The Mile-High City offers a variety of exciting attractions for vacationing families, all nestled in the stunning natural beauty of the Rocky Mountains. If you’re considering Denver as a destination for your next family vacation, you may be surprised at the number of kid-friendly activities there are to choose from. These ten attractions are among the best, but are still only a small sampling of the many exciting options available to families visiting Denver.
- The Butterfly Pavilion (Broomfield, CO 80020) – Billed as an “insect zoo,” The Butterfly Pavilion and Insect Center is one of the jewels in the Denver metro area’s kids’ attraction crown. More than 1,600 free-flying butterflies float flutter through the Wings of the Tropics conservatory, which also houses plenty of tropical plants. Keep in mind that touching the butterflies is not permitted, and be sure to warn little fingers away from the temptation to catch one of these beautiful creatures before arriving at the facility.
- Chautauqua (Boulder CO 80302) – Though President Teddy Roosevelt once said that chautauquas were “the most American thing in America,” there are now only three left in the nation. The only chautauqua west of the Mississippi is in Boulder, housing a dining hall, community house, cottages and an auditorium. Miles of hiking trails, plenty of family-friendly events and lectures are among the available activities, which are sure to take up the better part of an entire day.
- Denver Botanic Gardens (Denver, CO 80206) – While the Denver Botanic Gardens sprawl over twenty-three acres and features more than 1,500 plant species, the three-acre Mordecai Children’s Garden and Pipsqueak Pond are the highlights for families with kids in tow. After entering through a cave, children emerge to find six gorgeous environments that encourage fort-building, wildlife observation, harvesting and arts and crafts activities.
- Denver Art Museum (Denver, CO 80204) – Recognized internationally for their family-friendly programs and environment, the Denver Art Museum is a great stop on your family vacation. Don’t forget to pick up Family Backpacks on Saturdays and Sundays, which are filled with games and gallery-related activities and ideas for keeping kids engaged while learning the finer points of art appreciation.
- Lookout Mountain Nature Center and Preserve (Golden, CO 80401) – Interactive exhibits, walking trails and activities that encourage learning about environmental and nature conservation are scattered over the one-hundred and ten acres of Lookout Mountain Nature Center and Preserve, which also houses Buffalo Bill’s Museum and grave.
- Elitch Gardens Theme Park (Denver, CO 80210) – Just across the highway from the Mile High Stadium, home of the Denver Broncos, lies Elitch Gardens Theme Park. More than forty-five rides, attractions and shows, along with a water park to which admission is included with the theme park price, make the trip a great stop for lighthearted fun while you’re in Denver. Don’t miss the Ferris Wheel, which provides a breathtaking view of both the city and the Rocky Mountains.
- Children’s Museum of Denver (Denver, CO 80211) – Divided into a variety of “playscapes,” the Children’s Museum of Denver is a great escape for kids of all ages. The first floor houses the Center for the Young Child, which caters to kids from newborn to age four, and the Parent Resource Center, which is rife with information about parenting. There are so many activities that you should plan to spend the better part of the afternoon here, especially after kids discover the My Market and Assembly Plant exhibits.
- Four Mile Historic Park (Denver, CO 80246) – Denver’s oldest house, Four Mile House, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and situated on the twelve acres of Four Mile Historic Park. Dedicated to celebrating the diversity of the men, women and children that helped to build the West, there are a variety of activities and attractions for kids and adults alike to be found.
- Tiny Town Colorado (Morrison, CO 80456) – If you want to truly awe the youngsters in your family, take a trip to Morrison, Colorado in order to visit Tiny Town. Comprised of more than one hundred structures built on a one-sixth scale, the town can be explored by riding the authentic steam locomotive.
- Parfet Prehistoric Preserve Triceratops Trail (Golden, CO 80401) – There’s something about even the mention of dinosaurs that tends to captivate and inspire kids, which makes a visit to Triceratops Trail a great choice for your family vacation. A simulated dinosaur dig, the Trek Through Time exhibits and Dinosaur Ridge are all exciting options for kids and adults alike. Explore millions of years of Colorado history over the course of a single day!
If there’s a sports connoisseur or two in the family, be sure to keep in mind that Denver is one of the few cities in the United States with teams from four major sports, including the NFL’s Denver Broncos, the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, the MLS team Colorado Rapids and the MLB’s Colorado Rockies. No matter what time of year you schedule your visit, chances are you’ll be able to catch a professional-level sporting event while you’re in Denver with your family.