Denver Activities for Kids

Elitch Gardens, Children’s Museum, Aquarium, Zoo &  More

If a family vacation takes you to Denver, Colorado, you’ll want to spend some time enjoying one or more of the capital city’s major kid-friendly attractions.

Whether you’re just passing through the Mile High City on a cross-country road trip, or hunkering down in the area for a spell, there are several family-friendly attractions in Colorado’s capital to keep you and your children entertained the next time you travel to Denver. Choose from among the city’s “Big Five”:

Children’s Museum of Denver

Children’s Museum of Denver is ideal for kids from infancy through eight years old. Conveniently located in downtown Denver, just off of I-25 and 23rd Avenue, the museum offers interactive “playscapes” for various age groups. In the “Center for the Young Child,” babies, toddlers, and preschoolers have a safe place to explore, climb, and make-believe at a pretend fishing pond. Bigger kids can explore a real fire truck, sell goods at a market, make train tracks, shoot baskets, and put on a puppet show. Open year-round. 303-433-7444.

Downtown Aquarium

Downtown Aquarium takes visitors on a journey through various habitats, both under and above the water–from the desert to the coral reef, and from the beach to a sunken temple. The Aquarium Restaurant is a cool place for families to get a bite to eat—you can get up close and personal with a variety of marine life in the 150,000-gallon tank that surrounds the eatery. Special programs allow you to dive with the sharks, be a marine biologist for the day, even sleep at the aquarium overnight. Open year-round. 303-561-4450.

Elitch Gardens

Elitch Gardens is smack dab in the middle of downtown Denver. It’s hard to miss the giant roller coasters, Ferris wheel and other major rides. Thrill rides at Elitch’s (as it’s called by locals) include the Mind Eraser coaster and the Tower of Doom; family-friendly attractions are the 74-year-old carousel, the Tea Cups, and the Star Toons Studio with rides for kids under 54 inches tall. Getting wet at the Island Kingdom Water Park is included with your admission: free fall in a cliff dive, frolic in a giant treehouse, relax on the lazy river, and more. Open on the weekends from end-April through end-May, then daily through mid-August, and again on weekends through the end of October. The water park is open mid-May through Labor Day. 303-595-4386.

Denver Zoo

Denver Zoo in City Park, five minutes from downtown Denver, is home to more than 4,000 animals representing more than 700 different species, including 144 endangered animals. From penguins and polar bears to tarantulas and turtles—you name the animal, and you can likely find it at the Denver Zoo, consistently among the state’s most popular tourist attractions. The zoo is especially festive during the winter holiday season, when the annual beloved Zoo Lights, with millions of sparkling animal displays and glittering trees, delight visitors and locals alike. Open year-round. 303-376-4801.

Denver Museum of Nature and Science

Denver Museum of Nature and Science is also in historic City Park and offers intriguing exhibitions for school-age children and their parents. Ongoing museum exhibits include “Egyptian Mummies,” “Prehistoric Journey” and “Space Odyssey.” The “Discovery Zone” offers hands-on opportunities for learning (although kids just think they’re having fun!) with crafts, digging for fossils, even singing karaoke. The IMAX theater and the Gates Planetarium offer multiple daily shows. 303-322-7009.