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Stuck in the Mile High City without an equally sizable vacation budget? Colorado’s capital is surprisingly affordable, even with a dense population of breweries, outdoor spaces and aliens (okay, maybe…). Read on for a few quirky and cheap options to kick off your Denver trip.

 RELATED: Try these cheaper alternatives to pricey, popular destinations

Explore the parks on a shared bike

Denver is a city with sprawling paths, winding bike trails, and generally chill traffic, with drivers who are used to seeing people move around on two wheels. (However, let us be your mother for a second: Helmets are cool, wear ‘em.) If you’re on a budget but need a ride, consider hopping on a Denver B-cycle, Denver’s shared bike program. It’ll take a little planning since it requires “docking” your ride regularly, but $9 gets you a whole day of unlimited 30-minute rides across the city. For $15, you can get a whole month of rides.

Find some new reading material

Wanna figure out what to do in Denver? Learn from the locals who know the culture best. Go deep underground—at least in the literary sense—at the Denver Zine Library. The non-profit only allows those who have visited three times to check out their one-of-a-kind literary works, but fans can browse to their hearts content at the Curtis Street location, open 11am-3pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

Denver arts scene

Denver arts scene | Trover photo by Krystalvation

Explore the local art scene

The first Friday of every month (5:30pm-9:30pm to be exact) is prime time for art lovers as multiple neighborhoods (see a full list here) open their doors to art fans. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know your Monets from your Matisses, the carnival-like atmosphere and free-to-browse policies provide plenty of entertainment to fill your evening and fuel your conversations.

Kombucha in Denver

Kombucha | Photo courtsey of Laura Studarus

Get your non-alcoholic buzz on at American Cultures

At American Cultures kombucha bar, $14 gets you a flight of four different varieties of their on-tap fermented beverages. Preference is given to local vendors, and flavors change when they run out—giving probiotic fans a reason to go daily to get their fix. The spot is located in the Denver Highlands, a shopping and café-friendly hub about a mile outside the center, and makes the perfect stop for anyone who’s averse to the bar scene. In addition to kombucha floats, the tap room plans on offering an after-work mixed drink menu.

Adrift Tiki Bar & Grill

Adrift Tiki Bar & Grill | Trover photo by Bill Dillard

…Or get your actual drink on

Happy Hours got their name for a reason, as it’s been scientifically proven that overpaying for booze really bums people out. (Note: We are not scientists.) Take your vacation to a kitschy place (not a slam—umbrellas in your drink totally rock) at Adrift Tiki Bar & Grill featuring $5 deals 4–6pm Tuesday through Saturday. For the truly uninhibited (or shameless—again, no judgement), Café Brazil offers a free caipirinha on Tuesdays to anyone willing to do a one-minute dance for the bartender. Want something a bit more low key? Lady Jane offers $4 beers, $5 shots and $7 cocktails 4–6pm daily.

ALSO: Save even more on hotels when you sign up for CheapCash—it’s free to join!

Coors Field in Denver

Coors Field | Trover photo by Dan Rose

Go to a Rockies game

Even if your relationship with most athletic endeavors is to dismissively refer to it as “sportsball” (guilty) there’s a certain charm to hitting up a baseball game. Coors Field, aka home to the boys in purple, hosts several non-game pleasures, including a centerfield waterfall and pine trees, a line of purple seats indicating the actual mile-high mark, and their dinosaur mascot that occasionally graces fans with his/her presence. And hey, good news—tickets start at $14, with a $6 concession stand credit. Which means more money for peanuts and Cracker Jacks.


Molly Brown House in Denver

Molly Brown House | Trover photo by Krystalvation

Meet Molly Brown

One of Denver’s arguably most interesting residents was Molly Brown, a socialite who found herself on the right side of history when she survived the sinking of the Titanic only to encourage the rescue boat to turn around and look for survivors, only to later assist with the rebuilding of France post World War I, and still find time to shoehorn in a career as an actress. (She once called herself “The daughter of adventure,” a title which she clearly took to heart.) Even if you’re not visiting Denver on a historical mission, visiting her well-preserved Capitol Hill home offers a fascinating insight to her legend, and will only set you back $12 and a half-hour tour time.

Cereal bar in Denver

Cereal Box | Photo courtesy of Laura Studarus

Have a magically delicious morning

Got a sweet tooth…or a whole mouth of sweet teeth? (Umm…hi!) Take a trip out to the Cereal Box, a—yes, you guessed it—cereal-only restaurant whose menu is made up of 120 varieties from around the world. Pour yourself a custom bowl, or have your cerealogist compile one of their custom mixes, decorated with Pop Tarts, whipped cream, sprinkles, candy and flavored milks. Gulp it down in their Saturday-morning-personified dining room, then let the sugar take you where it will. Bowls run between $4–$8.

Red Rocks Amphitheater at sunrise, near Denver Colorado

Red Rocks Amphitheater at sunrise, near Denver Colorado

Surround yourself with Red Rocks

Just outside of Denver, in the suburb of Morrison, is the Red Rocks Amphitheatre, a concert venue built into the side of the mountain that many consider to be one of the most beautiful venues in the country. No one playing that catches your musical fancy? No problem. Red Rocks offers tours ($8 in season, $12 during off season). The behind-the-scenes action includes everything from the geology of the area to a chance to stand on the stage and appreciate the view everyone from Nine inch Nails to James Taylor have taken in. Do it because you love rock. Or rocks. Or because you rock. (Sorry.)

Denver Airport

Denver Airport | Photo courtesy of Laura Studarus

Hunt for secrets at the airport

Got time to kill at the airport? Why not uncover a secret world order? According to sizable population of conspiracy theorists, Denver International Airport is the home to a secret plot led by Freemasons, or maybe the Illuminati, or could it be the lizard people? Take a walk around a decide for yourself if this is in fact a bunker meant to house the world elite during the apocalypse. Or the site where aliens made contact. Hard to say for sure, but with the spooky ambience it’s hard not to imagine something is going down. Grab an Instagram with the gargoyle in a suitcase at baggage claim, wave to the red-eyed demon horse out front (morbidly the statue fell on its creator, killing him), ponder the Freemason stone, or hunt for hidden Illuminati meanings in Leo Tanguma’s eyebrow-raising murals. Then, go forth and spread your own rumors.


Tagged: City, Destinations, Top 10 list, Types of Travel

Laura Studarus

Laura Studarus

Laura Studarus

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