Family Adventures: Best Things To Do With Kids In Denver, Colorado - Updated 2023

things to do in denver with kids

Denver is well known for its mountains and snow slopes, but sometimes those attractions are not suitable for younger travelers that happen to come along. This article is a handy guide to show you all the great family-friendly attractions that the city of Denver does have to offer. Attractions that have the adventure of Colorado, plenty of animals, and one of a kind food spots where anyone can participate, and be tuckered out by the end of the day!

So, what are you waiting for? Check out some vacation rentals and hotels with an in-room hot tub in Denver for your accommodation needs. Then, read on below for the best things to do with kids in Denver, Colorado.

1. Denver Zoo

Denver Zoo Sign
Source: Photo by user Matt used under CC BY-ND 2.0

Denver is home to two world class animal facilities, the first being the Denver Zoo. This 80 acre (32.3 hectare) facility was first opened in the late 1800s and was the first zoo in the United States to utilize more natural methods of enclosures instead of cages with bars.

Denver Zoo Aviary
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Donlammers used under CC BY-SA 3.0

The zoo’s inhabitants include different types of bears, apes, monkeys, lions, hyenas, african wild dogs, rhinos, hippos, elephants, zebras, giraffes, and almost 200 species of birds in its aviary.

Bear Mountain Denver Zoo
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Donlammers used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Children can have not just a very entertaining and enriching day, but also a very educational experience at some of the zoo’s great conservation presentations. Denver Zoo holds various special events throughout the year, such as new exhibit openings and events that focus on a particular animal or habitat.

Denver Zoo Elephant Passage gibbon island
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Donlammers used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Therefore, it is a good idea to check the zoo’s calendar of events to see if there is something unique going on during the time of year you plan to visit Denver.

Here are a few more important pieces of information:

  • General admission tickets are only sold until 2 pm each day, but any general admissions tickets can be used until the 31st of the month they are purchased in.

  • Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a person of at least the age of 18 or older.

Denver Zoo

Address: 2300 Steele Street Denver, CO 80205-4899

Price: Children ages 3 to 11: 12 USD, Ages 12 to 64: 17 USD, Ages 65+: 14 USD (1 USD service charge added to the price of each ticket)

Opening Hours: 9 am to 5 pm. Closed on public holidays.

Contact: +1 (720) 337-1400

Website: Denver Zoo

2. Downtown Aquarium

Downtown Aquarium Denver
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Stilfehler used under CC BY-SA 1.0

The second great animal attraction in Denver is the Downtown Aquarium. This extensive facility has over 1.25 million gallons (473,176.5 L) of water combined in all its exhibits.

US Navy 110502-N-CI293-071 Mermaids swim with Navy Diver 1st Class Bryce Weber at the Denver Aquarium during Denver Navy Week
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user U.S. Navy photo b... used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Of course the aquarium has plenty of fish, but it is also home to numerous sharks, sea turtles, and otters. The Downtown Aquarium is also home to its very own mermaids! The Mystic Mermaids, as they are referred to by the aquarium, are a fantastic show to behold for people of all ages, that emphasizes the importance of taking care of our environment.

Source: Photo by user Ryan Sitzman used under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Aquarium also has a spectacular restaurant that is surrounded by the main 50,000 gallon (189,270.6 L) aquarium. Visible from the whole dining room, divers hold feeding shows two times daily, so it may be worth planning your meal times around these events.

Source: Photo by user Ryan Sitzman used under CC BY-SA 2.0

It is important to note that the restaurant opens 1 hour later than the main aquarium, at 11 am. The aquarium also has a 4D theater with different features depending on the time of year. Admission to the theater is extra and tickets can be purchased separately from the aquarium exhibits or in a bundle along with the aquarium tickets for a slightly cheaper price in the Aquarium Exhibit Plus Pass.

Downtown Aquarium

Address: 700 Water Street Denver, CO 80211

Price: Aquarium and Plus Pass: Children 2 years and younger are Free, Aquarium only Children ages 3 to 11 14.50 USD, with Plus Pass: 19.50 USD; Aquarium only Adults ages 12 to 64: 20.50 USD, with Plus Pass: 25.50 USD; Aquarium only Seniors ages 65+ 19.50 USD, with Plus Pass 24.50 USD

Opening Hours: Sunday to Thursday: 10 am to 9 pm, Friday & Saturday: 10 am to 9:30 pm Closed on public holidays.

Contact: +1 (303) 561-4450

Website: Downtown Aquarium

3. Elitch Gardens

Elitch Gardens Flowers
Source: Photo by user Amy Aletheia Cahill used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Elitch Gardens is the first amusement park on our list. Just across the South Palette River from the Downtown Aquarium, Elitch Gardens is a combination theme park and water park that operates from May to October of each year. The park has six roller coasters and two water rides.

Elitch Gardens From Ferris Wheel
Source: Photo by user Amy Aletheia Cahill used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Ticket prices are determined by age and height. Children under 3 years of age enjoy free admission. Tickets for seniors over the age of 62 are 34.99 USD. Adult tickets are for those over 48 inches (122 cm) in height. Online, an adult ticket is 35.99 USD and at the main gate the price is 49.99 USD. A child ticket is for those that are over the age of 3 and under 48 inches (122 cm) in height, and the price for a child’s ticket is 34.99 USD.

Elitch Gardens

Address: 2000 Elitch Cir, Denver, CO 80204

Price: from 50 USD

Opening Hours: Vary from day to day but mostly 10:30 am to 9 pm. Closed on public holidays.

Contact: +1 (303) 595-4386

Website: Elitch Gardens

4. Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

Glenwood Adventure Caverns & Amusement Park
Source: Photo by user sk used under CC BY-ND 2.0

The Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is our next location. If you are willing and able to make the trek outside of Denver, this is a great location to explore the natural wonders of Colorado with your family. This park is located in Glenwood Springs, which is about a 3-hour car ride outside of Denver, but I included it because it has been praised for being an affordable and safe place for families to get some nature time, especially if you don’t have experience hiking trails or mountains.

Glenwood Cavern  Caves
Source: Photo by user Loco Steve used under CC BY 2.0

The park itself is at 7,100 feet (2,164 m) in altitude, and is only accessible by an aerial gondola. There are three different cave tours available at the park: the Fairy Caves Tour, the King’s Row Tour, and the Wild Tour. The Fairy Caves is a quarter of a mile long and lasts for about forty minutes. The King’s Row Tour is a tour with lit walkways and handrails, making it a bit easier to maneuver. The Wild Tour is a bit more of an intense experience that lasts for approximately two hours. At some points, tour goers will be required to do some crawling on their stomachs, so if this makes you uncomfortable it may not be the option for you. The Wild Tour is also only available by reservation, while the other tours are not. There are some important things guests should take into consideration before booking a cave tour:

  • The caves maintain a temperature around 52 degrees Fahrenheit (11 degree Celsius), so guests should wear appropriate clothing according to their needs.
  • No foods or drinks are allowed in the caves so please be well-fed and hydrated before beginning your tours.
  • Backpacks and strollers are not allowed in the caves.
  • Guests with health concerns should take note of the high altitude of the park, and determine if they should participate in a potentially exerting activity.
  • Cameras are allowed but mono and tripods are not.
Glenwood springs, Caverns Adventure Park - panoramio
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Toshihiro Matsui used under CC BY-SA 3.0

In addition to the cave tours, Glenwood also has several thrill rides. Some of the rides are closed during certain seasons, so depending on the time of year you plan to visit, the rides available may change. Here are some examples of rides you can find at Glenwood: the Alpine Coaster, a 3,400 feet (1,036 m) track down an alpine slope; the Glenwood Canyon Flyer, a swing carousel ride that spins whilst dangling you 1,300 feet (396 m) above the Colorado River; and finally the Giant Canyon Swing, a four-person pendulum ride that swings you out 1,300 feet (396 m) above the Colorado River at speeds reaching fifty miles an hour (80 kph).

Glenwood caverns
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Jutulen used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Glenwood also has other attractions such as a small roller coaster, a 4D theater, laser tag, a climbing wall, and a small Ferris wheel. Some activities at Glenwood require the signature of a waiver, so it is recommended for guests to print, review, and sign the waiver before arriving in order to save time and get to the fun part!

Tickets to Glenwood depend on the types of activities you and your family will participate in as well as the time of year you are visiting. For example, Glenwood’s winter rates are included here. For adults (any guest over the age of 12) admission to the park is 15 USD, admission and a cave tour is 27 USD, and a Winter FunDay Pass (which grants access to admission, cave tours, and attractions) is 40 USD. For children (ages 3 to 12 years old) admission to the park is 10 USD, and admission plus a cave tour is 22 USD, and a Winter FunDay Pass is 35 USD. Prices in the summer moths are slightly more expensive.

Glenwood does offer discounts for Seniors ages 65 and older, AAA members, and the military.

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

Address: 51000 Two Rivers Plaza Road, Glenwood Springs, CO 81601

Price: from 54 USD

Opening Hours: Monday- Friday 10 am to 5 pm, Saturday & Sunday 10 am to 6 pm. Closed on public holidays.

Access: Drive on I-70, or Amtrak Train from Denver.

Contact: +1 (970) 945-4228

Website: Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

An unforgettable family adventure

Family vacations become some of the most cherished childhood memories for many people, giving them stories they will tell their friends and family for the rest of their lives. Denver, Colorado has plenty of places and ways to make your next family vacation truly something special.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Hi there, my name is Sydney. I am a student pursuing my master's degree in international human rights law. My insatiable curiosity about the world is something that has defined me since childhood....Read more

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