Your hard-to-please teens will find plenty of cool things to occupy their time during your stay in Denver. From pulse-pounding thrill rides to hip shopping districts, and from cutting-edge art museums to all the pro sports a teen could dream of, The Mile High City is the perfect playground for even the choosiest of adolescents. Get the scoop below.
DENVER'S OUTDOOR ADVENTURES
Teenagers have plenty of energy. So get them out into Denver's legendary fresh air and take advantage of the city's outdoorsy options. If you've got a skateboarder in the family, head straight to the Denver Skatepark in LoDo. This expansive area — one of the most renowned skate parks in the country — is filled with bowls for all levels of skating skill. Admission is free. Helmets are required.
Biking is also big in Denver. The city is home to a massive network of more than 85 miles of paved trails that crisscross throughout the seven-county metro area, making it a two-wheeled paradise. Within the city, the Cherry Creek Bike Trail is one of the most popular, winding its way from Confluence Park to such attractions as the Cherry Creek Shopping Center and Four Mile Historic Park. Bike rentals are available throughout the city, most notably at Confluence Kayaks near the South Platte River bike trail. Find out about Denver's awesome bike-sharing program, B-cycle.
Teens love to shop — and Denver's shopping scene delivers in a big way. Head to the 16th Street Mall in Downtown Denver first. Between Welton and Tremont, you'll find the multileveled Denver Pavilions, housing big name retailers like Hot Topic, H&M, Forever 21 and Banana Republic. The Pavilions are also home to Lucky Strike Lanes Bowling Alley, a state-of-the-art video arcade called FTW (For the Win), a United Artists movie theater and a number of dining options. Your teen could easily spend the whole day here.
But you're also going to want to head down a few blocks to the oh-so-chic Larimer Square, located on Larimer Street between 14th and 15th. Your budding fashionista will love the one-of-a-kind boutiques, filled with the latest trends. More than 200 fashion lines from the runways of New York, London, Paris and Milan are on display. From handcrafted jewelry, to chic bags, to a wide array of shoes, you'll find clothing and accessories from today's hottest designers. Definitely a good spot for mother-daughter retail bonding!
Your Denver shopping spree will continue at the sprawling Cherry Creek Shopping District. Of course, to call the combination of Cherry Creek North and Cherry Creek Shopping Center simply a "shopping district" doesn't quite do it justice. It's more of a shopping experience. Just a 10-minute drive from downtown, Cherry Creek North is a 16-block shopping extravaganza featuring the region's largest collection of independently owned shops, boutiques, galleries, restaurants and spas. As if that wasn't enough, adjacent to Cherry Creek North is Cherry Creek Shopping Center, with more than 150 of those brand-name stores that your teen simply cannot live without.
DENVER AMUSEMENT PARKS
If your teens are in the mood for something pulse-pounding, they're in luck. The Mile High City is filled with thrills, from gravity-defying roller coasters to challenging climbing walls to wet ‘n' wild waterslides. Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park is a can't-miss, two-for-one attraction, with state-of-the-art roller coasters and a refreshingly fun water park. The family-owned Lakeside Amusement Park is a long-standing Denver institution that features a number of classic wooden coasters. Every summer, thousands of Colorado residents flock to Water World looking to beat the heat, relax in the park's beautifully landscaped 64 acres — and ride some serious waterslides.
Denver's arts world is booming, and if you've got a teenager with a creative side, you'll find plenty of stimulating artsy attractions for him or her. Don't miss the stunning Denver Art Museum. The building itself is a work of art, thanks in part to the amazing, angular Hamilton Wing, designed by Daniel Libeskind. Inside, you'll discover an incredible array of art ranging from masters like Cézanne and Picasso to the brightest new lights on the scene. If your teen's tastes run a little more toward the latter, you'll also want to visit LoDo to see the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver with its revolving collection of avant-garde artists and installation pieces. Located in the heart of the Art District on Santa Fe, the Center for Visual Art is the off-campus art gallery of Metropolitan State University of Denver. In addition to showing significant contemporary art, the award-winning CVA serves as an interactive art laboratory for MSU Denver students and the community.
DENVER PERFORMING ARTS
Kids these days are raised on the Internet, television and movies, but there's nothing quite like the timeless thrill of seeing a musical, ballet or concert performed live. The Denver Center for the Performing Arts, located downtown, offers all of these events and more on a regular basis. Expand your teen's horizons by taking him or her to a performance by the Colorado Symphony or catch a performance by the renowned Colorado Ballet. You'll find that all of these are accessible, engaging and exciting for teens. Get them excited about upcoming performances by steering them towards the Denver Center's YouTube channel. There are clips from shows, peeks behind the curtain and interviews with cast members.
DENVER EXTREME SPORTS PARKS AND ACTIVITIES
Daredevil teens can get their shred on at Denver's numerous extreme sports parks. From January to March, snowmaking-experts from Winter Park turn Ruby Hill Rail Yard into a free winter wonderland for skiers and snowboarders, and Ruby Hill Park is also a mountain biking park. Your teen can try his or her hand at curling at one of the Denver Curling Club's introductory "Learn to Curl" classes, or strut their stuff with a parkour class at Progresh. In Arvada, dodgeball meets archery at Archery Games Denver. Battle your family and friends with bows and foam-tipped arrows.
DENVER PRO SPORTS
Denver is a pro sports paradise, with no fewer than eight professional sports teams that thrill sold-out crowds year-round. Basketball, baseball, football, soccer, lacrosse, hockey, rugby — Denver's got it all, with some of the world's best athletes on the rosters. For baseball, head to Coors Field in LoDo for a Colorado Rockies game. The season runs from April to September. The enormous Empower Field at Mile High is home to NFL Super Bowl 50 champions the Denver Broncos from September to January. The Colorado Rapids play Major League Soccer at Dick's Sporting Goods Park from February to October. The NBA's Denver Nuggets rule the court at the Pepsi Center in downtown Denver, October through April. The Pepsi Center is also the home of Denver's beloved hockey team, the Colorado Avalanche — called the "Avs" by fans. Their season runs from October to April.