2012
Apr 17

Kid-Friendly in Denver

by Hannah Holt »

8 comments


Denver is a great place for kids. If you are planning a trip to the Denver area or if you’re new to the mile high city, here are my top ten favorite stops for kids:

1) The Downtown Aquarium in Denver is seriously cool. Your aqua enthusiast will love walking through watery passages, petting sting rays, and feeling the splash from a surprise dessert flood (getting wet is optional). The Downtown Aquarium has fish, sharks, otters, birds, snakes, turtles, tigers, and more. Stop by the aquarium’s restaurant and you might even see a mermaid.

2) The Children’s Museum of Denver will keep your little ones busy for hours. A large area downstairs caters to the four and under crowd, while other areas will captivate older children with fire trucks, bubbles, workshops, rockets, and more. Word of the wise: go first thing in the morning or during the last two hours of the day. The middle of the day crush can be crazy.

3) No trip to Denver would be complete without a visit to the Denver Zoo. We’re sad we left before the new Elephant Passages exhibit opened. If you go, be sure to ride the train and wave to the flamingos for us. If you happen to be there during the holiday season, the zoo lights are dazzling. Here are a few tips for making the most of a zoo lights experience.

4) The Denver Museum of Nature and Science is walking distance from the zoo. The DMNS will satisfy dino-lovers, earth scientists, and  naturalists alike. We especially like the hands-on area on the second floor. Some of the prehistoric animals move and growl. But don’t be scared; none bite.

5) If your kids love trains, then a visit to the Colorado Railroad Museum is just the ticket. Big trains, small trains, model trains, train rides… this place is train heaven. The museum also hosts the occasional special visitor like Thomas and Santa. Be sure to catch the fun.

6) Looking for creepy-crawlies? Then the Butterfly Pavlion is the place to be. You can hold Rosie the tarantula, pet a hissing cockroach, or watch new butterflies take flight. Their indoor rain forest houses butterflies from around the globe. There are plenty of learning opportunities and hands on activities for children ages 1 to 98.

7) Come to the Denver Firefighter Museum and learn the history of firefighting in Denver. See firetrucks past and present, and children can dress up like firefighters and climb aboard a fire truck. The upstairs exhibit displays a typical firefighters’ quarters. There are also firetruck puzzles and games, fire safety tips, a pole for sliding, and more.

8 ) Elitch Gardens is Denver’s premier theme park. Get your adrenaline fix on one of their many roller coasters or water slides. One ticket gets you into both the water and amusement parks. They have a special area with rides for young children. Check the weather before you go because they will close parts of the park for lightning (Denver has a lot of early summer thunderstorms).

9) The Wings of the Rockies Air and Space Museum has more than 30 planes and space vehicles on display. In addition to rare planes and aviation memorabilia, they have hands-on activities. Have I mentioned they have airplanes? That’s all my boys needed to know.

10) The Denver Botanical Gardens is a great place to learn about nature mid-stride. Three acres of the garden are specifically designed for budding green thumbs. In this space, children can dig, play, splash, and of course learn about plants.

Looking for the best of FREE in Denver? Here are a few kid-friendly activities that won’t cost a dime:

1) Tour the U.S. Mint. You need to make a reservation (usually booked a few weeks out), and you can’t bring in strollers or backpacks. But how many times have you watched money being made? Oh and all tour guests receive a shiny, new penny.

2) Hike the trail at Dinosaur Ridge. Your kids can touch real life dino footprints for free. Guided tours are $3 per person.

3) Denver is home to many of your favorite products. Take a factory tour and receive a lesson in manufacturing as well as test free samples. Here are a couple of our favorites.

See candy made the old fashioned way at Hammond’s Candy Factory.

Learn about tea and herbal infusions at Celestial Seasonings (children must be five and older).

4) See Buffalo Bill’s grave and visit the Lookout Mountain Nature Center.

Other deals on kid related fun:

Denver Kids Pages: A list of kid centered activities in the Denver area. Tracks activities by the day and by price.

Colorado Kids: Coupons, activities, and travel tips for getting the most out of your Colorado vacation.

Jefferson County, CO library card holders can access a variety of museums and attractions for free by reserving passes at this website.


  1. Stacy S. Jensen

    We are just an hour south of Denver, but never visit to “just explore.” Thank you for this list.

  2. Joanna

    Wow, there is so much to do in Denver. I think at least 75% of your suggestions, I would enjoy as a childless adult, too, Hannah! I especially like the idea of the butterfly pavilion, the aquarium and the botanical gardens.

  3. Susanna Leonard Hill

    Oh wow! I want to move to Denver! So much cool stuff to see and do! The Aquarium reminds me of the one I saw when I visited my sister in Atlanta.

  4. Kirsten

    Looks like a lot of fun. When we make it back, I’ll definitely take your list.

  5. Julie Hedlund

    Great post! We’ve done most of these things, but still need to hit the Mint and Dinosaur Ridge. But it’s true this whole area is fantastic for raising a family.

  6. Catherine Johnson

    I agree with Susanna, can I move too!

  7. Jess

    Ok, I did miss that the move was final. We’ll miss you, but at least you still give us creative ideas. Let us know if you come back sometime!

  8. Hannah Holt

    Sorry, Jess. I left you a message the week we moved. I’m sure we’ll be back. There are so many fun things we still want to do in Denver. :)