The Best of the Mile High City for the Young - and the Young at Heart Families will find no shortage of fun for all ages in Denver, with zoos, theme parks, interactive museums, dinosaurs and much more.

 

DENVER ZOO

Denver Zoo, located in City Park, spans over 75 acres and is home to over 4,000 animals including rare amur leopards, okapi, black rhinoceros, elephants, vampire bats, orangutan, Komodo dragons and more. Children and families love the Zoo, thanks to special children's workshops, summer camps, Family Book Club, and the Bunk with the Beasts overnight adventure. www.denverzoo.org

 

DENVER MUSEUM OF NATURE & SCIENCE

Exciting minds of all ages, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science lets kids explore fossils and dinosaurs, the mysteries of space at Gates Planetarium (it's out of this world!), Egyptian mummies, the riddles of the human body at Expedition Health, and a slew of other hands-on exhibits. www.dmns.org

 

CHILDREN'S MUSEUM OF DENVER

Educational, creative and fully interactive, this engaging museum for the younger set is chock-block with myriad exhibits, playscapes, and hands-on activities. Kids can shop in a makeshift grocery store and even play the part of the cashier, or brush up on their science quotient in the brand new Bubble laboratory. www.cmdenver.org

 

ELITCH GARDENS THEME & WATER PARK

Roller coaster groupies, Ferris wheel fans and aficionados of rides that spin, twist and twirl will find all that and more at this urbanized theme park, a catchall of thrills, spills and chills spanning 70 acres. With 53 rides, plus a 10-acre Water Park, musical stages, stunt shows, and arcades, there's something here for just about everyone. www.elitchgardens.com

 

WATER WORLD

America's largest family water park features over 40 aquatic attractions on 67 beautifully landscaped acres, including two giant wave pools, white-water rapids, speed slides, the Big Top Family Fun Zone, Wally World for tots and much more. www.waterworldcolorado.com

 

DOWNTOWN AQUARIUM

Oceanic inspiration comes in all guises at this visually intoxicating aquarium, but the main draw is the 500 species of fish and marine life swimming in more than one million gallons of water. The exhibits, which traverse through a coral lagoon, Indonesian rainforests, North American wilderness, Sumatran tiger habitats, shipwrecks and wharfs, are engaging and exotic. Kids can feed the stingrays, swim with the sharks, pan for gold, become a marine biologist for a day, or even spend the night in the aquarium. www.aquariumrestaurants.com/downtownaquariumdenver

 

BUTTERFLY PAVILION & INSECT CENTER

Located in Westminster, a 15-minute drive from downtown Denver, this stand-alone insect zoo is the perfect indoor refuge in which to interact with live invertebrates fluttering around a lush rainforest, or to hold Rosie, a Chilean Rose Hair tarantula, in the palm of your hand. The Wings Over the Tropics conservatory is home to more than 1,200 flitting butterflies, moths and skippers, shipped from farms as far away as Kenya and Ecuador. www.butterflies.org

 

DENVER BOTANIC GARDENS

Art and science unite in the gardens' spectacular 23-acre site, offering an unforgettable experience for the whole family, as well as a living laboratory for education and plant conservation programs. The new Mordecai Children's Garden offers a place to play, explore and discover. Young naturalists will have the opportunity to learn unique characteristics of plants living in the Rooftop Alpine Garden, discover how plants and animals live together on Marmot Mountain, race pinecones down Springmelt Stream, and hunt for bugs in the Glorious Grasslands and observe aquatic life at Pipsqueak Pond. www.botanicgardens.org

 

DINOSAUR RIDGE

Learn about prehistoric Colorado residents at Dinosaur Ridge in Morrison, where visitors can touch the bones of Allosaurus and Stegosaurus at the site where important dinosaur discoveries were made in the late 1800s. See how Iguanadons walked by viewing real dinosaur footprints forever preserved in the sandstone. www.dinoridge.org

 

COLORADO RAILROAD MUSEUM

Lose track of time year-round at our Depot Museum and 15-acre railyard featuring over 100 engines, cabooses and coaches, and our garden railway, renowned library and roundhouse restoration facility with working turntable. Special events and train rides behind a vintage steam locomotive throughout the year. www.coloradorailroadmuseum.org