Sightseeing in Denver

This “Mile High City” has 300 days of sunshine. That’s more good weather than Miami or San Diego. And how’s this for fun, Denver has spent $8 billion on new attractions in the last decade including three sports stadiums, a world class aquarium, a downtown amusement park, an opera house, three art museums and doubling the size of their convention center. That’s not all. They have the largest city park system in the U.S. with 650 miles of paved trails. If you haven’t thought of Denver as a great location for a family vacation, think again.

Bluff Lake Nature Center is found in east Denver. This 123 acre wild life refuge is open from dawn to dusk every day and is totally free. Which is great for the vacation budget. Summer camp for children, lasting one week, is offered during the summer months. There are evening nature-related fireside chats also during the summer. Natural foliage and animals include bald eagles in their habitat.

Denver Art Museum is a 356,000 square-foot complex which includes an auditorium. Popular exhibits include Modern and Contemporary Art, Native American Art and Western American Art. Interactive activities are included making the museum a family-friendly environment. There is always a special event going on such as “Free Saturday,” Wine Tasting or Quilt Exhibits.

Cheesman Park at first glance looks like a wonderful place to relax, take a picnic lunch and let the kids run and play for an afternoon. Until you learn that it was created on a cemetery. That’s right, as most haunted places in Denver, it’s second only to the Brown Palace Hotel. Don’t get caught there after dark. It’s a great park for runners, near Capital Hill, with the 1.5 mile dirt path surrounding it.

Mount Goliath is a moderate hike for the non-hiker and an easy hike for the experienced hiker. It runs about one mile each way. It is a side-peak of Mt. Evans and stand at 11,500-feet elevation. At the top of the hike you’ll experience spectacular view including Denver’s east plains. If you are just into a nice walk through nature with the kids, there is a natural trail by the ranger station, on the lower end.

Colorado Railroad Museum relates the state’s rich railroad history. It is a replica of a railroad depot from the 1880s. Its rich photos, documents and artifacts span over 125 years. The kids will love the model railroads on the lower level of the museum. If you happen to visit the museum on a Saturday, the family can take a ride on the Goose 7, a funny looking vehicle that rides the rails for a trip the rugged terrain of Colorado. The price is very reasonable at $4 for adults and $2 for kids.

Molly Brown House is the home of the former “Unsinkable Molly Brown,” famous Denver citizen. The building has changed hands many times over the years from being a private home, a boarding house and the Governor’s mansion in 1902. It was saved from demolition in 1970 when it was purchased by a conservation group. The tour is 45-minutes (starting every half hour), given by extremely knowledgeable guides in period costume. Take in one of the special events such as the Women’s Full Tea, Teddy Bear Cream Tea or To the Nines Hat Workshop.

SpitFireCreative Commons License photo credit: Bluedharma

1945 Spitfire from Wings over the Rockies Museum

Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum is best known for having one of only four huge B-1A bombers. The family will also enjoy perusing the World War I aviator uniforms and war planes. Exhibits include: The History of Avionics, US Science and Flight, The Flying Tigers and the Colorado Aviation Historical Society Heritage Hall. Also, check out their special events to plan your Denver trip around.

Water World is considered one of the best and biggest in the U.S. with 41 aquatic attractions with several million gallons of water flowing through them. With two wave pools, speed slides, white water rapids and other water rides, the fun can only be compared to the beauty that surrounds it of 64-acres of gardens. If you have little ones, “Wally World” is a spot just for children ages four and under. There are slides and water fun safe for their age group. Older kids and adults will enjoy the most popular ride, “Voyage to the Center of the Earth.”

Dinosaur Ridge is a one mile trail of preserved dinosaur tracks and fossils. This is the home of the first found large dinosaur in the world. Let your imagination go as you walk on the same trail as prehistoric animals once lived. Their new exhibit hall was opened just last year and is full of prehistoric and fossil exhibits. It’s open seven days a week and the cost is just $1.00 for ages 5 and up. Budget friendly attraction.

Colorado Ocean Journey is a premier aquarium located on the west side of Denver. View the 320,000 gallon tank creation that transports you to “inside” the Pacific Ocean. Experience what you might see if you were plucked deep into the sea waters including gracefully moving sharks. You’ll also enjoy a recreation of the Colorado River Journey with Rocky Mountain snow-capped peaks to the Sea of Cortez. Travel through steep canyons and flatlands all the way to the Mexico coast. Visit between 3 and 4 PM so you can watch the two endangered Sumatran tigers swim through the water.

Butterfly Pavilion offers a gazillion species of beautiful butterflies for your viewing pleasure. But, that’s not all. You’ll get an up-close and personal look at tarantulas, crabs and much more. It’s an indoor tropical forest along with an outdoor habitat of wildflowers, prairie grass and local butterflies. Make it a day and have lunch at the Butterfly Deli. They also offer Children’s Summer Camp for just a half or whole day in June through August.

Four Mile Historic Park takes you back in time with big barns full of chickens and root cellars. Kids can pan for gold just like they did back in the day or pick a pumpkin in the fall months. There are guided tours along with carriage rides on the weekend. The big commanding presence is the Four Mile House which just happens to be the oldest standing home in the city of Denver. The whole family will enjoy the Murder Mystery Dinner.
Creative Commons License photo credit: ishrona