72 hours in Denver for Frugal People

72 Hours in Denver for Frugal People-Winter Edition

A couple of weeks ago I was hanging out in Breckenridge, Colorado one of my favorite mountain towns in the state. While there, I meet a surprising number of British visitors who were in town on vacation. What caught me off guard was when they mentioned how expensive they found everything. Huh? You’re from Europe! I used to live in Europe and I’ve spent time in the UK-it is not cheap. So, this observation really surprised me. So, I thought I would share a fun itinerary for frugal people and share some of tips to 72 hours in Denver for frugal people.

Welcome to Square State! If California and Texas had a wild love affair-Colorado would be the result.

* In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Please read my disclosure here.*

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72 hours in Denver for Frugal People.

Looking to spend three days in Denver? The following itinerary is from Friday through Sunday.

Here’s how to prepare for a visit to Denver during the winter months. Winter months would be any month that it may snow. Basically, September-June.

I’m serious.

Don’t freak out.

  • Watch the weather report obsessively before you come. OBSESSIVELY. Colorado has the amazing ability to have 4 seasons in one day.
  • Layers are your best friend. Period.
  • Denverites are casual. You won’t be judged if you’re wearing jeans and a cute top out-even to the theater. I personally still dress up, but, there is no pressure to do it.
  • Chapstick-your lips will thank you.
  • Sunglasses-It is incredibly sunny in Denver and the sunlight can be a bit intense.
  • A water bottle-It is a mile above sea level. You WILL need to drink more water than what you normally drink.
  • Lotion-Your skin will thank you. There’s nothing worse than the feeling of dry skin when coming from a humid location.
  • Check Eventbrite for fun free events a couple of weeks before you arrive.

Now that you’ve packed your Colorado essentials it’s time to get on that plane.

Resources Mentioned

  • Ibotta-Download the Ibotta app today CLICK HERE and earn $10 towards your first $20 payout when you redeem your first savings in the next couple of weeks.
  • Ritual App-Pre-order your food and pick it up. Avoid the line!
  • Airbnb-Are you new to AirBnB? Use my affiliate link to save some money on your first booking (up to $55)

Welcome to Denver!

It’s possible to have a frugal trip to Denver. I’m about to share how.

When you fly into Denver International Airport it’s a quick 37 minute train ride from the airport to Union Station which is in the heart of Denver. The train costs $10.50 one way which is more expensive than Chicago’s train to O’Hare. But, it’s the train or a $45 Lyft or Uber ride. Pick your poison.

The train is super safe and security walks through to check your fare TWICE. Safety Tip: Ladies, please do me a favor and arrive after 6:00 am. I hosted a financial retreat this year and one of my speakers landed at 1:00 am and I was up all night worried about her because Denver-especially because she decided to stay at a hotel that I wouldn’t have recommended. She confirmed her arrival and then I learned that she was transferred to another hotel because they overbooked the first one.

Didn’t know that was a thing? It is, so at 2:00 am in the morning she had to make her way to another hotel. Danielle-I’m calling you out LOL!!

Friday 8:00 am

Once you’ve arrived in Downtown Denver I recommend the following two hostels-I need to do a walkthrough of the third one in town before I can recommend it.

  • Hostel Fish which is within walking distance of Union Station
  • Ember Hostel which is a 10 minute Lyft ride from downtown or you can take the #10 bus from the Bus depot below Union Station and get off at 12th and Grant street. The Hostel is 4 1/2 blocks from that stop.

Time to Sightsee: Friday, 10:00 am

Now that you’ve settled in what to do first? Head over to the 16th Street Mall for about an hour or so. Make sure to check out the public art tucked into the alleys. There’s even a giant Smiley Face and Car Fresheners that you can discover.

Check out an unusual free museum that very few Denverites know about it. The Dikeou Collection. It’s one of my favorite permanent installations in town that only true arts lovers in town have seen. The highlight? Two Giant Rabbits that look they could potentially eat you.

Larimer Square at 14th and Larimer is a historic block that also has cats everywhere! Not real ones, but there is a public art installation with cats lounging in funny locations throughout the block and alley behind it. If you’re getting a little hungry, download the Ritual App and earn $10 towards your first meal on the app.

Brought food from the hostel? Hang out at Union Station while you eat your meal. Walk over to one of my new favorite places in Denver RINO (River North or, if you grew up here, 5 Points). I won’t pull you into our local stuff…

Once you’re done with lunch walk over to RINO to check out all of the murals in that side of town. It’s one of my favorite things to do and I especially love the Crush Walls event that happens in September. Crush Walls brings artists from all around the world to paint new murals throughout that section of town.

Yes, you’ve walked a lot.

And, you’ll notice that even though it may be chilly out, Denverites enjoy being active. You will see people walking, biking, etc. If your Denver friends talk about going for a walk-they mean going for a walk.

Backyard on Blake: Friday, 2:00 pm

If you’re needing to sit for a bit and have a nice cup of coffee, this is the place. It’s a mixed use space including a restaurant, coffee shop, co-working space and more.

I go for the great coffee at Blue Sparrow Coffee and to sit on the upstairs patio that has a phenomenal view of the mountains. I feel like many visitors to Denver miss out on the awesomeness that is the Backyard on Blake.

Walk over to the 28th and Larimer B-cycle kiosk and ride your bike back to Union Station. Get the unlimited $9 day pass. Just make sure that you dock for every 30 minutes of use.

Friday, 6:00 pm

Make your way back to your hostel and relax for a little while. If you’re there on the first Friday of the month, check out First Friday art events around town. The highest concentration tends to be on Santa Fe Boulevard. I really enjoy these because they are free, wine also tends to be served free or for a few dollars a glass, the people watching is awesome, and the art is fantastic.

Friday, 9:00 pm

Head back to your hostel and join in on the fun. If you’re at Ember Hostel, soak in the hot tub before heading out. At Hostel Fish? Go to Ophelia’s for live music. The best thing? The Hostel is right above Ophelia’s. By the way, Ophelia’s used to be a brothel back in the day and the decor is a nod to that history.

Let’s Go to Boulder! Saturday, 8:00 am

No trip to Denver would be complete without some time in nature. Heading into the mountains is a normal part of many Denverite’s regular routine. For a short trip, I recommend going to Boulder.

What to wear and bring shoes that are good for hiking, snacks, and water. DO NOT forget water.

Head over to Union Station and then downstairs to the RTD station (Bus Station) you’ll hop on the FF1 bus-round trip tickets are $10.50.

Get off the bus at Baseline and Broadway. You’ll see a Starbucks on the corner. You will walk WEST-towards the mountains on Baseline. You will walk until you hit 9th and Baseline. If you’re not used to hiking, don’t try to be a badass.

For a gentle hike, ask the ranger for suggestions. Please note: altitude sickness is real. If you feel lightheaded, woozy, etc. You may need medical attention.

Once you’re finished with your hike.Walk down 9th Ave until you cross Canyon Blvd. You’ll walk two more blocks until you hit Pearl Street again.

If you’re hungry, and I’m thinking that you should be, here are a couple of places that I recommend. Before I do, I’m going to keep it real and say that everything will be around $10-$15 for your meal. Boulder isn’t cheap.

Chautauqua Park-Boulder, Colorado
Image Credit: ME!

Head Back to Denver 2:00 pm

Head back to the Downtown Boulder Bus Station and take the bus back to Denver. Get off at the last stop which is Union Station.

Take a load off for a couple of hours shower and change before heading out again.

Saturday, 7:00 pm

You’ve kept things frugal so far, so a good cocktail sounds like a plan. Head over to The Dairy Block and wander through Milk Market and the Alley on the block (it’s really pretty). Then, go to Run for the Roses a Speakeasy located on the block.

What happens from there is up to you LOL!

Sunday, 10:00 am BRUNCH!

There’s nothing better then having a leisurely brunch. And, my favorite places to eat brunch are the ones with patios.

Here are 5 of the Best Brunches in Denver. Head’s up, you might need to call a Lyft.

  • Sassafras-3927 W. 32nd Street
  • Jelly 600 E. 13th Street
  • Star Kitchen (Dim Sum) 2917 W. Mississippi
  • Senor Bear Latin-inspired 3301 Tejon Street
  • Call 2845 Larimer Street (am obsessed with this place-it’s now being remodeled)

Sunday, 1:00 pm Olde Town Arvada

Take the lightrail (The W Line) from Union Station to Old Town Arvada. It’s a cute downtown area about 15 minutes by train from downtown Denver.

Additional Frugal Tips

Here are some events to check out while you’re here. These are free or inexpensive and I’ve included the month that they happen.

  • Night Lights Denver! This is my new favorite thing that is happening in Downtown Denver. Thursday-Saturday art will be projected onto the Daniels and Fisher Tower downtown. Check the website to confirm the dates. Free
  • Parade of Lights-December 6 and December 7th-watch bands, fire breathers and more, parade through the streets of Denver. Free

I love this city

Dear Governor Polis

The following podcast episode is an audio letter to our newly elected governor: Jared Polis. All opinions are my own and I love it when you don’t agree. I ended up re-recording this episode and I’ll mention why shortly.

* In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Please read my disclosure here.*

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Dear Governor Polis,

Congratulations on your recent gubernatorial win. Well, it’s not so recent anymore. After everyone making a big deal that you’re, ahem, gay, it was awesome to see you redefine the conversation and refocus citizens on the fact that you’re running the state. First, I would like to begin with what is going well.

And, so far, I like what I see.

I love that you signed all day kindergarten into law. And, even though I would have preferred that it was mandated, I like that you gave districts a way to opt-out, recognizing that not everyone would go for it.

Caping insulin at $100 also was fantastic and I love kicking big pharma in the metaphorical nuts (or their wallets).

And, deciding to re-route the highway around the newly designated Memorial Rock (saving the state money) was an bold move. I need to check that big ass rock out.

Here’s what I would like to see moving forward.

Better access to the mountains via public transportation. I love, love, love Bustang, but I’m convinced that we could increase service at least during the summer and winter months and keep things normal during the fall and spring.

Still transportation related, for the love of all that is Holy, we have go to figure out a way to pay for our roads. I know that the Tabor Amendment has placed a lot of constraints on us…but, we’ve got to figure this out. And, as a side-note…I love driving on US 36 now.

Healthcare is expensive on the Western Slope and beyond. I feel like we need to approach this issue with innovation vs. regulation. Do we need roving healthcare vans staffed with Doctors and Physician Assistants focused on preventative care?

We’ve got to figure this out

You’ve got to “Date the State” you’re welcome to use this idea-just give me a shoutout. Basically, I think it would be a great idea to spend a week or two during each season living in a different corner of our state. No, I don’t mean the quick drive-by visit.

What I mean is scheduling meaning connections that take place over a week and experience the lifestyle that citizens outside of the cities are living.

Housing is insane. I’m not sure what can be done, but we’ve got to more aggressively work to build affordable housing units vs. the surplus of luxury housing units being built.

And, what kind of work is everyone doing to afford those places?

Finally, just because you can push your agenda…doesn’t mean you should without giving the other side (Republicans) a chance to air out their grievances and concerns.

Huge kudos to you for speaking at the Western Conservatives Summit. You will be the first Democratic Governor to do so. This is a huge deal because without dialogue there is nothing.

I would love for Colorado to show the nation that we’re able to legislate ethically and are comfortable giving the other side the opportunity to speak…even when we don’t like that.

Be better.

I look forward to watching you do what you do as you represent this great Square State.

An Informed Citizen,

Michelle Jackson-Chief Charm Officer

Dear Mayor Hancock

Dear Mayor Hancock

The following podcast episode is an audio letter to Denver’s Mayor-Mr. Michael Hancock. The Letters to the Top series is a an opportunity for me to voice my concerns about the state as well as what I’m loving. The first episode in the series is “Dear Mayor Hancock.”

* In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Please read my disclosure here.*

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Show Notes: Dear Mayor Hancock

  • Congratulations on your win, I know it wasn’t easy.
  • Denver has become a vibrant city filled with endless possibilities
  • Anything feels possible.
  • We have incredible resources such as: Denver Start Up Week, The Commons on Champa, Women of Denver, Women Who Startup, and House of Pod
  • We love to have fun-The National Western Stock Show, Denver Greek Festival, Concerts at Red Rocks, Pride, and the Juneteenth celebration are just a few of the opportunities we use to get together
  • There are so many work opportunities.
  • There are some issues-The Homeless problem has become a serious situation in Denver. I’m uncomfortable going to certain places depending on the time of day.
  • Denver is dirty-now, this is partly because we actually use and live in the downtown area of the city.
  • Tagging on all of the buildings
  • Small businesses struggling to stay staffed
  • The rising cost of housing (which also affects staffing)
  • Traffic sucks
  • What I love-Kids and Baby Boomers getting free access to the recreation center
  • Free events all of the time being hosted throughout the city
  • The expansion of the lightrail-even though it feels painfully slow at times
  • The overall positive mood of the city
  • Businesses moving their headquarters to Denver and surrounding suburbs.

Overall grade: B

Signed a Denver Citizen,

Michelle Jackson-Square State

Resources

Want to Start a Blog?

Have you been thinking about starting a blog but not sure if you should? Want to shout out your favorite town, lifestyle ideas, or ways to save? What are you waiting for? Use Siteground to host your website. Not sure how to set up your self-hosted blog? Useh this free tutorial from Elite Blog Academy that will walk you through all of the steps. Can’t wait to read your blog!

Denver Art Museum

9 Ridiculously Easy Tips On How to Save Money in Denver

Denver is not a cheap city. In fact, it’s still surprising to me that so many people still believe that it is. Denver should be considered a high cost of living city, fortunately, there a ridiculous number of ways to save on events/resources/and activities in town. I won’t touch housing costs in this blog post (we’ll save that for another day). If you’ve been wondering how to save money in Denver-it’s not too hard. In fact, it’s possible to save money while living in Denver and I’m excited to show you some of the ways that I watch my money and still have a great time living in Denver.

* In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Please read my disclosure here.*

How to Stay Fit in Denver

Without going broke! There are an endless number of ways to stay fit in Denver and attend your favorite fitness classes without going broke. Here is a short-list of strategies that I use.

  • Attend Civic Center Moves Classes! These are free classes held all year around in Civic Center Park. During the winter, they are held inside. Then, around the end of May/beginning of June, the classes move outdoors. Participants do have to fill out a waiver, but that’s to be expected. Classes include: yoga, yoga cross, and hip hop fitness. Also, The November Project hosts a workout every Wednesday morning in conjunction with Civic Center Moves.
  • Use Classpass-I am obsessed with Classpass because I get bored with my workouts. How it works, users choose the subscription that works best for them. Then, they sign up for the different fitness classes they’re interested in. You can use Classpass across the United States. I love this because I travel pretty frequently. My current favorite class is a hip hop fitness class called Groov3 held at PassionForce studio in the Baker neighborhood. New users get $30 credited towards your new subscription when you sign up with my affiliate link.

  • Run Clubs-These are hosted around the city and are typically based out of restaurants or bars. They are free and oftentimes have free refreshments after your run. Bring cash though, because you’ll most likely end up purchasing a drink.

Ibotta

Savings apps are all the rage. But, one of my favorites is Denver-based Ibotta. Users are able to save on the following:

  • Groceries
  • Booze
  • Retail
  • Amazon

And, every new user gets $10 towards their first $20 payout when they redeem their first savings within a few weeks of downloading the app.

How Ibotta works:

  • Download the app Play Store (Android) or the Apple App Store for Iphone users.
  • Check out the app and see which retailers are included. My favorites are: Safeway, Whole Foods, and Sprouts. Hey, I like to eat!
  • Then, I begin checking out the savings for the store that I intend to shop at next. Typically, in order to access savings offers you will answer short questions, watch a SHORT video, or view an information page about a product.
  • Once you go shopping make sure to check your app so that you don’t forget to pick up your items.
  • Scan those items as you put them in your cart. There is bar at the top of the app that has a barcode icon on the left-hand side. When you touch that the “Scan Product Barcode” screen will open up. You want to do this so that you can make sure that you can redeem that savings, every once in awhile a savings can’t be redeemed. This is unusual, but, it just will save some aggravation for later.
  • Either at the store, or right when you get home, upload your savings. Basically, this means scan your receipt and items that you saved on into the app. You want to do this as soon as you get home, or you’ll forget.

Free Days

Thanks to the SCFD (Scientific and Cultural Facilities District) that Denver voters approved for another 12 years until…2028. This is great because we’ve approved a tiny percentage of sales tax towards arts and culture. What does this mean? Denver (and surrounding counties) have money for the arts!

And, free days.

I love free days because they give access to museums, festivals, and other art focused events to all residents. Here is a short-list of free days to check out. Please note: you will need to show that you’re a resident of one of the counties upon admission.

  • Denver Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Denver Art Museum
  • The Denver Zoo
  • The Botanic Gardens (Chatfield and Denver)
  • $10 tickets at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts (basically, that’s free for theater)

Here’s a link to check out free days throughout the year.

South Pearl Street Farmer’s Market

My current favorite farmer’s market in Denver is the South Pearl Street location. I just love the atmosphere and the energy. It feels like there is something for everyone as you walk up and down the street.

My favorite stall to save offers a $10 all you can stuff bag of goodies. The only downside, the veggies and fruits at this stand are shipped in from all over, but if you’re looking to save-this is an incredible way to eat fresh throughout the summer. The best deals happen at the end of the year as the bulk of the harvest starts to come come in.

By the way, there is an ART to stuffing the bag.

Ego CarShare

I LOVE this non-profit! There are a ton of different car share programs that have a presence in the Denver/Boulder metro area. I decided to go with a locally based company because I felt like I wouldn’t get lost in the crowd.

The experience with Ego CarShare has been fantastic and it’s been super easy to use.

Why did I decide to go with a car share program? There were several reasons.

  • To save money-In addition to running Square State, I also run a website about personal finance. Currently, I am paying off debt and using a car share gives me access to a car while reducing my transportation costs by thousands of dollars a year. Previously, I had a paid off car, but it still cost around $350 a month to own it after factoring in insurance, gas, maintenance, and random stuff.
  • Reduce my carbon foot print-Yep, I think about stuff like that. But, I grew up in Boulder.
  • Simplify my life-not owning a car has drastically simplified my life. I don’t worry about parking, maintenance, hail damage, etc.
  • Public transit-I actually use it and am within walking distance of three light rail stops.

How to Use Ego Car Share

It’s actually super easy. Once you sign up, you will need to pick up a key fob from either downtown Denver or somewhere in Boulder (depending on where you live).

You will reserve your car either via the app or website (I use the website). The cool thing about the reservation system is that cars are placed throughout the city. Your key fob will unlock the doors and clock you in and out of the car.

I’m very fortunate in that I have a car that is parked within 6 blocks of my house. But, sometimes I will pick up a car in Boulder or other parts of Denver depending on what’s going on, the weather, and the type of car available.

I believe that all of the cars are hybrids.

It will be easiest to live car free in Denver if you live along the light rail line or closer to downtown.

Facebook Events

There are so many cool events happening in Denver that it’s hard to keep up with them all-especially during the summer. Different businesses throughout town host free and inexpensive events as a way to connect with citizens, let people know who they are, and to get people into their retail spaces.

Past events that I’ve signed up for and discovered (free or discounted)

  • Denver Start Up Week
  • Puppy Yoga for $5
  • Yoga at Denver Milk Market
  • Free Tequila tastings
  • Concerts
  • Fitness classes

The Financial Independence Retire Early Community: F.I.R.E.

Previously, I mentioned that I am a personal finance blogger. Well, there is a really fun community of personal finance bloggers focused on what’s called: F.I.R.E.

For some reason, Colorado, in particular the Denver/Boulder metro area has become a hot bed of people who are hyper-focused on living well, while spending less, investing more, and enjoying their lives.

Bloggers such as:

The great thing about hanging out with the F.I.R.E. community, no one will make you feel weird for wanting to save and stretch your dollars.

Meetup.com

If you’ve been sleeping on joining Meetup and live in Denver (or, are moving here) sign up STAT. They have a ton of amazing communities that you can join for every interest that you may have.

If you’re looking to hike, grow a business, connect with a certain interest group-then, you need to be on Meetup. It’s a great way to build community and connect with new people-even if you’ve lived in Denver for years.

Denver Public Library

And, the Library of Things. I cannot rave enough about the Denver Public Library. I still may be sketched out by the main branch, but I continue to obsessively visit local branches throughout the city and near my house.

The library has a ridiculous amount of programming, access to wifi, and even the opportunity to rent out a podcast studio at one of the local branches.

Programming includes (but, isn’t limited) to the following:

  • A talk given by a forensic pathologist!
  • Conversations about personal finance
  • Play groups for kids (these are incredibly well attended)
  • Technology classes
  • Social Media Marketing

DPL does an incredible job of providing an endless amount of resources that enrich the lives of Denver citizens…and the services are basically free.

Now You Know How to Save Money In Denver!

You don’t have to go broke in Denver. Start using the above resources, strategies, and community spaces to begin saving money while living in Denver.

There are a number of other strategies and services that I didn’t share. Drop some of your favorite ways to save in the comments!

Want to Start a Blog?

Have you been thinking about starting a blog but not sure if you should? Want to shout out your favorite town, lifestyle ideas, or ways to save? What are you waiting for? Use Siteground to host your website. Not sure how to set up your self-hosted blog? Useh this free tutorial from Elite Blog Academy that will walk you through all of the steps. Can’t wait to read your blog!

save money in Denver
Happy City Denver

SQS027: Happy City Denver

One of the most exciting developments in Denver is the growth of its art scene. Even though the threat of unaffordable housing looms heavily on the community, the citizens of Denver are still about to connect with amazing, accessible, and free public art.

* In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Please read my disclosure here.*

Listen to the Show


Show Notes 

 

  • Ibotta-Start saving with Ibotta! It’s a Colorado based app that is fun and easy to use.

 

  • My favorite installations
    • Alley Freshners
    • The Crazy Cats on Larimer Square
    • Jump!

 

  • Scientific and Cultural Facilities District Tax-Love this program!

 

 

  • I share some thoughts on the art community in Denver.

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