Denver, Colorado is one of the top vacation destinations in the United States and for very good reasons. There are so many things to do and see, whether it is winter or summer, and each one has its own special charm, excitement, or things to discover. For a memorable vacation, plan on visiting at least one of these top Denver attractions.
Top Things to Do in Denver with Kids
A good place to start your vacation adventure is at the Denver Visitor Information Center. Located in the 16th Street Mall, the Center is open year-round and offers free maps, souvenirs, and helpful and knowledgeable staff to assist you with all things tourist.
Arts and Entertainment
The Denver Center for the Performing Arts
Located at 1101 13th St., has everything from Broadway to Cabaret live theatre shows. The Denver Center Theatre Company is world renowned for their passionate work and commitment to aspiring as well as seasoned playwrights.
The Denver Art Museum
Housed in two buildings, the North building and the Frederic C. Hamilton building, located within the Civic Center Cultural Complex on 13th Ave. Purchase tickets at the parking garage right next door to the Hamilton building. The exhibits depict artists from all over the world and there are special events and exhibits regularly.
Denver Museum of Nature and Science
At 2001 Colorado Blvd. history, nature, and science collide with an amazing collection of exhibits from a century-old Wolverine skull to pictures of the first “space spiders” and don’t forget to check out the Discovery Zone where kids can be scientific while having fun. All this is found inside the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, open 364 days a year.
Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Two 300-foot red sandstone rock formations are the backdrop for the Red Rocks Amphitheatre at exit 259 off I-70. The unparalleled acoustics and one-of-a-kind beauty of this natural phenomenon make it a perfect venue for outdoor concerts. It has attracted such artists as Willie Nelson, Nine Inch Nails, The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and many others. The visitors center is open year-round and houses numerous exhibits, the Performers Hall of Fame, the Gift Shop, a theatre, and the Ship Rock Grille restaurant. It is surrounded by the Red Rocks Park with camping, hiking trails, and breathtaking scenic views.
The U.S. Mint
If your kids have ever wondered where money is made, a trip to the U.S. Mint in Denver is a great activity. Did you know that The U.S. Mint can produce more than 50 million coins a day? Each has a “D” stamp on it for Denver. Free guided tours show every step in the process of turning a boring, blank, metal slugs into shiny coins.
Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park
Having been a park for over 104 years, the garden closes, but a new amusement park is constructed in 1994 and opened in 1997. This theme park was the first to be built in a city in the US in over 30 years. Now a Six Flags park, visitors can experience rides for all ages and cool off in the water park.
Animals, Reptiles, Insects, and Nature
The Denver Zoo
Located at 2300 Steele St., the Denver Zoo started in 1896 with a small orphaned black bear cub named Billy Bryan. This extraordinary zoo is home to more than 3,500 creatures that represent over 650 different species. With over 188 of these species considered either threatened or endangered and three of actually extinct in the wild, the zoo boasts some very unique educational displays, as well as being a conversational experience.
Denver Botanic Gardens
at 1005 York St. is an enchanting display of horticultural exhibits from around the world. A special exhibit showcasing individual seasons and most holidays are set up almost every month and they now have free WiFi so you can get some work done in the relaxing atmosphere of these incredible gardens.
For your aquatic adventure the Downtown Aquarium, at 700 Water St., is a real splash. Rated among the top ten US aquariums, they have some top-notch exhibits. Dive deeper with some amazing programs like sleep-over with the sharks, zoologist for a day, and swim with the fish. There is an open tank where you can pet stingrays and a restaurant that makes you feel like you are in the tanks for the fish to see.
A tropical rain forest in Colorado? Yes, indeed. At the Butterfly Pavilion Wings over the Tropics exhibit at 6252 W 104th Ave. in Westminster, a 20-minute drive from downtown Denver. Hold a tarantula in the Crawl-A-See-Um exhibit or touch sea stars at the Water’s Edge exhibit. “Honey, I Shrunk Us All!” The Shrunk exhibit houses giant, moving insect replicas, a bee honeycomb to climb on, and other over-sized wonders. Complete with an outdoor nature trail and butterfly attracting gardens, this one-of-a-kind insect zoo offers an experience of a lifetime.
Only about 20 minutes outside of town, you can step back in time, some 150 million, at Dinosaur Ridge. Back in 1877, a professor at the Colorado School of Mines discovered amazing dinosaur fossils like Apatosaurus, Stegosaurus and Allosaurus (aka the Colorado State Fossil). Act like a paleontologist and follow over 300 dinosaur tracks. In the Discovery Center, see and touch model dinosaurs as well as fossil replicas of teeth, plates, claws and more.