Planning a trip to Denver?
It’s a great city for families. I’m a Salt Lake City native, and here in the wide open spaces of the Mountain West, Denver is considered a close neighbor. For years, I assumed that Denver was just more of the same, but I was wrong. Denver is bigger, with a fun, family-friendly vibe that’s different from anywhere else.
I’ve visited Denver a few times, and look forward to traveling through Denver again this year. Here are my top activities for families.
Denver Art Museum
The Denver Art Museum is a big, diverse, family-friendly museum located in downtown Denver. We spent a full afternoon here and ran out of energy before we ran out of galleries. There were two exhibitions (now gone) that my family found especially engaging, and we spent a lot of time between them. Kids ages 18 and under get free general admission every day! https://denverartmuseum.org/
Denver Firefighters Museum
The Denver Firefighters Museum was a huge hit for my son on our first trip to Denver. He was two years old, and like many boys that age, he loved fire trucks. This small museum is filled with hands-on activities that teach visitors of all ages about firefighting, fire safety and the history of the Denver Fire Department. It has been housed in the original Firehouse No. 1 in downtown Denver since 1909. https://www.denverfirefightersmuseum.org/
Colorado State Capitol Building
The Colorado State Capitol is a beautiful building with a copper dome that sits atop Capitol Hill in downtown Denver. It costs nothing to visit, and there are a lot of interesting things to see. Outside, families will find grassy areas for play or rest. Look for the Mile High Marker on the Capitol steps at exactly 5,280 feet above sea level. https://leg.colorado.gov/visit-learn
Denver U.S. Mint
The Denver U.S. Mint is a unique opportunity to see where your money is made. It’s located in downtown Denver, near several other attractions for families. Getting tickets can be tricky, which is the only reason we haven’t visited the Mint yet. Tours are only offered Monday-Thursday, and free same-day tickets for the six scheduled tours are distributed at the Mint on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 7 a.m. Advance tickets are not available. Kids must be at least 7 years old. https://www.usmint.gov/
The Denver Zoo is a top Denver destination for my family. We’ve visited on more than one trip to Denver. You’ll find all your favorite animals in interactive, state-of-the-art habitats. The Denver Zoo is located in Denver’s City Park, not far from the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Click the More Tips button to read my full review of the Denver Zoo. https://www.denverzoo.org/
Denver Museum of Nature and Science
The Denver Museum of Science and Nature is the first museum where my kids saw a real mummy. My then 6-year-old daughter was into ancient Egypt at that time, so it was an exciting day. This natural history museum has lots of good interactive exhibits for kids. Consider an IMAX movie if you’re ready for an educational and entertaining hour off your feet. http://www.dmns.org/
See a Game
Denver is home to MLB’s Colorado Rockies, the NFL’s Denver Broncos and the NBA’s Denver Nuggets. I’m not into baseball at home, but I really enjoyed seeing the Colorado Rockies play at Coors Field. Going to the stadium, buying baseball snacks and cheering along with local fans is a fun experience. Colorado Rockies ticket prices start at less than $10, which make this an affordable activity for families. https://www.mlb.com/rockies
The Butterfly Pavilion is located north of Denver in the suburb of Westminster. On our family’s first trip to Denver, we stayed near here, so it was an excellent activity for our young children. The highlight is the butterfly habitat, where you can walk through an indoor garden filled with different species of butterflies. There is an outdoor garden, animal encounters and other fun and educational activities for families. https://www.butterflies.org/
Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Red Rocks is one of the best and most beautiful outdoor concert venues in North America. Some of the trendiest acts in music play here, and seeing a concert would be a great way to experience Denver. However, visitors are welcome all day, every day when an event isn’t scheduled. You can check out the amphitheatre, hike Red Rocks Park’s trails or visit the Colorado Music Hall of Fame, Visitor Center and Trading post, all for free. http://www.redrocksonline.com/
Buffalo Bill Grave and Museum
We visited the Buffalo Bill Grave and Museum just outside of Denver on our first trip. History buffs and fans of the wild west can honor “Buffalo Bill” Cody at his final resting place and spend time at the museum that honors his place in U.S. history. The site offers panoramic mountain views and hiking trails too. The museum is small and kitschy, but it’s inexpensive and fun for families with young children. http://buffalobill.org/
Explore Downtown Denver
Downtown Denver is filled with parks, museums, shopping, dining and other fun things to do. Several of the activities on this list and many others are located downtown, just a block or two from each other. You can easily spend a full day or more exploring downtown Denver. I recommend finding a place where you can park all day, taking public transportation into the city or booking a hotel downtown.
Ways to Save
If your family enjoys zoos, museums and gardens, consider purchasing the Mile High Culture Pass in Denver. This pass costs $30 for three days, and it will get you into the Denver Zoo, Denver Art Museum, Denver Museum of Nature and Science and four other top cultural attractions. You’ll also get discounted admission to the Denver Firefighters Museum, Butterfly Pavilion and other popular attractions. Learn more at www.milehighculturepass.com.