Kids are often tough to please — but they’ll be grinning from ear to ear whenever they’re in The Mile High City, thanks to Denver’s wide array of kid-friendly activities. Interactive museums, incredible zoos and aquariums, wide-open parks — they’re perfect ways to entertain your little travelers.
ATTRACTIONS NEAR DOWNTOWN DENVER
DENVER FIREFIGHTERS MUSEUM
Located in historic Denver Fire Station No. 1, families will love the Denver Firefighters Museum. The building was erected in 1909 and served as a working fire station until 1974. The kids will enjoy the hands-on activities as well as the exhibits that provide information on fire safety and prevention. Be sure to have the camera ready as they try on equipment, slide down the pole, ride on a fire truck designed specifically for kids and pretend to put out fires. The museum also has a gift shop with toys, apparel, books and more. Now that the kids are telling you they want to be fire fighters when they grow up, it's time to head for the next destination.
HISTORY COLORADO CENTER
The History Colorado Center brings history to life with amazing interactive presentations. Traverse a 60-foot map of the state using a "time machine." Virtually zoom across the plains in a Model T Ford. And soar off of a re-creation of one of the world's first ski jumps in Steamboat Springs, Colo.
WINGS OVER THE ROCKIES AIR & SPACE MUSEUM
At the Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum, more than 50 planes and riveting space-oriented displays occupy the sprawling space, an aviation wonderland that allows families to get up close and personal with giant bombers, fighter jets, antique planes and a Vietnam-era Huey helicopter. The museum always has seasonal exhibits, and on the second Saturday of each month, kids can experience the electrifying buzz of climbing into the planes' cockpits.
ATTRACTIONS OUTSIDE OF DENVER
At Dinosaur Ridge in Morrison (near Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre), an outdoor museum and visitor center, 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 preserved in the sandstone. There's a free, self-guided tour.
MORRISON NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM
Get a glimpse of early dinosaur discoveries from Colorado, including fossils from the first Stegosaurus and Apatosaurus ever found. Located 25 minutes west of Downtown Denver, the 3,000-square-foot Morrison Natural History Museum offers a relaxed environment that is perfect for kids of all ages to explore rocks and fossils. The exhibits and guides connect visitors with the ancient story of the Front Range. Local excavations yielded famous baby dinosaur footprints that were featured in Smithsonian magazine and worldwide press.
THE BUTTERFLY PAVILION
Located in Westminster, a 15-minute drive from downtown Denver, the Butterfly Pavilion 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 — if you dare. The tropical conservatory is filled with lush greenery, trickling streams and more than 1,600 flitting butterflies, moths and skippers, shipped from farms as far away as Kenya and Ecuador. Also stop by the Water's Edge exhibit to be immersed in an underwater world full of sea creatures.
NATIONAL CENTER FOR ATMOSPHERIC RESEARCH (NCAR)
Learn about climate change, the 21st century's hottest topic, at the fascinating National Center for Atmospheric Research. See a hailstone the size of a softball, watch as a miniature tornado is whipped up in front of your eyes, and get an up close look at how lightning is created. Free public tours are available.
ART PROGRAMS FOR KIDS
The world-class Denver Art Museum — free for those 18 and younger — is a great place to introduce kids to the wide and wonderful world of art. Every gallery on every floor of this expansive museum has something fun for families.
First, pick up a free family backpack on the first floor of the Hamilton Building. These backpacks are filled with arts, crafts and games. Stop by Creative Corners throughout the museum for activities like making a treasure chest, mixing and matching landscapes, piecing together portraits and more.
Pickup a Gallery Game, small activity boards that help kids learn about artwork through games similar to I spy, bingo and memory matching. In the lower level of DAM's North Building, you'll find the Just For Fun Family Center (JFFC), where touching, scribbling, building and playing is strongly encouraged.
Nearby, check out the Kids Corner, where youngsters can create their own mini-masterpiece.
Smudge, squiggle and splatter at Create Playdates on the second Wednesday of the month from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (extended to 2 p.m. June-August). Drop in with your little ones (ages 3–5) to meet up with other tots and their grown-ups for artmaking in Duncan Pavilion, storytime throughout the museum and instructor-guided "close looking" to explore artwork. Create Playdates explore a new theme every other month.
Kids will also find joy in tracing and adorning costumes in the Costume Studio, located on level one of the Hamilton Building.
DAM also offers a wide array of art-centric classes and camps for kids every summer.
Contemporary art can be for kids, too! The Fox Family Idea Box at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver is a dedicated space for families located on the top floor of the museum. Filled with art-making activities and comfortable seating, it is a place where kids and their adults can relax, make art or just hang-out. The museum worked with artist Paul Andersen to install an immersive art-making environment and provide opportunities for families to simply spend time together experiencing art.