservation Center offers a variety of hiking trails.
These trails range from easy to difficult, making it a great place for everyone, whether you're a beginner or an experienced hiker.
The plains are brimming with wildlife, adding another layer of excitement to your hike.
For those who prefer a more relaxed day out, the public events at the Plains Conservation Center are a must-attend.
One of my favorite activities here is the scavenger hunt, a hit with the kids and teens.
Visiting the Plains Conservation Center is like taking a peaceful stroll through our city's history and natural beauty.
It is a reminder of the diverse and vibrant life that thrives in our plains.
So, whether you're an avid hiker or a history buff, the Plains Conservation Center has something for you.
Remember to watch for the warning signs for rattlesnakes near the visitor center.
Pay Tribute at the Colorado Freedom Memorial
When I step foot on the ground of the Colorado Freedom Memorial, I am immediately filled with a sense of profound respect and gratitude.
As I move closer to the zigzagging plexiglass and steel wall, I see thousands of names etched onto it.
Names of brave souls from my state who paid the ultimate price for our freedom. It's a humbling sight.
For those seeking a particular name, there's a binder kept handy.
Alphabetically ordered, it guides the location of each name on the wall.
I often find myself drawn to the eight red granite rectangular pillars near the wall, each representing American cemeteries in countries where our World War II dead are buried.
Seeing the incredibly high number of Coloradoans buried in the Philippines is heartbreaking.
Adding to the memorial's serene environment is a spacious covered picnic pavilion.
It's a peaceful spot where visitors can sit and reflect on the lives honored here. Although there are restrooms, they are generally locked.
There's also an interactive kiosk, but it isn't always operational.
Seeing our flags fly at half-staff, the gravity of the sacrifice made by our fallen heroes hits home.
It's a poignant reminder of the price of freedom.
The Colorado Freedom Memorial is more than a tribute; it's a place of honor, respect, and memory.
It makes me and others who visit appreciate the courage of those who gave their all.
And it's right here in our town, ensuring these brave individuals are never forgotten.
Spend the Day at the Red-tailed Hawk Park
There's something special about waking up on a Saturday morning, grabbing a picnic basket, and heading out to the Red-tailed Hawk Park.
Just a hop, skip, and a jump away from my doorstep, this park is more than just an outdoor space.
It's a community hub, a children's wonderland, and a nature lover's paradise all rolled into one.
The park never fails to impress me with its versatility.
On the one hand, it offers various sports areas that cater to all ages and abilities, and on the other, it has a beautiful, seasonal spray ground that is children's favorite.
Even my toddler loves it!
He can independently explore the slides and play with the music area. Seeing his face light up with excitement every time we visit is such a joy.
For nature enthusiasts like myself, a wetland boardwalk leads us through nature's heart.
We can take a stroll, taking in the sights and sounds of local wildlife. But I must admit, the park could do with some cleaning up.
It has been home to more weeds than one would prefer for some time now.
It's our go-to place for a family day out, picnics, or to soak in nature.
If you're ever in the area, I recommend visiting Red-tailed Hawk Park to experience its charm firsthand.
Enjoy a Chill Evening at Dry Dock Brewing Co - North Dock
Regarding unwinding after a long workday, few places beat Dry Dock’s North Dock tasting room – a hidden gem of our community that has been my go-to spot for the past few years.
Let me paint a picture for you.
You walk into this popular craft brewery, and you're instantly welcomed by the low hum of friendly chatter and the clinking glasses, not to mention the enticing aroma of craft beer wafting through the air.
One of the first things you'd notice is the lively, relaxed atmosphere that is the signature of this place.
The casual, laid-back vibe lets you forget about your work worries and pushes you into a weekend state of mind - no matter what day of the week it is.
Then there's the beer.
I’m a massive fan of their Doctoberfest, and their Amber and Ginger Rogers have never failed to hit the right notes.
And believe me when I say these guys know their brews.
But it's not all about the beer.
Dry Dock also hosts some cool social happenings – think Trivia Nights on Wednesdays and a disc golf course for those with a competitive streak.
Moreover, they even have a space that can be rented for private events.
I've heard nothing but rave reviews from those who’ve used it.
There's more I could tell you about Dry Dock North Dock, but I'll leave some for you to discover - after all, some things are better experienced than told.
So next time you're in the mood for a good brew, come down to Dry Dock – I might see you there!
Take a Walk Through the 7/20 Memorial Foundation Reflection Garden
I remember the day I first visited the 7/20 Memorial Foundation Reflection Garden.
It was a typical sunny day, and I felt a sense of heavy emotion as I walked into the garden.
A chill ran down my arms, and my heart felt heavy.
The garden is a unique and beautiful memorial dedicated to the victims and those wounded in the Aurora theater shooting.
Every time I walk into a theater, I've never felt like it would be my last.
I feel deeply for the families affected today, and this garden is a beautiful tribute to the lives lost.
The 7/20 Memorial Foundation Reflection Garden remains a beautiful and unique spot to remember, reflect, and honor those affected by the Aurora theater shooting.
Whether you're from here or just passing through, the garden serves as a silent reminder of the lives that were needlessly lost that day.
Explore the Aurora History Museum
Right in the heart of our town lies a hidden gem - the Aurora History Museum.
I remember the first time I stepped foot in this free little museum; I was instantly enthralled by the fascinating variety of items detailing the history of Aurora.
The museum showcases a life-size trolley car, a real highlight that takes you back in time.
The walls adorned with old-fashioned advertisements and photographs of Aurora's history made for an informative and entertaining read.
It's just like opening a time capsule, with each item and display telling a unique story of our town and its evolution.
The Aurora History Museum is also an ideal place for family outings.
My kids loved the scavenger hunt the friendly lady at the check-in desk arranged.
It was an exciting adventure, hunting for hidden treasures around the museum.
And the restored trolley was a treat for them. They enjoyed going inside the trolley and sitting, pretending to be passengers from a bygone era.
Don't forget to stop by the modest gift shop before you leave. It's got some pretty cool Aurora-related items and cute greeting cards.
The Aurora History Museum is an educational experience and a fun-filled journey through time.
Trust me, once you visit, you'll want to come back. And why not? It's free!
Enjoy the Perfect Day at Great Plains Park
Ever wonder where to take your kids on a sunny day in Aurora?
Let me tell you about my favorite family destination, Great Plains Park.
We pack a picnic every summer weekend and head to this sprawling 54.5-acre park.
If your kids are anything like mine, they will love the playground, which is open seasonally.
The water depth is perfect for the little ones, roughly 2-3 inches, and the covered activities are an absolute hoot.
Not only that, but they also have designated break times for the kids to dry off and snack, which saves me from the struggle of trying to lure them out of the water!
Of course, the park offers much more than just water activities.
The playground is fantastic and accommodating for even the littlest walkers.
My older kids, on the other hand, can't get enough of the basketball court.
There's something for everyone!
Another feature that I absolutely love about the Great Plains Park is how thoughtfully it's designed.
While the older kids are busy at the basketball court, the toddlers are safe from any accidental run-ins, making it stress-free for parents like me.
As for food, don't worry about packing too light.
There's plenty of space for a family picnic, whether you prefer spreading a blanket under the trees or using the gazebo-covered tables.
Just remember to bring plenty of drinks and food, and your day is set!
Lastly, I must mention the convenient parking situation.
The spacious lot is centered around the water park, making it easy to unload and load your car.
Just a word of advice - although reservations are available, it's best to get there early and claim your spot.
Make a Weekend Retreat at Stanley Marketplace
Stanley Marketplace, an airy warehouse hangout, is my go-to place on a lazy weekend.
It's like having a mini city within my reach with many food vendors, retailers, and businesses.
Over the years, the Stanley Marketplace has become my preferred meeting spot for family gatherings or reunions with friends, especially with large groups who can't agree on what to eat.
The range of food options is impressive - from Italian to Asian, Indian to Deli, there's something for everyone's palate.
On a busy Saturday morning, it's a delight to see everyone scattering in different directions to pick up their food, beverages, or desserts and then converging at our chosen spot.
For those who enjoy retail therapy, I often explore several unique gift and apparel shops.
It's a pleasure to window shop, and more often than not, I've found something I couldn't resist buying.
The kid-friendly venues and activities are a significant draw for parents; the small play area outside is a favorite among my nieces and nephews.
I've seen children, including my own, enjoy cooking classes, gymnastics, and even STEM activities there.
Stanley Marketplace is a community hub where I feel at home.
From open-air areas to climate-controlled spots, it offers room to sit, unwind, work, or catch up with friends.
Visiting Stanley is a must if you ever find yourself in the Aurora area.
Enjoy an Afternoon of Fun at Mission Viejo Park
Let me tell you about my last time at Mission Viejo Park.
I remember it was a sunny afternoon when I decided to accompany my two nephews to the park.
It was their first time there, and boy, were they excited!
The park is sprawling, with lots of room for them to run around and unleash their energy.
They were immediately drawn to the playground, their eyes lighting up at the sight of the slides and swings.
It's not the most giant playground, but it's perfect for little adventurers.
I watched them scramble up the climbing frames and race each other down the slides, their laughter filling the air.
While the boys were occupied, I took the opportunity to admire the three baseball fields.
The well-kept grass was a vibrant green, and the diamond-shaped pitches were perfectly manicured.
Despite the distance, I could see pick-up games happening simultaneously on all three fields.
It was quite a sight! I remember thinking about how ideal it would be to host a kickball tournament.
The park also has a long path that loops around the fields, perfect for bike riding lessons or leisure trips.
Although I didn't venture to the picnic shelters that day, they have been a favorite spot for family gatherings.
Meanwhile, the cleanliness of the park is worth mentioning too.
It's always neat, with zero litter, a refreshing escape from the city's hustle and bustle.
Mission Viejo Park truly offers a green haven in the heart of Aurora, and it's always a pleasure to spend a day there.
Discovering the Natural Beauty of Sand Creek Park
Sand Creek Park is one of my favorite places to escape the hustle and bustle of city life in Aurora.
The park is a real hidden gem, home to a beautiful natural open space brimming with large ponds, streams, and a network of scenic trails offering a refreshing experience for both hikers and bikers.
Likewise, the green backdrop makes my daily walks to work a joy instead of a chore, offering a respite from the concrete jungle.
This city greenspace is a paradise for dog lovers too.
My pup always has the time of his life here, especially when he gets a chance to take the ponds.
It's an ideal location for nature lovers, with abundant foliage, ducks, and insects dotting the landscape.
Even though I have never spotted any fish in the creek, the rich biodiversity more than makes up for it.
However, I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of plants and wildlife I encountered on my hikes.
The trail is a little over a mile round, making it an easy trek, even on the hottest days.
Whether you're looking for a serene place to connect with nature or a fun-filled day out with your four-legged friend, Sand Creek Park is definitely worth a visit.
Enjoy the Great Outdoors at Olympic Park
Have you ever had one of those days when you just wanted to breathe in the fresh air and enjoy the great outdoors?
Well, that's a regular day for me at Olympic Park. Located in my beloved town, this park is more than just a community recreational area.
It's our little haven nestled amidst the city life.
The first thing that grabs your attention when you walk into the park is the impressive baseball fields.
Not just one, but multiple! And each one, with its well-maintained natural grass, is always ready for a good game.
The view from the fields is spectacular, a sight that never fails to awe me.
There are concessions and refreshments to keep you energized.
And the restrooms are always clean and spacious enough for families with kids running around or young athletes practicing their skills.
Even if baseball isn't your thing, don't worry. There's still so much you can do.
I love how they've designed the park with access to an off-street trail, perfect for a quiet, calming walk with your thoughts.
Or perhaps, challenge your pal to a friendly race.
The park also hosts volleyball courts and large grassy areas for endless hours and games.
But what I love the most is the pond.
There's just something about walking around it, watching the water ripple and the occasional splash of a playful duck.
It's peaceful, it's calming, it's just perfect. And yes, there's a covered picnic area just by it.
See you there!
Enjoy a Tranquil Evening at Rocky Ridge Park
Just last week, I found myself strolling through the beautiful pathways of Rocky Ridge Park.
It's a spot I often frequent, and I must admit– the charm place's charm fades away.
The view was breathtakingly beautiful, reminding me why Colorado is a place loved by many.
As the day turned into night, the park was filled with tranquility.
I found a cozy spot, sat down, and enjoyed a homemade sandwich while watching the sun go down.
Meanwhile, the playground, more suitable for younger kids, is a hit among the local children.
A distinctive rock wall in front of the basketball court adds a unique touch to the park.
I had a good time watching the little ones enjoy themselves, their laughter echoing through the park.
Rocky Ridge Park holds a special place in my heart.
It's a community space where memories are made, and I look forward to making many more.
Hang Out at Southlands
It is always a joy to spend a day at Southlands.
There's a little something for everyone, whether shopping, dining, or catching a movie at the multiplex.
It's down the street from my house, making it my go-to place for errands and entertainment.
Getting all your shopping done in one area is super convenient. With a variety of popular retailers, you're almost always sure to find what you need.
I also love the different dining spots. From quick bites to more upscale options, there's a place for every palate and occasion.
The movie theater is always clean and well-maintained and offers a good selection of the latest films.
It's a great place to kick back and relax after a day of shopping and eating.
Plus, the square in the middle has water fountains for the kids to play in during the day, and at night, it transforms into a lively hub for live music.
Southlands is also always blooming with beautiful flowers in the spring and summer.
The winter season brings an added fun touch with the ice skating rink.
A family favorite, it's a great way to spend a day out in the winter chill.
So, whether you're a local like me or just passing through, Southlands is worth taking the time and energy to visit.
Just remember to be ready for a bit of an adventure!
Take a Stroll Through West Toll Gate Creek
It's difficult to resist the charming allure of West Toll Gate Creek.
You'd hardly believe such a serene and delightful place is just a stone's throw away, snuggled right away, Colorado.
I'm in love with this quiet part of town.
When I moved towards Hampden, just off of Ventura, a morning walk by West Toll Gate Creek was a delightful encounter with nature, always filled with goofy geese.
Even amidst a blizzard, their demeanor and resilience are even a spectacle.
It's as if they're the Eskimos of the bird world, unbothered by the snow, transforming the landscape into a beautiful winter postcard.
I often wish to have those moments, but they seem to be private.
For me, the best part of living here has to be the community, the good people, and the local whiskey that's as smooth as the clear creek waters.
There's something magical about enjoying a glass of good whiskey while tuning in to the harmonious quacks of the geese.
Living near West Toll Gate Creek is an experience filled with simple yet profound pleasures that make life all the more enjoyable.
Enjoy a Weekend Getaway at Del Mar Park
I always say there's no place like home, and home for me is here in Aurora, Colorado.
One of the perks of living here is the easy access to Del Mar Park.
It's my personality where I bask in the sun, play, and unwind duringonnds.
You see, Del Mar Park isn't just any other park. It's a spacious city haven where you can do just anything recreational.
We're talking about sports courts and fields where my friends and I often play pickup games of baseball.
The park is home to a playground that makes children's laughter resonate with a genuine sense of joy in the ambiance.
If you're a dog lover like me, the park allows you to walk your furry pals and even have picnics with them!
There's plenty of space for everyone. And when I say everyone, I also mean our cars!
But nothing beats cooling off in the park's outdoor pool, especially during Aurora's scorching summer months.
Don't worry, the water's always clean and refreshing.
Plus, there's a cute little "water park" that's affordable and safe for kids to swim and slide around in!
And if you're planning a family gathering or an outdoor party, Del Mar Park has got you covered.
Del Mar Park is my home away from home.
Take Morning Walks at Horseshoe Park
There's nothing quite like the early morning solitude at Horseshoe Park, a local gem with a unique horseshoe shape stretching over 10 miles.
Walking along the paved trails that run through the park, you'll become one with nature.
The park is also home to a creek, giving it a serene charm that is hard to find in this bustling city.
I often take my dog for a walk here, a routine we both cherish.
What adds to the charm of Horseshoe Park are the fellow park-goers.
They're a friendly bunch, from the runners pushing their limits on the trails to the cyclists pedaling away and other dog-walkers like me.
It's a community that cherishes this local escape as much as I do.
Besides the natural beauty, the park has several baseball diamonds, perfect for a quick game with friends or family.
And if you feel like lounging, there are plenty of spots to hang out a blanket and relax.
But the park's allure isn't just limited to its recreational facilities.
It's also a great spot for geocaching, with plenty of hidden treasures spread across the area.
So whether you're a nature enthusiast, a sports lover, or a treasure hunter, Horseshoe Park has something for everyone.
Peek into the Past at the Centennial House Museum
Stepping into the Centennial House Museum is like stepping into a time capsule, a beautifully preserved link to the past.
The house itself has an aura of timelessness, each room tastefully maintained to reflect the era it represents.
You can almost hear the whispers of past residents in the hallways, and the air is filled with tales waiting to be told.
It's a truly engaging way to spend an afternoon delving into the history and heritage that the Centennial House Museum has.
If you're ever in town, do take the time to plan a visit.
It's a small piece of history tucked away in our bustling city, a hidden gem that deserves to be explored.
Other Things to Do Nearby
See the Wildlife at Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge
There's something wonderful about watching the sunrise over the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, with its ethereal display of colors reflecting off the open lakes, wetlands, and prairie grasslands.
It's a sight that I, as a habitual early riser, have had the privilege to witness countless times.
This sprawling refuge serves more than 330 species, a fact that I find awe-inspiring every time I visit.
As a wildlife enthusiast, I've always been captivated by the various creatures Here.
My regular spot is a secluded patch of woodland on the edge of a lake, where I have spent many hours watching the birds.
Moreover, I usually take the opportunity to drive through the trails, immersing myself in miles and miles of picturesque scenery.
The mountains looming in the backdrop on clear days provide a view that never gets old.
This is not just a wildlife sanctuary but also for nature lovers, families, and couples seeking fresh air and a close encounter with wildlife from sun up to sun down.
One of my most memorable experiences was encountering a bison herd during her late afternoon drive.
They were towards the end of the drive, a fitting climax to an already fulfilling journey.
Seeing these majestic creatures roaming freely in their natural habitat was a moment etched in my memory.
The park also offers a free audio tour, which I found incredibly insightful on my drives.
It's best to head to the visitor’s center before you start all the information and grab a map.
During one of these visits, I was particularly intrigued by the ferret exhibit.
The refuge is teeming with prairie dogs, which are a delight to watch, especially when they pop up close.
Just remember to give them the space and respect they deserve.
Whether you're here for the wildlife, the scenery, or the serenity, Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge won't disappoint.
Having lived here for so many years, it never ceases to amaze me how much Aurora has to cost a dime.
There's so much to explore, and the best part is all these fantastic activities are right here in our backyard in Aurora.
What a privilege it is to call this city home!