20 Free Things to Do in Denver, CO

Free Things to Do in Denver, CO

If you're a budget-conscious traveler like myself, or simply looking to explore this Mile-High city without the price tag, I invite you to join me as we unravel the free things to do in Denver, Colorado.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the following individuals for their invaluable contributions to this article: Anthony Jones, Randall Buelow, David Garrison, Eduardo Cook, Nalani Winters, Lynda Kellett and Lourdes Bradford.

Take Photos with the Big Blue Bear

View of the Big Blue Bear
Vicki L. Miller / Shutterstock.com

Living in Denver, you grow accustomed to the city's vibrant art scene and eclectic mix of iconic landmarks.

And of them all, the one that towers above is the Big Blue Bear.

This 40-foot bear is a sight that's hard to miss and certainly hard to forget.

The way it peers into the Denver Convention Center, it's almost as if it's looking for something or someone inside.

The Big Blue Bear has always been a favorite spot of mine for photographs.

It's massive, eye-catching, and incredibly unique.

Its striking blue color stands out against the cityscape, making it a perfect backdrop for all sorts of pictures.

Backside view of the Big Blue Bear
Arina P Habich / Shutterstock.com

And it's not just me who's drawn to it. I often see families and tourists posing and snapping away, creating memories with the bear as their co-star.

The bear's location, right in the heart of the city, makes it even more accessible.

The Denver Convention Center, where the bear stands peeking in, is a world-class exhibition hall.

With clear direction signs and helpful staff, it's easy to navigate from one part of the center to another.

And with plenty of convenient transportation options and parking spots nearby, getting there is no hassle at all.

But the bear isn't just a photo prop or a meeting point.

It's a symbol of our city's love for art and creativity.

It's a conversation starter, an icebreaker.

I've lost count of how many times I’ve struck up a conversation with a fellow Denverite or visitor about the bear.

Everyone has their own interpretation of what it symbolizes.

Big Blue Bear covered with snow
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Immerse Yourself in Art at Dikeou Collection

I'm telling you, stepping into the Dikeou Collection feels like entering an entirely different world.

Right there in the heart of Denver, tucked away on the fifth floor of a 19th-century office building, this stunning art collection astonishes and delights at every turn.

Not many people know about it, but once you find it, you can't help but be drawn in - it's like Denver's very own secret treasure.

Dikeou Collection is absolutely brimming with character, each piece curated beautifully to create a collection that is truly unique to Colorado.

Walking through the expansive floor is like embarking on a journey, with every corner revealing a new surprise.

The main attraction right now is a mid-career retrospective of the artist-founder Devon Dikeou.

It's an insight into the art world from the 1980s to the present - a world that isn’t always accessible to the public.

One of my personal favorites was Devon Dikeou's "Mid-Career Smear."

It's so thought-provoking, challenging visitors to ponder on the transient and in-between phases of life.

She uses time and archival work as her tools, showcasing the art in a way that's truly captivating.

The best part? It's free!

I recommend making a small donation if you can, though – after all, it’s these donations that keep the exhibition going.

And here's a little tip: take the stairs and keep an eye out for the magical mail slot - it adds a touch of whimsy to the whole experience.

I was lucky enough to have the entire exhibit to myself one Friday morning.

The quiet solitude added to the feel of the place, making it more than just an art collection but a magical escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Join the Festivities at Confluence Park

Kids enjoying their day at the Confluence Park
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Ever since I moved to the heart of Denver, Confluence Park has become my favorite spot to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.

Nestled at the junction where the Platte River and Cherry Creek meet, it's a serene riverside park offering an oasis of tranquility amidst the city chaos.

The park is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts like me.

On any given day, I find myself either hiking or biking along the park's well-marked trails.

It's not just the trails that are captivating, but also the view of the brownish creek water joining the clearer river, which is simply spellbinding.

Cycling at the Confluence Park
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During mid-summer, I frequently participate in Cross Currents, a local festival that's held in the park.

It's a great time filled with lively bands, frothy beers, and a myriad of activities that keep everyone entertained.

Although Confluence Park is known for its planned events, it's a refreshing retreat all year round.

On sunny summer days, I love to walk along the water, and during winter, I take delight in the bracing chill of the river currents.

And the most remarkable thing about Confluence Park is the beautiful trail in the heart of the city.

A minor creek meets the river, and there are separate paths for biking and walking that stretch across both the river and creek.

It's a great way to walk into the city and discover the charm of Denver.

Visitors walking their dogs at Confluence Park
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Wander around the City with Denver Free Walking Tours

Trust me, there's nothing like exploring your own city on foot, especially if it's with Denver Free Walking Tours.

I've lived here for years, but with each tour, I learn something new about Denver.

It was an eye-opening experience, to say the least.

The tour was well worth the small $2 booking fee.

If you're in Denver and haven't taken this tour, you're missing out!

The other time, we wandered around the Colorado State Capitol, Denver City Hall, Civic Plaza, the U.S. Mint, The Denver Art Museum, the Colorado Convention Canter, Larimer Square, the 16th Street Mall, and Union Station.

As a history buff, it was an enriching experience.

Whether you're new to Denver or have lived here all your life, a Denver Free Walking Tour is a fantastic way to discover the city.

Stroll through Time at Ninth Street Historic Park

Stunning walkways at the Ninth Street Historic Park
Faina Gurevich / Shutterstock.com

Oh, the tranquility of Ninth Street Historic Park!

There's nothing quite like spending a peaceful afternoon strolling along the tree-lined greenway.

It's my secret sanctuary in the heart of the city.

This hidden gem is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and it's not hard to see why.

The park features a number of Victorian houses that offer a glance back into a bygone era.

Without the typical bustling crowds, this park has become my go-to spot when I long for a moment of relaxation amidst my hectic day.

Sprawled across a generous area, there's plenty of space to find a quiet corner and unwind.

It's almost like having a private park right outside my doorstep.

Architect of a brick house at the Ninth Street Historic Park
Faina Gurevich / Shutterstock.com

One of the highlights of the park is undeniably its collection of beautifully restored and preserved Victorian houses.

These structures are over a hundred years old but continue to stand in all their glory.

Now serving as office spaces for the nearby college, these houses are a testament to Denver's architectural history.

If you're interested in the rich past of these structures, there's no better way than immersing yourself in the historic narratives etched on the plaques found around the park. I've spent countless hours doing just that!

Ninth Street Historic Park also serves as a fantastic picnic spot.

Surrounded by these historic houses, it's as if you're picnicking in a different era.

I've often found the experience to be charmingly surreal.

While many of the houses are typical Victorian designs, there are a few that showcase a more European influence.

Having grown up in a Victorian house in England, I was taken aback by the striking resemblance of one of the houses to my childhood home.

The rest, albeit slightly German in design, provide an interesting contrast to the Victorian architecture.

Houses at the Ninth Street Historic Park
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Discover the Dark Past of Babi Yar Memorial Park

Every so often, I find myself drawn to the serene yet somber grounds of Babi Yar Memorial Park.

The park is a living tribute, shaped like the Star of David and filled with winding paths, art installations, and trees that seem to whisper tales of the past.

My most recent visit began like any other.

I meandered along the trails, allowing my thoughts to drift as I took in the dappled sunlight filtering through the leaves.

I made my way to the center of Babi Yar Memorial Park, where an audio story tells the tale of the park's creation.

The push of a button on the side of a granite rock initiates a poignant narrative detailing the horrific events that took place during a massacre perpetrated by the Nazis.

The fact that Earth from the massacre site is interned here only adds to the introspective mood.

During my visit, I saw the park's fountain, usually silent, spraying water into the air.

It reminded me of my high school years, when we used to throw parties here, using the park as a safe space to experiment with adulthood.

I couldn't help but wonder how the younger generation navigates these rites of passage in an increasingly complex world.

Despite its somber backstory, the park remains a beacon of beauty.

I can only imagine the breathtaking sight when the trees are in full bloom.

It is also a great opportunity to educate those who are unfamiliar with the history behind this memorial.

I once had a memorable conversation with a curious child here, using the park's story as a starting point.

Have a Brisk Jog at Denver City Park

Stunning view of the skyline from the Denver City Park
Darryl Brooks / Shutterstock.com

Every morning, as the sun peeks over the horizon, greeting Denver with its golden rays, I begin my day with a peaceful stroll or a brisk jog in what I fondly refer to as my tranquil escape: Denver City Park.

This expansive green haven, nestled amidst the bustling city, is my sanctuary, a place where I can connect with nature and lose myself in its serene beauty.

The park, with its well-maintained greens, stretches out invitingly, a perfect setting for my daily exercise routine.

The neatly trimmed grass beneath my feet, the gentle lapping sound of water from the lake, and the captivating sight of the fountain all offer a sense of tranquility that is hard to describe.

Seeing families — parents playing with their kids, couples enjoying a quiet moment by the lake, and groups of friends picnicking — adds a vibrant, lively touch that makes the park feel alive.

Bird's eye view of the Denver City Park
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One of my favorite features of Denver City Park is its abundant tree cover.

The towering trees not only provide generous shade during the scorching Denver summers but also contribute to the park's tranquility.

Their lush green canopies offer me a chance to escape the heat and breathe in the fresh, oxygen-rich air.

This refreshing environment rejuvenates my body and mind, setting the right tone for the rest of my day.

City Park is not just a park to me; it is a part of my lifestyle.

I spend countless hours here, either unwinding on a bench while soaking in the serene ambiance, engaging in a leisurely picnic with friends or simply watching the sunset after a long day.

The plentiful amenities and stress-free parking add to the park's appeal, making it a favorite spot for many of my fellow Denver residents.

Sunset at the Denver City Park
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The Elitch Carousel Dome is one of those hidden gems in our community that I always find myself drawn to.

It's tucked away in a small park across from an apartment complex, far from the noise and rush of the city.

Elitch Carousel Dome is a relic of a bygone era, bearing the memory of the historic carousel that once graced its interior.

Walking around, you can almost hear the merry-go-round music and children's laughter echoing from the past.

A maze at the center of the dome adds a touch of whimsy to the place, making it a fun spot for both kids and adults alike.

I usually drop by when I have some time to spare, am waiting for a ride, or just need a moment of tranquility.

The labyrinth etched on the floor offers a meditative journey that allows me to reflect on my day or just enjoy a brief respite from the outside world.

The place could use more seating, but that doesn't deter me.

I love to sit on the grass in the summertime, basking in the sunshine.

As the seasons change, the dome takes on a festive spirit. In winter, Christmas trees pop up, filling the air with a nostalgic pine scent.

Go Biking at Commons Park

Landscape of the Commons Park
jenlo8 / Shutterstock.com

If there's one thing you can't miss in downtown Denver, it's the tranquil oasis of Commons Park.

This urban park is my go-to spot whenever I need a break from the city's fast pace. Its jogging paths, riverfront trail, benches, and shady spots are the perfect antidote to a busy day.

My favorite part of Commons Park is the bike path that runs along the river.

As a cycling enthusiast, I appreciate the ease with which the path integrates into the larger network of parks along the South Platt River trail.

It's a beautiful green belt perfect for both runners and cyclists, a sort of haven amidst the concrete.

But the park is not just for fitness enthusiasts.

Signage of the Commons Park
Jay Yuan / Shutterstock.com

I often see families and friends sprawled across the green spaces, enjoying a leisurely picnic, or simply soaking up the sun.

The park also hosts a variety of events, adding a touch of community spirit and excitement to the normally serene surroundings.

For pet owners like me, the park is a blessing.

It's dog-friendly, allowing my four-legged friend to enjoy the outdoors as much as I do.

And the views! From the small mount in the park, the city skyline is a sight to behold, especially during sunset.

Despite its popularity, Commons Park has its quiet corners too, hidden gems along the river where you can find solace.

These nooks are perfect for a picnic or even just a quick nap.

Being situated next to Union Station, the park is easily accessible. Public transportation options are plenty, and it's also near a host of great dining options.

The proximity to the city center, yet the tranquillity it offers, is what makes Commons Park a truly unique urban park.

From the beautiful views to the wide array of activities, there's something for everyone here.

Waterfront area at the Commons Park
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Marvel at the Dancing Giants of Denver - Sculpture Park

Living in Denver and not visiting the Sculpture Park?

That's unheard of! Being a stone's throw away from the bustling Denver Performing Arts Complex, it's a place we prefer for a peaceful evening stroll or a special event.

The Sculpture Park is like an open canvas, transforming into a vibrant venue during events.

I remember attending the Catrinas en mi cuidad event back in 2023.

The park was lively and full of energy.

A sense of security prevailed with guards patrolling the area.

What's more? My dog, Lucy, also had a great time!

During a corporate event by Symmetry Financial Group, the park transformed into a fabulous party ground.

The location was especially convenient for those who put up at the surrounding hotels.

The happy and helpful staff, the offerings of bicycle taxi rides, and the easy accessibility made it an ideal location.

Sculpture Park was teeming with food trucks, outdoor games, and live music.

The adult beverage bars scattered throughout the park were a big hit - no long queues there!

The outdoor gas fireplace added a warm and cozy vibe to the party.

And, let's not forget the clean portable toilets - every attendee's relief!

In its usual state, the park is a peaceful retreat.

The two 50-ft high sculptures - The Dancers - are an awe-inspiring sight to behold.

The serenity of the park during non-event days serves as a gentle reminder of the city's diverse culture and love for arts.

Have a Family Time at Sloan's Lake Park

Sloan's Lake Park during fall
Gennady Zakharin / Shutterstock.com

A jewel in the heart of Denver and right on my doorstep is Sloan's Lake Park, the city's second largest park.

With its jogging paths and grassy spots, it's the perfect place for an evening walk or a lazy Sunday picnic.

My favorite part of the park is the lake, which is not only boating-friendly, but also a feast for the eyes.

A leisurely stroll around the lake takes about 40-45 minutes, and it's worth taking your time to enjoy the stunning views of downtown and the mountains.

On a clear day, the reflection of the skyline on the water surface feels like a mirrored canvas painted by nature itself.

What's great is, even on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, it doesn’t feel crowded.

There's something soothing about the buzz of people enjoying the park, each at their own pace.

Vibrant sunset at Sloan's Lake Park
Jeremy Janus / Shutterstock.com

Whether it's giggling kids chasing each other in a game of tag, fitness enthusiasts sweating it out, or couples hand-in-hand, there's a comforting sense of community, of shared love for this beautiful space.

And then there's the history.

Sloan's Lake Park Foundation does a wonderful job of taking you through the history of the lake.

From the accidental creation of the man-made lake to the steamboat dinner cruises to Denver, the stories are fascinating.

They even talk about the amusement parks that used to exist on the shorelines. It's almost like taking a step back in time and re-living the past.

I often find myself recommending this neighborhood to my friends.

With its beautiful park and lake, it feels like a small sanctuary in the bustling city.

Closeup of a pretty flower at Sloan's Lake Park
Gennady Zakharin / Shutterstock.com

Admire the Architecture of Sullivan Gateway

I can vividly recall my time spent at East High School, right next to the majestic Sullivan Gateway.

The gateway holds a special place in my heart.

The historic park entrance, lavishly adorned with Doric columns, an enchanting fountain, and large, elegant sculptures, always held a sense of awe-inspiring beauty.

I used to hang around the fountain when water used to run, feeling the cool spray on a hot summer's day.

Living on Fillmore St., I was fortunate enough to have this architectural marvel in my own backyard.

The sight of the Sullivan Gateway arching into the sky was always a comforting sight, as I knew I was home.

Sullivan Gateway wasn't just a pretty sight, it was also a vibrant hub of activity.

A great mix of Colorado produce and local goods and services can be found here.

The Ela family farm and the Humble Pie added their own unique charm to the place, and their presence continues through October.

Break a Sweat at Inspiration Point Park

Picturesque sunset at Inspiration Point Park
EkinseyiteCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You know, Denver is full of hidden gems, but one of my favorites has to be Inspiration Point Park.

What a name, right? But believe me, it lives up to the hype. It's a hillside recreation area, perfect for a peaceful walk or a jog.

Last week, on a beautiful Wednesday, I found myself with some free time and I decided to explore this beautiful park.

Inspiration Point Park features a paved trail that leads to an overlook, offering sweeping, scenic views that never fail to amaze me.

As I ascended the trail, I was almost breathless from the beauty that unfolded before me.

You won't believe the panorama that this place offers! The sunset view from there... oh, it's mesmerizing!

Now, the park might be on the simpler side, with a few benches and the main viewpoint, but that's what I love about it.

It's not overly crowded or commercialized, it's just a peaceful place where you can appreciate nature's beauty.

The benches are well placed, allowing you to sit and absorb the views without any rush.

I usually pack a light snack, my camera, and just spend an afternoon clicking away.

Go Fishing at Rocky Mountain Lake Park

Ah, the joy of living near the Rocky Mountain Lake Park.

It's an oasis in the midst of the hustle and bustle of Denver.

I make it a point to take a leisurely stroll around the lake every day - the looped trail is a perfect way to start or end the day.

And the view! The majestic mountains frame the pristine lake beautifully, creating picture-perfect moments that never cease to amaze me.

Taking the kids out to Rocky Mountain Lake Park is always an adventure.

The playground is chock-full of laughter and fun.

And the sports fields... well, they've seen many a game of baseball, football, and softball.

There's a certain charm in the friendly competition and camaraderie that fills the air during the weekends.

One of my favorite activities, though, is fishing in the lake.

There's something peaceful about sitting by the lakeside, rod in hand, as the world slows down around you.

It's a pretty sight to see others doing the same, their lines shimmering in the sunlight, mirroring the tranquility of the lake.

This park isn't just for daytime activities.

Many a time, I've seen families and friends gather around the outdoor grills, the air filled with mouthwatering aromas.

With plenty of benches and tables available, it's an ideal spot for a picnic.

Get a Glimpse into Colorado's Glittering Dome: Colorado State Capitol

Exterior view of the Colorado State Capitol
f11photo / Shutterstock.com

Every time I visit the Colorado State Capitol, I can't help but marvel at its stunning architecture.

Crafted meticulously out of gold, brass, pink onyx, and oak, this Corinthian-style, gold-domed edifice stands as a testament to the state's rich history and grandeur.

Upon entering Colorado State Capitol, you're immediately enveloped in the grand scale of its design, a perfect blend of sophistication and elegance.

Shinny dome of the Colorado State Capitol
Damon Shaw / Shutterstock.com

I particularly enjoy the free tours offered, which provide a comprehensive look into the capitol's history and architecture.

You really shouldn't miss them; they're conducted every hour, making it easy to work into any schedule.

But my favorite part of the tour, however, was our ascent to the dome.

The panoramic views of the city from the top are spectacular - a sight that never fails to leave me in awe.

It's a tangible reminder that we are, indeed, a mile above sea level.

Interior view of the Colorado State Capitol dome
Nagel Photography / Shutterstock.com

Have a Blast at Downtown Denver Lookout

If you've ever had the fortune to visit Denver, then you know the city's beauty needs no embellishment.

However, there's one spot that lets you catch a glimpse of Denver in a whole new light, the Downtown Denver Lookout.

When I first stumbled upon this place, I almost turned back thinking it was just a parking lot.

But trust me, it's more than that.

The raw, unobstructed view of the city skyline from this spot is just surreal.

The amusement park in the distance adds a dash of charm to the overall scenery.

I must admit, though, the absence of proper signboards can make you question if you're at the right place.

A little sign or something would really help.

Downtown Denver Lookout is quite popular among locals and tourists alike.

It's a cool path and offers an amazing view of the city.

And as a small tip, if you're visiting the lookout for the first time, don't let the ongoing construction around the area deter you.

It's definitely worth the detour.

Grab a Bite at Civic Center Park

Colorful flowers at the Civic Center Park
Ann Cantelow / Shutterstock.com

Walking through Civic Center Park every day is one of my favorite pastimes.

This beautiful green oasis, nestled in the heart of Denver, is like a refreshing breath of fresh air amidst the hustle and bustle of city life.

I've seen the park change with the seasons, and the transformation is truly a sight to behold.

The park is dotted with charming fountains, statues, and the most magnificent Greek amphitheater.

There's something enchanting about the park that keeps drawing me back.

The Fourth of July celebrations here are something to look forward to every year, with the park coming alive with colors and an infectious spirit of festivity.

The food trucks that pop up during these celebrations are a foodie's haven!

Stalls at the Civic Center Park
Jamilya Khalilulina / Shutterstock.com

I particularly remember the melt-in-your-mouth BBQ at one of these trucks.

There's a timeless beauty about Civic Center Park that's hard to ignore.

The flowers that bloom in a myriad of colors, the lush green grass that blankets the park, and the iconic pillar archway with a charming little fountain, all contribute to this beauty.

The park is the perfect place for a relaxing day out.

Over the years, I've enjoyed numerous picnics, yoga sessions, and strolls here.

On top of the beauty, the park is home to historic structures that are over 100 years old.

The courthouse, which is lit daily with colors matching the season or celebration, is a sight to behold.

The park's history adds a unique charm, making it a symbol of Denver's heritage.

The holiday season, especially Christmas, transforms the park into a winter wonderland, a memory that I will cherish forever.

Visitors enjoying their day at Civic Center Park
Michael Berlfein / Shutterstock.com

Soak Up the Wild West with the Cowboy in Pajamas

Every city has its quirks and Denver is no exception.

One of our more unusual features is a 20-foot tall bronze sculpture named Cowboy in Pajamas.

It's been gracing the sidewalk just outside the Residence Inn since 2008, a conversation starter for both locals and tourists alike.

Crafted by artist Sean O’Meallie, the sculpture is an eyeful to take in.

It's like a cross between Yosemite Sam and a Toy Story character, a whimsical take on the classic cowboy figure often glorified by Hollywood.

One glance and you can't help but chuckle at the sight of a cowboy, in his customary hat and boots, donning not a rugged suit but rather, a pair of comfy pajamas.

It's certainly a sight that never gets old for me, even as a resident here.

In fact, I often find myself taking the long route just to pass by it, sometimes even pausing to snap a quick picture.

It's become one of those small pleasures that brighten up ordinary routines.

There's something about the sculpture that's endearingly surreal, a visible testament to Denver's vibrant art scene.

Situated alongside other public art installations, like the popular "I See What You Mean," Cowboy in Pajamas is a must-see on any walk through downtown Denver.

Dive into Culture at the Voorhies Memorial

View of the Voorhies Memorial
frankmlee / Shutterstock.com

Whenever life's hustle and bustle gets too much, I find peace and tranquility within the heart of the city at the beautiful Voorhies Memorial.

Nestled amidst the urban landscape, this monument is a haven for locals like me seeking some quiet time and a moment of reflection.

One of my favorite things about the Voorhies Memorial is its intrinsic beauty.

It's an incredible sight to behold - a big, adorable fountain lined with twelve distinct statues.

These “heads” represent the twelve years of the Chinese zodiac, a unique feature that sets this memorial apart.

Voorhies Memorial lit up at night
Jeff Smith - Perspectives / Shutterstock.com

Interestingly, these are the same heads that line the pond at the Palace in Vienna, Austria.

It's fascinating to think of the cultural exchange and connection between these two distant locations.

It's not just the monument itself that I find appealing.

The surrounding area is also a perfect spot to relax. I often take long walks around the park - the lush greenery and the gentle, soothing sound of the fountain are therapeutic.

Sometimes, I would just sit on one of the benches, immersed in the calming atmosphere, and let my mind wander.

Fountain at the Voorhies Memorial
frankmlee / Shutterstock.com

Final Thoughts

These are some of my favorite spots to enjoy the city without spending a dime.

Each one offers a unique glimpse into Denver's culture, history, and natural beauty.

Whether you're admiring local art at the Dikeou Collection, enjoying the serenity of Babi Yar Memorial Park, or soaking up the city views from the Downtown Denver Lookout, there's no shortage of free experiences to be had.

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