Denver doesn’t only have a high elevation, it has a high cost of living, coming in at number 15 in a cost of living index for all of North America—ouch. While high rent and drink prices may be giving your wallet a run for its money, not everything in the Mile High City has mile high prices. Here’s how to live cheaply in Denver this summer.
Cheap Ways to See Music
Denver has a great music scene, but not everyone can afford Red Rocks, and that’s fine. There are plenty of local places to catch up-and-coming bands, old favorites or talented local musicians. If you want to get outdoors and hear some great music, check out local bands and musicians at City Park Jazz or the Aurora Summer Concert series for free. The Hudson Gardens Concert Series in Littleton features bands like the B-52s with prices under $50 a ticket. If attending a city sponsored event isn’t quite your style, Viewhouse throws Rooftop Acoustic with $3 dollar bites, spirits, wine and beer and large plates for only $6. Red Bull also hosts local artists at their Red Bull Sound Select showcases, many shows are under $10, and who doesn’t love a Red Bull event? Check out the schedule here.
How to Eat for Less
We’ve all got to eat, and sometimes it can be pricey. Farmer’s markets are a great way to get fresh produce from local growers—bonus: you won’t see Whole Foods prices. The Wheat Ridge Farmers Market allows Coloradans to use food stamps at participating booths, and the Old South Pearl Street Farmers’ Market has a $10 fill-a-bag of veggies for early birds. Union Station also recently debuted its own rendition in the heart of the city. Try your green thumb at an urban garden and grow your own fruits, veggies or pretty perennials. While the cost varies from garden to garden, the average plot is $35 dollars, but scholarships are available and no one is turned away. You don’t have to stay at home and become Julia Child just to save a couple bucks, Happy Hours aren’t just for drinks. Blue Bonnet has $2.50 apps, tamales and mini tacos, the Irish Rover celebrates Taco Tuesday with $1 tacos and Cap City Tavern has a daily Happy Hour from 4 to 7 p.m. that includes $6 truffle mac and cheese.
Drink for Free
Obviously, a little pregame never hurt the wallet before hitting LoDo, but neither does a good Happy Hour. The Fainting Goat gives you $1 off draft beers, $3 wells and $4 house wines Monday through Friday 3-7 p.m. and all day on Sunday. The 9th Door basically hands out mojitos, margaritas and wine for only $4 dollars Monday through Friday from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. On Wednesday nights, Front Porch has Flip Night—flip a coin, guess heads or tails and if you guessed right, your drinks are free. It’s worth the gamble, 60 percent of the time, it works all the time—or something like that. They also have a Name Night Calendar, if you’re name is on the calendar, your drinks are free. Cheers to that one friend named Chelsea, Tim or Brian.
Lose Your Dough Without Spending the Dough
Summer bods are in season, but a six pack doesn’t have to come at a high price. Lucky for Denverites, the entire community is active, and there are a ton of ways to get rays and stay healthy. Take a jog around Wash Park, City Park, or anywhere with a trail. The incline, Bear Creek trail , Deer Creek Canyon or Chimney Gulch are great hikes to get your cardio in. Bike to work or around town. Don’t have a bike? No problem, Bikes Together allows volunteers to earn free bikes with just 10 hours of volunteering at Bikes Together or one of their partner organizations, not a bad trade, and you’ll do some good for the city. Climb high without high membership prices. Rock climb at REI for life with a $20 lifetime membership. Without a membership, the first climb is $10, but that drops to $5 for additional climbs. And if you want to get some aggression out while getting a workout in, Toperia Boxing has a $5 drop in fee, and TOS Boxing Gym offer group classes for only $10 dollars.
Do Denver’s Best Attractions for Free
Can we get an AMEN for free days? The Botanic Gardens, Nature and Science Museum and the Denver Art museum all have free days. The Modern Contemporary Museum of Art also has Penny Saturdays where you can explore exhibits for one cent. If you don’t mind the crowds, it’s a great way to see what the city has to offer at no cost. Unfortunately, the Denver Zoo does not free days during the summer, but starting in November you can see your furry friends for free. For the artsy, First Fridays is a chance to see artwork for free at the studios along Santa Fe (bonus: some snacks and drinks included). See more than the Mile High skyline at the Chamberlin Observatory, where you can see stars near and far on Tuesdays and Thursdays for only $4. Infinity Park in Glendale screens movies for free every Monday at 8 p.m. See their schedule here. Explore the mountains and national parks like a true Coloradan during the National Parks Service Birthday Celebration for free August 25-28.
Get Around Town on a Budget
While public transportation may not be as glamorous as Uber, it’s definitely cheap. Using RTD is a great way to get around town and keep costs low. Taking the Light Rail in town costs $2.60 a ride, or snag a day pass for $5.20. For a ride outside Denver, it’s $4.50, and to DIA, a measly $9 (compared to about $40 for an Uber). While you’re working your 10 volunteer hours for a bike from Bikes Together, check out B-Cycle. Bikes are stationed all around Denver and only cost $9 per day or $15 a month.