Find family things to do in Denver to create the ultimate vacation itinerary

Denver is a popular city in Colorado that offers an extensive range of activities that the whole family can enjoy. If you're looking to make the most of your trip, there are a few factors you'll need to keep in mind before you set out. Crafting an itinerary and planning your voyage is key to a fun time that will keep you and your family engaged and happy. Take a look at what you need to do to find family fun in Denver and ensure that your vacation goes off without a hitch.

A day at the park

It's generally best to take it easy on the first day of any vacation. Traveling can be exhausting for some people, and taking in the more serene and peaceful attractions can put you in a good position for the more adventurous activities and sights later on. That's why your first day in Denver should be centered around City Park. This lovely park is home to numerous walking paths, well-maintained greenery, historical monuments, and much more. Your kids will especially enjoy the 2 playgrounds available here as well as the picnic sites if you're interested in some outdoor dining.

Denver Museum of Nature & Science

Within City Park, you and your family can visit the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. This incredible attraction offers stunning exhibits showcasing both the natural history of our planet as well as the fascinating prospect of space exploration. Among the natural history exhibits, you and your kids can see an extensive collection of dinosaur fossils, many of which have been arranged to create a complete skeletal structure of these ancient beasts. In the science sections, your little ones can explore what it'd be like to be an astronaut and travel the stars.

Denver Zoo

During your afternoon in City Park, you may want to check out Denver Zoo. It's located conveniently within the park and offers an array of exotic creatures to see in addition to plenty native to the Colorado area. You'll find wild dogs, tigers, flamingos, snapping turtles, elephants, and that's just the beginning. You can also see more obscure animals like the aye-aye, the bongo, and the kudu. This zoo is absolutely committed to conservation, so you can visit with peace of mind. They're proud of their conservation efforts, especially with their massive tiger sanctuary and exhibit with more space for them than you might expect.

A day outdoors

The outdoor adventure in and around Denver is extensive, and if your family is feeling particularly adventurous, exploration is one of the best ways to spend your second day in town. Whether you're interested in hiking, biking, or simply spending time outdoors, you'll find no shortage of incredible things to do outside in the area. Be prepared for a bit of a drive depending on where you’re staying. Many of the top outdoor areas are about 20 to 30 minutes outside of downtown Denver, closer to its suburban surroundings than the inner city itself.

Dinosaur Ridge

Dinosaur Ridge is one of the most iconic destinations in the entire state. This is mainly due to the extensive collection of evidence and fossils that have been found here throughout the years allowing paleontologists to learn more about the ancient creatures who used to wander these lands. The dinosaur track site here is one of the largest and most popular in the country, and you can see it all on their guided tour. The walking trails here are as relaxing as they are fascinating, and none of them are too difficult for kids to deal with. Don't forget to check out the Trek Through Time exhibit hall as well along with the dig areas that are especially popular with young kids.

Red Rocks Park

At Red Rocks Park, you'll find extensive outdoor adventure among 640 acres of space. The park itself is named after its towering sandstone formations that reach up to 300 feet in height. While you'll find plenty of hiking and biking paths throughout, that's just the beginning. This park is also home to the Red Rocks Amphitheatre, an outdoor theatre that frequently hosts entertaining performances that you won't want to miss out on. The stunning views may be the best feature of this park, however, as some of its viewpoints can boast a panoramic view of the city and the surrounding plains for an impressive 200 miles. Even the airport, which is 45 miles east of Denver proper, is visible on clear days.

Spend a day downtown

Downtown Denver is home to a wide variety of attractions suitable for both kids and adults alike. Your family will find it especially appealing if they have an eye for the artistic, as cultural expression is common throughout the city's main hub area whether it comes in the form of art, fashion, or food. Plus, downtown is easily accessible no matter where you're staying during a family vacation in Denver, so it'll be an easy trip to make, which is especially helpful if you happened to push yourself quite a bit during outdoor adventures a day prior.

Denver Art Museum

When you visit the Denver Art Museum, you'll find a collection of works arranged in a way that appeals to both kids and adults. In a lot of cases, galleries tend to be geared toward adults, but Denver Art Museum focuses on accessibility as much as they do the art itself. Plus, this museum has a variety of interactive activities available that are especially adept at keeping kids engaged. This includes an area in which they can try their hands at different kinds of art from painting to drawing. Even more detailed and unusual kinds of mediums, such as costuming, are available for them to try.

History Colorado Center

The History Colorado Center is your go-to destination to learn all about the state's history and culture along with valuable insight into the American West as a whole. Kids and adults alike will find fun here across 4 floors of fascinating exhibits. Many of the exhibits are interactive, such as the baseball history exhibit that allows your little ones to dress up in old baseball uniforms. Several events and programs are held here as well, so be sure to check their calendar to see what specifically is happening during the duration of your visit.

Downtown Aquarium

When you and your family visit the Downtown Aquarium, you'll feel as if you've been transported into an underwater world. All sorts of marine animals make their home here with many from North American waters and others that are a bit more exotic. Additionally, you'll find some exhibits showcasing creatures you may not expect at an aquarium such as desert animals and even tigers. Keep in mind that this aquarium has a proper sit-down restaurant included within, so it's a great destination to finish off your day if you don't want to travel anywhere else to grab a bite to eat.

Denver Botanic Gardens

After you've hit the top spots Downtown, you may want to finish your day off with a visit to the Denver Botanic Gardens. Here, you'll find one of the most diverse living collections on the continent with 7 major collections identified. Think of it like a living museum where you and your family can explore a wide variety of different fascinating specimens. Your kids will especially enjoy the children's garden along with the science pyramid, both of which are attractions specifically designed with children in mind. Additionally, visiting the gardens in the evening will mean generally cooler weather, which is helpful during summer visits.

Explore a day of kid-friendly fun

While family-friendly activities are easy to come by throughout the Denver area, some spots are specifically designed with kids in mind. Going on vacation with your family means keeping everybody happy, but your kids deserve a day packed full of experiences they'll love, don't they? Fortunately, you won't have to look very far to find kid-oriented attractions around town and find something incredible no matter what your little ones are interested in. Just remember that some of the best kid-friendly attractions may require a bit of driving outside of Denver proper.

Butterfly Pavilion

The Butterfly Pavilion is about 20 minutes north of the downtown area in the suburb of Westminster, and it offers an incredible experience for kids. You'll find a vast population of butterflies here fluttering about. Don't be surprised if one decides it's going to land on your shoulder for a bit. That's just the beginning, however, as you'll also find an insect zoo with some fascinating and oddly unsettling creatures. If you or your kids are feeling brave, you can experience what it's like to hold a tarantula. Don't forget to check out the miniature aquarium area as well for even more chances to see incredible forms of life.

Children's Museum of Denver

As the name suggests, the Children's Museum of Denver has plenty for your little ones to see and do. You'll find an extensive array of exhibits, most of which are entirely interactive. These include a giant rocket climbing structure as well as detailed displays about firefighting. The bubble room is a popular destination within the museum as well. Don't forget to take advantage of all the photo opportunities here. Keep in mind that this museum is quite expansive, so it's not uncommon to spend about 2 hours here at the least. Plan your day accordingly.

Buckhorn Exchange

If you're looking to end your Denver family vacation on a high note, spend your last dinner in town at Buckhorn Exchange. This is one of the oldest restaurants in the city and the oldest steakhouse. On the menu, you'll find a vast array of different cuts along with more adventurous meats like elk and buffalo. Even the kids’ menu offers a taste of the wild side, though they can always opt for a simple burger, sandwich, or chicken tenders if they prefer. Before you visit this restaurant, however, there are a few things to keep in mind. You may want to make a reservation in advance given its popularity. Keep in mind that this restaurant is relatively costly as well, so budget accordingly.