Looking for free things to do in Boulder? Look no further! Boulder, and the surrounding communities, offer plenty of fun things to do without spending a dime. There’s something for everyone: free things to do outdoors, free museums, free farms, free arts and culture outings and free events!
Free Outdoor Fun
Boulder Area Hiking
Let’s start with the basics! The very best free thing to do in the Boulder area is hiking. The most beloved aspect of Boulder is the natural beauty of the valley and its breathtaking views of the foothills and flatirons. With 110 miles of walking and hiking trails on over 35,000 acres of protected land, the possibilities for outdoor recreation in Boulder are endless. Hikers will adore Chautauqua’s meandering trails, NCAR’s scenic pathways and challenging treks up Mount Sanitas, Bear Peak (pictured) and South Boulder Peak. Boulder is packed with dedicated bikeways (over 300 miles!) in the city and throughout open space.
There’s an app for that! Discover all the local trails, get real-time information on trail closures and even allows you to filter your search to find trails that fit your needs (paved trails, dog-friendly trails, etc.) with the free Boulder Area Trails App. Provides a single source for all designated public recreation trails and trailheads in and around Boulder and Broomfield counties and is designed to enable users to find trails by use or type, plan routes by connecting local community trails, and link to the appropriate agency websites for more information.
Hiking outside of the Boulder area? The free COTrex Colorado Trails App allows you to discover trails all over the state. View trails by allowed uses on the map, browse featured routes, download offline maps, record trips and notes in the field, complete challenges to earn badges, and share your experiences with the community. Check out this list of Apps that all Boulderites and Denverites Need.
Visit Eldorado Canyon State Park
In Boulder’s backyard, Eldorado Canyon State Park offers many outdoor activities! Hike amongst the towering sandstone cliffs, climb Eldo’s sheer golden walls, or picnic on South Boulder Creek. Eldorado Canyon offers 500+ technical rock climbing routes, attracting climbers from around the world to challenge their skills on Eldorado’s golden cliffs. The park tends to be very busy in the summer, so Boulder County offers a free shuttle service!
Looking to do something outdoors that is also easy? Check out Boulder Falls, 70 foot water falls just off the road up Boulder Canyon. The hike to Boulder Falls is a quick 10 minutes (100 yards).
Valmont Bike Park
North America’s most state-of-the-art public bike park, Valmont Bike Park is located in Boulder, Colorado on 40 acres of awesome. Bike Park amenities include family trails, cross country trails, cyclocross courses, a slopestyle terrain park, dirt jumps, a dual slalom race course, 2 pump parks, and kids bike play areas. Progression is the name of the game at this park, with “small” through “extra-large” trails and features that cater to everyone, from the beginning mountain biker to professional rider. Check out the bike park’s trail map here. Kids love Valmont Bike Park. Click here for more fun things to do with kids in the Boulder Area.
Heil Valley Ranch
Heil Valley Ranch is located between Boulder and Lyons in the foothills where the Great Plains meet the Rocky Mountain upslope. Its 5020 acres support wildlife communities from each, including deer, elk, turkey, coyote, fox, mountain lion and bear. Heil Valley Ranch is open to mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding and winter recreation. Heil Valley Ranch was severely affected by the Cal-Wood Fire and the south side of the park will be closed through at least Sept. 30. Portions of the north side of the park are open to on-trail use if not otherwise closed due to muddy conditions and can be accessed from the Picture Rock Trailhead near Lyons. Please be respectful of the closed areas due to safety hazards.
Tubing & Splashing in Boulder Creek
Boulder Creek is the perfect place to spend a hot summer’s day tubing, swimming, playing and relaxing! In May and June, the water can be running high and fast (depending on the amount of snowfall over the winter), but by July and August, the creek is running lower and slower, a great time for a beginner to try it out. Click here for our beginners guide to tubing Boulder Creek.
Visit Panorama Point
For the easiest way to get a magnificent panoramic view of Boulder Valley, visit Flagstaff Mountain’s Panorama Point. It’s a simple pull-off, just half a mile up the mountain. The views are breathtaking!
University of Colorado’s Museum of Natural History
The museum is temporarily closed, we will update when it reopens. The University of Colorado Boulder’s Museum of Natural History is home to a variety of prehistoric fossils in its Paleontology Hall. The museum houses 150,000 catalogued specimens from all over the United States and the world, but the fossil vertebrate collection is focused on the Rocky Mountain region. In addition to prehistoric creatures, the museum houses invertebrates and plants, including beautiful pieces of petrified wood. Family friendly and full of interesting exhibits, CU’s Museum of Natural History is one of Boulder’s best free spots for learning and exploring. Admission to the museum is FREE. The museum is open during Monday – Friday 9-5, Saturday 9AM -4PMm Sunday 10AM – 4PM (Closed on all University holidays). The CU Museum of Natural History is located at CU’s Henderson Building, 15th and Broadway, Boulder, CO 80309.
Lyons Redstone Museum
Learn about the history of Lyons, Colorado at the Lyons Redstone Museum. Located in a historic schoolhouse, the museum is home to local artifacts, historic photos, and an exploration of the Lyons Cemetery. Click here for more fun things to do in Lyons.
City of Louisville Historical Museum
The Louisville Historical Museum features permanent exhibits in its three historic buildings on Louisville’s early history and growth from 1878 – 1955. Admission is free. The museum also offers online exhibits, and hosts First Friday Art Walks in conjunction with the Louisville Art District. Click here for more fun things to do in Louisville.
Broomfield Depot Museum
The collections of the Broomfield Depot Museum includes artifacts, photographs, and archival materials associated with the development of the city and county, including public and private facilities in Broomfield such as schools, newspapers, postal service, cemeteries, and railroads; the late-20th century growth of Broomfield including the development of neighborhoods and subdivisions, and the Boulder-Denver Turnpike. The Broomfield Depot Museum is open every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Click here for more fun things to do in Broomfield.
Nederland Mining Museum
Visit the Nederland Mining Museum and get a glimpse into the world of hard rock mining days in Boulder County during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Learn about the lives of the mountain miners of yesteryear.
Lafayette Historical Society & Miners Museum
The Lafayette Historical Society & Miners Museum, located in the Lewis Home, contains a wealth of Lafayette history, from the early days of pioneer heritage, through the coal mining years and into the present. Visitors can see broad collection of artifacts which includes a kitchen full of unusual household items used by Lafayette’s founding families, plus a tremendous collection of mining tools and equipment.
Erie Historical Society’s Wise Homestead Museum
Erie Historical Society’s Wise Homestead dates back to 1869, when Oliver and Ada Wise and their three children built a farmhouse on a U.S. Homestead Patent. Through unique “windows to the past,” visitors are able to see the mud that was used to insulate the house and the animal hair used in the plaster. Also visible are samples of 1900’s advertising that were revealed as the original wallpaper was removed. The museum is open on Saturdays from 10 AM – 2 PM.
Broomfield Veterans Museum
The Broomfield Veterans Museum honors local veterans of all the United States conflicts and peacekeeping efforts, from the Civil War to the present, from all branches of service. The museum not only shares the stories of Colorado veterans, it is a center for veterans to connect, students to learn about our nation’s history, groups to explore the rotating exhibits, and families to honor their loved ones who served in the military. The museum houses nine rooms of exhibits, a library with over 2,500 history/military books and hundreds of archived videos of veteran interviews, and a multimedia room that seats over 40. The museum is free and open to the public and offers docent-guided or self-guided tours, and, twice a month, a presentation called Coffee and Conversation, where you can hear fascinating stories from local veterans and historians.
SCFD Museum Free Days
Boulder County’s Agricultural Heritage Center
Check out the Agricultural Heritage Center! Get a glimpse into the history of agriculture in Boulder County and enjoy the rural surroundings. This site focuses on the years 1900 to 1925 when local families prospered as farmers and witnessed the coming of the Modern Age. Kids will love the interactive exhibits, 1909 farmhouse furnished with items from the 1910s, animals on site including chickens, pigs, draft horses and sheep, two barns, blacksmith shop and more! A guided tour starts at 11AM during visiting hours.
The Bee Hugger Farm
The Bee Hugger Farm is a happy place where you can visit with goats, peacocks, chickens, sheep, horses, mini horses and more! Kids can climb tractors and adults can buy honey. The Bee Hugger is one of our family’s favorite free things to do in Boulder. The farm is open to the public with no entry fee. Text for questions to 303.330.8277. Located at 12590 Ute Hwy, Longmont, CO 80504. For a complete list of places to visit farm animals near Boulder, click here.
7th Generation Farm
If you want to see some sweet farm animals, 7th Generation Farm has pigs, horses, goats, chickens, ducks, geese and dogs! While you are at the farm, pick up starter plants, eggs, honey, vegetables and more. 7th Generation Farm is open Friday 12-5 PM and Saturday 9 AM – 4 PM. Located at 100 S 96th Street, Louisville, CO 80027.
Cure Organic Farm
Arts & Culture
Boulder Street Wise Self-Guided Mural Tour
Street Wise Boulder is an annual ARTivism mural festival in the streets of Boulder, Colorado. Their mission is to amplify artist voices and use the power of public art as a means to connect, spark change, and build empathy within the community. Street Wise artists are driven by social activism, and use their murals as a tool for connection. Take your own self-guided mural tour – map provided here. To make a donation, click here.
NoBo First Fridays
First Friday is a FREE self-guided tour of artists’ studios and creative businesses in the NoBo Art District. Meet painters, sculptors, photographers, designers and other artists along your stroll through the area. Featuring live music, demos and special activities in many locations. Located along Broadway from Pine Street to Highway 36. Follow the colorful flags to find surprises around every corner. First Friday runs from 6:00 to 9:00 pm on the first Friday of the month. Please note that many locations have other opening and closing times, see the map or list to check exact times. Details at NoBoArtDistrict.org.
CU Art Museum
The University of Colorado Art Museum provides a forum for exchanging ideas, inspiring collaboration and fueling imagination through art. The museum’s growing collection and diverse exhibitions and public programs promote, inspire and generate interdisciplinary scholarship and cultural expression. CU Art Museum is free and open to the public.
Canyon Gallery at the Boulder Public Library
The exhibition series in the Canyon Gallery is where ideas meet action. The gallery is a place where the people can experiment with new ways of sharing on community-driven topics. Projects presented here merge visual display with conversation and civic-related content. Check out the Canyon Gallery’s current exhibitions and the previous exhibitions.
Firehouse Art Center
The Firehouse Art Center in Longmont is a non-profit art center that exhibits thought provoking art created by local, regional and national artists. The center features no fee admission gallery and our outreach art classes taught at no cost to under resourced areas of the community, striving to bring the healing nature of art to all.
Lafayette’s Art on the Street
Lafayette’s Art on the Street is the largest art on loan sculpture walk in Boulder County. Art on the Street 2021 marks the program’s 13th year, with 19 sculptures installed along Public Road and Simpson Street in Old Town Lafayette, and in front of the Arts Hub. View Art on the Street 2021 here.
Tower of Compassion
In 1972, the Kanemoto brothers commissioned the Tower of Compassion, located in Kanemoto Park. The five-story tower was built in the traditional style of a Japanese temple, and each level represents the meaning of compassion – Love, Empathy, Understanding, Gratitude, and Selfless Giving. The tower was donated to the City of Longmont with gratitude from the Kanemoto family for the kindness the community showed the family during World War II, when most Japanese immigrants were forced into internment camps.
Free Things to Do in Boulder County: Annual Events
Our favorite free things to do in Boulder County are the free events! These can be found on our monthly event calendars here. To name a few of the many annual free events in the Boulder area: Boulder Creek Festival and Boulder County Fair in the summer, tons of harvest festivals in the fall, St. Nick on the Bricks in December, and the Tulip, Elf and Fairy Festival in the spring!