Do you see the Denver skyline? Are you landing at Denver International Airport with the family in tow? Get ready for an amazing time!
Kids of all ages will find Denver to be the ultimate playground filled with family-friendly activities. The parks and playgrounds throughout the city are fabulous for toddlers through preteens and some of the parks even have plenty to keep the teens busy and having a blast. From mini golf to trying out a skate park to learning mountain biking skills, Denver has a ton of things for active kids to do.
Keep the Colorado Rockies on your radar, along with Washington Park and local hiking destinations. Children that thrive on indoor activities will love the historic Denver Fire Station and the Colorado Railroad Museum. Don't miss Dinosaur Ridge for the kiddos who love to explore. Any family member with a sweet tooth will want to see Hammond's Candy Factory and how candy is produced. Sports fans in the family? A Denver Nuggets basketball game is a must-see.
Public transportation is the best way to get around the Mile High City and children five years and under can ride for free.
Keep reading to find out the best things to do in Denver with kids. Whether you are in Denver for a weekend or spending a week or two, there are plenty of wonderful things to keep the kids busy no matter how long you are planning to stay. Before you head out into the city to explore, find luggage storage in Denver to stow your things so you and the kids can move through the city unencumbered.
Address: 2001 Colorado Blvd, Denver, CO 80205
Filled with lush rolling green spaces, picnic areas, lakes, tennis courts, and playgrounds, City Park has so many fun activities for families. Kids of all ages will find plenty to keep them busy and wear them out. From paddling on one of the lakes, playing tennis or basketball, or swinging on the swings, kids will delight in having the freedom to explore many of the areas of City Park.
There are several monuments and statues located in the park and several walking trails. The Denver Zoo is also located here and so is the Denver Museum of Nature and Science with IMAX theater. Pack a picnic and plan to spend an entire day exploring all City Park has to offer.
Address: 2300 Steele St, Denver, CO 80205
The Denver Zoo is on City Park’s eastern edge and is dedicated to educating the public about the care and preservation of animals throughout the world. The Denver Zoo is home to over 3,000 animals; over 450 species are represented here, both domestic and exotic.
Ride the zoo railroad with the kids and check out several of the different attractions. The Conservation Carousel is a favorite with the kids and so is the petting zoo with goats, ponies, and chickens. The zoo offers several animal experiences where you get up-close and personal with the animal ambassadors.
Denver Museum of Nature & Science
Address: 2001 Colorado Blvd., Denver, CO 80205
Located adjacent to the Denver Zoo, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science is a fantastic place to explore dinosaurs, learn more about Egyptian mummies, and the kids will love all the hands-on activities that promote learning. Discovery Zone is a don't-miss place to take the crew! Your kids can go on an archaeological dig in the sandpits, and go on a scavenger hunt throughout the museum.
Visit the Gates Planetarium and wonder at the vastness of space or stop by the Phipps IMAX 3D Theater and watch an educational film that is both entertaining and educational. Take a family photo with a T-Rex and dig for treasure while at the museum. Drop by the T-Rex Café for a quick snack after exploring the museum.
Children’s Museum of Denver Marsico Campus
Address: 2121 Children’s Museum Drive, Denver, CO 80201
Kids who love museums will like this one! The Children’s Museum of Denver is dedicated to making learning fun and exciting. The one-of-a-kind exhibits promote learning while children explore the nooks and crannies of this museum. Watch as your kids create a clay masterpiece while learning about art, zip through the air while learning about the Laws of Motion, step inside a 6-foot bubble, and sit down for storytime.
The Children’s Museum of Denver is geared towards children ages newborn through eight years and there are even several activities where children with disabilities can get in on the fun too. Check out the list of special events held at the museum throughout the year for even more fun.
Address: 2250 15th St, Denver, CO 80201
Where Cherry Creek dumps into the South Platte River, a breathtaking park has taken shape and Confluence Park was born. It is home to the premiere kayak chutes that rockets kayakers onto the South Platte River. You and your kids will love watching these adventure seekers as they muscle their way through the strong currents of the river.
Extensive walking and biking trails run throughout the park and there is a fantastic playground for the kids to enjoy. The park is near the Downtown Aquarium and the Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus. Pack a picnic and spend a day at the park, visit in June and check out the South Platte RiverFest with live music and fantastic water sports.
Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park
Address: 2000 Elitch Circle, Denver, CO 80204
Located near Confluence Park, Elitch Gardens has over 50 amusement rides. This theme park has been around for over 130 years and is the only downtown theme and water park in the United States. Elitch Gardens is open from May through October and is a fantastic place to spend a hot Denver day with the kids.
With several toddler-sized rides, there are plenty of rides for kids of all ages. The park is filled with exhilarating roller coasters, fantastic water slides, and a 10-acre swimming area filled with several pools. Grab some popcorn and kick back while watching a drive-in movie and then watch an amazing fireworks display. Or go on an adventure for Denver street food!
Carousel of Happiness
Address: 20 Lakeview Drive, Nederland, CO 80466
Open year-round, the Carousel of Happiness weaves its magical spell around visitors and makes everyone feel like a kid again. The 57 beautifully hand-carved animals have been fully restored and are vibrant and whimsical. The carousel dates back to 1910 and has been moved to the small mountain town just off Highway 119.
This is a great day trip for the family from Denver. Check out the puppet theater that is upstairs. Children are invited to try their hand at puppetry and are encouraged to use their creativity to spin fantastic stories. While here check out the Wild Bear Nature Center and the Train Car Museum which are just next door to the carousel.
Address: 1416 Platte St, Denver, CO 80202
Kids will love riding this open-air streetcar that is very similar to the trolley seen on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Ride through the streets along the South Platte River and listen as your tour guide recounts a colorful history of Denver beginning with the Gold Rush. It's almost like an open-air train ride. The whole family will be entertained by the stories and the scenery.
Trolley rides last about 30 minutes and are a great way to get off your feet and relax a bit while still keeping your children entertained with a free tour of the site. The Denver Trolley starts and ends in Confluence Park and rides are offered from Memorial Day through Labor Day, Thursday through Monday.
Centennial Flower Gardens
Address: 1101 Little Raven St, Denver, CO 80204
Sitting on the banks of the South Platte River and only a short distance from the Elitch Gardens Theme and Water Park, the Centennial Flower Gardens may not seem like it should be on the list of the best things to do in Denver with kids, but the vibrant colors and winding paths will draw them in and make them what to explore.
These gardens were inspired by the Gardens of Versailles and if you have an interest in gardening, this is the place to visit. Take an afternoon stroll and learn more about the different native species of plants and flowers that grow in the arid Colorado climate. The manicured flowerbeds add just the right splash of color and creativity along the paths.
Address: 700 Water St, Denver, CO 80211
This 150,000-gallon aquarium is filled with a kaleidoscope of colorful and interesting fish. There are even reptile habitats that the kids will love to check out and while not usually seen at an aquarium, the tiger habitat is a huge draw. Dine at the upscale Aquarium Restaurant before heading into the aquarium and exploring all it has to offer.
Children will love riding the Aquarium Express, an electric train that winds through parts of the aquarium and the Aquatic Carousel is great fun. Watch as your kids feed the stingrays, pan for gold, take a dip with sharks, and watch a mermaid show. You can even sign your kids up to be marine biologists for a day. If you are wanting a night away from the kids, they can spend the night in the aquarium during specific events.
Head to the Under the Sea tank where the mermaid shows take place. Watch as they dive into the tank and swim beside sea turtles, barracuda, and nurse sharks. After you have spent a morning exploring the Denver Aquarium, head over to the Children’s Museum for an afternoon of excitement.
Address: 6728 County Road 3-1/4, Erie, CO 80516
One of the biggest family entertainment destinations in Colorado during the fall, Anderson Farms in Erie offers fantastic family-friendly activities that will amaze your kids. What used to be a fully functional farm has evolved with the times and become a favorite attraction for families. The farm is only about 40 minutes north of Denver but it is worth the car ride to make fantastic family memories.
Work as a team to make your way through the 25-acre maze or challenge your kids to see who can make it through the maze the fastest. Hop on a wagon and ride out to the huge pumpkin patch where you can pick your own pumpkin; there are over 70 pumpkin varieties that grow here. Watch as your kids ride the barrel train and pedal karts. They will love feeding the farm animals and going down the combine slide.
Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge
Address: 6550 Gateway Rd, Commerce City, CO 80022
Located about 25 minutes to the northeast, the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge is the best place to get out in nature and soak up the amazing rocky terrain that is Colorado. With over ten miles of hiking trails that even the most inexperienced hiker can enjoy, your kids will find exploring these trails great fun.
Take a self-guided car tour through the grasslands, wetlands, and forest for a chance to glimpse native Colorado wildlife such as bison, painted turtles, prairie dogs, mule deer, hawks, and even bald eagles. There are places you can safely get out of your vehicle and stroll along some of the boardwalks along the lakes or up into the viewing towers for a chance to see more wildlife.
Be sure to stop at the Visitor Center where you can bring the kids to the interactive exhibit hall filled with several hands-on exhibits and displays where they can learn more about this wild animal sanctuary and the animals it protects. Check out the Discovery Room and ask about the free educational programs being offered that day.
What are the best family activities in Denver?
The best family activities in Denver really depend on the family; this cannot be a one-size-fits-all kind of list since each family is unique and their interests, budget, and ages will play a big part in what they will find to be the best activities for families.
- Denver Zoo
- City Park
- Confluence Park
- Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park
- Anderson Farms
Denver Firefighters Museum and More
While there are a number of fantastic attractions and activities in downtown Denver, you can also take a day trip to Colorado Springs or Red Rocks Park. Remember, the famous Rocky Mountains are less than 2 hours away!
Closer in proximity is Paco Sanchez Park just outside of town, yet it feels like an outdoor museum with its 30 acres of fun. When on a Colorado vacation visit Denver for free tours, and attractions like the intriguing Denver Mint and the Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum. We couldn't list every family-friendly attraction so you'll be sure to add to this list!