Dear Denver, These student loans are killing me. Not much extra money in my wallet these days after I pay for my big, fat brain. How can I still have a good time in the mile high?

Like many, I made the mistake of going to grad school and am now paying for it.  Every GD month.

Photo of the Denver passport

The Denver Passport

I know what it’s like to live hand to mouth.  It sucks.  However, luckily the mile high gets this and there are a number of things to do, even if you ain’t got much paper to your name.

The 10 things to do for $10 in Denver weekend blog: Put out each Friday, this Westword blog provides some great options for low-cost or free cultural events in Denver.  Also be sure to check-out this similar offering from Mile High on the Cheap.

Warm-weather activities

Free festivals out the ying yang: Who knew Denver had such a burgeoning street fair scene?  Aside from these official long-running fests, smaller fests put on by local breweries or neighborhoods seem to be occurring multiple times each weekend.  For more tips, check the events section.

The Denver Passport: The cool kids at Imbibe Denver and Denver Off the Wagon are once again offering the Denver Passport, which allows passport holders to partake in 2-for-1 drink specials at 60 participating bars, restaurants, and taprooms all summer long.   A great way to explore our fair city and save some bucks.  Passports cost just $10 if purchased by 10/31/14 ($20 afterwards) and can be used once at each participating venue.  Happy summer!

Free outdoor movies: Outdoor movies are the BEST.  From the family-friendly movies at Skyline Park to the bike-in movie series at Civic Center Park, you’ll find some nostalgic gem to cuddle-up to.

Denver public pools: Denver’s 16 public swimming pools are open from early June until mid-August.  At minimum, pools are open from noon – 5pm, with some pools staying open later.  (View individual pool schedules here.)

Picnic in the park:  The City and County of Denver provides over 200 city parks, over 100 miles of trails, and 11 dog parks.  Get your picnic on, son!  Two of my favorites are Cheesman and Confluence Park.

City Park Jazz:  If you have lived in Denver for at least seven days during the summer, then you know about City Park Jazz or  “jazz in the park”.   City Park Jazz is a great weekend culmination of dogs, babies, adults, brie, blankets, port-o-potties, hand sanitizer, vino and more recently, food trucks.  Although I don’t know if I’ve ever actually heard the jazz (I thought I did once, but it turned out to be someone’s iPod from a neighboring blanket), it’s still a great way to end your weekend with friends, families and canines.

Colorado Rockies tickets: If you can resist the giant overpriced (and delicious) beers, then $4 gets you a ticket in the beloved Rockpile.

Civic Center MOVES: New in 2014, Civic Center MOVES is a FREE fitness series for all fitness levels.   The free classes take place at different times of day Mondays through Thursdays, beginning April 21st.  Peep the schedule online.

Year-round activities

Run clubs: Speaking of free fitness…most breweries now offer a weekly run club, which encourages folks to run a 5K before sitting down to a FREE community dinner (although participants are encouraged to order a post-run drink).  Run clubs offered at Denver Beer Co.Highland Tap & BurgerJagged Mountain Craft Brewery, and others.

Photo of the Deer Pile.

Deer Pile: A good place to hang during these trying times

SCFD Free Days: The Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD) sponsors a number of free days at some of Denver’s best museums and gardens.

Coors brewery tour: “30-minute self-guided tour” means blaze to the sampling room and get your free drinking on.  Tours offered 10am – 4pm on Monday, Thursday – Saturday, and noon – 4pm on Sunday with extended summer hours.

Deer Pile: I am lucky enough to live across the street from this cultural gem and have been to a number of events, all of them free or low-cost.  Be sure to peep their website for visiting bands, movie nights, comedy acts, and the random dance party.  (Plus they usually sell cans of beer on the cheapy cheap.)  This place rules.

The Narrators:  If you haven’t been to The Narrators before, it is pure gold.  Local folks get up and tell a true story on a common theme.  It’s essentially like This American Life unfolding right in front of your beautiful smiling face.  It’s definitely one of my most favorite things to do in Denver, hands down.  The Narrators takes place on the third Wednesday of every month at Buntport Theater; admission is FREE.  (Plus there is cheap can beer to sip on while you listen, haaaaaaaaaaay.)

Photo of the inside of a bus.

You down with RTD?

Propaganda Comedy Show: Free comedy show on the last Sunday of every month at Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret.  Bring a few bucks to nurse a drink while listening to local and national talent in the coolest comedy club setting you’ve probably ever been to.  Plus pick-up a free Sexy Pizza slice card on your way out and end your night with some of the most delicious East Coast-style pizza in Denver.  Looking for additional cheap laughs?  Peep this list of weekly shows, most of which are FREE.

Take a cultural tour, aboard the #15:  If you live in Denver, then you know what kind of cultural legend the #15 bus route is.  Having dated a gent who lived in Aurora, I would jump on this bus after the bars were shutting done and brace myself for the after-hours shit show that was the number 15.  Stretching from Auraria Campus past the Anschutz Medical Center in Aurora, this bus route is the epitome of cray.  If you have $2.25 burning a hole in your pocket, have nothing better to do, and have only heard the stories, jump on this ride, and enjoy the show.


SAME cafe: Denver’s first nonprofit restaurant’s name stands for, “So All May Eat” and their model is based on a pay-what-you-can approach.  Their menu changes daily and volunteers help to create the mostly local, organic cuisine.  Their hours are a bit odd (Mon-Sat 11am-2pm), but plan ahead and check out this innovative local business.

Food for Starving Artists: Every fourth Friday of the month Converge Denver hosts a free community dinner for artists and creators of all types. Feel free to bring your latest work, idea, dream, epic fail, inspiration or just yourself.  It’s always a great time of connection and a great place to make friends.

Chomp:  Chomp is yet another great event that makes me say, “I effing love this city”.  This monthly community vegan dinner hosted by Plants & Animals just moved to a new location, The Posner Center for International Development, and is open to all.  For just a $8 – $10 donation, enjoy a heaping plate of delicious vegan food, based on the chosen monthly theme.  Note: the new location does not allow Chomp to sell alcohol, but feel free to BYOB.  PS You do not need to be a card-carrying vegan to attend; everyone is welcome!

Photo of a plate of vegan food.

Get your vegan grub on at Chomp