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10 Delightful yet Cheap Things to Do in Colorado – Budget-Friendly Vacations at The Centennial State

Want to explore cheap things to do in Colorado because your vacation is on a tight budget? Well, that’s not a problem because The Centennial State offers lots of low-cost and free destinations to discover! Delight in this list of 10 pocket-friendly destinations and activities in Colorado – we bet you’ll surely come back for more!

Garden of the Gods

Location: Colorado Springs

Kicking off our amazing list of cheap things to do in Colorado is a visit to the wonderful Garden of the Gods. This beautiful public park features more than 1,300 acres of impressive sandstone formations set in a dramatic backdrop of towering trees and lush greenery.

You can do lots of activities inside the Garden of the Gods. Enjoy an amazing nature trip by trying out any of the following:

  • Hike 21 miles of trails inside the Garden of Gods! Head over to the Visitor & Nature Center for a free map of hiking trails available for you. Hiking newbies may try the easy Siamese Twins Trail, which offers great views of Pikes Peak. Moderate-level hikes can journey to the rock formations through the Ridge Trail and Scotsman/Buckskin Charlie Trail.
  • Bike your way through the trails! One-way paved biking roads are available. Meanwhile, you can enjoy mountain biking on select trails inside the park.
  • Participate in daily guided walks for a fun and informative trip around the Garden of Gods. You’ll learn more about history, flora, fauna, and wildlife thriving freely within the natural park!
  • Go for a 1-2 hour guided horseback ride! This fun activity is suitable for both beginners and experts and allows you to enjoy fantastic views of the Garden of the Gods environment. This service is provided by Academy Riding Stables.
  • Try out rock climbing! Register for free at the City of Colorado Springs website, then check out some guides and outfitters to safely guide you in rock climbing for the first time. Experienced rock climbers are very much welcome to conquer the rock formations inside the Garden of the Gods, too!

These affordable activities at Garden of the Gods will truly bring out the avid nature-lover in you!

Denver Mart Drive-In

Location: North Washington

Want to enjoy movies in an outdoor setting without leaving your car? That’s exactly what you’ll get at Denver Mart Drive-In!

Denver Mart Drive-In features two movies at a time with a 10-minute intermission in between. Upcoming double feature films include Kung Fu Panda/The Karate Kid and Grease/Dirty Dancing.

You can watch outdoor movies projected at an 80×40 foot screen. Tune your car audio into 89.9 FM to hear the movie sounds broadcasted live. The outdoor movie theater can accommodate up to 275 cars.

Grab some popcorn, cotton candy, an assortment of other candies, and drinks at the Mart Cafe to enjoy as you watch. Purchase your snacks online at the Denver Mart Drive-In website, then drive to the Mart Cafe to pick up your orders before the show starts! But you may also bring your own food and beverages instead.

Gates start to open at 8 pm, and you can book tickets for $10 each for adults and kids 7 years old and up. Children 6 years old below are admitted free of charge. The Denver Mart Drive-In is truly among the interesting and cheap things to do. It also offers the best spring nightlife in Colorado.

Bishop Castle

Location: Rye

Bishop Castle is an interesting place to visit on your budget-friendly Colorado vacation. This awe-inspiring monument of stone and iron was built by Jim Bishop, a highschool drop-out who believed in his dreams and unceasingly worked to bring his dream architecture project to life. Indeed, he continues to work on the castle until now!

Bishop Castle is touted as the world’s largest one-man building project created by Jim Bishop alone! The magnificent structure was inspired by the mountains that the young boy Jim had always admired, viewing it to the west from his Pueblo hometown.

The initial structure Jim created was a one-room stone cottage with a fireplace shaped like the Eiffel Tower. Jim continued to work on the place until it grew into a magnificent structure with more than 16 stories, wrought iron walkways, three huge cathedral windows, and a fire-breathing steel dragon.

A donated hot air balloon burner is placed at the back of the steel dragon’s throat, enabling it to emit fire and bringing the dragon to life! You can see the dragon breathe fire every weekend.

Apart from the main structure, Bishop Castle also houses a small gift shop (Castle Keepsakes) and a food stand run.

Admission is free at Bishop Castle! Donations are most welcome, and many visitors do leave considerable amounts. All donations go to the Bishop Castle Foundation. The castle is open all year, seven days a week during daylight hours.

Paint Mines Interpretive Park

Location: Calhan

Here’s another breathtaking natural destination on our cheap things to do in Colorado list – the Paint Mines Interpretive Park! The park consists of 750 acres filled with colored clay, hoodoos, and grasslands. Paint Mines is home to a diverse ecological system that includes wild animals, birds, wildflowers, and badlands. Entrance to the park is free!

Paint Mines Interpretive Park is most famous for its multi-color rock formations and terrains. These are all part of sandstone hoodoos that rise more than 500 feet in elevation. The rock spires come in varying shades of chocolate brown, creamy white, purple, gray, orange, and rust.

The Paint Mines Trail offers you lovely views of the colorful rock formations and spires! It also passes through several wildflowers and prairie lands. You may also encounter sprawling wildlife like mule deers, coyotes, and horned toads along the way. It’s an easy to moderate trail with some inclines – a good trail that even beginners can complete!

Visitors are strictly required to stay on the trail at all times. Climbing on the rock formations, taking anything from the park, camping, picnics, and bringing motorized vehicles and domesticated animals are all prohibited.

Flat Tops Wilderness Area

Location: Meeker

At the heart of the Rio Blanco County’s Meeker town lies Colorado’s third-largest wilderness reserves – Flat Tops Wilderness Area! Prepare yourself to explore 235,214 acres of Rocky Mountain terrains and be amazed by nature once more!

Flat Tops Wilderness Area is a massive area with over 160 miles of trails, 110 ponds, and lakes, and a hundred miles of fishable streams. It has almost everything nature can offer – glistening rivers, alpine tundra, lovely volcanic cliffs, and dramatic views of towering peaks and wildflower meadows.

Enjoy a plethora of different moderate to strenuous hikes at Flat Tops! Some of the most popular hikes include:

  • Mosquito Lake via Bear River Trail (easy)
  • Devils Causeway Loop Trail (moderate)
  • Slide Mandall Lake and Black Mandall Lake (moderate)
  • Devils Causeway and Island Lakes Loop (strenuous)
  • Flat Top Mountain and Edge Lake Trail (strenuous)

Camp to your heart’s delight at any of the numerous small campgrounds scattered across the wilds! Bear Lake Campground, Trapline, and Shepherd’s Rim are some great camping site options.

Sleepy Cat Peak,. Trapper’s Peak, Finger Rock, and Devil’s Causeway are the four major landmarks you should aim to see when visiting Flat Tops. They’re all jaw-droppingly scenic and beautiful and are certainly worth your time and effort to see them!

Hammond’s Candies Factory Tour

Location: Washington Street, Denver

Hammond’s Candies is a beloved candy brand in the United States and has been going strong since 1920. And what better way to explore their candies than by going on a free tour at Hammond’s Candies’ factory? The Hammond’s Candies Factory Tour is the perfect destination for sweet tooths, kids, and kids-at-heart!

Learn more about the company’s history as you embark on a 30-minute tour inside Hammond’s Candies factory in Denver, Colorado. You’ll also see how candies such as lollipops and candy canes are created! There are large screens that show the candies being pulled, twisted, shaped, and hand-packaged in real-time. End your tour with a sweet treat made fresh from the factory!

The tour is completely free and is accessible for people with wheelchairs, strollers, and walkers. Book free tickets on the Hammond’s Candies website before your visit. Tours run from Tuesday to Saturday during factory business hours (starts at 9:15 am).

South Park City Museum

Location: Fairplay

Travel back in time to an authentically restored version of a 19th century Colorado mining boomtown! It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is among the interesting yet cheap things to do in Colorado.

South Park City Museum is an indoor and outdoor museum that’s open all year. Here, you’ll find 35 original buildings and plenty of artifacts that truly depict how life in a mining boomtown went by. Learn more about 19th century Colorado mining and exploration as you go on a self-guided tour of the city!

Entrance fees cost $10 for persons aged 13 years and up. Senior citizens and kids under 6 years old enter free of charge.

Children’s Museum of Denver

Location: Denver

Stop by Children’s Museum of Denver to take your little ones on a journey of fun art appreciation! The museum features unique interactive exhibits, a climbing wall, an interactive art studio, planetarium shows, and electricity demos. Special events also abound inside the museum, such as Trick or Treat Street Festival during late October.

Your kids will surely love the activities at the interactive exhibits! Some of these themed exhibits include:

  • Adventure Forest
  • Joy Park
  • Box Canyon
  • Altitude
  • Book Nook
  • My Market
  • Village of Healthy Smiles
  • Teaching Kitchen
  • Assembly Plant
  • Center for the Young Child (for kids under three years old)

Admission rates to the Children’s Museum of Denver start at $12 for kids aged 1-year-old and seniors 60 years old and up. Persons 2-59 years old are admitted for $14 each.

Butterfly Pavilion

Location: Westminster

The Butterfly Pavilion is a great place for kids to learn more about the wonderful world of invertebrates. The place offers a lovely garden exhibit with dozens of species of butterflies freely flying around. Apart from that, there are also other invertebrate exhibits to explore with your kids!

View new butterflies as they emerge from their chrysalises at the Wings of the Tropics exhibit. You can also walk on the gardens with free-flying butterflies in that exhibit! Meanwhile, visit Crawl-A-See-Em to meet arthropods and pet Rosie the tarantula. Then, head over to the Water’s Edge exhibit to explore underwater invertebrates.

You and your kids can also participate in numerous activities led by Butterfly Pavilion’s interpretive specialists. Join guided tours, interactive presentations, animal encounters, and feeding demonstrations!

Tickets to enter Butterfly Pavilion cost $13 for adults, $11 for seniors (65 and up), and $9 for kids (2-12). Little ones under 2 years old enter for free. There may be special rates during event days, so check their website first before booking! Either way, it’s a relatively inexpensive destination you and your kids will surely love.

Art District on Santa Fe

Location: Santa Fe Drive, Denver

Head over to Santa Fe Drive to visit the Art District, a collection of local cafes, art galleries, and individual artists!

Go to the Art Walk held twice a month every first and third Fridays. The free Art Walk showcases numerous artworks displayed on galleries, streets, alleys, and literally everywhere on Santa Fe Drive! Walk through the galleries mostly concentrated between 5th and 11th Avenues. Then, stop by different food trucks to savor yummy treats along your walks!

Missed the Art Walk? There are still plenty of smaller-scale free art events held throughout the Santa Fe Art District throughout the year! Come anytime and you’ll surely find an exhibit or two that’ll catch your fancy.

Booking Rental Properties Near Cheap Things to Do in Colorado

Now that you know the best destinations in Colorado, it’s time to look for a rental property nearby!

You can search for the perfect rental home in Colorado by using Rental Trader. Our platform allows you to connect with the property owner, discuss rates and availability, and directly book them all in one site.

And if you happen to have a vacation home in Colorado, you can also list them at Rental Trader. Simply sign up and add your property listing for free! Your property will be seen by hundreds and thousands of people using the platform – more chances for your property to be rented easily!

And that’s our wrap-up of the 10 delightful yet cheap things to do in Colorado. Enjoy your stay at The Centennial State!

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