There are only four United States mints in operation today, and Denver operates one of them in a stately granite facility that’s listed on the National Historic Register. The Mint’s primary function, of course, is making money—you”ll recognize coins originating here by their “D” mintmark—but the site also welcomes locals and out-of-towners for 45-minute-long public tours, designed for kids age 7 and up.
The Denver Mint manufactures all denominations of circulating coins, with an output that can exceed 50 million coins in a single day! During a typical tour, visitors get a bird’s eye view of the production floor, with coining presses that strike over 750 coins a minute.
Families can sneak a peek at rare artifacts dating back to America’s founding fathers before wandering around real-live gold vaults. “We store about a quarter of the nation’s gold reserves right here in our facility,” says Jennifer DeBroekert, chief of public affairs. As such, the mint is a secure facility, and guests must submit to the entry rules. “It’s a lot like going to the airport,” says Public Affairs Specialist Rebecca Barnstien.
“Believe it or not,” Barnstien continues, “A lot of the kids really love the history—particularly the history of theft and robberies.” In 1920, for example, a Denver Mint employee named Orville Harrington smuggled about $80,000 worth of pure gold from the vaults.
The second portion of the tour delves into the tale of how the Denver Mint transformed from a small assay office established during the gold rush to one of the largest producers of coins in the world. Visitors are led into the building’s grand hallway, adorned with one-of-a-kind chandeliers and hand-stenciled ceiling artwork.
This tour is for looking and listening, not touching. If, afterward, you’re looking for some hands-on money play, hop the 16th Street Mall bus to the Federal Reserve Bank at 1020 16th Street: The on-site Money Museum boasts interactive activities and coin and paper money displays. And at the end of your visit, you”ll get a free bag of shredded cash.
Check It Out
Located at 320 W. Colfax Ave., Denver
Need to Know
Open Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The Mint is closed on all federal holidays. Depending on the time of year and number of people in your party, sometimes the next tour is not available for several days or weeks—plan ahead. Make reservations online prior to your tour: usmint.gov/mint_tours
Free, and by guided tour only.
The tour entrance and gift shop are located on the east side of the building, off of Cherokee Street.