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Denver on a Budget


near Denver, Colorado

Welcome to Denver:

This is not really a story about what to see and do in Denver. It is an attempt at getting you around this interesting city without destroying your budget. As with most places, Denver offers plenty of easy ways to pay top dollar for things that won't really enhance your experience. Get a Rand McNally Street Map of Denver.

When to Visit:

Summer offers the best chance for good weather, but all seasons are attractive. Skiers use Denver as a starting point for traveling to some of the best slopes in the Western Hemisphere. Spring can be tricky, because snow in April or May is not uncommon at 5280 feet above sea level. Weather conditions at all times of year change very quickly, which is actually one of Denver's more interesting features. Find flights to Denver.

Where to Eat:

Westword offers a list of more than 600 places in the Denver area where a cheap, filling, satisfying meal could be available. Make a list of a few that will be near your base and give them a try.

Where to Stay:

If you're inclined to use Priceline, first check on Bidding For Travel's post page. 11th Avenue Hotel and Hostel offers rooms with shared bath for $39 single, $50 double/night. Four-star choice under $120: Check out the Holiday Chalet B&B on East Colfax. Find Denver hotel rooms.

Getting Around:

Downtown Denver's 16th Street Mall is a pedestrian-friendly corridor, but not a completely closed street. In fact, if you ever get tired of walking its sidewalks, take one of the free buses that run its length. At one end, you'll see Union Station and links to Denver's light rail system. The downtown area is very large for a city of 550,000. In fact, it's one of the largest by land area in the nation. Wide spaces describe the metropolitan area, too. Rental cars are usually a must.

Denver Nightlife:

Check out the latest entertainment information in the Rocky Mountain News. The Denver Performing Arts Complex is located close to major downtown hotels and is home to the city's opera, ballet and symphony companies.

Rocky Mountain National Park:

Take I-25 north, then head west at Boulder or Longmont to enter Rocky Mountain National Park. The resort city of Estes Park is the gateway to some of the best hiking, wildlife watching, and scenery in America. If you go in winter, ask ahead about road conditions. Many of the national park roads will be closed even during the mildest of winters.

More Denver Tips:

  • Depart downtown Denver at least two hours before the scheduled time of your flight.

    Even two hours might be tight. Denver International Airport is remote. Under the best of traffic conditions, it will take 45 minutes to reach the terminal. This is one of the nation's busiest airports, so security lines can be long, especially during the holidays. Don't get caught in a time crunch and wind up paying for a missed flight.

  • If you'll be renting a car, do it at the airport.

    There will always be the great deal that springs up off the airport property, but make certain it saves you at least $40 USD. That's the typical price for getting to and from Denver International.

  • Colorado Springs is an excellent day trip.

    Ever wanted to see Pikes Peak? It's a relatively short trip down I-25 from Denver near Colorado Springs, which is also home to the U.S. Air Force Academy, U.S. Olympic Training Center and more. The ride shows you the scenic Front Range in all its glory, just to the west of the highway.

  • Want a great picture? Visit the State Capitol.

    If you only have a small amount of free time, hitch a ride on one of the free 16th Street buses and ride to its southern terminus. From there, it's about a block to the steps in front of Colorado's gold-domed capitol building. On a clear day, you'll see Denver city hall and the Rockies in the distance.

  • Drink plenty of water.

    About half the visitors to these parts suffer at least mild altitude sickness (usually in the form of a headache) if they're unaccustomed life above 5000 feet. This can be avoided by drinking plenty of water. Find yourself a bottle and pack it with your gear for the day.

  • Cheap souvenir? Try bringing home a fossil.

    There are stores here devoted to selling fossils of various descriptions that make great gifts because they're much harder to find in other places. You can buy a nice specimen for less than $20 USD.

    Step by step tips for visiting any large city on a budget

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