Entertaining Summer Guests in Colorado for Less

June 4, 2013

Photo by coiax, via flickr

Growing up in Colorado Springs, I saw summer as the time when my out-of-town family would visit and we would “entertain” them. Places like Cave of the Winds, the Cliff Dwellings and the Royal Gorge Bridge were fun because I was able to do touristy things that I wouldn’t do on a regular basis. However, looking back, I must say that wasn’t a true representation of what living in Colorado was really like. When we would visit free places like Garden of the Gods, Manitou Springs and Old Colorado City, that is when I would feel like we were home.

I have since moved to Denver and often think about where I would like to take my visitors throughout the year. Summer in Colorado has so much to offer and you don’t need to go somewhere that charges admission to have a good time. Here are some out-of-the-box ideas for keeping friends and family entertained.

Free activities: Colorado during the summer can be amazing. If going up to the mountains isn’t in your agenda, then check out places like Red Rocks in Morrison or Chautauqua in Boulder. Both locations offer beautiful hiking trails and cozy places to picnic. You can easily tire out little ones at either place -- you just need to decide on the view. Pearl Street Mall in Boulder also has a lot going on during the summer and there is a fountain for kids to play in. Balloon animals, ice cream from Ben and Jerry’s and a run through the shooting fountain -- what could be better?

Culture Passes: Not everyone knows what their library has to offer, but with just a little investigation, you can find amazing things on their websites. Jefferson County Public Library has a section on their site called Culture Passes. You need a Jeffco library card to access the passes but you do not need to be a Jeffco resident to get a card. These passes can cover admission for up to 6 people at some locations. Take the tour at Dinosaur Ridge or check out the Firefighter Museum or Museum of Contemporary Art for free!

Summer festivals in Denver: Denver loves its festivals so there are many opportunities to take in not only the Denver culture, but the culture of others. You could take the family to one of the bigger ones such as People’s Fair and Taste of Colorado or you could try something different. The lesser known festivals celebrate different heritages from around the world. Sprinkled through the summer you can check out the Cherry Blossom Festival in May, the Greek Festival in June, the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival in July, and the Italian Heritage Festival in September.  There is no need to pay admission at any of these, so you are able to spend your money on more tangible things like food, crafts, and games.

First Fridays: One of the most eclectic nights of the month is the first Friday. There are many places that are open late to celebrate art, food and drink. The Santa Fe Art Walk can keep you busy all night and the warm summer nights are perfect to be out. Be sure to check out places on Broadway as well as locally owned shops get in on the fun by supporting local artists.

Where do you like to take your guests when they come to visit?