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Wednesday 12 April 2023

30+ Things to do in Colorado with Kids

Summer Break is coming up in just a few months, and while that often means taking a trip out of state or even overseas, some of the best vacations are spent right at home exploring your own backyard. If you're in Colorado and planning to stay home this Summer (or if you're visiting Colorado from elsewhere) there is plenty of fun to be had locally.

Now, for a lot of people, when they think of Colorado the first things that come to mind are the mountains, skiing, snowboarding and hiking. Those are also the main things you'll see when you google "things to do in Colorado" or if you follow Colorado based bloggers/influencers. The mountains here are beautiful, but if you're like me and you don't really care for Winter sports or trekking far away from civilization, finding resources for things to do in Colorado can be a little tricky. So that's what I'm sharing with you here today! We're not skiers or hikers, so while you'll find a few short hikes in this post, I'm leaving the more outdoorsy pursuits to the pros. If you're looking for mountainy adventures, I'll share a few of my favorite local bloggers and influencers at the end.  

Let's take a look at my favorite things to do in Colorado with kids...

Denver murals
Meow Wolf: Convergence Station, Denver, Colorado
Denver Art Museum
SeaQuest, Littleton
Neon Alley, Pueblo, California
Garden of the Gods, Colorado
Denver Selfie Museum, Colorado
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Manitou Cliff Dwellings, Colorado
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Estes Park, Colorado
Junkyard Social Club, Boulder
Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado
Colorado Railroad Museum, Golden, Colorado
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Red Rocks State Park, Colorado
Estes Park Tramway, Colorado

Because I'm sharing a large variety of places and activities here, I've broken it down into the following categories: 
  • Museums, Galleries & Street Art
  • Animal Experiences
  • Playgrounds & Play Spaces
  • Great Outdoors
In each category the places and activities are listed in alphabetical order. 

Let's get to it...

Museums, Galleries & Street Art

Colorado is home to a wealth of museums, galleries and public art displays. No matter what you're interest is, you're sure to find something for you here. 

Colorado Railroad Museum
Not all museums are indoors! Once of my favorite places to take the kids is the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden. This interactive museum is spread over a 15 acre railyard and is home to a wealth of trains, carriages and train related equipment from all through Colorado's history. Steam train rides are available at certain times of the year as well as themed events including the Polar Express during the holidays.

Colorado Railroad Museum is located at 17155 W 44th Avenue, Golden.

For more information visit https://coloradorailroadmuseum.org/

You can see our visit to Colorado Railroad Museum here:

Denver Art Museum
Located in Downtown Denver, the Denver Art Museum is a great spot for tourists and locals alike. The museum is home to permanent and temporary collections covering a wealth of art, design and culture from all over the world and throughout history. The building itself is a work of art and you'll find several large sculptures outside including the iconic "Big Sweep" dustpan and broom sculpture located by the main entrance. 

Denver Art Museum is located at 100 W 14th Avenue Parkway, Denver.

For more information visit https://www.denverartmuseum.org/

You can see our visit to Denver Art Museum here:

Denver Museum of Nature & Science
Denver Museum of Nature & Science is a big hit with the whole family. With exhibitions focusing on dinosaurs and prehistoric creatures, Colorado's geologic treasures, the human body, wildlife, ancient Egypt, Native American cultures, and space there really is something for everyone. The museum is home to a wealth of hands on exhibitions that are sure to keep kids of all ages entertained.  

Denver Museum of Nature & Science is located at 2001 Colorado Boulevard, Denver.

For more information visit https://www.dmns.org/

Denver Selfie Museum
Ok, this one is a little different to your usual museum. In fact, it's really only a museum in name - unless you consider yourself part of the exhibition! Denver Selfie Museum is an interactive gallery filled with props and photo set ups where visitors can take fun selfies. 

Denver Selfie Museum is located at 1531 Stout Street Suite 102, Denver

For more information visit https://denverselfiemuseum.com/

You can see our visit to Denver Selfie Museum here: 

Dinosaur Ridge
If you've got dinosaur loving kids (or adults) in your family, Dinosaur Ridge in Morrison is a must visit. This historic site is part museum and part geological park. You'll find a Visitor Center and Discovery Center with indoor exhibitions, hands on experiences including dig sites, plenty of handy information, and a gift store. The main attraction of Dinosaur Ridge, however, is outside. The site features walking trails that take visitors to multiple dinosaur track sites, with one site alone featuring 250 dinosaur tracks. The paved trails also showcase various fossils including the site of the first stegosaurus fossil discovery. Visitors are able to take part in guided tours or walk the trails on their own. The fossil sites are pretty well marked so we went with the self guided tour when we visited.  

Dinosaur Ridge is located at 16831 W Alameda Parkway, Morrison.

For more information visit https://dinoridge.org/

Four Mile Historic Park

Want to step back in time and experience what life was like in the Wild West? Four Mile Historic Park in Denver's Cherry Creek neighborhood is the place to be! Home to Denver's oldest standing structure, the Four Mile House Museum, this park also features a small working farm, historically accurate displays of life in the Wild West and seasonal events. We're yet to visit during the day but we've been in the evening for a holiday event and it was interesting to see a little of what life would have been likein the early days of Colorado.

Four Mile Historic Park is located at 715 S Forest Street, Denver.

For more information visit https://www.fourmilepark.org/

Manitou Cliff Dwellings
I just shared a museum that showcases life of the early European settlers to Colorado, but if you're keen to see how some indigenous Coloradans lived prior to European settlement, then look no further than Manitou Cliff Dwellings. This fascinating site is home to an authentic Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwelling dating back 800 to 1000 years. Visitors are able to enter the 40 room cliff dwellings and it's a really fascinating experience for young and old. An onsite museum housed in a Pueblo building features informative dioramas as well as artifacts including pottery, weapons and tools. 

Manitou Cliff Dwellings is located at 10 Cliff Dwellings Road, Manitou Springs. 

For more information visit https://www.cliffdwellingsmuseum.com/ 

You can see our visit to Manitou Cliff Dwellings here: 

Manitou Cliff Dwellings, Colorado

Meow Wolf: Convergence Station
Where do I even begin to explain Meow Wolf: Convergence Station? It's one of those places that really needs to be seen to be believed. Think of it as an immersive art exhibition combined with a whole new dimension and you're part way there. Convergence Station is like many different worlds contained in the one building. Worlds filled with colors, sounds, creatures, and technology beyond your wildest imagination. I really can't explain it in a way that does it justice, so you'll just have to go see it for yourself. 

Convergence Station is located at 1338 1st Street, Denver.

For more information visit https://meowwolf.com/visit/denver

You can see our visits to Meow Wolf convergence Station at the links below: 

Neon Alley in Pueblo
Pueblo is close to a two hour drive south of Denver making it an easy day trip or a great place to visit while checking out nearby sites such as the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Royal Gorge. My favorite thing about Pueblo is an area known as Neon Alley. As you can probably guess from the name, this area is home to a collection of old neon signs. They're pretty impressive to see at any time of day, but as the sun goes down and the lights turn on this collection really begins to shine. Literally! 

Neon Alley runs between West B and C Streets and South Victoria and Union Avenues, Pueblo.  

You can see our visit to Neon Ally here:

Street Art
If you've been following for a while you'll know that I'm a huge fan of street art. Many Colorado cities and towns have such a vibrant street art scene with annual festivals and a ton of amazing murals all around town. While you can find street art almost anywhere in Denver and Boulder there are certain areas that are hot spots. Denver's RiNo neighborhood is known as a major art destination with plenty of galleries to visit, but there is just as much art to be found on the local walls. East Colfax Avenue in Aurora is also a great spot for exploring street art. Boulder is also home to a wealth of street art. Every Summer you'll find local street art festivals around Denver and Boulder with works by amazing artists (both local and non-local). Colfax Canvas, Streetwise Arts and Babe Walls are three of my favorites. 

You can see some of Colorado's street art at the posts below:

You can also find plenty of Colorado street art on my Instagram. Make sure to follow the hashtag #littlehiccupslovesstreetart to see lots more.

If you look closely below you just might recognize the cover model on the Aurora Guide!

Street Art in Aurora, Colorado

Animal Experiences

Colorado is home to some amazing native animals, and if you're lucky enough you just might spot some of them when you're out and about in the countryside. Moose, elk, deer, bears, coyotes, raccoons, squirrels, marmots, pikas, pine martens, skunks, rabbits, prairie dogs, bob cats, bald eagles, red tail hawks and great horned owls are just some of the amazing creatures that call Colorado home. If you want to check out some wildlife without having to keep an eye out as you drive or hike there are quite a few places to visit for animal encounters. 

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
Perched on Cheyenne Mountain at a height of 6714ft, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is officially the highest elevation zoo in the entire USA. About an hour south of Denver in Colorado Springs, this zoo is definitely worth a visit. We finally made it there for the first time over Spring Break last week and it did not disappoint. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is home to many animals but is best known for its African Rift Valley exhibition where visitors can feed giraffes, elephants and rhinos. Visitors can ride the chairlift style Mountaineer Skyride for views over the zoo.   

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is located at 4250 Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Road, Colorado Springs.

For more information visit https://www.cmzoo.org/ 

Denver's Downtown Aquarium
Denver's Downtown Aquarium is located, you guessed it, right in Downtown Denver. It's a great place to visit in conjunction with nearby attractions such as Elitch Gardens, Meow Wolf and Children's Museum. This aquarium is on the small side compared to others that we have visited but has plenty of aquatic (and not aquatic) life on display. Visitors will find touch pools, a glass tunnel with fish swimming overhead, and a wealth of life in displays ranging from wharves, coral reefs, lagoons, and even deserts.

Denver's Downtown Aquarium is located at 700 Water Street, Denver.

Denver Zoo
Denver Zoo is centrally located in Denver's City Park alongside Denver Museum of Nature & Science, lakes, pavilions, playgrounds and picnic spots. It's a great place for a day out for the whole family with so much to see and do. Denver Zoo is home to a wealth of animals including elephants, rhinos, zebras, lions, flamingoes, tigers, grizzly bears, przewalski's horse, giraffes, Rocky Mountain big horned sheep and so much more. Hands on experiences are available in the Stingray Cove touch pools and behind the scenes tours of the onsite animal hospital are available. 

Denver Zoo is located at 2300 Steele Street, Denver.

For more information visit https://denverzoo.org/

Purrfect Pause Cat Café
If you've got cat loving kiddos and you're looking for a quiet outing a trip to a cat café is a great option. My kids love visiting Purrfect Pause Cat Café in Boulder. They get to spend an hour playing with cute kitties and I get to relax with a coffee. Of course, the only downside is that they always want to bring home one of the cats! Unlike all of the other animal experiences I've included here, this is actually a possibility! All of the cats at Purrfect Pause are available for adoption, so if you're looking to add a kitty to your family this is a great way to get to know them first.

Purrfect Pause Cate Cafe is located at 5290 Arapahoe Avenue, Suite E, Boulder.

For more information visit https://www.purrfectpause.com/

You can see one of our visit to Purrfect Pause here: https://www.instagram.com/reel/CpJc9nzMpKQ/

SeaQuest Littleton
Ok, there are no animals to adopt here but there are plenty of opportunities for hands on animal experiences. SeaQuest Littleton is an aquarium that is home to quite a range of animals including all sorts of fish, lizards, tortoises, and birds. The main attraction is the shark and stingray tank. Visitors are able to feed the stingrays, and even go snorkeling with them. That's exactly what we did when we visited and took a behind the scenes tour. We snorkeled with the stingrays (and a few sharks), fed the stingrays (both while we were in the water with them and from outside the tank), we fed rainbow lorikeets and tortoises, we marveled at colorful fish, and we posed for a lot of photos with animal friends. 

SeaQuest Littleton is located at 8501 W Bowles Avenue, Littleton.

For more information visit https://visitseaquest.com/littleton/

You can see our visit to SeaQuest Littleton here:

SeaQuest Littleton, Colorad

Sombrero Stables
If taking in spectacular mountain views while horse riding sounds like fun to you, make sure to check out Sombrero Stables in Estes Park. We took a trail ride with Sombrero Stables during our visit to Estes Park back in 2018 and it was wonderful. No riding experience is necessary, and they have gentle horses suitable for even the youngest riders. Mathilde was four years old at the time and able to ride on her own. We took a one hour trail ride and it was such a fun experience.

Sombrero Stables is located at 1895 Big Thompson Ave, Estes Park. 

For more information about Sombrero Stables visit https://www.sombrero.com/

Wild Animal Sanctuary
Lions and tigers and bears - oh my! 
All three of these animals call the Wild Animal Sanctuary home along with wolves and various big cats. All of the animals at Wild Animal Sanctuary have been rescued from from private owners and abusive situations. Think Tiger King. In fact, many of the animals featured on Tiger King now call the Wild Animal Sanctuary home. Unlike a regular zoo, this sanctuary is a large open space where the animals are free to roam. Visitors can view the animals from above via a 1.5 mile long walkway that spans across numerous habitats.

The Wild Animal Sanctuary is located at 2999 County Road 53, Keenesburg.

For more information visit https://www.wildanimalsanctuary.org/

Playgrounds & Play Spaces

Colorado kids are pretty spoiled when it comes to playgrounds and play spaces. Amusement parks, water parks, junkyard playgrounds, indoor and outdoor play spaces, and classic playgrounds are plentiful and there really is something for everyone for any time of year.

The newest play space in Colorado is also the sweetest! The recently opened Candeeland is a fun indoor play space filled with colorful candy themed fun. You'll find soft play activities for toddlers, climbing walls, big play structures, a ninja course, a laser maze, an arcade, a café and a cady store.

7969 E Arapahoe Road, Unit B, Greenwood Village.

For more information visit https://www.candeelandcolorado.com/

Children's Museum
Ok, so the name of this one makes it sound like it belongs in the museums category above, but this children's museum is definitely much more of a play space. A Denver institution, Children's Museum has been delighting Colorado kids for since 1973 when it began as a traveling experience. It has been in its current location since 1984 and has seen much growth since that time. With indoor and outdoor attractions, kids you'll find year round fun for toddlers and young kids. My kids are a little old for most of the indoor play areas, but we're keen to visit when the Adventure Forest, the outdoor climbing space, reopens for the season in May. 

Children's Museum is located at 2121 Children's Museum Drive, Denver.

For more information visit https://www.mychildsmuseum.org/

Elitch Gardens
Colorado's premier amusement park, Elitch Gardens, is located right in the heart of Denver close to many other popular attractions. Part water park and part amusement park, Elitch Gardens is a great place to spend an entire day. You'll find rides for the little visitors, family friendly classics such as a merry go round and Ferris wheel, and the fastest and scariest rides for daredevils. Screams of joy from the rollercoaster can be heard all across the park - but you won't catch me up there! In the water park you'll find a wave pool, water slides, splash pads, and plenty of poolside space for relaxing in the sun. Elitch Gardens opens for the 2023 season on April 29th.

Elitch Gardens is located at 2000 Elitch Circle, Denver.

For more information visit https://www.elitchgardens.com/

Junkyard Social Club
Junkyard Social Club in Boulder is a playground like no other. With indoor and outdoor play spaces,  it's a great destination for any time of year, but what really sets it apart from other playgrounds is the fact that the play structures are built from repurposed junk. An old school bus and Volkswagen Beetle have become play equipment. Reclaimed timber, scrap metal, old sports equipment, sinks and bike parts come together to form playhouses and climbing structures. Old tires are used as versatile toys that can be stacked, climbed on and rolled. It's a hands on place for kids that don't mind getting their hands dirty. Junkyard Social Club also caters towards parents with a full café and bar, and plenty of indoor and outdoor seating.

Junkyard Social Club is located at 2525 Frontier Avenue, Unit A, Boulder.

For more information visit https://junkyardsocialclub.org/ 

You can see our visit to Junkyard Social Club here:

Twin Silo Park
Fort Collins in Northern Colorado is home to one of the coolest playgrounds we've ever visited. Named after the two old silos that have been repurposed to house slides and climbing structures, Twin Silo Park features 54 acres of fun, the highlight of which is the aforementioned playground. Along with the towering silos, the playground features climbing structures, rope bridges, and plenty of things to swing, spin and slide on. The park is also home to BMX trails, picnic spaces, a dog park, and plenty of space to run around and play.

Twin Silo Park is located at 5552 - 5564 Ziegler Road, Fort Collins. 

Great Outdoors

I've shared some pretty amazing places here already in this post, but I know what you're thinking... what about a little nature? I mean, the great outdoors is what attracts most people to Colorado in the first place, right? As I mentioned earlier in this post, I'm not the most outdoorsy person, so we don't spend our weekends hiking or pursuing Winter sports, but we have had some pretty great adventures in Colorado that I couldn't miss including in this post. From mountains and lakes to deserts and canyons, there's a pretty varied range of landscapes here in Colorado. It's just missing an ocean!

Breckenridge Troll
Ok, so this one could have been in the art category above, but it involves a hike (albeit a very short one) and it's located outside among nature, so I included it here. Isak Heartstone is a 15ft wooden sculpture by Danish artist Thomas Danbo and is a popular attraction in Breckenridge. Constructed from upcycled timber, Isak has been delighting visitors since 2017 when he was built as part of the Breckenridge International Festival of Arts. Isak Heartstone can be found on the Trollstigen Trail which starts by the Ice Arena parking lot. The trail is only quarter of a mile long and is a pretty easy one, but it's not plowed during the Winter months, so make sure to keep this in mind if you visit when it's snowy.

Breckenridge Troll, Colorado

Eldorado Canyon State Park
Eldorado State Park is just a short drive from Boulder and is a great place to hike along shaded trails while marveling at towering rock formations. It's a pretty popular park given its proximity to Boulder, so you can expect it to be be a little busy on weekends, but it's worth a visit. There are hiking trails for all levels of experience and shaded picnic spots along South Boulder Creek. On a hot day the creek is a great spot to cool off with a little paddling in the cold water, but boating and tubing is not allowed.

Eldorado Canyon State Park is located at 9 Kneale Road, Eldorado Springs.

Garden of the Gods
Garden of the Gods is definitely one of the most popular tourist destinations in Colorado, and for good reason! Located south of Denver near Colorado Springs, this park is home to amazing red rock structures that jut abruptly out of the earth as if they have been suddenly pushed upward. The red rock looks stunning contrasted against the lush green vegetation of the area making it an extremely photogenic area. Garden of the Gods has nice and wide paved hiking trails that are suitable for hikers of all skill levels. There is not an awful lot of shade and it can get pretty hot here in Summer so make sure to be sun smart and pack plenty of water.

Garden of the Gods is located at 1805 N 30th Street, Colorado Springs.

For more information visit https://gardenofgods.com/

You can see our visit to Garden of the Gods here:

Garden of the Gods, Colorado

Great Sand Dunes National Park
This one is a little bit of a drive from Denver (about a four hour drive south), but it's definitely worth a visit for an experience like no other - presuming you get good weather, that is! This national park is home to the tallest sand dunes in the country. Not only that, but they're giant sand dunes set against a backdrop of snowy mountains. Definitely not something you see everyday. If you visit during late Spring you might be lucky enough to experience the creek at the base of the sand dunes flowing. We were lucky enough to see it, but unfortunately we were also met with below freezing temperatures and merciless wind, so our visit was fairly brief. If you do get good weather for your visit, the sand dunes are a great spot for hiking, sand boarding and just general sand dune fun. The park is open 24 hours which means it's a great spot for photographers to capture starry skies, sunrises and sunsets.

For more information about Great Sand Dunes National Park visit https://www.nps.gov/grsa/index.htm

Check out this post on Instagram to see what the kids thought of the weather we were met with during out visit! https://www.instagram.com/p/CV4ShUcrjUK/

Red Rocks Amphitheater
Another popular site with towering red rocks is Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison. This natural amphitheater is home to one of Colorado's most famous music venues, but even if you're not visiting for a concert or performance, it's definitely worth a look. On site you'll find hiking trails, a restaurant, the Colorado Music Hall of Fame, and the Red Rocks Hall of Fame. Red Rocks Amphitheater is just a short drive from Dinosaur Ridge so combining a visit to both makes for a great day out.

Red Rocks Amphitheater is located at 18300 W Alameda Parkway, Morrison. 

You can learn more about Red Rocks Amphitheater at https://www.redrocksonline.com/

Red Rock Canyon Open Space
Not to be confused with Red Rocks Amphitheater, Red Rock Canyon Open Space is another popular spot for hiking among towering red rocks. This large park is a short drive from Manitou Cliff Dwellings so it's a great place to visit for a hike before or after visiting the cliff dwellings. You'll find plenty of easy hiking trails and stunning views over the area.

Red Rock Canyon Open Space is located at 3550 W High Street, Colorado Springs.

For more information about Red Rock Canyon Open Space visit https://redrockcanyonopenspace.org/

Rocky Mountain National Park
If you're visiting Colorado, there's a good chance that Rocky Mountain National Park is at the top of your list of places to explore. It's regularly listed as one of the most popular national parks in the country, and with good reason. Located about an hour and a half's drive from Denver, Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most easily accessible national parks. But it's not just its location that makes it popular. With plenty of hiking options for all skill levels, scenic drives, turquoise mountain lakes, plentiful wildlife, and views like the one below it's easy to see why Rocky Mountain National Park is a popular destination.

For more information about Rocky Mountain National Park visit https://www.nps.gov/romo/index.htm 

Roxborough State Park
More red rocks! Ok, you're probably over red rocks by now, but I included Roxborough State Park in this list because unlike the other destinations I included, it's rarely crowded. So if you're wanting to take a hike among towering red rocks without the crowds, Roxborough State Park is the place to go. In fact, when we visited over Spring Break one year we only passed one other group of people on our hike!

Roxborough State Park is located at 4751 E Roxborough Drive, Littleton.

Royal Gorge Bridge & Park
This one is an outdoor adventure for those of us who aren't all about hiking. Royal Gorge Bridge is located about two and a half hour south of Denver by Canon City, and is the highest suspension bridge in the country. As well as taking a walk across the bridge and admiring the views, visitors can ride an aerial gondola and zipline, play in a fantastic wooden playground, ride a carousel, and explore a museum. It was pretty windy when we visited so many of the activities were closed, but it was still fun to cross the bridge and the kids enjoyed the playground. 

For more information about Royal Gorge Suspension Bridge & Park visit https://royalgorgebridge.com/

You can see our visit to Royal Gorge Suspension Bridge here: 

If you're interested in more outdoor pursuits make sure to check out these great Colorado based bloggers and influencers:

For more Colorado travel inspiration make sure to check out these other posts I've shared in the past:

Have you visited Colorado before? Let me know your favorite things to do and see!

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