They say there's no such thing as a free lunch. But there is free day care -- at our 2012 Best of Denver winner for "Best Free Service," Warm Welcome Childcare Center. If you've got business at Denver District or County Court, Warm Welcome will watch your tots for free. But that's not the only place where you can get something for nothing. Here our top five.
5. RTD MallRide This year's Reader's Choice, the RTD MallRide schleps folks up and down the 16th Street Mall, gratis. The bus is a great place for people-watching, too. Just don't step out in front of one. Those things are big -- and they're not kindly toward jaywalkers.
4. Valet parking at hospitals Several area hospitals, including Children's Hospital and Presbyterian/St. Luke's Medical Center, offer free valet parking. Which is great, because who has time to find a parking spot and pay an annoying robot-machine when they're gushing blood thanks to that overzealous chainsaw? Not sure if free parking is worth a trip to the hospital in itself, but when in Rome....
3. Denver Public Library online book renewal You know what sucks? Paying library fines. Especially now that the Denver Public Library will suspend your borrowing privileges if you owe more than $5. Thank heavens for the DPL website, which allows you to renew books online. Also helpful are the library's e-reminders, e-mails that suggest you renew said books or bring 'em back pronto. Or else.
2. Treecycle Don't want to deal with all the hassle, smoke and whining neighbors that burning your Christmas tree in your backyard will surely bring? Thanks to the city, you have an easy, 911-free alternative. The Treecycle program will pick up your naked (no tinsel!) Christmas tree from your alley or curb and turn it into free mulch available in the spring. (This year's pickup is May 5.) That's two free things in one.
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1. Warm Welcome Childcare Center This free service is our winner because, well, do you know how much day care costs? An arm and a leg, that's how much. And having to pay a gazillion dollars an hour for someone to watch your little ones while you diddle your iPhone in the jury-duty waiting room is just plain bananas. Opened in 1999, the Warm Welcome Childcare Center will look after your kiddos for free while you do your civic duty. Or play Angry Birds. Whichever.