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Cheap Right Now gives a snapshot of a cheap weekend getaway each month.

July is the perfect month to channel your inner Jack Kerouac and head for Denver. The city is known for its 300 days of sunshine each year, which essentially means that it lacks any sort of humidity. Which, in turn, means good hair days. Plus, Denver is spilling over with culture, good food and great beer. And best of all, the Rocky Mountains are just a hop, skip and a jump away. Here’s what to do in Denver in July.

Denver International Airport

Denver International Airport. Photo: Timothy Vollmer – Flickr.

Plane, train or automobile

Unless you’re down for a cross-countryroad trip (which is almost always the best choice), flying into Denver International Airport is the most efficient way to get here — plus the airport has won awards for it’s design, so it’s worth seeing. From there, catch the SkyRide bus, or the University of Colorado A Line of the RTD (Regional Transportation District) downtown for just $9.

RTD light rail

An RTD light rail train rides through Denver. Photo: Nan Palmero – Flickr.

Cheap local transit

The RTD runs a light rail service around and through most of the city, and can take you out into the neighborhoods for some localized exploration. A one-day pass is $5.20, and that’ll get you on the buses too. Otherwise, the Denver B-cycle bike-share program has 88 stations throughout the city and is $7 for a half hour of use.

Denver Civic Center

Food trucks gather at Denver Civic Center three times a week. Photo: Rex Brown – Flickr.

Forage the food trucks

Denver seemed to jump on board the food truck train before the rest of the country, and its robust offering of delicacies just keeps getting better. Follow popular mainstays like Quiero Arepas, Manna from Heaven and Waffle Up on social media to track them down, or go to the gathering at Civic Center Park Tuesday throughThursday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Denver Biscuit Co’s biscuits and gravy, while incredibly messy, are particularly notable —it’ll be hours before you’re hungry again, and they’re just $9.50 when served with a protein-filled egg. 

Flatirons

The Flatirons near Boulder, Colorado. Photo: Cara Jo – Flickr.

Hit the trails

Your first priority upon arrival should be finding a place to either eat or hike. And since we just covered the former, here’s what to do for the latter: You’ll have to drive a ways outside of Denver, but it’ll be well worth it. There are dozens of hikes you could choose, but all offer a heavy dose of that fresh, cool mountain air. Try the Flatirons around Boulder, about a 40-minute drive from Denver.

Denver farmers' market

The Cherry Creek Fresh Market. Photo: Paul Swansen – Flickr.

Frequent a farmers’ market

There are farmers’ markets all over the city, but try the one on Old South Pearl Street between Florida and Iowa avenues. There’s fresh produce, savory spices and plenty of delectable treats, and some food trucks usually show up as well. The South Pearl neighborhood is incredibly cute, so stop at one of the coffee shops, like Steam Espresso Bar, on your way to the market. Afterwards, if you saved room for dessert, wander over to Duffeyroll Cafe for some dreamy cinnamon rolls.

Wynkoop beer

A flight of beer at Wynkoop Brewing Company. Photo: Bill Selak – Flickr.

Wind down at Wynkoop

Wynkoop Brewing Company was Denver’s first brewpub, opened in 1988. Gov. John Hickenlooper, who many call the father of craft beer, was one of the guys who started it. Back then, the neighborhood wasn’t nearly as hip as it is now, but Wynkoop helped revitalize the LoDo neighborhood, which has since built up around it. So swing in, grab a bite to eat and try some delicious beer (and toast to old Hickenlooper while you’re at it).

ice cream

Bonnie Brae Ice Cream. Photo: stokes 91 – Flickr.

 

Scream for ice cream

Bonnie Brae Ice Cream near Washington Park is not to be missed. The delicious flavors are homemade right on site, and they change throughout the summer, but the menu usually includes such gems as pineapple cheesecake, malted milkball and lemon ginger. The line usually stretches out the door—it gets pretty hot in Denver in July, meaning plenty of people are eager to cool off with a sweet treat. But worry not, there are plenty of benches to sit on while enjoying your just rewards and fitting in somechoice people-watching.

CTIXblog CTA _ cheap of the week

Tagged: Cheap of the Month, City, Food & drink, Off-season

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Rewards programs and memberships can seem like a scam, and plenty of them are. But some are actually pretty legit, and could prove beneficial, especially during trip planning, and it can pay to not let your eyes glaze over at the checkout line. Booking trips is a lot more fun when it’s not putting such a huge dent in your wallet. So next time the clerk is making a pitch for you to join her company’s rewards program, pay attention. It could save you some serious cash. Here’s a look at five rewards programs or memberships that could make your upcoming trip slightly less expensive.

 

Courtesy of Veggiefrog.

Courtesy of Veggiefrog.

REI membership — $20

Heading out for some adventure? Becoming an REI member will likely be beneficial for all your outdoorsy needs. It costs $20 to join, and it’s worth it, as members are held in high regard at this company. Each March, members get 10 percent back on almost all the purchases they made at REI that year. So if you plan on forking out $200 for equipment, the membership has paid for itself. Members also enjoy discounts on trips and excursions booked through REI, and in-store discounts, including bike and ski shop services. Some ski resorts also offer discounted lift tickets to REI members. REI has a great return policy in general, but being a member makes taking equipment back even easier. So if your hiking boots wore out a little too quickly or the hiking pants you bought didn’t fit like you thought they would, REI will take care of you.

 

Courtsy of Wetwebwork.

Courtsy of Wetwebwork.

Spotify Premium — $9.99

What’s a trip without some quality tunes? Spotify is available for free, but for your travels you’ll likely want to invest in Premium. It allows you to stream music without an internet connection, which is key when traveling to far-flung places. It’s $9.99 a month, and those intervals will make it easy to cancel if you want to just sign up for the service during your trip only. You can try it for free for 30 days, and students get a 50 percent discount.

 

Courtesy of Josué Goge.

Courtesy of Josué Goge.

Barnes & Noble membership — $25

If you’re beach bound and need a some good reads to take with you, a Barnes & Noble membership may be the way to go, especially if you aren’t the type of person that likes to wait for new best sellers to come out in paperback. It costs $25 a year to be a B&N member,and perks include 40 percent of hardcover best sellers, 10 percent off almost everything else (including treats at the cafe), and free shipping in under three days. Be careful though — the membership automatically renews each year, so remember to cancel if you only want in for 12 months.

 

Courtesy of Xlibber.

Courtesy of Xlibber.

Cheap Tickets rewards program (CheapCa$h) — Free

One of the best things about flight reward programs is that it costs you nothing more than you were already going to spend. Cheap Tickets’ reward program CheapCash gives you what they call CheapCash every time you book a flight. You can then turn around and use that CheapCash on hotel bookings. You have to use the CheapCash within 30 days, but there’s literally no downside to this one. Make sure to keep checking their website for special deals and promotions, which run often. PROMO CODE HERE?

 

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Tagged: Cheap Tips, City, Flights, FREE!, Last minute travel, Tips & advice

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It’s fall in the Rockies. The aspen groves have turned yellow and are beginning to lose their leaves, the air is growing even brisker and the mountain peaks are becoming snow-capped again. But the days remain just as bright and full of sunshine as ever, and the mountains are beckoning. So head to Colorado Springs for your fall getaway and immerse yourself in autumn’s beauty.

This distinctive architecture has one awards for Denver International Airport. Courtesy of Timothy Vollmer.

This distinctive architecture has one awards for Denver International Airport. Courtesy of Timothy Vollmer.

Plane, train or automobile — Although Colorado Springs does have its own airport through which you may be able to find some dirt cheap fares, your best bet is probably coming in through Denver International Airport. It’s a major hub and has won awards for its design, so make sure to check that out as you pass through. The Springs (as the locals call it) is about an hour drive south on Interstate 25.

Downtown Colorado Springs. Courtesy of Phillip Stewart.

Downtown Colorado Springs. Courtesy of Phillip Stewart.

Cheap local transit — Colorado Springs does have a bus system, and a daily pass on the Mountain Metropolitan Transit is $4 a day. The frequency, however, is a little sporadic, and you’ll want a car to get you up into the mountains at some point during your stay, so you may have to splurge a little on a rental. You can justify the spending by all the free activities you’ll be doing (like hiking). Biking is certainly an option, but be realistic about adjusting to the altitude. You’ll want to save energy for the hikes.

Courtesy of Tucker Hammerstrom.

Courtesy of Tucker Hammerstrom.

Admire the aspens — Aspens becomedownright beautiful in the fall. The leaves extending from their white branches turn golden and illuminate the entire area with their glow. Aspens grow in groups, and many trees can spring up from the same roots. It contributes to that overwhelming quality of Aspen forests. Catamount Trail, which is about a 25-minute drive from the Springs off of Highway 24 near a tiny town called Green Mountain Falls, is a great hike for taking them in.

Manitou Springs. Courtesy of John Lloyd.

Manitou Springs. Courtesy of John Lloyd.

Meander in Manitou — Nestled right up against the mountains is Manitou Springs, a little hippy town that draws travelers in with its one-of-a-kind souvenir shops and adorable cafes. Oh, and it’s breathtaking scenery. Wander through the streets and enjoy a beer in the shadow of Pikes Peak. Drink from the fountains along the sidewalks flowing with water from mountain springs. If you are feeling adventurous, you can board the Cog Railway and it’ll take you right up to the top of Pikes Peak. (If you do decide to do this, note that Pikes Peak is more than 14,000 feet tall, so make sure you’re dressed for it. The Cog Rail cost $37 for adults.)

 

Beer. Courtesy of Quinn Dombrowski

Beer. Courtesy of Quinn Dombrowski

Release your inner school girl — As the birthplace of craft beer, Colorado doesn’t disappoint in its libations. Bristol Brewing Company is a prime example. They’ve turned the old Ivywild School into a brewpub. The beer is good and reasonably priced and the food options aren’t too shabby either. Try a flight for only $7 and sit out on the patio if weather allows.

 

Courtesy of Thomas's Pics.

Courtesy of Thomas’s Pics.

Be scared silly — Is that the chill of fall in the air, or was it an apparition passing by? Blue Moon Haunted History Tours offer haunted walking and cemetery tours of Manitou Springs for $15. They will incite fear with tales of the the spirits of tuberculosis patients that flocked to Manitou for a cure and died outside the gates of the sanitorium. They’ll wile you with legends of the curses Native Americans put on the town after Victorians arrived and began bottling the sacred waters.

Go off roadin’ — But not really, since you don’t want to damage that rental. Old Stagecoach Road is made of dirt and is totally dusty, but that is all part of the allure. You’ll drive into the mountains on the one-lane road and feel that thrill of excitement when you go around a bend and can’t tell if someone else is coming from the other direction. Dozens of hikes branch off of Old Stagecoach, and you’ll likely find some that are pretty secluded.

 

Apples. Courtesy of Vijay Chennupati.

Apples. Courtesy of Vijay Chennupati.

Play among the pumpkins — Pumpkins and apples are the quintessence of fall, and you can pick your own at Third Street Apples. The farm is in Penrose, which is about a 40-minute drive from Colorado Springs, but it’s a beautiful drive with a mountain backdrop. Apples are $1.39 per pound and pumpkins are 55 cents per pound.

The Garden of Eden on the Catamount Trail. Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

The Garden of Eden on the Catamount Trail. Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Hit the trails — The best part about Colorado is all the room there is to play. And it’s all free. Explore and hike and enjoy nature. There’s nowhere else like Colorado in the world, and there’s nothing as liberating as hiking through its trails. Just avoid the state parks, because they charge entry fees.

CTIXblog CTA _ cheap of the week

Tagged: Cheap Tips, Off-season, Seasonal, Tips & advice