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2017 Family Favorites: Family Fun

Here are a few of our readers’ favorite places to play.

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Annual Family Event

Top Five

4thFest by Commerce City and the Colorado Rapids

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A Hudson Christmas at the Hudson Gardens

BUGABOO at Butterfly Pavilion

The Pumpkin Patch at Chatfield Farms

Zoo Lights at Denver Zoo

The Winner

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Zoo Lights at Denver Zoo

2300 Steele St., Denver 720-337-1400 | denverzoo.org

This popular holiday tradition has an expansive light safari bragging 70 illuminated acres of lights that twinkle at Denver Zoo in December. Stunning illuminated animal sculptures are accompanied by nightly activities, entertainment, and animal encounters, along with Santa meet-and-greets.

Family Fair or Festival

Top Five

A Taste of Colorado Colorado State Fair & Rodeo

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Colorado Dragon Boat Festival Parker Days Festival

Colorado Renaissance Festival

The Winner

Colorado Renaissance Festival

650 W. Perry Park Ave., Larkspur | 303-688-6010 | coloradorenaissance.com

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Thousands of guests flock to Larkspur annually for this magical adventure, held for eight weekends between June 10 and July 30. The festivities include jousting competitions, fire blowing, acrobatics, a renowned mime, an exotic live carousel, and a giant swing. Get ye tickets online, where you”ll find details on themed weekends.

Freebie

Top Five

9NEWS Parade of Lights

Home Depot Workshops for Kids

Littleton Museum

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SCFD Free Days at Denver Zoo

The Library

The Winner

SCFD Free Days at Denver Zoo

2300 Steele St., Denver

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720-337-1400 | denverzoo.org

Thanks to the Scientific & Cultural Facilities District (SCFD), there are more than 1,000 free days annually at various institutions. Our readers appreciate the free days at Denver Zoo, which are currently scheduled for November 3, 6, and 16 in 2017. Skip the admission fees and explore the zoo’s impressive collection of animals from all over the world.

Hike or Bike Trail

Top Five

Castlewood Canyon State Park

Cherry Creek Regional Trail

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High Line Canal Trail

Lair o” the Bear Park

Red Rocks Park

The Winner

Lair o’ the Bear Park

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22600 Colorado State Hwy. 74, Idledale

303-271-5925

jeffco.us/open-space/parks/lair-o-bear-park

This Jefferson County gem has all of the things kids love, including beginner-friendly trails, wildflowers, bug-filled creeks, and a whole lot of dirt. The park also has 28 picnic tables with permanent charcoal grills plus an education center and events programming. Dogs are allowed on leash, and there are bathrooms located in the park.

Indoor Playspace

Top Five*

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Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus

Dinosaur Gulch at Cherry Creek Shopping Center

Jumpstreet Indoor Trampoline Park

Little Monkey Bizness

Monkey Bizness

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WOW! Children’s Museum

*Tie occurred in this category

The Winner

Jumpstreet Indoor Trampoline Park

Three metro locations | gotjump.com

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Next time your energetic children are bouncing off the walls, take them to Jumpstreet. With trampoline courts, bouncy dodgeball and basketball games, a foam pit, arcade games, a mechanical bull, and a special “Earthquake Kids Zone” for jumpers age seven and under, this indoor trampoline gym is the perfect place to run wild.

Museum for Families

Top Five

Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus

Denver Art Museum

Denver Museum of Nature & Science

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History Colorado Center

WOW! Children’s Museum

The Winner

Denver Museum of Nature & Science

2001 Colorado Blvd., Denver | 303-370-6000 | dmns.org

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This three-story museum is packed full of hands-on exhibits and activities. Start in the Space Odyssey, where kids can play dress up and view a Martian canyon. Tour gems and minerals, then meander upstairs to see Egyptian mummies, a T. rex skeleton cast, and animal dioramas. The Discovery Zone houses a dinosaur dig and water play space.

Nature Center

Top Five

Butterfly Pavilion

Denver Botanic Gardens

Lookout Mountain Nature Center and Preserve

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Majestic View Nature Center

Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge

The Winner

Butterfly Pavilion

6252 W. 104th Ave., Westminster

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303-469-5441 | butterflies.org

In the Pavilion’s tropical rainforest you”ll discover 1,600 butterfly species from around the globe as you watch guides release herds of the winged beauties into their habitat. This site houses more than 5,000 animals, including Rosie the tarantula and sea critters at the Water’s Edge exhibit. Take time to hike along the outdoor nature trail, too.

Parent-and-Tot Activity

Top Five

Gymboree Play & Learn Music Classes

Mile High Music Together

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Rocky Mountain Aardvarks

Second Star to the Right Children’s Bookstore

WOW! Children’s Museum

The Winner

Rocky Mountain Aardvarks

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Six metro locations | 720-515-VARK

rockymtnaardvarks.com

Music for Aardvarks is a rocking alternative to traditional baby and toddler music classes. The songs are original, and the vibe is funky, as caregivers and kiddos three months and up sing, dance, and play a variety of musical instruments including lollipop drums, tambourines, drumsticks, and shakers. Don’t be surprised if there’s a breakout dance session midway through class.

Place for an Animal Encounter

Top Five

Butterfly Pavilion Downtown Aquarium

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Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Wild Animal Sanctuary

Denver Zoo

The Winner

Denver Zoo

2300 Steele St., Denver | 720-337-1400 | denverzoo.org

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With more than 4,000 animals, live feedings, and some of the wildest demonstrations in town, this 80-acre mainstay offers nonstop excitement. Get nose-to-whisker with a penguin and discover who is really the king of the jungle during animal encounters with birds, apes, reptiles, and others. Consider an annual membership if you plan to go often, or try a summer camp.

Playground

Top Five

Centennial Center Park

City Park

Clement Park

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Washington Park

Westlands Park

The Winner

Centennial Center Park

13050 E. Peakview Ave., Centennial | 303-325-8000

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centennialco.gov/open-space-parks/centennial-center-park.aspx

Adjacent to Centennial Civic Center, a Nautilus-shaped complex houses multiple play spaces, including a nature-based tree fort structure, a climbing wall, and an enormous, colorful arena of splash pads. Find historical and educational elements, too, including a timeline of the Cherry Creek Basin (located in the main plaza) and an interactive “Viewfinder Walk” and trivia challenge.

Water Park or Swim Center

Top Five

Apex Center in Arvada

H2O”Brien Pool

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Pirates Cove Water Park

The Splash at Fossil Trace

Water World

The Winner

Water World

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8801 N. Pecos St., Federal Heights

303-427-7873 | waterworldcolorado.com

The 70-acre park has 50 attractions and is continually ranked in the top 10 in America, and internationally by The Travel Channel. Twenty-five attractions are considered family-friendly, including Screamin” Mimi, Pirate’s Plunge, and Thunder Bay Wave Pool. There are plenty of thrill rides, too, such as the Sky Line Slides. Bring a picnic lunch, or nosh on park food.

Editors' Picks