Whether we worship it or simply consider money a necessary commodity, we all have to admit a certain fascination with the coins and bills that seem to make the world turn. There are four mints in the United States, but the Denver Mint is one of only two (the other is the Philadelphia Mint) where we can actually see the process of turning lumps of metal into shiny coins.

Opened in 1863, the Mint originally melted gold dust and nuggets into bars. In 1904 the office moved to this site, and 2 years later began making gold and silver coins. Copper pennies were added a few years later. The last silver dollars (containing 90 percent silver) were coined in 1935. In 1970, all silver was eliminated from dollars and half dollars (today they’re made of a copper-nickel alloy). The Denver Mint stamps billions of coins each year, and each has a small d on it.

Although visitors today don’t get as close as they once did, a self-guided tour along the visitors’ gallery provides a good look at the process, with a bird’s-eye view from the mezzanine of the actual coin-minting process. A variety of displays help explain the minting process, and an adjacent gift shop on Cherokee Street offers a variety of souvenirs. Allow 1 hour.