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Whether you’re coming down from the mountains to hit the big city, just passing through, or planning your staycation, we’ve uncovered fabulous activities for a kid-friendly Denver day trip! Here’s a snapshot of Trekaroo families’ favorite Denver-area activities and hotels. Be sure to check the Trekaroo Events Calendar before you head to town. I’m sure you’ll find a gem to add to your must-see list!
Kid-Friendly Denver Day Trips
Most Denver residents with young kids know the highlights of local museums, but may not know some of the perks they offer. The Children’s Museum of Denver offers a large selection of fun, hands on activities such as a real fire truck, and a vibrant schedule of classes, programs, and day camps.
To make a day of it, keep your car parked, and walk right up the street to the Downtown Aquarium where you can take in the largest aquarium in Colorado, complete with mermaids! The aquarium also has a restaurant where you can grab a nice lunch. If you don’t mind walking north just a couple more blocks, check out the climbing pinnacle at the Denver flag-ship R.E.I. store to see how high the kids can climb! Kids under 48″ tall will enjoy the fun play area in the upper level of the store. Don’t worry, there’s a Starbucks right next door to get you caffeinated enough to get back home.
If you’d rather stay further north, head up Colorado Boulevard to check out my family’s favorite, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. If you take in the whole museum, plus an IMAX and the planetarium show, you can easily spend the entire day here. My kids have been known to spend HOURS in the dinosaur exhibit areas alone. Bonus: the museum has one of the best, healthiest, and kid-friendly cafes around! If you want to split the day up to get some fresh air, you are a very short drive away from the Denver Zoo, where kids under 5 get in free. Parking is also free, and you can bring in your own food. Be forewarned if you set out to see the whole zoo–grab a stroller or wagon, as the zoo covers 80 acres and features nearly 700 species of animals!
The Well-Kept Secrets
You wouldn’t suspect an art museum to be the best place for young kids; however, the Denver Art Museum has really done it right. Families can check out a kid’s activity backpack from the front desk that keeps kids engaged through the museum. The museum also has several strategically-placed activity stations that help keep the attention of little ones. The museum participates in “Free First Saturdays” the first Saturday of each month, and has a great variety of programs, classes, and hands-on activities. Not far away, the Denver Botanic Gardens make for a relaxing stop, and has a children’s garden that is open mid-May through the summer. The gardens also have free entry days for Colorado residents. Finally, lots of Colorado families make a day trip to Denver just for Six Flags Elitch Gardens–pure, amusement park bliss!
For a different view of the city (and to appease little train lovers), consider parking at an RTD Park and Ride lot and taking the light rail train into the downtown area of the 16th Street Mall where there are shops, great restaurants, and, of course, some fabulous people-watching year-round! Take advantage of the free shuttle bus on the mall when little ones legs get tired. There are a number of malls at or near the RTD lots that also feature some fun play areas, good food, and world-class shopping. Cherry Creek Mall and Park Meadows Mall are at the top of our list!
The Denver Firefighters Museum, another well-kept secret, has interactive learning opportunities for kids. What kid doesn’t like to dress up as a firefighter or slide down a fire pole? The museum also offers interesting firefighting history for adults. Titanic buffs and those with slightly older children might enjoy the historic Molly Brown House to learn about her life and the Titanic disaster. Bonus: Molly Brown House and the Denver Firefighter’s Museum are rarely as busy as some of the better-known museums in town.
In my opinion, the best part of Denver is the nearly year-round, beautiful, clear blue sky, not to mention the gorgeous mountain views. Fortunately, there are quite a few parks and outdoor venues that allow you to bask in the sights. Baseball fans won’t want to miss the sunsets at Coors Field during baseball season. Four Mile Historic Park, near Cherry Creek, provides an interactive view of the area as western pioneers would have seen it. And, if you’re up for a trip a bit outside of town, there are few more beautiful places than the Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre in Morrison. Check the schedule for concerts, celebrations, and other activities before you go. If the weather doesn’t cooperate for outdoor activities, Denver has a nice selection of indoor water parks as well. No matter what, you’re bound to find something that everyone will enjoy, and quickly plan your next kid-friendly day trip back to Denver!
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