As the weather starts to warm up lots of families are starting to think about ways to escape the valley for fun vacations! If you haven’t planned your trips yet, it might be fun to consider Colorado. It’s a quick 75-minute flight (keep an eye on Southwest’s sales — we’ve gotten some killer deals up there!) or a fun 12-hour drive for your family. I grew up in Colorado, and one of my favorite parts of our annual summer vacation to Denver is showing my boys some of my favorite places in the area.
Here are 8 favorite kid-approved things to explore in Denver:
- The Denver Zoo – The Denver Zoo is located right near downtown and it’s so fun walking around the animals with the cityscape in the background. The Denver Zoo renovated their elephant exhibit two years ago, and it’s definitely worth checking out! Also, don’t be surprised to see a peacock wandering around the grounds. Tropical Discovery is also a fun, indoor space with lots of birds and other animals to explore within the zoo. Find hours and additional information about The Denver Zoo here.
- Tiny Town – Kids love stepping into this world that is exactly what it sounds like – a tiny town! Little ones can crawl around inside buildings (think big doll houses) that are just their size. There’s also a playground and a railroad that runs around the park. Tiny Town is located less than 30-minutes from Denver, but it is barely inside the mountains so you can get more of a feel for the cool mountain air. Learn more about Tiny Town Railroad & Park.
- Denver Museum of Nature & Science – Looking for a place that your husband and your kiddo will love? From dinosaurs to Mars rovers, this place has it all! One of the things that I love about this museum is that they have done a great job catering to all ages. They have an IMAX theatre on site if that is something your family is interested in, a planetarium, dinosaur bones, butterflies and gemstones, and so much more. They recently added a hands-on section for little ones that both my boys (ages 1 and 3) absolutely loved with an interactive dinosaur dig area, storytime, and a giant water table. Discover the Denver Museum of Nature and Science here.
- Water World – This water park was my favorite growing up! From the wave pool to the daredevil slides to the lazy river, kids of all ages will find rides to enjoy. My brother and I were big fans of Tortuga Run. Just be sure to apply extra sunscreen when you do visit and drinky lots of water. It may feel cooler than Arizona, but the increased elevation in Colorado, The Mile High City, can cause sunburns to happen quicker than you would expect! Find ticket prices and ride information here.
- Dinosaur Ridge Trail – If your little ones are into dinosaurs, this should definitely be a stop on your list! Just 20-minutes outside of Denver, this trail is full of fossil and geologic sites. This trail can be accessed by foot (it’s about a two-mile loop), bike, or guided bus tour. Learn more about this natural landmark here.
- Celestial Seasonings Factory Tour – If your family makes it to Boulder (40 minutes from Denver) be sure to take advantage of this free tour of the famous tea factory. The tour is about 30-minutes long, but it is important to note that kids need to be at least five years old to attend the factory part of the tour. The factory also has a store, restaurant, and lots of tea samples! Learn more about the Celestial Seasonings Factory Tour
- Bandimere Speedway – Is your little one a race fan? Morrison, Colorado – just about twenty minutes from downtown Denver, is home to a quarter-mile NHRA drag strip. The track’s big event of the year is in July when Mile High Nationals visits the state, but there are regional events running almost year round. Check out their website for information on events and ticket prices. Don’t forget to bring some ear protection for the kiddos if you do decide to check out a race though! There is also a go-kart rental track on site, Action Karting, if your family has the need for speed!
- Casa Bonita – Despite it’s rise to fame from the South Park episode, this is a family-friendly restaurant that has been a staple in Denver for decades. I’ll admit that the Mexican food is so-so, but the atmosphere more than makes up for it. Your family will love watching the cliff divers, exploring the caves, and playing in the arcades. Open for lunch and dinner, this is a must-see while in Denver. Just look for the pink tower.
Bonus: Mt. Evans & Pikes Peak If your family is up to a bit more of a drive, I highly recommend taking the unique opportunity to drive to the summit of Mt. Evans or Pikes Peak. Mt. Evans is about 90-minutes west of Denver, and Pikes Peak is close to two hours south of Denver. Both of these mountains are part of Colorado’s famous fourteeners (mountains that have an elevation of 14,000 feet). Pikes Peak has a donut shop at the summit, but both mountains have some truly incredible views and wildlife. If you do venture down to Pikes Peak (which is my personal favorite) be aware that the mountain is closed at the end of June for a few days each year for an annual motorsports race up the peak.
There are so many fun things to do around Denver. Lots of great hiking trails, restaurants, and tons of breweries to check out as well. If you do make a trip this summer, tag us in your photos and take us along with you!