We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Free days at museums, parks and cultural institutions are essential to making the Front Range family-friendly.
That’s because in the fast-changing metro area, which continues to experience high rates of growth (with the attendant cost-of-living increases), families need accessible, all-ages activities that don’t require $50 in concessions, surcharges or branded swag.
Fortunately, the Scientific & Cultural Facilities District — the seven-county metro area’s tax district that supports hundreds of arts and culture nonprofits – continues to fund free days at marquee metro-area cultural attractions, and we’ve taken the liberty of rounding them up.
On a weekly basis, organizations such as Hudson Gardens (6115 S. Santa Fe Drive in Littleton) offer free daily entry for those whose idea of a good time includes picnics, nature walks and birdwatching. And new this year, the Golden History Museum & Park is offering free admission throughout its 80th anniversary (all of 2019) thanks to a private donor.
For art lovers, the Arvada Center Galleries (6901 Wadsworth Blvd.) has offered free admission seven days a week since opening in 1976, while every day at downtown Denver’s prestigious Clyfford Still Museum (1250 Bannock St.) is still free for attendees 17 and under. The Museum of Outdoor Arts will also offer free days the first Tuesdays of February, March and April.
Others offer slightly more limited hours, such as Aurora History Museum (15051 E. Alameda Parkway), which is free for everyone 9 a.m.-4 pm. Tuesday-Friday, and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. The second Saturday of each month is free at the Longmont Museum (400 Quail Road), which is prepping a handsome-looking Ansel Adams exhibit to debut Jan. 26. And the Broomfield Veterans Memorial Museum is free Thursdays and Saturdays, with tours given upon request.
And finally, one-off shows — such as Aurora Symphony Orchestra’s free performance at the Armory Performing Arts Center in Brighton on Feb. 8 — will pop up from time to time on the SCFD calendar.
Gone this year from the SCFD’s calendar are free days at the Children’s Museum of Denver at Marisco Campus, the Molly Brown House Museum and the Colorado Railroad Museum.
For the bigger institutions on this list, we recommend showing up early and exercising patience, as most have proven wildly popular year-round. Days and hours vary by location, and the free general admission does not include special or ticketed exhibitions.
2300 Steele St., 720-337-1400
Jan. 18-19, Feb. 3-4, Nov. 4 and 8.
Denver Art Museum
100 W. 14th Ave Parkway, 720-865-5000
Feb. 2, March 2, April 6, April 28, May 4, June 1, July 6, Aug. 3, Sept. 7, Sept. 14, Oct. 5, Nov. 2, Dec. 7.
Note: General museum admission is free daily for ages 18 and under.
Denver Botanic Gardens
1007 York St., 720-865-3501
York Street (Denver): Jan. 21, Feb. 18, March 22, April 14, July 10, Sept. 3, Nov. 11.
Chatfield Farms (Littleton): Feb. 5, March 5, April 2, June 4, July 2, Aug. 6, Nov. 5.
Plains Conservation Center (Aurora): Jan. 17, Feb. 21, March 21, June 20, Aug. 15, Nov. 21, Dec. 19.
Denver Museum of Nature & Science
2001 Colorado Blvd., 303-370-6000
Jan. 27, Feb. 11, April 3 (5-10 p.m. only), April 28 (Día del Niño), June 2, July 2 (5-10 p.m. only), Aug. 26, Sept. 29, Oct. 14, Nov. 17, Dec. 8.
Museo de las Americas
861 Santa Fe Drive, 303-571-4401
First Fridays free from 5-9 p.m. Feb. 1, March 1, April 5, May 3, June 7, July 5, Aug. 2, Sept. 6, Oct. 4, Nov. 1, Dec. 6.
Clyfford Still Museum
1250 Bannock St., 720-354-4880
Jan. 24, Feb. 17, March 26, April 28, May 22, June 18, July 17, Aug. 3, Sept. 12, Oct. 15, Nov. 2, Dec. 18.
Denver Firefighters Museum
1326 Tremont Place, 303-892-1436
Feb. 9, May 9, Aug. 10, Oct. 8.
Four Mile Historic Park
715 S. Forest St., 720-865-0800
Jan. 11, Feb. 8, March 8, April 12, May 10, June 14, July 12, Aug. 9, Sept. 13, Oct. 11, Nov. 8, Dec. 13.
Denver Center for the Performing Arts
1101 13th St., 303-893-4100
Discounts: $10 tickets to all locally produced Theatre Company productions on select dates, plus occasional discounts to Broadway and Cabaret shows. Visit denvercenter.org/dcpaccess for details.
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