Things to do in Denver with your kids?
April 27, 2014 8:01 PM   Subscribe

Planning a summer road trip with the little fergs (ages 6 & 8) in June involving a couple of nights in Denver, a few days camping at Rocky Mountain National Park, and probably a night/day in Fort Collins or Estes Park. What are the must-see/must-do, uniquely "Colorado" activities for a nerdy, music- and nature-loving family in Denver?

We've got roughly two-and-a-half days planned in Denver, and would like to focus on Colorado-specific sort of stuff as much as possible. I know Denver has a great zoo, and a butterfly garden, and a childrens' museum ... but we've done the Omaha Zoo and the San Diego Zoo within the past couple of years, and the St. Louis Butterfly house and the Omaha Childrens' Museum ... you get the idea. I'd like to find the cool, interesting things that are pretty uniquely Colorado. We are planning on hitting the Nature and Science Museum, and Dinosaur Ridge if nobody steers us away from it. We would love to do the Mint, but unfortunately reservations are already gone for the time period we're looking at. (June 22-24 if you've got time-specific suggestions.)
posted by jferg to Travel & Transportation around Denver, CO (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: PS> Suggestions for Fort Collins/Estes Park area are also appreciated - we could extend our stay in that area to 2 nights if there was reason to.
posted by jferg at 8:09 PM on April 27, 2014

Best answer: Previously.
posted by MsMolly at 8:31 PM on April 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Wow. I even went through a couple pages of results for Denver and didn't find that. I guess I suck. Thanks. Any other, updated suggestions still appreciated.
posted by jferg at 8:36 PM on April 27, 2014

Best answer: Dinosaur Ridge is totally worth it, but if it's a hot day try to do it earlier in the day as (depending on how much you want to do) it can involve some walking. There is a small museum in Morrison nearby that talks about Dino Ridge. If you think your kids can appreciate it, there's a roadcut on I-70 on the way there where you can see the K/T boundary. (It might be disappointing.) Also, while you're in the area stop at Red Rocks. Even if you can't go to a concert, just seeing it during the day is pretty awesome and make a nice little picnic lunch spot, plus you get a great view of Denver.

The zoo is cool but frankly compared to the Omaha Zoo it might be pretty disappointing.

There's the Colorado History Museum that has a big exhibit on the Dust Bowl right now where they've set up a "house" and give you a pretty cool idea of what it was like to go through a dust storm.

Buffalo Bill's grave is near Golden.

The American Mountaineering Museum is in Golden. While a small museum, it has an exhibit set up to give you an idea of what it's like to be on a glacier. Also nearby is a train museum. If you're really searching for things to do, you can drive up to Georgetown (about 45-60 minutes) from Denver and ride the Georgetown Train. Also in the area is a gold mine tour in Idaho Springs.

You might consider river rafting, driving up to Mt. Evans (a 14er!), kayaking at Confluence Park in downtown Denver, or using the city bike share on one of the thousands of paths.

One nerdy/sciency/nature thing that you might think about in the Estes Park/Loveland/Ft. Collins area that doesn't exactly involve a "Place" is talk about last year's flood & the flood in Big Thompson Canyon in 1976. There's still a lot of flood damage (and evidence of the power of the flood) easily visible; while I don't know if the monuments to the Big Thompson 1976 flood got ripped out, if you read up a little prior to going it might be good for some discussion (if they were).

You might consider trying to look at the Denver Tourism website for further ideas (for children).

on preview: I didn't look at the previously, sorry if I'm repeating anything.
posted by barchan at 8:40 PM on April 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It's not quite in Denver proper, but Pikes Peak was pretty neat with the inclined railway up to the top (I believe you can get reservations in advance, and are strongly advised to do so). Garden of the Gods is really neat as well (it's not a flower garden place, but has lots of walking trails and neat geology).
posted by Northbysomewhatcrazy at 8:45 PM on April 27, 2014

Best answer: Greeley Freight Station Museum, it's the best.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 8:46 PM on April 27, 2014

Best answer: i recommend the Denver Museum of Nature and Science! i grew up going there on field trips as a kid. there are IMAX shows, a planetarium, dino bones, old school dioramas of animals from all over the world (and a fun game of trying to find the ELVES in the diorama background paintings!!!), and other awesome exhibits like this cool one called Expedition Health that the kids love crawling all over. (i love it too, but i'm biased because my mom volunteers there :) it's about a group of kids that do a hike up pikes peak, and what happens to their bodies as they exercise up the mountain. there are rock climbing walls and a bunch of other interactive videos and things to play on and learn from. this exhibit is connected to an awesome research lab that is gathering data from the public on taste - they're trying to find out if we really only have five taste zones, or if there are more? also, how does our genetics effect taste? it's called the genetics of taste.

the museum is also adjacent to city park and the zoo if you want to make a day of all three.
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 9:09 PM on April 27, 2014

Best answer: Regarding Fort Collins:

The Taste of Fort Collins takes place June 13-15. It's a fun celebration of local music, food and drink, and it takes place in Old Town which is a historic district full of boutique shops and interesting architecture (Walt Disney modeled Main Street USA in part on our Old Town!).

At the far North end of Old Town is the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery. The MoD is full of interesting interactive exhibits that all sort of revolve around Fort Collins culture - outdoors/ag/music/bikes and the like.

I'd specifically recommend going to Walrus for an ice cream, and breakfast at either Snooze or Lucile's (which is outside Old Town proper but walking distance).

You might also consider hiking Horsetooth Rock for an incredible view of the Front Range.
posted by Perthuz at 7:34 AM on April 28, 2014

Best answer: A friend of mine just went to the railroad museum in Golden with his kids (who I think are about that age) and had a great time. I also think that the CSM Geology Museum is something of a hidden gem -- I have been there several times, and they have really exceptional rock exhibits, and also have a fair bit of mining history sort of things. There's also a "geology walk" that I've seen some of the signs for, that seems interesting -- I think they might have maps for it in the museum.

Pearl Street in Boulder would probably also be good for children -- they have a neat toy store there that has kites and marbles and puzzles and other such engaging sorts of toys, and IIRC there are some play areas scattered around that have some sort of local tie-in -- dinosaurs, rocks, naturey sort of themes, that sort of thing. It's also fairly colorful generally and mostly well-shaded, which can be important as you get on into summer.

If you're not familiar with the... special... nature of the area -- it's just dry enough and just high enough to ruin your day if you're not acclimated and don't make allowances accordingly. Fortunately there are generally a lot of good quality coffee shops / other miscellaneous food sellers scattered around to permit periodic lounging.
posted by sparktinker at 9:12 AM on April 28, 2014

Best answer: Seconding cristinacristinacristina's suggestions. That whole area is a nice place to explore. Another idea would be to tour the state capital building, which is fairly close.

If your kids love books, the Tattered Cover downtown (there are two of them) is a great book store. If you are baseball fans, you could see if the Rockies are in town; tickets can be had fairly inexpensively.
posted by Fister Roboto at 9:31 AM on April 28, 2014

Best answer: Ft Collins: Cache Le Poudre river and Greyrock. The trail there is gorgeous and not too strenuous, but climbing up the rock can be challenging. If you do try for the summit, no need for equipment but there are some spots where you'll climb 10' or so. So worth it if you can make it.
posted by dozo at 10:48 AM on April 28, 2014

Best answer: Did I mention taffy in the previous thread? If not-- there's a lovely shop in Estes that has a taffy-pulling machine. It's mezmerizing and I loved it as a kid. (Also they sell taffy.)
posted by nat at 3:50 PM on April 28, 2014

Response by poster: sparktinker: Yes, altitude issues are one of my concerns - it's been several years since I was that way, and have had some altitude sickness previously, though not debilitating levels. Part of the reason for spending a couple days in Denver before camping is to give us a little time to acclimate to higher altitudes, and I'm hoping between that and making sure to stay extra hydrated we should be OK. If you have any other sage advice I'd be glad to hear it.
posted by jferg at 5:18 PM on April 28, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks for the great answers, everyone. This has been very helpful and I think I have a good itinerary forming.
posted by jferg at 5:19 PM on April 28, 2014

« Older What is the approximate capacity for party...   |   Any mefites in Ballarat? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.