Things to Do in Denver with Kids
The Mile High City has a lot of attractions for families and is relatively easy to get around. If you don’t have enough time to get up into the mountains, Denver, Colorado, has plenty to offer you during your visit. In the greater Denver area, there are literally hundreds of wonderful places to take your children!
The Denver Zoo is located near downtown. It recently completed a major renovation to their elephant enclosure which will also include 10 acres of exhibits of several species of animals. It promises to be quite an innovative exhibit, one of the largest and most advanced in North America. Throughout the zoo visitors will find exhibits are viewer friendly. The baby nursery is quite popular, and during the warmer months there are several opportunities for more up-close encounters with a variety of the animals. In winter the Zoo Lights is a popular nighttime attraction. In addition to all the lights and animals, you’ll find plenty of hot cocoa stands throughout the campus which also offer some adult additions to their hot beverage.
Denver Museum of Nature and Science
Next door to the zoo is the Denver Museum of Nature and Science . This museum offers several interactive exhibits as well as 3D and IMAX movies. Downstairs you’ll find a very fun space area where kids can even conduct their own meteor crash experiments as well as explore how topography is changed by water. In addition, they can control a remote craft among many other fun activities. The museum is involved in a nearby excavation of mammoths. There are some special areas designed for younger children as well. The museum is appropriate for kids of all ages, and yes that includes teens.
In the Prehistoric Journey exhibit, you’ll see massive dinosaur skeletons such as T-Rex, Triceratops, and Stegosaurus, as well as real paleontologists preparing fossils for display. The IMAX Theater offers big-screen thrills, and the state-of-the-art Gates Planetarium takes you on a journey through the cosmos. Don’t miss the new, interactive Expedition Health exhibit, where you’ll learn everything you need to know about your own body.
The city offers miles of pedestrian and bicycle paths, many of which masterfully evade motorized traffic ensuring a very pleasant and safe experience for families. Enjoying Denver’s fairly mild summer? Head down to Confluence Park near the freeway. Kayakers practice moving through rapids here, and it isn’t uncommon to see some people on inner tubes enjoying them as well. There is a shallow, calm area for people to jump in and cool off, and the area is dog friendly as well. Cross the bridge for the trolley or to enjoy a refreshing drink at Starbucks while the kids climb the rocks outside the REI Mothership. Indoors you’ll find a climbing wall as well.
Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park
Needing something a little more adrenaline producing? No problem! Elitch Gardens is open from the beginning of May through the beginning of November, although some of those months are weekends only. This amusement park has rides for every level of aficionado and also has a robust water park, which is included with your admission! Lockers are available for storing items you don’t want to leave in your car. The more adventurous in your group will want to make sure to ride the Mind Eraser as well as the XLR8R and Sling Shot (the latter two are at an additional cost, however).
Wow! Children’s Museum
At the Children’s Museum of Denver, you have everything from standing inside a giant bubble to flying through an aerial adventure course, protecting the city from a fire truck, curling up with a good book, and more. It has an excellent water table. Check the dates before your trip to see what’s going on. Reservations are currently required, as are masks for visitors aged 3 and up.
For families with younger children the Children’s Museum is a great place to spend a few hours. Kids between 3 and 11 will enjoy it the most, and it’s conveniently located within walking distance of Confluence Park and Elitch Gardens.
Denver has a light rail system which makes getting around much easier, as well as buses and you can even rent bikes at kiosks throughout the city. No matter your length of stay here, you’ll find more than enough to keep you and your family busy and entertained.
Other Family Attractions
In Federal Heights, this is one of the largest and best water parks in the country, with acres of relaxing summertime fun. Water World’s 46 rides and adventures appeal to people of all ages.
Over 1,200 free-flying butterflies make their residence at this one-of-a-kind Westminster attraction, fluttering all around tourists in a re-creation of a tropical rain forest.
Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum
Feel the rush of flight in the simulation center, climb into cockpits, and marvel at the collection of military and civilian aircraft, including the country’s only X-wing Starfighter.
Black American West Museum & Heritage Center
Blacks made up nearly one-third of the pioneers who helped settle Colorado in the late 1800s. These miners, ranchers, teachers, blacksmiths, and lawmen played a significant role in the Wild West. Take a look at these residents’ stories.
On a 1.5-mile nature walk in Morrison, you can try comparing footprint sizes with giant prehistoric beasts. There are over 100 fossilized dinosaur tracks to be found, including those of stegosaurus, apatosaurus, and allosaurus. They were created during the Cretaceous Period (100 million years ago) and are still in the same location as the dinosaurs left them, though the world has changed slightly.
The Wild Animal Sanctuary
Located 30 miles outside of Denver, this 10,400-acre rescue/educational facility is home to nearly 500 large predators (including lions, tigers, bears, and wolves!). They are free to roam the vast refuge while you wander above them on the Mile Into the Wild walkway.
Observe animals roam at The Wild Animal Sanctuary, one of the few facilities in the United States where you can view animals in their natural habitat. Over 450 rescued lions, tigers, bears, wolves, and other large carnivores call the 789-acre sanctuary home, including several animals seized from Joe Exotic and other Tiger King characters.