Denver Summer Family Fun
School’s out! For parents, however, this doesn’t mean three months of rest and relaxation. Rather, it means three months of trying to keep your kids occupied and entertained – no easy feat!
Here are some summer activities that your kids will love, whether you're a Mile High City local, or planning a Denver getaway vacation.
Denver is home to two world-class water parks, each on perfect for cooling your kids off on a hot summer day.
Every summer, thousands of Colorado residents flock to Water World. Family-friendly rides include Captain Jack's Wave Pool, featuring gentle waves in a 500,000-gallon pool; The Fun House, with hundreds of water gags and activities; and Wally World, with tot-sized water slides, geysers, waterfalls, and tire swings, all in a setting of very shallow water.
At Denver's Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park, you can ride dozens of wild roller coasters, and then cool off by going for a swim. Family-friendly water park rides include Castaway Creek, a relaxing lazy river with a floating current, geysers, water bubbles and waterfalls; Commotion Ocean, a giant wave pool perfect for body surfing or just relaxing; and Hook's Lagoon, a five-story water tree house that offers 150 water gadgets and lagoon playgrounds.
Set aside several hours for exploration at the Denver Zoo. The fourth most popular zoo in the nation has 4,000 animals representing more than 750 species. Kids will love the Pioneer Train, which will take them on a relaxing trip around Pachyderm Park, passing by hippos, rhinos and more. And don't miss the amazing Toyota Elephant Passage, the one of the largest elephant habitats in the world.
One of the most unique "wild Denver" spots can be found just a few miles from downtown Denver at the 30,000-square-foot Butterfly Pavilion. The interactive exhibits explore insects, sea creatures and, of course, butterflies. It's geared primarily towards families with kids ages 2 to 12 years old, but people of all ages will embrace the beauty and wonder of the tropical conservatory filled with 1,200 free-flying butterflies imported from around the globe.
Get up close to fascinating sea creatures, sharks and more. All in all there are more than 15,000 fish, mammals and plants, including an exhibit of Sumatran tigers who love to swim. The family-friendly Downtown Aquarium has a restaurant where you can dine next to sharks and schools of colorful tropical fish.
At Dinosaur Ridge, near Red Rocks Amphitheatre, you 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.
The Wildlife Experience, in the Liniger Building at CU South Denver in Parker, houses an impressive wildlife art collection and Globeology, an exhibit featuring open dioramas interpreting eight biomes of the world. The state-of-the-art 3D theater is also a hit, showing thrilling nature and wildlife films daily.
The world-renowned Denver Art Museum offers a huge array of designated kids' areas, complete with games, make-it-yourself craft areas and dress-up costumes. On weekends, kids can pick up a family backpack, brimming with all sorts of artsy, educational activities. Penny pinchers take note: The Denver Art Museum is always free for children 18 or younger, and FREE for everyone on the first Saturday of each month.
At the interactive Children's Museum of Denver, infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers can spend hours roaming through educational playscapes, including a miniature "Community Market," which allows kids to take on the roles of shopper, cashier and shopkeeper. Other thematic play areas run the gamut from woodworking and scientific laboratories to animal exhibits and a fire station that teaches safety precautions. Free playtime is offered on the first Tuesday of every month, from 4 p.m.-8 p.m.
The spectacular Denver Museum of Nature and Science explores fossils and dinosaurs, the mysteries of space at Gates Planetarium, rotating exhibits, and an IMAX theater. in the newly expanded Discovery Zone, kiddos will love the paleontology dig experience, where they can excavate fossils themselves; the leaping fountains in the water play area; a science kitchen; and the Big Backyard, designed for children under the age of two.
The Mile High City is a pro sports paradise, with no less than eight pro teams calling Denver home — and during the summer, your family's options for athletic action are plentiful. Check out the Colorado Rockies at the magnificent Coors Field. Get an unbeatable deal with ROCKPILE seats, which cost just $4 for adults and $1 for kids age 12 and under. Major League Soccer's fast-paced Colorado Rapids play at the sprawling, high-tech Dick's Sporting Goods Park. And don't miss the increasingly popular Denver Outlaws, The Mile High City's own Major League Lacrosse team, who play at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
Parks & Lakes
Denver may not be anywhere near a beach, but that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of places to kick back by a shimmering body of water.
• Confluence Park, located within walking distance of downtown, offers sandy shores for sunbathing, a kayak practice route, bike paths and a Thursday evening concert series throughout the summer.
• Sloan's Lake Park, in the Highlands neighborhood, is an urban oasis with a trail circling a picturesque lake. In the summer, be sure to keep an eye out for water skiers zooming across the lake, framed by a stunning view of the Denver skyline.
• Denver Botanic Gardens This top Denver attraction offers spectacular plant displays, unlimited opportunities for lifelong learning and research that help preserve Colorado's precious natural resources. Spend a few hours exploring this leafy, shady paradise. Kids will especially love the Mordecai Children's Garden.