Family Fun in Denver
Downtown Aquarium – This is one of my family’s favorite attractions in Denver. We’ve visited the aquarium three times and enjoy it every time. With over 500 species of animals your family will experience aquatic and geographic exhibits. There is also a 4-D theater experience, bar, restaurant, shopping area and an interactive exhibit where you can touch a stingray, climb a palm tree and play some games. Tip: Sign up on their website for e-mail notifications and you will receive a coupon for a discounted admission.
Denver Museum of Nature & Science – With ever changing exhibits there’s no telling what you might see and learn. Some examples of displays are Gems & Minerals, Expedition Health, Egyptian Mummies & Wildlife Exhibits. There is also a Planetarium to enjoy for an additional price. This museum offers endless discovery of multiple subjects.
Dinosaur Ridge – A must go for anyone who has a little one that’s into Dinosaurs. Dinosaur Ridge is a 1.5 mile trail with dinosaur tracks, a quarry of dinosaur bones and other fascinating geological features. Along the trail you will find different sites marked with signs that explain what each item is. There is an indoor exhibit hall with hands-on exhibits, maps and displays of information. Head over to the Discovery Center with more artifacts and touch-friendly displays of dinosaurs.
Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum – The perfect museum for lovers of history and aircrafts this museum is 182,000 square feet of planes ranging military aircraft to space vehicles. There is also a simulator if your kids are so inclined to try it out.
Colorado Railroad Museum – Wander 15 acres of rail yard and see over 100 trains, cabooses and passenger cars. Head over to the Roundhouse where trains are repaired and restored for display. The museum has 2 levels – the upper being an educational floor and the lower being a hands-on activity center. Kids of all ages will love touring this museum.
Molly Brown House – The woman famously known as the “Unsinkable Molly Brown” is best known as being a survivor of the Titanic but that tragedy shouldn’t define her legacy. She was much more than a Titanic survivor. She was a philanthropist, activist and a zealous woman who called herself a “daughter of adventure”. Her original home has been restored and turned into a museum for all to come and see.
Forney Museum of Transportation – This museum is in a class of its own with over 600 artifacts relating to the history of all forms of transportation. You will see antique cars, planes and trains in one area and toys, motorcycles and vintage decor in another. My personal favorite item was Amelia Earhart’s 1923 Kissel ‘Gold Bug’. This is fun for both boys and girls of all ages and worth every penny.
U.S. Mint – This tour is for ages 7 years and older. Tickets are free but you have to be at the Tour Information window at 7 a.m. when they open and hand out the free tickets. Once the tickets are gone for that day then they’re gone, there is a limit of 5 tickets per person. With that being said, this tour will teach you the history of the U.S. Mint and you will be able to witness coins being made. There are a lot of rules when going on this tour so I’ve provided a link to their site here Denver Mint.
WOW! Children’s Museum – Children will learn as they play at this highly interactive museum. There’s a pirate ship, dance & yoga studio, interactive market, puppet theater and so much more. With a revolving door of exhibits and at a price of $9.00 you just can’t beat it.
National Center for Atmospheric Research – If you have a child into weather patterns this is the place for you. It is a free hands-on experience where you will learn all about weather, climate and atmosphere.
4 Mile Historic Park – Another family favorite, the 4 Mile Historic Park is located on the outskirts of Cherry Creek. This 12 acre park was preserved in the 1970s and displays the history of Denver very accurately. The self guided tour will show you what life was like in the 1850s. You will see live animals, a blacksmith shop, original historic homes and my personal favorites the Teepees and the Summer Kitchen (where you learn how to cook original recipes from the 1800s!). We spent a few hours here and enjoyed every minute of it.
Parks & Outdoor Amusement
Elitch Gardens Amusement & Water Park – Elitch Gardens is located near the Broncos Stadium in downtown Denver and offers fun for all ages. It first opened in 1890 as a botanical garden and zoo and has slowly evolved into the modern day amusement park locals enjoy today. With rides for all members of the family it makes for a fun-filled day. Read a more detailed article about Elitch Gardens here The Wannabe Gypsy – Elitch Gardens.
Denver Zoo – Denver Zoo is a great bang for your buck. With ongoing exhibits and daily shows you will be entertained for hours. There are multiple dining options within the zoo and plenty of places to shop. Be prepared for the hills and distances, the Denver Zoo definitely provides a workout. Tip: Up front the zoo does provide wagons for rent to tow your little ones around if the hills are too much for them.
Cherry Creek Farmer’s Market – Cherry Creek Farmers Market is located near the Cherry Creek Shopping Center mall. Free parking is available and is in close proximity to the market’s entrance. There is a variety of fresh produce and many vendors who cook food on the spot to either eat at the market or take home for later. Prices are fairly reasonable and the vendors are a delight to talk to.
Wild Animal Sanctuary – This one is a bit of a drive from Denver but well worth it. This is the oldest and largest nonprofit animal sanctuary in the world. This animal safe haven rescues captive exotic and endangered large carnivores from around the country. You can stroll the walkway and watch these rescued animals in their habitats. Far from being able to be compared to a zoo, the sanctuary is primarily about the animals and creating a safe place in their environments. This is a unique and enjoyable experience.
City Park – This urban park is 330 acres of discovery. It houses the Denver Zoo, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, two lakes, two playgrounds, picnic areas, a boathouse and baseball, football and soccer fields. Pack a picnic and make a day of it!
Washington Park – This beautiful park has two flower gardens, one of them being an exact replica of George Washington’s gardens at Mount Vernon. It is also home to two playgrounds, multiple trails, tennis courts, a recreation center and was designated as one of the “Great Public Spaces in America” by the American Planning Association in 2012.
Denver Botanic Gardens – This lush botanic garden includes a conservatory, an array of themed gardens and an amphitheater which hosts concerts during the summer. It is 24 acres and is home to the world’s largest collection of plants from cold temperature climates from around the world. Denver Botanic Gardens offers a children’s garden, tours, science pyramid, as well as dining and shopping options.
Red Rocks Amphitheater – Be surrounded by beauty at this naturally formed amphitheater. The open-air venue hosts concerts and other forms of outdoor entertainment with a striking backdrop. You will also find hiking and biking trails, as well as a visitor’s center that has educational and interactive displays for children. There is also a restaurant on site and a gift shop.
Boondocks – Fun for all, this family fun center includes laser tag, bowling, and go kart racing just to name a few. Spend the day here having fun and grabbing a bite to eat. Don’t forget to check their website for specials!
Denver Trolley – Once consisting of 250 miles of city track the Denver Trolley is all that remains of the original trolley system. Your conductor will tell you stories and narrate along the journey. Hop off and grab some food or do some shopping in the Downtown area or any one of the other many stops. The trolley is only active certain dates throughout the year. Here is the schedule Denver Trolley Schedule
Butterfly Pavilion – The Butterfly Pavilion could be considered an insect zoo, if you will. The 11 acre exhibition area contains four main display areas to teach visitors about butterflies and other invertebrates. The four exhibits include:
1)Wings of the Tropics – an indoor rain forest filled with 1,200 free-flying tropical butterflies.
2) Water’s Edge – Experience hands-on displays of marine invertebrates like a sea star, horseshoe crabs and hermit crabs while you learn about their ecosystem.
3) Crawl-A-See-Em – Discover the world of species of arthropods including tarantulas, leaf insects, scorpions, beetles and giant millipedes.
4) Invertebrate-World – This is the most interactive part of the experience. You will see even more invertebrate animals but also get a chance to dress up, role play and play games. Run around on the play ground that has a life sized spider web, a caterpillar and other fun equipment.
There is also a host of educational activities such as story time and an interactive game show as well as a Nature Trek where you can walk around the Big Dry Creek Nature area and discover an outdoor garden.
Larimer Square – This is the oldest commercial block in the city and is home to a variety of one off shops and restaurants. The shops are closed in the evening so be sure to go in the late afternoon to look around and wander until the string of lights hanging above the main road light up for a beautiful sight. Then find a cozy little restaurant or ice cream shop and enjoy the view.
This is just a small portion of all Denver has to offer. It is one of my favorite cities in the U.S. due to the vast amount of affordable things to do there. What have you discovered in Denver?
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