Denver: Free & Cheap Activities for Families
Vacationing with children can be expensive! We’ve done the research for you and are offering a list of free and cheap things to do for families in Denver, Colorado. The mile-high city boasts 300 days of sunshine per year and is a popular place for families to visit. Psst…our fun list only includes places that kids will actually enjoy! Get your cameras ready to capture these unforgettable activities.
Satisfy your sweet tooth at Hammond’s Candy Factory
It’s highly likely that your kids have a sweet tooth, so what could be better than the Hammond’s Candy Factory Tour? Watch as flavored sugar is pulled and twisted in all sorts of shapes and textures right before your eyes. The variety of chocolate bars and molded delights will have your mouth watering as soon as you step inside the factory. Hammond’s has been making candy in Denver, Colorado since 1920 when it started out as a local mom and pop business. Their candies are now available across the country and online.
- Insider Tip: Although tours are free, you must book your visit 24 hours in advance to ensure a spot on the tour. Strollers are welcome!
- Hours of Operation: Monday through Friday 9am-3pm & Saturday 10am-3pm
- Cost: FREE
Eat bugs at the Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster
Yes, you read that right! If you’re up for some serious memory making, you won’t soon forget the Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster, Colorado. A short 20 minute drive from the Denver city center, this is a chance to be amazed at any age. You can frolic amongst 1600 fluttering butterflies in Wings of the Tropics, try to find camouflaged arthropods hiding in their habitats and learn all about alternative protein. If you’re brave enough, you will not want to miss holding Rosie the tarantula and finding out how your taste buds like dehydrated and flavored crickets!
- Insider Tip: Experts give brief talks and demonstrations that are worth sitting in on. The topics are interactive and educational for all ages. Buy tickets online at a discounted rate.
- Hours of Operation: Open seven days a week year round from 9 am – 5 pm, with last entry at 4:15 pm. Closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.
- Cost: Online prices Adults $12; Seniors (65+) $10; Children (2-12) $8; Children (under 2) FREE
Unique movie going experience in Denver
If you are okay with seeing a movie a few weeks after the official box office release date, check out Elvis Cinemas. This discounted theater has everything a normal movie theater has, but for cheap! Even the snacks are reasonable! There are three locations in the Denver area and this place gets great reviews saying it’s a fantastic place for kids!
- Insider Tip: Sign up for their weekly email newsletter and get a free popcorn!
- Hours of Operation: Showtimes vary for each location. Check HERE for times.
- Cost: $3.00 before 6:00 p.m. and $4.00 after 6:00 p.m.
Find a penny, pick it up…for free at the US MINT in Downtown Denver
Coins are fascinating to kids and adults alike! Head to the Denver Mint to learn, and see how coins are made. You won’t find any of the paper stuff in this facility as the mint only produces bright, shiny coins! As you enter the secured building, an energetic and extremely knowledgeable guide will greet you with an uncirculated one-cent keepsake. Little one’s eyes will be wide with awe when they see hundreds of thousands of shiny coins sailing down the conveyor belts. You’ll learn about the history of the mint employees, the amount of coins that are collected each year, upcoming coin releases and old coin values. By the time you leave, everyone will be checking their piggy banks to see if they have a rare coin worth thousands of dollars!
- Insider Tip: Advance tickets are highly recommended. While the mint is free for everyone, you must have tour tickets to get inside. Space is limited so read the details carefully and plan ahead! No cameras or photography allowed.
- Hours of Operation: Six tours per day Monday through Thursday only. Adults and children over 7 years of age permitted.
- Cost: FREE
Show me $30 million at the Money Museum!
If the Denver Mint isn’t enough money excitement (or the kiddos are younger than seven), check out the Denver Money Museum. This small museum is a self-guided experience that has hands-on activities for kids of all ages. You can design and create your own colorful money, look at currency that dates back to 1775, and see what $30,000,000 actually looks like! On the way out grab a souvenir bag of free money! Okay, it’s shredded, but still fun to take home!
- Insider Tip: X-ray screening and metal detection required for every entrant, so pack light.
- Hours of Operation: Monday – Friday 9:30am – 4:00pm. Closed on weekends and bank holidays.
- Cost: FREE
Ticket to ride on the Denver Trolley
Include a unique open-air trolley ride in your adventures in Denver. The Denver Trolley, previously known as the Platte Valley Trolley operates during the warm weather months and is a fun activity for kids and adults. The trolley makes stops along its route including the Downtown Aquarium Denver, The Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus, and Confluence Park, on the South Platte River. Plan your outings accordingly so you can take advantage of this unique form of travel.
- Insider Tip: Stops are made during the southbound portion of the trip only.
- Hours of Operation: Thursday through Monday 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. May 23 through September 2.
- Cost: $5 Adults (ages 13 and older); $2 Children (under age 13); Free for children under age 4
Baby animal paradise
CALF’s Lowell Ranch (Colorado Agricultural Leadership Foundation) is a non-profit, working and educational ranch. The organization is dedicated to connecting people of all ages and abilities to agriculture. Should you plan for this up close and personal ranch experience, you and your little ones will be taken on a youth guided tour to learn the history of the ranch and what the future has in store. Your guide will be a knowledgeable young man or woman who is involved in CALF, 4-H and/or FFA. During your tour, you’ll get to snuggle up with piglets, chickens, goats, lambs, cows and ducks! Prepare yourself for some serious cuteness!
There is also an ag barn, historic red barn and livestock facilities along with an extensive garden complex. The gardens include a community garden, Pumpkin and Gourd Patch, Demonstration and Research Orchard, Edible Demonstration Garden, 4-H Sensory Garden and more!
- Insider Tip: Advance tour tickets required.
- Hours of Operation: Tour times vary. Check out the events page to get details.
- COST: $5 per person
Cool off at Union Station
Bring your bathing suits to this 100 year old historic landmark and splash in the fountains! The Union Station Splash Pad is a fabulous place for kids to cool off and for adults to sit back and relax. You’ll find hours of entertainment here with numerous shops, restaurants, hotel and ice cream stops for families to enjoy!
- Insider Tip: Catch the live jazz on Mondays or the farmer’s market on Fridays. Check the events calendar to see specific dates and times.
- Cost: Splash pad is FREE
What are your favorite family activities to do in and around Denver, Colorado? If they are free and/or cheap, we want to know about them! Leave us a comment below.
Jennifer is the marketing manager at BabyQuip. She is constantly trying to reinvent awesomeness through written copy, visual appeal, social media content and custom ads.