Frugal ColorAdventures

It’s no secret that Denver isn’t the cheapest place to live.
In fact, according to the Expatistan Cost of Living Index in North America, Denver is ranked #15 of the most expensive cities to live in the U.S. Granted, Matthew and I got a great deal on our place, but that’s besides the point. The point is that just because it can be quite pricey to live in Denver, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of frugal things to do in and all around the mile high city.
Living frugally all my life, I’ve learned how to find cheaper ways to do things and I always make a point to find the deals wherever I am.
Here are just a few fun things that Matthew and I have done on the cheap in Denver..

First Friday Art Walks
The first Friday of each month, the galleries, studios, and cultural attractions in Denver’s seven art districts open up to the public for a night of free tours of the art, tastes of some food & drinks, and a whole lot of fun.
Matthew and I visited the Santa Fe Art District, and this was honestly one of the coolest things that we’ve done thus far – and it was so great because it was SO close to home and we were completely entertained for free all night long!
denver_firstfridayartdistrict4
Cherry Creek Reservoir
Before summer came to an end, we made a point to hang out at the Cherry Creek Reservoir to get a taste of the “beach,” since we’re not so close to the real ones on the east coast anymore. With a towel, a good book, and a beautiful beach area, it’s easy to be entertained for hours ~ all for free.
dtc_cherrycreekreservoirbeach1
All the Parks
There are SO many parks in Denver! From the parks all around our home in the Denver Tech Center, to the ones in the city, each park has a unique aspect about it and offer the perfect places to spend your day in the fresh outdoor air!
During the summertime, we met up with our friends at Cheesman Park to play some card games, play around with the volleyball, have some drinks, and just relax. And it was such a good time.
cheesmanpark1
Free Admission at the Denver Zoo
Since I just found out about free admission days at the Denver Zoo, we have yet to do this! But we’ll definitely be checking it out when the days roll around on November 4th, 7th, and 17th!
reusepic


Not only have we found cheap things to do in the city, but we’ve also traveled beyond to find some fun, frugal adventures as well.

14ers

Since we’ve been in Denver, Matthew & I have hiked seven 14ers. And let me tell you, the early mornings, long walks, sore legs, and cold shivers were worth every amazing views we were able to see along the way. Not only is it a good time that will keep you entertained, in awe of nature, and active for hours, but it’s also all free.

14er_democrat21
At the top of Mount Democrat – 14,148 feet 

Great Sand Dunes
Although it usually costs a fee to visit National Parks, Matthew and I happened to visit the Great Sand Dunes on the National Park Service’s 100th birthday (really, that wasn’t planned), so we got in for free!
If it wasn’t free though, we definitely would have paid the $15 to get in anyways, since the Dunes were really amazing. The contrast between sand, water, and mountains was truly a sight to see.
sanddunes2Although it was definitely beautiful, our plans got a bit twisted. We had originally planned on camping out there, but after renting an $18 board from Kristi Mountain Sports to ride down the dunes, playing around in the sand for a good bit, and setting up our campsite, we both decided that we don’t really like sand all that much. As we were sitting and admiring the views, we suddenly felt so small, but in a totally different way from when we would realize our smallness on the 14ers. Sand is just so…sandy, gets stuck everywhere, and the sand at the dunes just seemed to go on and on and on. Plus, it looked like it was about to storm, and even more unfortunate for us, when we made our way back to our campsite, we were attacked by killer flies. Really, they were biting us, but that’s probably because the tent was still a tad wet from our friend’s previous camping trip.
sanddunes1So, we packed up our campsite, trekked through the sand, and got poured on as we made our way back to our car.
Yet, despite the turnaround of events, the trip, featuring nature’s unusually unique splendor, was completely worth it.

Breckenridge

Honestly, Breckenridge can be pretty expensive. We got lucky because my parents were visiting Colorado and decided to use their timeshare for a hotel in Breckenridge. So, we were able to stay with them in the popular mountain town, and it just happened to be Oktoberfest in both Breckenridge and Vail that weekend, so we were able to enjoy some great brews and food at the same time!
breck_freegondolarideOh, and although the slopes weren’t open for skiing just yet, we got to ride the free gondola up to about 13,000 feet, marveling at the views all the way up and down.

Aspen
As I said in my previous post, Free Fallin’, I had long heard all about the beautiful autumn leaves in Colorado, and I had also heard that Aspen was one of the best places to go to see them. Being a leaf lover, I of course insisted we go.
So, we drove the 3 and a half hours to Aspen, which, thanks to the splendid mountain views, didn’t even seem like 3 hours, and we fell in love with the little mountain town.
Free parking was in effect since it was an October weekend, so we parked in town and walked along the charming streets with the expensive restaurants and unique boutiques.
While we were there, the Farmer’s Market was going on, so we explored the selection of interesting goodies being sold there, and then we went to the Aspen Art Museum, which offers free entertainment through impressive art and great views of the mountains from the top floor.

One of our main incentives for visiting Aspen was to see the Maroon Bells, so when we finally decided it was time to head that way, we were told that we would have to wait 2 hours to take the $8 bus tour, since apparently everyone else had decided to check out the most photographed place in Colorado that day too.
Luckily, we had the bikes in the car, so with hopes that the ride wouldn’t be too difficult, we started our journey up the mountain.
And let me tell you, it was one of the best decisions we have ever made.
Since the road was blocked off to cars other than the buses taking people to the Bells, we didn’t have to worry about cars or traffic or anything. It was just us, a few other bikers, and the picturesque scenery.
fall2016_22Up through a fall wonderland and into a mountain paradise, the “challenging” bike ride wasn’t even that bad with the scenic views along the way (I mean, I was taking pics with my phone the whole way up, and no, I didn’t stop!)
In the end, not only did we make it up to the Bells for free, but I’m pretty sure we also had the best views all the way up.

So despite people’s frustration with how expensive Denver living has become, there are still so many frugal and free things to do all around Colorado! You just have to take the time to seek them out and experience them, because after taking every beautiful site in, living in Denver is definitely worth it.

forever frugal & free,
Claire

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