Our second stop on this 6 month road trip we are taking is Denver, Colorado and I couldn’t be more excited! Colorado has a special place in my heart (we love to ski and we love the mountains) but we normally skip over Denver to head straight for the slopes. So this time around, I was very excited to get to spend some time in this city to see what it is all about – and it did not disappoint!
- Children’s Museum of Denver
- Denver Museum of Nature and Science
- Denver Firefighters Museum
- Denver City Park
- Denver Zoo
Children’s Museum of Denver
Hands down, my FAVORITE kids museum. The Children’s Museum of Denver is amazing. I don’t know where to begin. First off, I love that is has both indoor and outdoor exhibits. Secondly, it has some of the best exhibits for kids I have seen that are education, interactive and fun. Third, it is incredibly clean and well organized. Fourth, I love the focus on renewable energy, recycling and eating healthy. And finally, it has an awesome little cafe on site that serves healthy food and snacks for the kids!
Getting back to the exhibits – there we so many great ones! It does a good job of mixing educational and learning exhibits with some creative and fun play areas. Inside, they had a fireman play area, a vet office where kids could pretend to be veterinarians, an art studio where they could work with paint and clay, a water exhibit, a bubble exhibit, a climbing area, a movie creation station, a kitchen and grocery store play area, a work shop where you used recyclable materials, and a cooking class to name a few (there were more!) Outside, my kids played in the sand, rode a zip line, climbed some rocks, built with wood blocks, played on a playground and got to ‘drive’ and old truck.
My kids LOVED the creation station area, where they had work stations separated for each child with their own tools and nails. They had tons of recyclable materials around (wood, plastic, cardboard, etc.) and kids could pull from each bin to gather the materials they wanted to create any sort of invention or art project. It really let their imaginations run wild!
My other favorite exhibit was the cooking class. You need to sign up for these classes and they fill up fast, so be sure to head upstairs right when you arrive and sign your name up for the next available class. They keep it small (about 16 participants including parents) which is a perfect size for the class. In the class we signed up for, the kids got to make their own rainbow roll-ups. They each got to cut their own veggies, mix their ranch dressing, spread it on the tortilla and roll it up. I was a little skeptical about whether or not my kids would each spinach and red peppers in a roll up, but my son devoured it! It was a lot of fun and such a great exhibit to have for kids as they love to be little chefs!
If you are in Denver and have young kids (under 12 is best), I would absolutely make this a priority stop for you. We spent 4 hours here, but could have easily gone for the whole day! If you don’t want to buy lunch there, bring your lunch and enjoy their outdoor picnic tables.
Denver Firefighters Museum
A unique museum dedicated to firefighters and their history in Denver is the Denver Firefighters Museum. They have several of the older fire trucks on display for you to view, as well as some great history behind how firefighters used to put out fires. While all of the older vehicles and equipment is off limits to kids, they do have a kids play area where they can climb on a truck, dress up in firefighter outfits and hold a real hose. Upstairs, they also have a coloring area, as well as great safety training like how to crawl out of a house and a good refresher on ‘stop, drop and roll’ (there is a mat on the ground so kids can practice).
While the museum is small, my kids loved playing on the truck and sliding down the fireman’s pole. While my 3 year old was too young to care, I enjoyed showing my 6 year old how the communication & machines have evolved from the early days to give firemen and women the capabilities of today. Since I am homeschooling on the road, this was a great history lesson! We spent about one hour here and enjoyed our time. I would recommend for older children who can appreciate and understand more of the history behind the museum.
Denver Museum of Nature and Science
I am a sucker for a good museum, and this was a great way to spend the afternoon with my kids. It is located right next to City Park (which is also on my list of Denver favorites) and is a wonderful place to have a picnic before you explore the museum.
The Denver Museum of Nature and Science had a variety of wonderful exhibits. We loved visiting the Creatures of Light Exhibit, which is a bio-luminescent exhibit to see all the creatures and things that light up in the night (the scorpion was really cool)! Their ‘dinosaur’ exhibit was well laid out as it started with the first plants growing in the water, to the first creatures in the water, to how they evolved onto the land and into the dinosaurs kids know and love. It not only was interesting visually, but a great lesson in evolution for my kids. Other exhibits we loved exploring were on gemstones and minerals, the Egyptian mummies, Space Odyssey and the Discovery Zone exhibit (where kids could play and touch whats around them!).
What set this museum apart from other ones we have visited is they had a lot of staff around the museum to help explain the exhibits to kids. They were asking them questions, showing them exhibits and really getting them to engage, which was a nice touch! We spent the whole day at this museum and loved getting to explore all the different exhibits on science and nature. FYI, if you don’t bring any food don’t worry – they have a nice cafe onsite!
If you get one of the 300 days of sunshine Denver gives, City Park is a great way to enjoy the day. The views from this park are some of the best in Denver – you get the cityscape plus the beautiful rugged mountains behind it. The park has great walking trails and a kids playground. We loved having a picnic here one afternoon before we wandered inside the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, which is located right next to the park.
Denver is a wonderful city to enjoy the perfect sunshine days outside, and heading to the Denver Zoo is a great way to enjoy it with kids. This Zoo had a variety of animals for kids to see, from elephants and lions to monkeys and birds. One of my favorite animals that we got a nice view of was the polar bear! It was huge! Its not everyday you get to see a polar bear up close so this was a nice treat!
Whats unique to the Denver Zoo is it has several animal shows for its visitors. These are at certain times, so if you would like to see a show be sure to plan your time accordingly to make sure you are in that area around that time. We were on the other side of the park during the show times of the exhibits as we didn’t plan properly but they did look fun!
Along with animal exhibits, the zoo also has a carousel and train ride for the kids. These are in addition to your entrance ticket, but you can buy your tokens right next to the carousel. We did both and the kids loved them. The train is a longer wait, so if you see a short line be sure to hop in it!
The Denver Zoo is large and spread out, so be prepared for a lot of walking. Make sure you bring a stroller for your younger kids as they will tucker out at some point 🙂 We really enjoyed our afternoon at the zoo and would recommend this place as a great stop in Denver for kids of all ages!
Places we didn’t visit but were on my list:
- Denver Mint – I would have loved to taken my 6 year old here to see where money is made, but they don’t allow young children and I had East with me so we never made it. Definitely wish we could have gone!
- Aquarium Restaurant – We went to the one in Nashville and loved it – what a unique dining experience! Since we had already been two weeks ago, we skipped it here. However, if you have never been, I highly recommend it for a kid-friendly and fun dining experience.