Family Vacations to Denver, Colorado

Coors Field Denver, Colorado
Coors Field (courtesy, Denver Metro CVB)

Denver Family Travel Tips

  • Solve crimes at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
  • Meet Denver Zoo's artistic rhino.
  • Climb on a fire truck or build one-of-a-kind creations at the Children's Museum of Denver.
  • Browse the Native American collection at the Denver Art Museum.
  • Watch skateboarders catch air at the largest outdoor public skate park in the United States.

Denver, the Mile High City, is a green, tree-lined metropolis that sits on a rolling plain about 30 miles from the edge of the Rocky Mountains. And because of this prime location, Denver is a year-round recreational mecca, with five big-league sports teams (baseball, basketball, football, hockey, and soccer), 450 miles of walking and biking paths, and more than 300 days of sunshine annually.

Denver has more than 200 parks, but the one many kids like best is the $2.9-million-dollar Skate Park, the largest outdoor free public skate facility in the country. Located in the South Platte River District, the park features concrete bowls four to 12 feet deep, a variety of ramps, and a section with handrails and ledges for grinding and sliding. Even non-skaters will enjoy watching the action.

For calmer strolls, head to the highly-regarded Denver Botanic Gardens. The Children's Secret Path has interactive stations and the Birds and Bees Walk showcases pollinators like bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and hawk moths at work.

At the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, the Space Odyssey exhibit and Gates Planetarium are out of this world. Solve a crime using DNA forensic techniques at the interactive Hall of Life, learn cool stuff about the human body at Body Worlds 2, and admire glittery jewels and meteorites in the Mineral Hall. The nearby Denver Zoo is home to different kinds of gems: Mshindi, the world's only rhinoceros that paints with a brush (yes, really), the impressive Komodo dragons, and the majestic gorillas. To take in all these Denver attractions you're going to need some extra change. Head to the U.S. Mint's Denver location for a free 30-minute tour on any weekday (reservations required) to see the coin-making process in action. After all, with at least ten million pennies disappearing from circulation every day, someone has to make new ones.

At the Children's Museum of Denver, kids build with recycled household objects at The Assembly Plant and shoot hoops at Making the Team, just two of nine interactive play stations. The Downtown Aquarium has fish of course, but birds, reptiles, amphibians, and even tigers grace its halls. Stick with the aquatic theme and get wet yourself at Water World, a 64-acre water park, and Six Flags Elitch Gardens, an amusement park and water park.

By the fall of 2006, the Denver Art Museum will nearly double in size with a new wing. When the expansion is complete, the popular family backpacks—a longtime staple inclusion, full of gallery games and activities—will return to the museum. They're a great free way to keep your little ones entertained in the sprawling building. Museum highlights include the Native American collection, the dress-up closet on the sixth-floor Discovery Library, and during construction, an exhibit on the building process that lets you discover how it feels and sounds to walk on a steel construction beam.

Tips: Kids 12 and younger always get free general admission at the Denver Art Museum. If you live in Colorado, call the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD) at 303.860.0588 to find out which days throughout the year are free for residents at the art museum, botanic gardens, museum of nature and science, and zoo.

Recommended Side Trips: Colorado Springs, Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, Winter Park's resident family expert Candyce Stapen has written the book on family travel, having authored some 1,400 travel articles and 27 books, 26 of them on family travel. She is the winner of the 2004 "Caribbean Travel Writer of the Year for North America" award and a three-time winner of the Society of American Travel Writers' Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism award. Her articles have appeared in publications including Nick Jr , FamilyFun , Parents , Better Homes & Gardens , Conde Nast Traveler , National Geographic Traveler , and the Family Travel Network , among others. Her book, the National Geographic Guide to Caribbean Family Vacations is available from

Published: 3 Oct 2007 | Last Updated: 9 Aug 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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