Denver is a welcoming place for kids of all ages. And it’s no wonder – with outdoorsy recreation of all sorts, family-friendly museums and activities, plus sunshine 300 days a year, Colorado's capital seems made for kids and families.

The city is becoming increasingly expensive, but a visit is tough to resist. Here are the best things to do in the Mile High City when you're traveling with kids – and how to save money while you're at it.

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Is Denver good for kids? 

Yes! From sprawling green spaces where kids can blow off steam to interactive exhibits that stimulate their imaginations, Denver offers plenty of opportunities for youth-oriented fun. 

Perhaps the toughest factor to contend with here is the 5280ft elevation – it’s not called the Mile High City for nothing. If you or your kiddos start feeling sick, headachey or just unusually tired, it may well be altitude sickness. Take it easy and stay hydrated; it often takes a few days to acclimate to the elevation.

Best things to do in Denver with kids

Spend time in City Park

City Park is the largest of Denver’s many open spaces, a 330-acre leafy park with lakes for fishing and paddle boating. Sprawling playgrounds and a splash pad keep the young entertained while free summer jazz concerts beckon listeners of all ages.

A three-year-old girl picking up moon rocks while in AstroTot Training at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science
Get interactive at Denver Museum of Nature and Science © Joe Amon / Denver Post via Getty Images

Make science fun at Denver Museum of Nature & Science

On the north side of City Park, Denver Museum of Nature & Science makes science fun through exhibits incorporating everything from traditional dioramas to state-of-the art technology (onsite genetics lab anyone?); shows at the IMAX theater and planetarium make for a welcome break, especially on a hot day.

See an animal feeding at the Denver Zoo

Next door, the Denver Zoo has expansive habitats and up-close views of animals from around the world, even tigers and elephants passing on overhead bridges. Be sure to catch an animal feeding; staffers often share interesting facts and answer audience questions too.

Check out the interactive exhibits at History Colorado Center

Learn all about the Centennial State’s people and places, from ancient to modern times, at History Colorado Center. Thoughtfully presented exhibits are ever-changing, many of them interactive to keep kids engaged. Don't have time to see them all? The museum's Family Itinerary features five family-friendly favorites.

Low-sensory mornings, story times for young children and Lego-building workshops are occasionally offered too. If time permits, fold some of the museum’s excellent programming  – a city walking tour, an archaeological dig or a lecture, perhaps – into your visit.

Adventure Forest
Climb, crawl and be busy at the Children's Museum of Denver Marsico Campus © Joe Amon / Getty Images

Spark your imagination at the Children’s Museum Denver Marsico Campus

Happy children can be found in every corner of the indoor-outdoor Children’s Museum Denver Marsico Campus. With engaging displays and loads of activities, it’s tough not to have fun. 

Hands-on exhibits range from a kids’ kitchen to craft spaces, water play to aerial adventures. Opportunities for dress-up and imaginative play also are woven throughout, with make-believe dentist and vet offices, a grocery store and more. Infants and toddlers have a special area designed just for them too.

Have an underwater adventure at the Downtown Aquarium

Next door to the Children's Museum, the Downtown Aquarium appeals to a wider crowd showcasing creatures from mountain rivers, coral reefs and rainforests in more than one million gallons of water. See nurse sharks, sea turtles and barracuda in the Under the Sea tank.

Insider tip: You can eat lunch in the aquarium restaurant without paying admission to the aquarium itself. You can't see all the exhibits, but sitting next to the giant tank filled with sharks and other sea creatures is fantastic for curious tots. A morning at the Children's Museum and lunch at the aquarium has the makings of the perfect family day out. 

Explore Denver Botanic Gardens 

A 24-acre oasis in the middle of town, Denver Botanic Gardens is a beautiful and soothing place for families to wander and explore. It has a spectacularly diverse collection of gardens with plants from around the world, water features and large-scale art of all sorts. Outdoor summer concerts and an annual holiday light extravaganza are especially popular.

Younger kids in particular will enjoy Mordecai Children's Garden, where hands-on play, including splashing and wading in Pipsqueak Pond, is encouraged.

Twenty-five artists from North America and Europe were asked to create large-scale clay installations for a show titled "Overthrown" at the Denver Art Museum. "like the new past" by Anders Ruhwald. Kathryn Scott Osler, The Denver Post
Kids and parents alike enjoy exploring art at the Denver Art Museum © Kathryn Scott Osler / Denver Post via Getty Images

Enjoy the interactive and creative sections at Denver Art Museum  

The crown jewel of Denver’s art scene, Denver Art Museum houses Old Master paintings, modern contemporary works and one of the richest collections of Native American art in the world. Special exhibits keep the museum humming year-round.

A delight to explore, the museum works hard to welcome children. Free admission for anyone under 18 is a biggie, but even better are the creative games, activities and art stations integrated into many of the exhibits.

A kid airborne on a skateboard at Confluence Park, Denver

Go to Confluence Park to ride bikes and hit the water

Confluence Park in downtown Denver is a hopping spot for families, especially in the summer. Located at the meeting of Cherry Creek and South Platte River, come here to romp in the water and play on the small beach; a short white-water park is popular for kayaking and tubing too.

Families on bikes also can jump on the Cherry Creek Trail here, cycling their way through Denver-metro’s urban landscapes and green spaces. Just north of the park, skaters shouldn’t miss the mammoth Denver Skate Park. For a treat, head across the river for a scoop at Little Man Ice Cream – just look for the 28ft dairy jug.

Catch some of Denver's best spectator sports as a family

With 81 home games between April and September, catching a Colorado Rockies baseball game is easy to do. And it doesn’t have to break the bank.

On-the-day tickets for the outfield (aka the Rockpile) cost just $4 for adults – and $1 for those 12 and under or 55 and older. Not a bad deal, especially if you have a multi-generational family in tow. Day-of tickets can be bought from the Rockpile Ticket Office located near Gate A; some advance Rockpile tickets are also available online. Theme nights mean freebies like t-shirts, posters and commemorative cups too.

And if baseball isn’t your thing, other professional sports teams – the Broncos, Nuggets and Avalanche, plus lacrosse (Mammoth) and soccer (Rapids) teams – make it easy to watch professional athletes do their thing.

Wander the easy trails at Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge 

On the outskirts of Denver, Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge offers more than 10 miles of easy hiking trails – perfect for little legs and strollers. Passing through wetlands, grasslands and forest, visitors are treated to views of wildlife such as bison, mule deer and bald eagles; several lakes have boardwalks and viewing towers too.

At the Visitor Center, learn tons about the refuge in the interactive exhibit hall and don’t miss the Discovery Room with hands-on displays and wildlife activities. Free family-friendly programs and a wildlife driving tour are offered too. 

Planning tips

  • Many Denver attractions offer reduced or free admission for young people. Using CityPASS, a prepaid ticket package, is another money-saving option. 
  • Traffic and parking can be a beast in Denver, especially downtown. Fortunately, public transportation reaches almost every corner of the city, and fares are discounted for anyone 19 and under – plus youngsters 5 and under ride free.
  • Scooter and bike shares are a fun alternative for kids who can navigate wheels on city streets. And car shares like Uber and Lyft easily fill in any gaps.

This article was first published Jun 14, 2021 and updated Jun 26, 2023.

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