When we can, we love to explore family friendly activities in the cities that we visit. We’ve done it in Spokane. And we’ve done it in Milwaukee, where there are plenty of Milwaukee activities for families. During a trip past trip to Denver, we had a chance to check out some fun family friendly Denver experiences.
This post was updated on September 7, 2021.
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Exploring family friendly Denver experiences with our kids
My husband is a Colorado native. He had a great time taking us around the state of Colorado and showing us all his favorite spots from his childhood.
The state is full of beautiful cities, with many things to do in places like Breckenridge, Vail, and Boulder. We spent some time visiting Colorado Springs when we were in Colorado. But by far our favorite city to visit was Denver.
For a city girl like me, it has all the things that I love about a city: culture, outdoors, and plenty of activities for little ones. Our kiddos loved all the family friendly Denver experiences we discovered while we were there. We also loved being able to spend quality time bonding with them while visiting Denver.
Basics of family friendly Denver experiences
The capital city of the state of Colorado, Denver was first established in 1858. Since then, it has grown from a small mining town into a bustling metropolis. The city now has a population of approximately 700,000 people!
There are a variety of family friendly Denver experiences for visitors to explore, including a bustling downtown, world class museums, and the amazing Rocky Mountain National Park a few hours away. The book, Walking Denver, is a good place to get ideas for where to explore on foot.
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Family friendly Denver experiences you won’t want to miss
We spent almost a week in Denver. While this is faster than our usual slow travel pace, it was still enough time We visited with friends and family, and took in the sights.
For those looking for some unique tours of Denver to get acquainted with the city, take a look at these tours that you can book for your family:
Twilight Ghost Tour by Best Tours of Denver
Walking tour of Denver street art by Denver Graffiti Tour
LoDo Walking Tour of Denver by Denver Local Tours
Denver History and Highlights by Urban Adventures
Once you’re done with your tour of the “Mile High City,” spend time doing the activities I suggest in this post. Here are our favorite family friendly Denver experiences that you won’t want to miss.
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1. Wings Over the Rockies
Budding pilots in your family will love visiting Wings Over the Rockies. In terms of family friendly Denver experiences, this museum has several things that will entice little ones. There are space exhibits and a simulator of Wilbur and Orville Wright’s plane.
The museum has planes dating back to before World War I. You can even go into the cockpits of a few old commercial planes too. The museum is open Mondays through Saturdays from 10am to 5pm, and Sundays from 12pm to 5pm. Tickets are $16.95 for adults (aged 17-64) and $9.95 for kids (aged 4-16).
2. Denver Museum of Nature and Science
One of our favorite family friend Denver experiences was visiting the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. You could easily spend a whole day at the museum and not see every exhibit. There was just so much to see!
This museum has it all: science, puzzles, space, history, geology. The museum also has a planetarium, where we caught an interesting show about the universe. There is also an IMAX theater, where we saw a cute movie about pandas. Museum hours are 9am to 5pm daily. Tickets are $19.95 for adults (aged 19-64) and $14.95 for kids (aged 3-18). Planetarium tickets are an additional $4-$5, and IMAX tickets are an additional $6-$7.
3. Molly Brown House
One of Denver’s most well-known historical figures is Molly Brown, a survivor of the ill-fated Titanic, and a huge benefactor to the city of Denver. Her home, located in the historic district is open to visitors, and for families interested in historical family friendly Denver experiences, it’s worth a tour.
Built in the 1800’s, the house is full of original artifacts from the Brown family, as well as curated artifacts from the Victorian era. It’s an interesting glimpse into a time period that was both decadent and conservative. The Molly Brown House is open for tours Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10:30am to 3:30 pm, and Sundays from 12pm to 3:30pm. Tickets are $16 for non-resident adults (aged 19-64) and $12 for non-resident kids (aged 6-18).
4. 16th Street Mall
We’re not into shopping, but we do enjoy going to commercial districts from time to time when we visit new cities. For some interesting family friendly Denver experiences, head over to the 16th Street Mall, a mile-long pedestrian promenade in downtown Denver. There, you can find shops, restaurants, and unique street performers.
We happened to be there during an anime convention that was happening downtown, so we saw all sorts of people dressed up in costumes. We even saw some street magicians performing! The 16th Street Mall is free and open to the public all day.
5. Civic Center Park
The city of Denver has several parks where you can enjoy family friendly Denver experiences for free. We especially enjoyed visiting Civic Center Park. It was so close to downtown, and we could catch glimpses of the Colorado Capitol Building.
The park is free and open to the public all day. The Colorado Capitol Building is open to the public Monday through Friday from 7:30am to 5pm, and is free to tour.
6. The Brown Palace Hotel
The Brown Palace Hotel in Denver is one of the city’s fanciest hotels. For those looking for luxurious family friendly Denver experiences, it’s available for lodging and dining. I love visiting fancy hotels, but I don’t always enjoy paying expensive prices to stay at a fancy hotel.
Fortunately, you can also take tours of The Brown Palace Hotel. Public tours are offered on Wednesdays at 3pm and Saturdays at 11:30am. Tickets cost $20 per person, and require a minimum of four people. Reservations should be made online through their website. You can also schedule a private tour for a flat fee of $60 for one to three people, and $20 per additional person.
7. Red Rocks
There are several excursions you can take to expand your family friendly Denver experiences. We loved heading out to the famous Red Rocks, which is a popular concert venue, as well as a park with hikes and trails.
Red Rocks is located near the town of Morrison, about twenty minutes away from Denver. We took our kids to see a Jason Mraz concert while we were there, but you can also just visit the area during the day and check out some of the nearby trails.
8. Estes Park
If you’re willing to go a bit farther for your family friendly Denver experiences, take a trek out to Estes Park. It’s just an hour and a half drive from Denver. Estes Park is where the Stanley Hotel is located, made famous by Stephen King’s book, The Shining.
We were tempted to book a night at the Stanley (who wouldn’t want to stay at a haunted hotel?) but opted to take the tour instead. Tours run all day, every day, and range from $12-$28 dollars depending on your age and the type of tour you’re taking. You can do a historic day tour ($17-$24) or a haunted night tour, for those brave enough to try it ($28).
9. Rocky Mountain National Park
We love experiencing the outdoors and visiting the national parks when we’re in the United States. And fortunately for us, there were plenty of family friendly Denver experiences that involve the outdoors.
About an hour and forty-five minutes outside of Denver, Rocky Mountain National Park is the perfect outdoor getaway for visitors to Denver.
We took a day trip out there. We drove along highway 34 through the park, climbing up to more than 12,000 feet above sea level! It was so fun for the kids to see an alpine tundra, and we even saw several animals while we were driving through the park, including bighorn sheep, elk, and deer.
The park is open year round, and entrance fees are $25 per vehicle for a 1-day pass. Annual National Parks passes are $80.
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Enjoying our family friendly Denver experiences
Like any big city, Denver is full of interesting places to explore, both within the city and outside of the city. We loved seeing what Denver had to offer, and these fun family friendly Denver experiences were just what we needed to make our visit memorable.
Have you been to Denver? What are some things that you experienced there with your family?
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It’s like you were following us around or something. 🙂 Great to read a different voice and what you loved about Denver. Such a cool place!
I appreciate that, Rob! We loved the city, and it had such a cool outdoorsy vibe, much like Seattle.
I’ve been to Colorado many times, even spent an entire semester there, and still haven’t really explored Denver! I know this is kid-focused, but there are several things on here that I want to do too! Like that Brown Palace hotel, and the Titanic survivor’s house! At least I can say I HAVE done Rocky Mountain National Park!
Thanks Maggie! We really loved our day at Rocky Mountain National Park. What did you do when you were at the park?
I have heard so many amazing things about Colorado. We are outdoor adventure buffs and I am dying to get there! Denver looks like a cool city and great to see there is so much on offer for families making their way through. I deffo want to go to Red Rocks and check out a convert there – sounds epic.
It definitely is a cool city. And Red Rocks is one of my favorite places to see a concert now.
When I was a kid (many decades ago) we visited this region of the USA on a holiday and I remember really liking Denver too. It has such a great mix of history and culture, lots of attractions to see, good food options and it’s an attractive city too!
It sure is all of those things. I hope you get to go back again some day.
Denver looks an interesting place to be visited with kids. I loved the Museum of Nature and Science and would be very much interested to see that. Thanks for sharing!
You’re welcome. The Denver Museum of Nature and Science has a lot of fun things for adults too!
Wow. I have never heard of Denver before but it looks lovely! I would especially love ot visit the Rocky Mountain National Park! I loved living in a city called Dresden in Germany because it was a city yet was next to a national park, best of both worlds!
It’s a fun American city to explore, if you ever get the chance to visit.
I totally get that your husband enjoyed showing you his native state. Me too, I loved to show my daughter places that were dear to me – and still do. How nice that you and the kids could appreciate it, too.
I feel like it gave us a better idea of who he was too.
I find Denver to be one of those cities that has something for everyone – sports, art, history, outdoor activities, food/breweries – you name it, they’ve got it! On my last visit there I had tea at the Brown Palace. If you get a chance to do it one day, the treats were delicious and as you mention it’s one of the most beautiful hotels in all of Denver. I wasn’t aware that they offered tours as well, it would have been fun to see more of the hotel!
You’re so right! We stopped by the Brown Palace when they were having their tea (but didn’t end up doing it). We saw some little girls at one of the tables all dressed up, and it was so cute! I definitely want to go back and do that.
You had me at flight simulator! That is so cool, I love how interactive some museums can be. I need to get me and my family to Denver, thanks for sharing 🙂
Yes, the museums in Denver are pretty great.