Living in Colorado provides residents endless opportunities of options for those looking to spend quality time in this beautiful state.  The problem arises though, when some of these options cost us a fortune simply to spend a day in a paradise.  For those watching our pennies, there are still numerous options out there. The trick may be in finding them. Listed below are some nearby locales that are sure to expand your horizons and still allow you to watch your wallet.

One of many incredible views to be seen at Garden of the Gods.

One of many incredible views to be seen at Garden of the Gods.

Garden of the Gods
Feel like getting out of the Denver area for a day? A short 1 ½ hour drive to Garden of the Gods, outside Colorado Springs, may be in order. Pack a picnic and head south to enjoy this free scenic park full of red rock formations and enjoy some of the dozens of trails offered. This is a good day trip for the whole family itching to get out of the city.

IF YOU GO… The Visitor and Nature Center is located west of Colorado Springs at 1805 North 30th Street.For more information on tours and activities or for directions call (719) 634-6666 or visit


Swetsville Zoo
This outdoor sculpture garden is not a “real” zoo with live animals but instead showcases metal animals made from scrap metals and car parts. The pieces are comedic and charming making this a must see for children and adults alike. The price can’t be beat either. No admission fee as this is strictly a donate-as-you-can establishment.

IF YOU GO… Swetsville Zoo is conveniently located north of Fort Collins right off of I-25 at 4801 East Harmony Road. Call (970) 484-9509 for directions and hours.


Coors Brewing Company
Adolph Coors established the Coors brewery in Golden in 1873 on the banks of Clear Creek. Today, MillerCoors is the second largest beer company in America, capturing nearly 30 percent of US beer sales. The Coors Brewery Tour attracts 300,000 visitors to Golden each year,  explores the world’s largest single-site brewery and includes a self-guided tour as well as samples of their brews at the end of the tour. Tours are free of charge as is parking.

IF YOU GO… Tours begin in the southeast corner of the visitor parking lot, 13th and Ford Street in Golden.  The hours for the tour change seasonally, so it’s best to call 800-642-6116 or 303-277-BEER (2337) to make sure they’re open on the day you plan to visit.  For more information call the phone numbers listed above or visit



One of the many classic cars on display at Forney Museum of Transportation. Photo courtesy of


Forney Museum of Transportation
For a nominal $8 fee for adults, one can see a one of a kind collection of over 500 exhibits related to transportation. Antique cars, buggies, bicycles, motorcycles and even locomotives can be found here. ‘Big Boy’, one of the world’s largest steam locomotives is one display at this unique museum. With hours now including Sundays, this is a must see, inexpensive stop for the whole family to enjoy.

IF YOU GO… The Forney Museum is located at 4303 Brighton Boulevard in Denver. Visit or call 303.297.1113 for more information.


Celestial Seasonings
Don’t miss your chance to see the world’s most advanced tea production plant. They offer free tours every day (except major holidays) so you can see first hand how the finest all-natural ingredients from around the world become a Coloradoans favorite tea. You also have the chance to enjoy free samples of every tea they make, and to browse the extensive display of original tea box artwork in their gallery.

IF YOU GO… 4600 Sleepytime Drive in north Boulder.  Their tour hours are Monday-Friday 10am-4pm, Saturday 10am-4pm, Sunday 11am-3pm. For more information on their tours and samples, call 303.581.1202 or visit


Oskar Blues
Looking for live music to enjoy after a hike on the trails west of Longmont? Stop by Oskar Blues for a reasonable live music venue always sure to please with bands ranging from bluegrass to blues. While the beer and food may not be free, this is a better alternative to the pocketbook than shelling out hundreds of dollars for a Red Rocks concert.

IF YOU GO… The original Grill & Brew location is in Lyons at 303 Main Street (303-823-6685), Homemade Liquids & Solids is in Longmont at 1555 South Hover Road (303-485-9400). Call for more information or visit and click on ‘events’ to see a listing of when and where bands are scheduled to play.


South Platte River Bike Trail
This paved bike trail follows the South Platte River for almost 30 miles, connecting a network of riverside parks. Since much of Denver’s early history occurred along this river, the Colorado Historical Society has erected more than 20 large historic signs that use photos and illustrations to tell the story of the area. There are markers alongside the trail describing the Native Americans who once lived here, as well as a variety of plaques informing riders about the wildlife and birds that can be seen along the way. For an inexpensive stop for lunch on the way down this trail, go to My Brother’s Bar, a historic landmark offering a family friendly atmosphere and reasonably priced food items.

IF YOU GO… There are any number of places to pick up the trail,  visit for an interactive map of the trail.


Colorado has an endless amount of reasonably priced activities to try out. It is not necessary to head to an overpriced resort in Aspen to enjoy your valuable time off. This is but a small sample of nearby places to visit that will not leave your wallet empty.

By Kristine Smith