Cheap is good, but FREE is even better, and some of our favorite events and activities are always (or almost always) offered at no cost. Some are seasonal, some are on hiatus during holiday periods and others (including parades and fireworks, not listed here) are only connected with holidays. Click on any link that interests you for details, including hours and seasonal schedules. And if you have suggestions for others, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cruise through the websites of local library systems and check their events calendars to find FREE lectures, films, storytimes, homework help, teen activities, language classes and more. Oh yes, they also loan books, eBooks, audio books, CDs and more. Arapahoe Library District ♦ Aurora Public Library ♦ Boulder Public Library ♦ Denver Public Library ♦ Douglas County Libraries ♦ Estes Valley Library ♦ Gilpin County Public Library ♦ Jefferson County Libraries ♦ High Plains Library District (Weld County) ♦ Lafayette Public Library ♦ Littleton-Bemis Public Library ♦ Louisville Public Library ♦ Longmont Public Library ♦ Mamie Doud Eisenhower Public Library (Broomfield) ♦ Lyons Depot Library ♦ Nederland Community Library ♦ Poudre River Library District (Fort Collins).
The Scientific and Cultural Facilities District, comprising seven metro area counties, subsidizes FREE days at the Denver Zoo, the Denver Botanical Gardens and a slew of large and small museums. The SCFD’s events calendar lists all FREE days. ♦ Aurora History Museum. The only public, FREE museum in Aurora, is a community-based cultural center featuring changing history, natural history, culture, fine and decorative arts exhibits and programs. Open Tuesday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. 15051 E. Alameda Pkwy., Aurora. ♦ The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver charges just 1¢ on the first Saturday of every month. ♦ U.S. Mint. Not a museum, but the fascinating “factory” that produces U.S. coins. FREE tours from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., non-holidays, midweek. Reservations required. 320 W. Colfax Ave., Denver. ♦ Children’s Museum of Denver. Target Tuesday Nights, Families FREE the first Tuesday of each month, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Also seniors 60+ FREE the last Friday of each month. 2121 Children’s Museum Dr., Denver, 303-433-7444. ♦ University of Colorado Museum of Natural History. Entry always FREE, and also FREE coffee and tea. Henderson Bldg., 15th and Broadway, Boulder, 303-492-6892. ♦ Leanin’ Tree Museum & Sculpture Garden of Western Art. Greeting card maker’s collection of Western art. 6055 Longbow Dr., Boulder, 303-729-3440. ♦ Estes Park Museum. Hours and days vary seasonally. 200 Fourth St., 970-586-6256. Also, Historic Fall River Hydroplant, 1754 Fish Hatchery Rd. and cabin ruins on Knoll-Willows Open Space behind Town Hall.
First Friday. FREE evening artwalks with galleries showing fine and visual arts. displayed in the Golden Triangle Museum District (Broadway/Speer/13th Avenue; ). Art District on Santa Fe (Santa Fe Drive between 4th and 12th Avenues; also Third Friday). Tennyson Street Cultural District from 30th to just north of 44th Ave.). RiNo Art District (north of 20th St. between Larimer and Chestnut; also Second Saturday). Elsewhere are Golden’s First Friday, Boulder’s First Friday Art Walk, North Boulder’s NoBo First Friday Nite Art Walk and Niwot’s First Friday, all 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Food, Wine & Beer
Marczyk Fine Foods (plus Marczyk Fine Wines and Fairfax Fine Wines). Friday evenings, 5 to 8 p.m. at both Denver locations. ♦ Big box stores like Costco and Sam’s Club set up tasting stands, most prominently on weekends. ♦ Whole Foods, Sunflower Farmers Markets, Sprouts Farmers Markets, Lucky’s Markets and Vitamin Cottage Natural Grocers. Tastings and presentations vary by store. ♦ Celestial Seasonings. Guided 45-minute walk though pioneering herbal tea plant, including samples. 4600 Sleepytime Dr., Boulder, 303-581-1202. ♦ Boulder Wine Merchant. Master sommelier-owned specialty retailer hosts periodic free tastings and also free (small) classes. ♦ Hammond’s Candies Factory Tours, 30-minute guided tour. Daily except Sunday. 5735 N. Washington St. Denver, 303-333-5588. ♦ Coors Brewery Tour. Self-paced tour of world’s largest brewery, beginning from the southeast corner of the visitor parking lot, 13th & Ford Street, Golden. Hours vary seasonally. Free beer tasting for age 21 and older.♦ Great Harvest Bread Co. Free thick slice of fresh bread and butter to anyone coming into the bakery. Kids love it. Village Shopping Center, 2525 Araphoe Ave., Boulder. ♦ Redstone Meadery. 1/2-hour tour Monday-Friday, 1 and 3 p.m.; Saturday, 12:30 p.m. Also, free tastings. 4700 Pearl St., #2A, Boulder, 720-406-1215. ♦ Budweiser Brewery Tour. Hours vary seasonally. Also see the Budweiser Clydesdales when they are in town. 2351 Busch Dr., Fort Collins, 970-490-4691. ♦
Sports & Outdoors
Many metro area communities have FREE skate parks, with the Denver Skate Park being one of the largest and best in the entire country. Offers bowls for all levels of skating skill. Helmets required. Open 5 a,m, to 11 p.m. daily. 2205 19th St. (between Platte and Little Raven).♦ Bass Pro Shops. Frequent classes and workshops in fly fishing, camping, hunting and other outdoor activities. 7970 Northfield Blvd., Denver, 720-385-3600. ♦ REI. Frequent classes, workshops, presentations and clinics in hiking, camping, snowshoeing, avalanche preparedness, family activities and other outdoor activities. Denver Flagship store (1416 Platte St., Denver, 303-756-3100) and also Boulder, Englewood, Lakewood, Westminster, Fort Collins and Colorado Springs. The Denver Flagship and Boulder store have the best facilities for programs and the most events. ♦ Neptune Mountaineering. Travel and outdoor adventure presentations; snow safety programs. Table Mesa Shopping Center, 633 S. Broadway, Boulder, 303-499-8866. ♦ Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge. FREE entry and activities, including naturalist-led bus tour on the fourth Saturday of each month. 6550 Gateay Rd., Commerce City. 303-289-0930. ♦ Little Thompson Observatory. Public Star Nights, third Friday of every month. Presentation and stargazing using their telescope. On the grounds of Berthoud High School. ♦ Winter Trails Day. Snowshoeing demo equipment and short group tours. Echo Lake (between Bergen Park and Idaho Springs) and Rocky Mountain National Park (Bear Lake shuttle parking lot), two Saturdays in January. ♦ Alpine Base & Edge. Waxing clinics twice a week during ski/snowboard season. 2709 Spruce St., Boulder, 303-443-0814.
Health & Wellness
Area hospitals offering FREE health lectures by board certified physicians include Boulder Community Hospital, Longmont United Hospital and Porter Adventist Hospital (Denver). Some classes are on site at the hospital; others are off-site in hotel conference centers, other meeting facilities or recreation or senior centers. ♦ St. Anthony Hospitals Health Passport. FREE membership program offering lifelong learning, travel, health education and other special services for the Denver metro community. Some programs are FREE, others are fee-based, and there are also discount benefits for members. ♦ Walk With a Doc. Monthly Saturday health walks with physicians. ♦ South Denver Cardiology Center, Littleton. Full calendar of classes, cooking demonstrations with “The Cooking Cardiologist.” ♦
Plants & Gardens
♦ Hudson Gardens is not as well known as the Denver Botanic Gardens but is open to the public every day for FREE. 6115 S Santa Fe Dr., Littleton. ♦ Colorado State University. Portal to FREE resources and classes for home gardeners and backyard farmers as well as “real” farmers and ranchers. Info includes soil preparation, growing plants from seed, weed control, insects, water conservation and a host of other topics. Their website also has a Q&A page about gardening and plant topics. County extension offices (each with its own website) offer very localized resources. ♦ FREE gardening and plant-care classes and information abound at garden centers, nurseries and public parks. Also check Colorado Gardener, a FREE seasonal magazine, and gardening supplements of local newspapers for events calendars and plant information. They are generally published from late April through September. ♦ Fantasy Orchids. FREE classes on orchid growing on many Saturdays, year-round. 830 W. Cherry St., Louisville, 303-666-5432.
Other Events & Services
Tattered Cover author readings. LoDo, Colfax and Highlands Ranch stores. The Tesoro Foundation’s FREE historic lectures and FREE Opera Colorado visits in conjunction with new productions. ♦ Firehouse Friday. Children’s storytime every Friday from 11 to 11:30 a.m. at Old Firehouse Books, 232 Walnut St., Fort Collins, 970-484-7898. ♦ Affection & Praise Family Dog Training. FREE puppy socialization classes, Denver and Boulder. ♦ Changes in Latitude. Weekly travel presentations take place most Tuesdays of the year at 7 p.m. Village Shopping Center, 2525 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder, 303-786-8406. ♦ FREE Spanish Happy Hour meets on the first and third Thursdays of every month from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Boulder’s Restaurante 100% Mexicano; food and drink specials for all SHH attendees. RSVP here. 2850 Iris Ave. (at 28th St., tucked behind the Diagonal Plaza shopping center), Boulder, 303-440-4141. ♦ FC Bike Library. Residents, students and visitors have up to 5 days of free use of bicycles, trailers, tag-alongs, accessories and more in Old Town Fort Collins. Seasonal. For more information, call 970-419-1050.