Traveling with kids can be stressful, so you need a place that has enough kid-friendly activities to ensure everyone stays entertained. Denver is a great city to visit with the family. With plenty of places to explore both in and outdoors, Colorado’s capital is a great place to add to your must-visit listt! Here are our recommendations for the best things to do in Denver with kids.
Best Places to Stay in Denver
The hotel choices, even with kids, is practically endless in Denver. If you’re looking to add to your hotel reward points (free hotel room for another trip w out the kiddos?), the Denver Downtown Hotel is right on the 16th Street Mall (and has a fabulous pool!). The Jacquard has city and mountain views and is right in the heart of Cherry Creek.
If no hotel is kid-friendly enough for you, and you need your own house or apartment (mini kitchen? kids get their own bedroom?), Airbnb has some of our all-time favorite Denver digs — from an urban house that sleeps 10 to an adorable 3 bedroom Victorian to a super-sleek condo with a roof-deck.
How to Get Around Denver
You can certainly walk around Denver, especially if you’re staying in the downtown area, but unless you’ve got your own vehicle, you’ll be needing a car. Hertz has pickup locations at the airport and also throughout town.
Best Experiences in Denver for Kids
We know you used to enjoy exploring town at your leisure, but let’s be realistic and accept that you’re with kids and kids need a plan. Put down their tech devices (and yours) and plan a few special experiences that are unique to Denver. Everything from hiking the rockies (isn’t this why you’re here!?!) to a night-time astronomy tour to an alpaca encounter can be booked beforehand.
Attractions for Kids in Denver
Red Rocks Amphitheater/National Park is a sight to be seen. Nestled in the foothills West of Denver, this concert venue sits within jutting red rocks. Known worldwide for its acoustic projection, visiting Red Rocks during off-concert times is fun, kids (and adults) can play on the stage, hike around the rocks, visit the visitors center and learn more about the area.
Littleton History Museum is a great place to visit in Denver. It’s a living farm with sheep, cows, mules, blacksmith, schoolhouse and more. Best of all, it’s free! Located 15 minutes from Downtown Denver, this volunteer-run museum feels like stepping back in time. Talk to the farm workers, schoolhouse teacher, blacksmith, homemakers to learn more about times of the past. Holiday events are held here through the year.
The Butterfly Pavilion is a really cool place for the kids to be one with nature. Get up close and personal with live bugs and butterflies. Walk into a huge atrium with free flying butterflies, or wander around the (not free-crawling) creepy crawly exhibits. You can even hold Rosie the tarantula. Eeeek! The Butterfly Pavilion is only 20 minutes north of Denver.
Dinosaur Ridge is a cool Denver attraction for the dinosaur lover in your family. An outdoor museum where important dinosaur discoveries were made in the late 1800’s. See Stegosaurus bones, Iguanodon tracks and ripple marks preserved in this unique outdoor setting. Make sure to stop by the Visitor Center for a guided tour.
Downtown Denver Aquarium is a really cool place to explore, especially when you’re trying to get out of the heat. The entertainment and dining complex features a public aquarium boasting more than a million gallons of underwater exhibits that highlight fascinating ecosystems around the world. The aquarium houses over 500 species of animals, including an interactive stingray reef touch tank where kids can feed stingrays. There are even tigers to be found (though you can not feed them!)
Free Things to Do in Denver
The Mile High Flea Market is not unlike something you’ve ever seen, but it’s something free you can check out with your family. Your typical flea market, year round. It seems innocent enough, but the vastness of this market calls for a whole day of exploring and fun. Like a giant garage sale, the market also houses permanent vendors, fair foods and amusement rides.
Tiny Town & Railroad is the perfect place for your littles to explore. Literally a miniature town that kids can look at/play in, playground and train ride around the park, just 20 minutes outside of Denver into the beautiful mountains.
Speaking of trains, Pike’s Peak Cog Railway is another great thing to do in Denver. For the train lovers, or for the scenic mountain view lovers, the worlds highest cog railway runs year-round. This is a whole-day trip, located a little over an hour south of Denver near Colorado Springs. The rail is about 4 miles, and takes 3+ hours. The beautiful views make it well worth it.
Best Restaurants in Denver
While there are tongs of great restaurants and places to eat in Denver, these are a few of the most kid-friendly restaurants in Denver:
Casa Bonita is great place if you like tacos. A Mexican themed restaurant with cliff divers, puppet shows, arcade, all around kid craziness. Not the best food in town, but what it lacks in that department it makes up for in over the top entertainment and overall ‘fun’ stuff. You are in Denver with kids, after all.
Hops & Pie is another awesome spot and has something for everyone. Adults can enjoy a $2 can of beer and pizza while kids can have “butter and elbows,” a personal pizza and more options from the kids menu.
To really feel the essence of Denver, take your family to The Fort. This authentic Western restaurant is best known for its buffalo steaks and cool atmosphere. The restaurant itself has a rich history dating back to the ’60s, but features food and drink options from the 1800s.
Best Things to Pack For a Trip to Denver
Nobody packs like us moms do, so if you’re getting the family ready for a Colorado trip, be sure to remember all of the essentials.
The Away luggage Carry-On is my all-time favorite suitcase, especially because it comes with an external battery pack. If the kids’ iPads are dying (they are obsessed with Disney+), I can charge while we wait in the airport (albeit, one at a time) or if my phone needs some more juice while we’re out and about exploring Denver, I can pop the battery out of the luggage and take it on the go. A packable down jacket is the best for staying warm up in the mountains. Polarized Ray-Ban Sunglasses are another must-have, whether enjoying a concert at Red Rocks or while exploring The Fort. Colorado gets like, 300 days a year of sunshine— that’s why all-natural 50 spf sunscreen is another non-negotiable to ensure your skin and your family’s skin stays protected. I also find myself far too often holding each kids’ ski passes, water bottles, you name it, so I’ve invested in a lightweight travel tote with lots of pockets that holds everything. And for the (mere) hours when I can sneak away and it’s just me, the cards, and a small amount of cash? MyTagAlongs belt bag gets it done.
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