Settle in for an Old West experience. From outdoor adventures to unique festivals, Traveling Mom is here to make your family adventure easier on the budget with these best free fun things to do in the Western U.S.
Free Fun Things to Do in the Western US
Travel to Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Utah, and enjoy these free fun things to do in the Western U.S.
Free Fun Things to Do in Colorado
Start your Colorado adventure in Denver by standing 5,280 feet high (one mile!) on the steps of the gold-domed Capitol Building. Your family can learn about the state’s history with a free Colorado State Capitol tour. From beautiful stained glass windows to Presidential portraits, the guided tour takes your family on a historic journey from early statehood to today.
Just 90 minutes south of Denver is Colorado Springs. The not-to-miss top there is the Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center, a National Natural Landmark. Dramatic views, 300-foot towering sandstone rock formations, and snow-capped Pikes Peak – and your visit to this inspiring attraction is absolutely free. The Garden of the Gods is Colorado’s most photographed view, so be sure to take your camera.
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Free Fun Things to Do in Idaho
Start your free Idaho fun at the Boise Greenbelt. A series of paths that run along the Boise River, you’ll wind your way through the city of Boise. Stroll, bicycle ride or even fish along the Greenbelt (Idaho Fishing License, not included), or watch the kayakers take their adventure to the water.
Get a real taste of the Old West in Ketchum with Wagon Days. Labor Day weekend Ketchum steps back in time to celebrate the days before railroads or automobiles. Main Street comes alive with the largest parade in the U.S. of nonmotorized vehicles. The parade also features basque dancers, marching bands, and western cowboys astride horses or mules. The Grande Finale is Ketchum’s own Big Hitch, the Lewis Ore Wagons.
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Free Fun Things to Do in Montana
“Queen City of the Rockies” and the capital of Montana, Helena is all about the outdoors. Operating weekends (June-September), the Trolley to Trails is a free shuttle from Women’s Mural, on Broadway and Last Chance Gulch. You’ll ride, up the trailhead of National Recreation Center, where you can hike or bike (shuttle has bike racks).
Kids want to be firefighters, right? Open their world to a new type occupational adventure at the Smokejumper Visitor Center in Missoula, home to the largest smokejumper base in the country. Admission is free for this interactive opportunity. Your visit includes a look the Smokejumper loft, the ready room, and the National Smokejumper memorial. There is also a gift shop and museum, which includes a fire lookout tower originally built in 1930. Summer travels will include a look at Smokejumper aircraft and a chance to see Smokejumpers dispatched to a fire.
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Free Fun Things to Do in Nevada
Las Vegas isn’t all about the adults. Kids can have fun here too! Free fun is as simple as a walk on the Las Vegas Strip. Step back or find a comfortable seat and watch the Fountains of Bellagio enchant you and your family. The choreographed show is accompanied by opera, classical, Broadway, and pop tunes. This you have to see to believe.
The perfect place to explore Reno is the beautiful downtown Riverwalk District. Walk and browse for free on this lively streetscape. Discover over three dozen restaurants, pubs, nationally recognized museums and galleries, retail shops, boutiques, salons, restaurants, lounges and unique locally owned retailers. Truckee River Whitewater Park runs directly through here offering a variety of fun outdoor activities.
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Free Fun Things to Do in North Dakota
You’ll have 2,200 acres of open space at the Greenway to fill a free fun filled day in downtown Grand Forks. Biking, hiking, fishing, and year-round recreation is waiting for you. The Greenway and the Red and Red Lake Rivers are also a great place to birdwatch. (Click here to download free birding activity sheets for kids.)
Plan your North Dakota to coincide with free festivals, such as the annual 3-day Downtown Fargo Street Fair. This is North Dakota’s largest free outdoor event. Walk amongst blocks of outdoor booths of hand-made arts and crafts, awesome food and entertainment.
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Free Fun Things to Do in South Dakota
Rapid City, South Dakota offers something for everyone with its central location, great family attractions, and of course free fun things to do. Begin your adventure at Main Street Square, smack in the middle of downtown. Check the summer schedule for free concerts and family friendly entertainment. Kids can splash away in the fountains to beat the summer heat. In the winter, the Square turns into a FREE skating rink.
Make it a scavenger hunt in Rapid City, also known as the City of Presidents. See how many of the 42 life-sized bronze statues you can find of the United States’ past presidents. Pick up a free Walking Tour Map at the Visitor information Centers, or download an Interactive Walking Guide.
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Free Fun Things to Do in Utah
Located in southeastern Utah, Moab is a popular location for Hollywood movies. Sine 1949, movies filmed here include John Wayne classics and Disney’s the Lone Ranger. Even Thelma and Louise’s epic scene of leaping into the Colorado River were filmed here at Dead Horse Point State Park. Relive some of these movie memories by visiting the Moab Museum Film and Western Heritage Museum. Located at Red Cliffs Lodge, the museum is self-guided and open to the public daily at no charge.
Gift your dinosaur loving kids with a visit to the Brigham Young University Museum of Paleontology where admission is free. Located in Provo, this museum showcases fossils from the Jurassic Period, approximately 210-140 million years ago. Over decades, these fossils were gathered from locations in Utah, Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming.
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Free Fun Things to Do in Wyoming
Casper is known as the “adventure capital of Wyoming.” Known as the “Register of the Desert,” Independence Rock was a key landmark for pioneers as they journeyed across the American frontier. Read the signatures and inscriptions left by pioneers and carved into the hard stone at Independence Rock, southwest of Casper.
Is a jackalope real or fiction? Head to Jackalope Square in downtown Douglas and get the lowdown on this mythical creature that roams Wyoming. Take a picture with the giant Jackalope.
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When you’re ready to explore more: free fun things to do in 50 States.