What to do in Denver on vacation with kids

When you are visiting somewhere new, it is often pretty hard to decide what you should do. What do the locals do? What do the locals recommend? Here is a list to help you figure out what your vacation to the Mile-High City will look like. There are so many great, fun things to do around town, you are sure to find a few on this list that will make your vacation perfect!

What to do in Denver on Vacation with kids

Elitch Gardens Ferris Wheel

Photo credit: Elitch Gardens

Ride the rides

Elitch Garden’s– This is the best amusement park in Denver. Obviously they are only open from May until October (they have a pretty great haunted house in October). When you go to Elitch Garden’s you get 2 theme parks for the price of 1; a water park, and an amusement park all in one place. Kids’ and adults will all love this place, and you can stay from early in the morning until late at night.

Insiders tips- Pack a picnic in your car, get your hand stamped and eat in the parking lot (there are picnic tables scattered about), it will save you a ton of cash. Another good tip is to buy the refillable cup, refills all day long for $1.

The sound of the city

Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Red Rocks Amphitheatre- Photo credit Michael Goldman

Red Rocks Amphitheater– This place is known around the US (maybe even the world?) and the biggest of big performers have played here in front of hundreds of fans. You can go and look around during the day, spend some time climbing up and down the massive steps, and even walk on the stage where your favorite bands have played for the masses. Go ahead, get on stage and do a little dance, play your guitar and sing a song, drink in the splendor that is all around you. Red Rocks Amphitheater has shows year ’round, besides just bands they also have some movies on the rocks during the summer that are great for families. Kids’ love watching movies under the stars.

Insider tips- Try to go up on a night when there is a meteor shower, lay on the stands and watch the stars literally fall all around you. There are some amazing hiking trails right next to Red Rocks Amphitheater, but be aware that you should stay on the trails.

Grab some grub

White Fence Farm– Head to White Fence Farm for dinner, your kids’ will be talking about it for years to come. They serve up a family style meal of fried chicken, corn fritters, and more, for everyone at the table to share. With beautiful landscaping and colonial style buildings, and a farm feeling this place makes you feel welcome from the moment that you park until you pull away with your stomach full. They have a petting zoo in the back, a gift shop (which is really fun to walk around), entertainment, waterside walks, a carriage museum and more! The fun is never ending at this place, and it’s a great activity for the whole family to participate in together.

Insider tips- Make a reservation, and bring a bit of extra cash and change to feed the pets in the petting zoo.

Visit with the dinosaurs

Denver Museum of Nature and Science– The dinosaurs are at the museum year ’round and there are plenty of great traveling exhibits for you to enjoy too. When you buy your ticket you can add on a ticket to an IMAX movie, learning at it’s maximum [screen] allowance, there is no better way to get the kids’ to pay attention to something where they will learn. Gates Planetarium is right next door (attached in fact) and they offer some great shows too, little ones really love it.

Insider tips- If you are a teacher you get a discount on tickets.

Mount Evans scenic byway Colorado

Photo Credit http://www.mountevans.com/

Enjoy the views

Mount Evans Scenic Byway– Drive up the highest paved road in North America. You can drive up to the 14,240 foot summit, and on the way up you pass through 3 life zones, lakes and forests too. The view is exactly what you would imagine it to be, beautiful. During the winter the top 5 miles is closed to motor vehicles, you can still hike it or bike up, but if you aren’t from Denver just keep in mind that the altitude WILL effect your breathing.

Insider tips- Bring warm clothes, no matter how warm it is in Denver it is very likely going to be half that temperature on the summit and there is usually a strong breeze.

Watch the show

Casa Bonita– This is what people from Denver will always recommend that you do first if you have kids’ with you. The food is lack-luster (at best) and you shouldn’t think that it represents Denver’s version of Mexican food, because it doesn’t, but the atmosphere is fun for everyone! This is one of the only places, probably in the world, where you can find a 30-foot waterfall, daring cliff divers, stage shows, musicians, caricature artists, pinatas, magician shows, and a mariachi band all in one place! It is non-stop fun!

Insider tips- The arcade is nothing to bother with, half of the games are broken and the other half are probably 15 years old and on their last leg. Make sure you find and go through Black Barts cave, there is a cage at the end where you can hide and scare the people who are with you; stay out while they go in the cave, while they are in there you just walk right inside the exit and squeeze through those bars and wait for it…

Take a hike

Lair O’ the Bear Park– Colorado is pretty well known for being outdoorsy, so you might be looking for a way to get into the groove. This little hike will get you outside, but it is easy enough for the kids to go with you. Lair O’ the Bear Park is a favorite for visitors and families too, a giant open space near Bear Creek.

Insider tips- Bring a picnic and settle down in the park to enjoy some food while you enjoy the great outdoors. Visit the Lookout Mountain Nature Center for events and programs.

Make some money

United States Mint– One of the only places in the US where money is made, and you will be able to say that you’ve seen it done. The kids’ will never look at money the same way again. The tours are free, you just have to make a reservation in advance, and the tours fill up really fast so be sure to book early.

Insider tips- Check online to see what you can and cannot carry inside of the Mint, you don’t want to have to be turned away after going through all of the trouble to get there. Security here is serious, for obvious reasons.

Go for a swim

Water World– In the summer (obviously) this place is great for a full day of water fun! Come early, leave late and have a fun time together as a family. They have a kiddie area too. Water slides, high speed slides, tube rides, a surfing challenge, wave pools, themed rides and more!

Insider tips- Take your own food and head out to have lunch at the car, you will save yourself a ton of money. Call and ask about bringing in water bottles, you will need plenty of water, especially if you aren’t used to being at this high altitude.

Visit the sharks 

Downtown Denver Aquarium– The last thing you would expect to see in Denver would probably be sharks, turtles and exotic tropical fish, but at the Downtown Denver Aquarium you will experience exactly that. There are live mermaids swimming through the tank in the restaurant during the lunch hour, and you can dive with the sharks if you wish, this place is all about making dreams come true! You will see tigers, fish from all over the world, reptiles, and you can feed the Manta-rays too.

Insider tips- Head to the restaurant around lunch time and watch the mermaids, maybe get a soda to sip on (no need to eat a full meal) and enjoy the show. Plan on spending some extra cash (they take cards too) to feed the Manta’s at the very end of your visit, it is a lot of fun.

Need more ideas? Have a question about one of these activities? Leave a comment below and we will reply right away.

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