Looking for a great place to visit on a budget? Denver just might be your answer. It can be expensive but, if you play your cards right, you can have a great time without spending an arm and a leg.
First, sleep cheap. This means you probably won't want to stay in a downtown hotel. For example, a one-night stay for a family of four at a typical downtown Denver hotel such as the Tabor Center Westin will set you back about $259 per night. In comparison, your family can stay at a Comfort Inn in Aurora for about $80 or at the Four Seasons by Sheraton Cherry Creek for around $85 a night.
Denver's Zoo, the Museum of Nature and Science, the Denver Botanic Gardens, and the Denver Art Museum are all reasonably priced. If you hit on the right day, you can even get into these city-supported attractions free. Otherwise, the Zoo will cost you about $36 for a family of four, and the Museum around $42. The museum has a great planetarium and, for a few dollars extra, you can watch a film in its IMAX Theater.
Denver's 17th Street Mall is a great place to people watch. You can usually catch some street entertainers and, if you hit the mall the right week, you'll find a fun event called Buskerfest.
Another great place to stroll and people watch is Larimer Square. One hundred years ago, it was Denver's red light district. The historical feeling has been preserved but where ladies of the night once hung out, you'll now find some fun, interesting shops.
Tours of the Denver Mint and Coors Brewery are free. After the Coors tour, you'll even be invited to sample some of the company's products.
If you like picnicking and associated outdoor recreation such as hiking, Denver has parks aplenty. Two of he most popular are Washington Park and Cheesman Park. If you don't mind driving a bit, be sure to take in Red Rocks Park southwest of Denver between I-70 and US 285. The Red Rocks natural amphitheater is totally one of a kind. Musicians love to play there and once you see it, you'll know why. There are also a group of mountain parks owned by the City of Denver. Some of the most popular of these include Cub Creek and Dillon Park, Daniels Park, Echo Lake Park, and Lookout Mountain Park. Use of all these parks is free and they are great places to hike around and see some beautiful mountain scenery. These parks are all west of Denver and are easy to find. Don't miss Genesee Park. It's only about 30 minutes west of Denver and is home to an honest-to-goodness buffalo herd.
Fishing and other forms of water sports can be found at our two metropolitan lakes – Cherry Creek and Chatfield Reservoirs. Cherry Creek Reservoir is about 25 minutes southeast of downtown Denver via Parker Road. Chatfield can be reached by driving south to C-470 and then west to Wadsworth Blvd.
Finally, try to drive up to Evergreen, CO via I-70 or Colorado #73. If you take Colorado #73, you'll go through a couple of fun, small towns – Morrison and Kittridge - and drive a beautiful canyon. Evergreen itself hosts many small shops, excellent restaurants and even a Denver Public Golf Course where you get to drive over one of the largest boulders you'll ever see.
You can learn more of what you need to know for a great Denver vacation at my web site. Just go to http://www.best-denver-vacation.com
Douglas Hanna is a 30-plus year resident of Denver and an expert on Denver and travel in Colorado. He is also the author of more than 100 ezine articles.