Today I’m sharing my space with Explorer Momma, Lauren Gonikishvili, who calls Denver, Colorado home. I’ve asked her to share more about her life in this city and all the kid-friendly fun things to do in Denver, Colorado.
Things to do in Denver, Colorado (with kids!)
When you think of Denver, Colorado what comes to mind? The Rocky Mountains? Skiing? Maybe the Denver Broncos football team?
I was born in the Mile High City and am a true Colorado gal, and there are a ton of amazing things to do in the city you will love.
Of course, if you come to Colorado, one of your absolute musts is to get up to the mountains to do some hiking, skiing, or mountain biking, but what if you want to stay in the city what is there to do in Denver, Colorado with kids?
I absolutely love this family-friendly city. There are hidden opportunities and experiences to be had around every corner, and I’m constantly finding new things for our family to do.
So if you’re visiting Colorado on holiday for the first time with your family, or a long-time resident looking for new things to do, you’ll find something perfect today.
Visiting Denver With Kids
Let’s get to it and take a look at my city and the things to do in Denver, Colorado (with kids!).
As I mentioned before, I was born in Denver, and no matter how many times I try to leave the state or the country, I always come back. The mountains are calling, and I must go as they say, and it really is true for me. I love my Colorado Rocky Mountains, and now I’m lucky enough to live just outside of Denver so I can share this fabulous city and experiences with my own kids. My daughter just turned 10 and my son is 6 years old. Most of the places I’ll talk about here I’ve been taking them to since they were babies. Denver really is a kid-friendly city.
Our favorite family activity in Denver
As a family, we are history and science enthusiasts (nerds if you prefer!), so we’ve found our favorite place to go together is the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. There’s absolutely something for every member of the family to enjoy and share with the others. My son at 6 can give you a lecture on almost every single organism, fish, dinosaur in the Prehistoric Journey exhibition, the favorites being, of course, the banana-sized teeth of the Tyrannosaurus Rex and the Diplodocus skeleton with its giant whip-like tail.
My daughter finds the Gems and Minerals fascinating and loves to learn about the rocks found in her home state. My husband and I enjoy the traveling exhibitions like the recent Dead Sea Scrolls and the newest exhibition on Cuba. Also, ever since they were little, we always end our trip with a visit to the Discovery Zone. The Discovery Zone is a hands-on kid area where they get to dig up dinosaurs, explore water movement, and tons of other activities where they get to move around and be a part of science.
Bonus Tip: We have a membership to the Denver Nature and Science Museum, and it takes part in the ASTC Passport Program. This means we can also get free general admission to any other museum in the USA (or the world!) that also participates. When we travel anywhere, I always check the website to see what museums are in the area in the program to check out!
My kids’ favorite outing in Denver
Right now my kids are huge baseball fans, and their favorite outing is to go to Coors Field and see the Colorado Rockies play baseball. Coors Field holds right around 50,000 people, and we often sit up on the second or third level or even in the family section. There’s great music and camaraderie with the other fans even if you’re not interested in seeing every ball or strike like my son.
Kids can also go visit and get a picture taken with the Colorado Rockies mascot, Dinger, during the third inning just next to the water feature. Why is the Rockies mascot a purple dinosaur you ask? Good question. During construction of the field, workers found several dinosaur fossils including a 7-foot long triceratops skull. Therefore, Dinger the Dinosaur was born.
Don’t miss this in Denver
Downtown Denver is a spot that the whole family will enjoy. It sounds a little broad, but it’s a ton of fun to just walk around Downtown Denver, or the BIG CITY, as my kids call it.
When the kids get tired, sit down to eat at an outdoor table at one of the many cafe/restaurants along the pedestrian promenade at the 16th Street Mall. There are free shuttle buses along the mile-long mall, and it’s a great place to people watch. Explore Union Station and the jumping fountains in front of it. In the evenings you can also take a horse-drawn carriage ride!
In addition, if you get the chance and a family-friendly show is playing, I highly recommend a visit to the historic Paramount Theater. The Buell Theater is another family favorite and often has the familiar shows like The Phantom of the Opera, The Lion King, and more. See if you can spot the giant bear statue with its paws on the windows trying to get into the theater!
Our favorite good weather outing
We LOVE the Denver Zoo and almost always have a family membership here as well. Whenever the weather’s nice it’s a great place to get out, get some exercise, and visit some of our animal friends.
We love to see Dobby the giraffe, who we’ve known since he was a baby but is now not so little anymore! We also never miss a visit to the reptile house to see all the spiders, snakes, fish, and alligator friends.
When you visit be sure to check the show times so you can see the sea lion show and the elephant show. The animals have a reward system, so they are not forced to do anything so beware a show doesn’t always happen! If they don’t feel like doing a show for their rewards, they don’t have to, which I think is a good way to go about it.
We do a lot of walking around the zoo so if you have smaller kids I recommend taking a stroller or wagon for when they get tired and for all your stuff! You can buy food there, but it’s nice to take your own snacks and water bottles so you don’t have to purchase those items. In addition to the animals, there’s also a fun train and carousel kids love to ride near Monkey Island so get a map when you enter and plan your visit.
Our favorite BAD weather outing
The Denver Downtown Aquarium is another popular outing for kids. We love this because while they do have attractions outside, some games and rides, the aquarium and main exhibits are all indoors. The Downtown Aquarium itself boasts over 500 species of marine life and is a must-see for any young budding marine biologists! Our favorite areas include the giant shark tank, the Under the Sea exhibit where you can walk through the aquarium with water overhead, and petting the manta rays.
They have a great kid-friendly restaurant, and when else are you going to be able to eat next to a 50,000 gallon, floor to ceiling aquarium? If you’re lucky you might even get to see the mermaids swimming about! It’s always a hit.
Bonus Tip: This place can be a little more expensive so to cut costs check the website for any specials promotions. Also, if you sign up for their email newsletter you may get coupons in your inbox. I can’t promise it as things change, but I did receive a half-price admission when I signed up for their email list.
The best free outing in Denver, Colorado
If you are looking for a fun, FREE, outdoor activity I would explore Centennial Center Park. This is a great place to take the kids to burn off some energy and spend a summer afternoon. If it’s hot, bring swimsuits or clothes that can get we and definitely take advantage of the Splash Pad. There’s an impressive playground for ages 6 and up, and a separate toddler playground for the little ones with even a dinosaur dig sandbox zone. Take the kids to play and have a picnic. If you’re up for it there are also plenty of walking paths and gardens to explore. It’s a fun day out.
Our “insider” tip for Denver
Dinosaur Ridge is actually located in Morrison, Colorado, a suburb of Denver near Golden. You can probably tell we have a dinosaur theme going, so how would you like to visit the actual location where many dino skeletons have been found? Kids can climb around and put hands and feet in real Iguanodon footprints, see the underside of Apatosaurus footprints, and touch actual dinosaur fossils in the rock walls. We just recently discovered this place and had a beautiful fall day to explore the Ridge and the small museum.
There are picnic tables around to enjoy a family picnic lunch and then you can choose to walk the 1.1 miles up Dinosaur Ridge Trail for free or pay for a shuttle tour. Because my 6-year-old was already tired, we opted for the shuttle and tour, and I’m so glad we did! We had a very knowledgeable guide who made the footprints and fossils come to life. I was happy to see my daughter (who’s not always as into dinosaurs as my son) asking questions and generally interested in the history of the area.
The best family-friendly restaurant in Denver
There are a lot of really good family-friendly restaurants in Denver. However, if you’d like something that’s as much an experience as eating dinner, try White Fence Farm. There’s a sort of Americana farm feel throughout the grounds and tons for little ones to see and do. Great classic fried chicken and fixins’, and you’ll find some gluten-free and allergy-friendly options.
Eat in the restaurant or take a picnic to go and eat on the grounds! There’s so much to see and do. Feed the animals at the petting zoo, dance to live music, and play in the tree house and playground. In addition, you can even get an old-time family photo taken. It’s a fun place to eat and experience as a family.
More things to do in Denver with kids
The Butterfly Pavilion
Visit and rethink the way you think about invertebrates at The Butterfly Pavilion. View the beautiful 1,600 free-flying butterflies, learn about mantis shrimp in Invertebrate World, and you might even get to hold Rosie the tarantula.
The Children’s Museum
An awesome place to go, especially with younger kids, The Children’s Museum is where kids can explore science, play, and how things work with tons of interactive exhibits. They have a free day the first Tuesday of the month from 4-8 pm.
Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum
Do you have a budding pilot in the family? Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum is located in the former Lowry Air Force Base and has a large amount of aircraft, space, and rocketry exhibits. Make sure you find the 3/4-scale replica of the Star Wars X-Wing Starfighter signed by Harrison Ford, George Lucas, David Prowse, and more!
The Denver Mint
Are your kids interested in how coins are made? Get up early to obtain your free tickets to tour the Denver Mint later in the day. Kids and history buffs alike will enjoy this tour.
Tour the Colorado State Capitol
A visit to the Colorado State Capitol is on the list of school field trips for most every eighth grader in Colorado. You can tour the building on your own or with an official tour guide. For an educational experience for the older kids, sit in on a legislative session. We love to tour the dome and look at the museum-like display in Mr. Brown’s attic. It really is a beautiful building.
Denver Botanic Gardens
The Denver Botanic Gardens are great to take a couple of hours and explore. At the main location on York Street, the kids can explore all the gardens but especially take the time to see the Mordecai Children’s Garden. They have many seasonal activities so be sure to check their website when you plan your trip for the best time to visit Denver.
The easiest way to get around Denver, Colorado with kids
To be perfectly honest, the easiest way I have found to get around Denver with kids is in my own car. If you don’t have friends and family to drive you around I would suggest a rental car or you could also get to know the RTD rail system. The RTD rail system has 9 rail lines and 53 stations and is a good option if a car is not available. It’s another one of those experiences the kids will enjoy and see the city in a different way.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to appreciate Colorado more and more. The awesome beauty of the mountains, the seasons, the people, and the family-friendly atmosphere of the capital city. I hope you enjoy my view of Denver and make a trip out of it! Explore the city and beyond in Colorful Colorado!
Lauren is Mom to a fun-loving 10-year-old girl and a dinosaur and squid obsessed 5-year-old boy. She’s also the owner and designer of Explorer Momma LLC. As a former French teacher and U.S. Peace Corps volunteer, she loves to read, cook, and learn about other cultures. Lauren finds the best education for her family is to get outside to explore and travel whenever possible. Lauren is also obsessed with real foods, cutting out sugar, and low carb eating. On Explorer Momma, you’ll find recipes for family low carb and keto eating, mom and family travel, books, learning, and fun! Find her on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest at @explorermomma.