Free and cheap things to do in Denver

Free Hiker Shuttle in Boulder

As hikers know, parking at Boulder’s popular Chautauqua Park is a challenge. To solve the problem, the City of Boulder operates a free park-to-park hiker shuttle between downtown Boulder and Chautauqua trailhead from 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday, all summer long. The shuttle runs every 15 minutes. It picks up riders at several stops around Boulder as well as from the New Vista High School Parking lot, the CU Regent parking lot and downtown Boulder parking garages. The service is available through Sept. 4 and includes upcoming holidays: Juneteenth, Independence Day and Labor Day.

Denver Fringe Festival

Original, immersive and experimental performances on the “fringes” of mainstream theatre are the hallmark of the Denver Fringe Festival. This year, the festival takes place from June 8 to 11 with more than 150 live performances of 55 different productions at 12 indoor and outdoor venues in the Five Points/RiNo Art District. The festival spans all types of performing arts, including theater, dance, comedy, improv, cabaret and more. There are eight original plays, six immersive experiences and street performances over the four days of unbridled creativity. Buy a ticket for $15 to any show or purchase four or more for a 10 percent discount. A festival pass is also available for $75, which give you access to all shows. For families, there is also a two-day KidsFringe with free shows on June 10 and 11. Like other Fringe festivals around the world, the primary goal of Denver Fringe is to support independent artists.

Smoothie King Grand Opening

A new Smoothie King (9165 Northfield Blvd.) is now open in Denver, owned by Cherokee Trail High School alum and retired NFL outside linebacker Josh Martin and his sister Gabby. The shop hosts a Grand Opening Week with daily specials from June 5 to 9. As part of the celebration, they will be collecting non-perishable food donations to support the Food Bank of the Rockies. To get the daily special, you must bring a donation. (Limit one offer per person, regardless of the number of items donated.) Here’s what’s on the menu: June 5 is buy-one-get-one free menu item; June 6 is free kids’ smoothie with the purchase of 20-oz. smoothie or larger; June 7 is free extra or enhancer with the purchase of any smoothie; June 8, get a 20-oz. smoothie for $4.99; and June 9 is a free 20-oz. smoothie. The specials are only available at this new location.

Harkins Theatres’ Summer Movie Fun

Harkins Theatres offers blockbuster savings with its Summer Movie Fun series. The family-friendly series shows one kids’ flick every weekday at 9:45 a.m. from June 5 to July 28. Tickets are just $2 each. For maximum savings, buy a Summer Movie Fun Pass for $8 — making each movie just $1. With the pass, you must select a specific theatre and day of the week and attend each screening accordingly. Summer Movie Fun pass holders also receive a voucher for 50 percent off one Kids Combo (popcorn, fruit snacks and drink) valid from June 1 to July 28. This year’s line-up includes “Minions: The Rise of Gru”, “Trolls World Tour”, “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” and more. The summer series is showing at both of Harkins Theatres’ Colorado locations — Northfield 18 (8300 E. Northfield Blvd.) in Denver and Arvada 14 (5550 Olde Wadsworth Blvd.)

Unicorn Festival

A magical world is springing up at Clement Park (7306 W. Bowles Ave.) in Littleton on June 10 and 11. Princesses, fairies, mermaids, and other fanciful creatures will come alive at the Unicorn Festival. (Yes, real unicorns, too.) The family-friendly event will be full of fun and imagination, including bouncy castles, storytelling, unicorn petting corral, meeting a mermaid, photos with a princess, 66-foot dragon slide, castle obstacle course and more. Tickets are $25 per person and valid all weekend long. Children two and younger get in for free. The best deal is the family four-pack for $79 — only available online. Military and their family members can purchase tickets for $15. All entertainment and activities are included with admission. The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Park at Southwest Plaza for free and take a free shuttle to the event.

DFL Harmony Horse Expo

Horse around with fellow horse lovers at the Dumb Friends League Harmony Equine Center (5540 E. Hwy. 86) in Franktown. All are welcome to trot over to the organization’s annual Harmony Horse Expo on June 10 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The free event gives visitors the opportunity to take guided tours of the 168-acre property, learn more about horses and meet adoptable horses. Attendees will enjoy a variety of workshops and demos, including first aid for horses, saddle fitting and foal training. Plus, enjoy refreshments from Raising Cane’s, while supplies last. Harmony Equine Center is a private rehabilitation and adoption facility for horses, ponies, donkeys and mules that have been removed from owners’ care by law enforcement.

Draft Day at Littleton Museum

If you want time travel this June, take the family to the Littleton Museum (6028 S. Gallup St.) as it revives its annual Draft Day event. On June 17, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., visitors can see mules, oxen, and large draft horses up close and in action. These large animals, vital to survival in the 1800s, will be put to work as they demonstrate how fields were plowed and large wagons pulled across the plains. Speak with experts about the animals’ care and training and learn about planting time on a farm in the 1860s. Plus, get some tips on chuck wagon “cooking” methods. Admission is free.

Mystery Movie Monday

If you like suspense, Regal Cinemas has the ticket for you. Enjoy a major plot twist even before the movie begins on Mystery Movie Monday. For just $5, be the first to see a new release before it opens to the public. The catch? Due to contractual agreements with the movie studio, Regal Cinemas can’t tell you what film will be showing on the big screen. The next “secret” screening is on June 19 at 5 p.m. The only information available for this screening is that the film is rated PG and 105 minutes long. The special advance screening takes place at select locations. Regal Cinemas typically hosts the special advance screenings several times a year – just be on the lookout for announcements via social media.

Frederick in Flight

The Town of Frederick celebrates the magic of hot air balloons with its annual Frederick in Flight — including hot air balloon lifts, tethered balloon rides, a Glow Party with a beer garden and food trucks and tons of family fun. The free event takes flight from June 23 to 25. Each day, watch about 25 hot air balloons lift off at daybreak — around 6 a.m. — at Centennial Park (601 8th St.) If you’ve never seen a hot air balloon take flight in the morning sky, it’s worth the early morning mini road trip from Denver. Keep your feet firmly planted on the ground on Saturday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. with a Balloon Bash in Centennial Park featuring live music, food trucks, a beer garden, free kids activities and glowing hot air balloons.

Highland Street Fair

Head over to West 32nd Street between Irving and Perry for the 40th Annual Highlands Street Fair on June 24 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. The longtime free family-friendly neighborhood event in northwest Denver features live music, vendors, food trucks and lots of fun activities. The day will be filled with several popular local acts providing entertainment, including The Cody Sisters Band, The Skinny, The Tracers and Venture Still. Attendees will be able to stroll up and down West 32nd Avenue, as they eat, drink and browse the booths of more than 100 vendors at the farmers-market-style festival — including local artisans, purveyors and more.

Movie Nights at Infinity Park

Stars in the sky and action on the big screen: Glendale is once again hosting Movie Nights at Infinity Park in 2023. Screenings are on Monday and admission is free. Bring your chairs or big blanket early to secure your spot on the lawn. Here’s what’s playing on the jumbo outdoor screen: June 26 – “Encanto”; July 10 – “Top Gun: Maverick”; July 17 – “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”; and July 24 – “DC League of Super-Pets”. Gates open at 6 p.m. and the movie starts at 7 p.m. Don’t forget to pack some snacks, too.

Every month, Laura Daily and Bryan K. Chavez at compile
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