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10 Cheap, Fun Things to Do this Summer in Colorado

If your budget says a big summer vacation is out of the question, here are some inexpensive options for immersive summer fun.

1. Outdoor Movies
An old-fashioned way to enjoy the summer blockbusters or old classics. You get to see two or three films for the same exact price it would cost to see one film at a traditional movie theater. Many historic drive-in theaters are still around, and movies are more memorable on summer nights with nature as the backdrop. The Denver metro area is home to one classic drive-in, the 88 drive-in.For an even more thriftier option check out free community movie showings.

2. App it 
Stumped for something to do? The app Eventbrite can show you popular events in your area—depending on where you live—and many of them are free. Also, check the “events” section of Facebook to see what local events your friends are going to, as well as popular nearby happenings. You can also regularly check the perennially popular Groupon and LivingSocial for discounted entry to local attractions, restaurants, and more. A great local website to check to see what there is to do free or for almost free is Mile High on the Cheap.

3. Visit a national park
You support these beautiful gems through your taxes, so take the time to visit them. There are 59 national parks proper across the U.S. you can visit for just a small fee. Get a Passport to Your National Parks book and start collecting stamps each time you visit one. Or stay local and visit Rocky Mountain National Park —great places to hike, fish, and camp. For a cheaper option visit parks during designated free days or visit your local library to see if park passes are available for you to use. Be sure to plan ahead because these options are especially popular for families who are on a budget.

4. Attend a concert
Whether it’s a local artist jamming in a coffee shop, a nationally touring act rocking a nearby theater, or a destination music festival, catching live music is synonymous with the summer. Not sure where to start? The app Songkick lets you browse nearby shows, and tracks your favorite artists, alerting you when they’re in town. Seeing a Red Rocks concert is on everyone’s summer bucket list, but we strongly suggest you check out free local options such as Aurora Rhythms concert series.

5. Plant a garden
A garden not only gives you a summer-long project, but saves you money on your grocery bill. Plus, it can be a soothing pastime. Live in a space that makes it difficult to care for a garden of your own? Check out the multiple community gardens that are available in Aurora.

6. Start a home project
If you saved some money by not summering in Spain, why not reinvest it in your house? With a little bit of elbow grease, you could end the summer with more equity. Pick a project your skill level and budget can handle, or learn how to do something new. It might not be as relaxing as, say, summering in Spain, but it might prove more rewarding. Need a little extra funding to start home renovation project? Consider a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) and use the equity you already have in your home to finance that new kitchen. You can even use a HELOC for any other purpose such as higher education, a new car, or even a vacation.

7. Plan a summer blowout
You’re likely not the only one looking for something to do, so why not throw a party? It could be as simple as a dinner party, or as raucous as a block party that you organize with your neighbors. Breakout the barbecue, the Slip ‘N Slide, and rent an outdoor projector for a movie night.

8. Treat your community like a vacation destination
Pretend you’re visiting your town for the first time. Ask your friends on Facebook for their favorite restaurants, places to visit, and hidden gems. Call the library for local guide books and contact the chamber of commerce or tourism department. Aurora is home to many historical sites including the original Fitzsimons Army Hospital. Aurora also has some of the best shopping areas in the state like Southlands Shopping Center and Stanley Marketplace that both offer unique local experiences as well as free events.

9. Binge watch something
With temperatures in many places reaching all-time, plastic-melting highs, maybe you just want to stay indoors. A Netflix account is just $9 a month and HBO Now is $15. Watch every season of that show everyone is always talking about. If you want it to feel like more of an accomplishment, work your way through one of those lists of “the greatest movies of all time.”

10. Join a summer reading program
Want to avoid screens? Join an adult summer reading program. Aurora Public Library hosts one every summer for adults and kids, but most public libraries offer one as well. Like to do things solo? Google “summer reading challenge.” There are lots of creative lists to work through.

Get started on your summer vacation by skipping a loan payment.