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- Visit Meow Wolf Convergence Station
- The Children’s Museum at Denver Marisco Campus
- The Denver Museum of Nature and Science
- Take in a Baseball Game at Coors Field
- Visit Denver’s Union Station
- Visit Denver’s Other Micro-Neighborhoods
- Denver Downtown Aquarium
- The Denver Zoo
- Check out Red Rocks Amphitheatre
- Take in an Exhibit at the Denver Art Museum
- Visit Denver Botanic Gardens
- Take in Local History
- Visit a City Park
- Visit a Theme Park
- From Out-of-State? Additional Tips for Enjoying Downtown Denver with Kids
Heading to Denver, Colorado, with the kids? It’s often the starting point for a ski vacation or family road trip. Don’t just pass through. Make plans to spend some time in the Mile High City. It’s undergone a significant redevelopment, so you’ll want to check out the hopping Union Station neighborhood as well as classic attractions like the Children’s Museum of Denver and the Denver Zoo. Wondering where to stay? Hotel recommendations from a local are here too, so read on for tips to plan your day (or longer) in downtown Denver.
Living in the mountains of Colorado, we occasionally feel an unrelenting pull to visit downtown Denver with our kids to enjoy the many fun family attractions. It is actually possible to squeeze two full days of family fun in downtown Denver with kids in just over 24 hours, but there are enough fun things to do for a week-long family vacation too.
Denver, also known as the Mile-High City, is located at 5280 feet above sea level at the base of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. With its unmatched access to outdoor recreation, it has attracted an influx of educated young professionals, as well as families. The downtown area has seen considerable thoughtful redevelopment in recent years. making it a fun place to explore, dine and experience culture. There’s an unending number of Denver attractions perfect for families. The abundance of Colorado sunny days make sightseeing a pleasure.
Best Things to Do in Downtown Denver With Kids
The Colorado state capitol of Denver has, for as long as I can remember, had a fantastic variety of family attractions and museums from the Denver Zoo and Downtown Aquarium to Children’s Museum of Denver and Museum of Nature & Science. In more recent years the redevelopment of Union Station and the new Meow Wolf Convergence Station have really added to the fun. Here’s what our family deems as the best things to do with kids in downtown Denver.
Visit Meow Wolf Convergence Station
Skip the art galleries and go straight to this immersive hands-on art installation that is sure to stretch the imagination. Colorado-based artists have brought a unique story to life in a building that rises from a triangle-shaped piece of real estate between the intersection of Denver’s busiest highways at 1-25 and Colfax at Meow Wolf Convergence Station.
This is our favorite kind of art. Kids, and adults are expected to immerse themselves in the experience whether that is climbing in a vehicle and imagining driving it or tracking down clues in the office of a houseboat.
And, even cooler that these four alien worlds were created almost entirely out of trash.
The Children’s Museum at Denver Marisco Campus
Our older daughter has had a love affair with the Denver Children’s Museum from about two-years-old until seven-years-old. We always had a difficult time tearing our preschool son away from the mock fire station to explore the many other fun museum exhibits. Thus we visited almost every time we were in Denver when they were young.
A new addition, Joy Park can keep the older kids entertained. They will loop round and round on the zip line swing, and then splash right into the water feature. I would recommend this Denver family attraction for infants all the way up to around age 9 or 10.
The Denver Museum of Nature and Science
Located at City Park, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science twice, is great for elementary to middle school kids.
There is an area for younger kids, but the many interactive exhibits and IMAX movies are probably best suited for aged 5 and up. Exhibits and movies do change so you will want to check before you visit.
Make the IMAX film your first stop. It is fun and educational. We learned how astronauts live in space, how the planet is changing and more. One of our other favorite exhibits was the Space Odyssey. With many interactive planetarium components and an attentive staff managing some of these, we spent most of our time here. We also really liked Expedition Health. We were able to do hands-on experiments in the lab and learn more about our own bodies and health. I could see our family returning to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science again and again.
SheBuysTravel Tip: You can buy the Denver CityPASS ahead of time, and show your mobile ticket to get into attractions such as the Downtown Aquarium, Denver Botanical gardens, and Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Plus you save money, depending on how many attractions you visit.
Take in a Baseball Game at Coors Field
I am not a huge sports fan, but Denver is home to the Colorado Rockies and a pretty impressive ballpark, that really is a must-see. The whole experience is fun, from sitting in the stadium eating ballpark food to the sounds of the balls flying off the bats to taking in a spectacular sunset. A ballgame was where our preschooler learned to eat whole sunflower seeds and spit the seeds out.
Read More: Love Baseball? Plan a Spring Training Trip!
Denver is not just home to major league baseball, but also national hockey league (NHL) and National Basketball Association (NBA) teams. The Denver Broncos also play not too far from downtown, at Empower Field at Mile High. And, the Colorado Avalanche and Denver Nuggets play at the Pepsi Center, conveniently located near downtown.
Visit Denver’s Union Station
I remember when Union Station was a dilapidated old building that housed not much more than a nightclub. No longer! For us, Denver’s revitalized Union Station is really a destination of its own. Our preschool son likes to go out to the tracks and watch the trains embark and debark. The spray park out front is sure to elicit squeals of delight as the kids run through the water getting soaked.
The inside of the station is bustling and a fun place to people watch. Beware: Our kids did manage to talk us into getting them an ice cream cone at Milkbox Ice Creamery, which just happens to be an amenity covered by the resort fee at The Crawford.
Union Station also boasts some fun dining options. Snooze an A.M. Eatery is by far our favorite breakfast spot in Denver. Where else can you find a Chile Verde Benny with slow cooked pulled pork over a stack of green chile sauced tortillas and melted cheese with poached cage free eggs and green chili hollandaise, pico de gallo and cotija cheese? Expect a wait unless you stay at The Crawford and arrange reservations through their in-room iPads.
Here you can also check out Denver’s favorite book store, the Tattered Cover at this small satellite location.
Want to experience as much of Denver as possible in one spot? Check out Terminal Bar offering Colorado craft beers or people watch from Cooper Lounge located in an upper balcony of Union Station. Wynkoop Brewery across the street is one of Denver’s original breweries.
Visit Denver’s Other Micro-Neighborhoods
- The Dairy District, home to the Maven Hotel is another of our favorite areas in Denver. A pedestrian alley boasts all kinds of fun games. And, Denver Milk Market offers a crazy variety of delicious foods.
- Visit the Colorado Convention Center to see the big blue bear and other public art. And, maybe even take in a show.
- McGregor Square is the newest hot square in Denver. The Rally Hotel has its home here with an all-baseball theme.
- 16th Street Mall and Larimer Square are also well known lower downtown Denver areas. But Union Station and Dairy Block are our favorites.
Denver Downtown Aquarium
Though not as interactive as some of the other downtown Denver family attractions, the Downtown Aquarium is fun for all ages. We typically only spend a couple of hours here, but everyone will enjoy seeing oodles of different fish and ocean exhibits. Mermaids even make an appearance. The restaurant boasts a 50,000 gallon aquarium that serves as one wall of the dining room.
The Denver Zoo
Slightly outside of downtown Denver, it was a must-do for our most recent visit as our preschooler had yet to visit a zoo. All of the animals are majestic, from the lions and tigers to the elephants and giraffes. We almost felt as though we were in Africa. The highlight for our preschooler, though, may have been the train. It was the perfect way to end a day at the Denver Zoo.
Check out Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Even if you don’t want to experience a concert here, it is worth a visit just to take in the views and climb some steps. Located just outside of Denver in the Golden area, Red Rocks Amphitheater is a Colorado landmark.
From here, be sure to take a drive on the highest paved road in the USA. Mount Evans Scenic Byway takes you by Echo Lake, an ideal spot to stop for a picnic.
SheBuysTravel Tip: If you are up for a Colorado road trip, this area tops our list.
Take in an Exhibit at the Denver Art Museum
With pre-Colombian American artifacts, Native American art and Western art, this museum has something for everyone. From Family Central to the Sensory Garden, the Denver Art Museum offers plenty for kids and families. Be sure to check what the current installations are. The most interesting exhibit that I have been to with my daughter was “Dior: From Paris to the World.” The highlight was seeing my daughter later create designs inspired by the Dior exhibit on her new art pad.
Of course, the Denver Art Museum is not the only art museum in Denver worth a visit.
- The Abstract Expressionist, Clyfford Still, left his entire collection of large-scale works to a city willing to keep the works together and preserve them. Denver then became home to the Clyfford Still Museum. The current show, Clyfford Still, Art, and the Young Mind, was actually co-curated with local children to reveal how children think about art.
- Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art which is named after and houses works by Vance Kirkland, best known for establishing the Modern Art movement in Denver. It is important to note that this museum welcomes visitors 13 and up. So, it will not be on the list of things to do for younger children.
Visit Denver Botanic Gardens
This 23-acre park offers a variety of spectacular themed gardens year-round But your kids will love exploring plants and the natural world at Mordecai Children’s Garden. It is also the perfect place to cool off in the summer, with a fun wading stream.
Of course, we like to also visit Denver over the holidays when Blossoms of Lights brings a multitude of interactive twinkling lights to life in a holiday delight.
Take in Local History
If you have a history-loving family, be sure to tour the Molly Brown House Museum with a guided tour of the former home of Titanic survivor, Margaret Tobin Brown. After passing through a handful of owners after her passing, it has been restored to its original Victorian splendor and is open to visitors to learn the interesting stories of this human rights activist.
Visit a City Park
Denver has a number of charming parks. Washington Park has a great little lake perfect for running and walking. Cheesman Park is another place to enjoy the outdoors.
Visit a Theme Park
Elitch Gardens is located in downtown Denver and boasts not just a theme park, but also a water park. However, if you plan to play at one of Denver’s water parka there are better options a short drive away.
Where to Stay: Downtown Denver Family Hotels
Denver has always boasted both historic and trendy hotels, but with recent downtown redevelopment, the Denver lodging community has really upped their game. The downtown Denver hotel properties that have come online recently have unique and thoughtful design elements, amenities and character. Here are a few of our favorite lodging options in downtown Denver with kids.
LoDo’s newest industrial-chic hotel, the Maven, recently rolled out a new Maven Family Fun Found package. This Denver hotel caters to kiddos, with swings outside the elevators on every floor, a fun bunkroom option, an inviting lobby featuring dozens of interesting Colorado art pieces, antique pinball machines in the Poka Lola Social Club and an Airstream trailer that serves breakfast. Our preschooler didn’t want to leave the lobby. He wanted to stay and play with a cool metal truck. But we finally convinced him that he could come see it later. We were then derailed again by the fun swings hanging outside the elevators on each floor.
We finally managed to get to the room and rest up before venturing back down to the lobby and enjoyed a crafted cocktail at the Poka Lola Social Club. This was included as a part of the resort fee and our waiter even served up mocktails for the kiddos.
The Crawford Hotel
The Crawford Hotel is located in the historic and recently redeveloped Denver Union Station. I was so glad to have seen this 100-year-old historic landmark brought back to life with a fun, eclectic assortment of restaurants, boutique shops and luxury hotel. The lobby of the Crawford Hotel is located on one side of this open and bustling train station. It is a little strange to be checking into your hotel with so much else going on, but enthralled our kids. The room itself was unique and luxurious.
Our preschooler could barely pull himself away from the window where trains were pulling up and departing. The spa-like bathroom fully captured our daughter’s attention. Imaginary games of train stations combined with spas ensued once the obligatory room search was complete. A spray park outside Union Station is the perfect way to keeps the kids entertained. You will most certainly want to take advantage of the hotel’s relationship with Snooze AM Eatery to get breakfast reservations.
Embassy Suites Denver Downtown
Embassy Suites Denver Downtown also boasts a fantastic downtown Denver location. With two-room suites, mini fridges and made-to-order breakfast included, it makes for another excellent hotel option for families.
Brown Palace Hotel
History loving families may want to stay at the Brown Palace Hotel.
From Out-of-State? Additional Tips for Enjoying Downtown Denver with Kids
- Coming from out-of-state? Be sure to make time for a day trip to visit one of the many ski towns in the Colorado Rocky Mountains or one of Colorado’s National Parks. Many visitors come to Colorado just to see Rocky Mountain National Park. Of course Colorado Springs and Boulder are also worth a visit.
- If you are flying in from Denver International Airport, take the light rail to downtown Denver and completely avoid driving and parking. Denver is very walkable and parking is expensive.
- Many of the downtown Denver hotels will offer complimentary transportation within a specified distance with the hotel cars. Pedicabs are also available for hire (see below).
- Everyone should take a pedicab ride. Our kids spotted these three-wheeled pedal cabs powered by bikers and were fascinated. We took a ride just for a couple of blocks to our destination, but they are available for hire to tour visitors around downtown, and I can’t imagine there’s a better way to take in the history and culture of the area.