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Photo courtesy Denver Zoo

2018 Family Favorites: Family Fun

Colorado families love to soak up the sun. Between parks, world-famous attractions, events, and museums, there's no shortage of activities to keep them busy. Here are a few of our readers' favorite places to play.

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Family Fair or Festival

Top Five
Winner: Denver Botanic Gardens Pumpkin Festival

Pick out the perfect pumpkin after a day enjoying various food vendors, activities, and artisan booths at Chatfield Farms during the Denver Botanic Gardens Pumpkin Festival. Kids get to play carnival games, make crafts, and have their faces painted if they’re not up to conquering the corn maze with you or the mini-maze by themselves. 8500 W. Deer Creek Canyon Rd., Littleton. 720-865-3500.

Museum for Families

Top Five
Winner: Denver Museum of Nature & Science

When it comes to places in Denver the whole family can enjoy together it’s hard to beat this hands-on playground of science. Visitors travel through time (Prehistoric Journey), space (Space Odyssey), nature (Gems & Minerals), and even the human body (Expedition Health) in a number of permanent and traveling exhibits, planetarium shows, special events, and IMAX films. 2001 Colorado Blvd., Denver. 303-370-6000.

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Indoor Playspace

Top Five
Winner: Monkey Bizness

Set your kids loose to climb the jungle gyms, climb the rock walls, and bounce on the inflatable castles available at this year-round indoor playground. With areas set aside for toddlers, kids of all ages can have a blast while parents watch and relax nearby. Four Colorado locations.

Parent and Tot Activity

Top Five
Winner: Rocky Mountain Aardvarks

Move and groove alongside your little one during these classes that introduce kids to the joy of music. Original songs used in classes span several genres and utilize multiple instruments. The lively environment encourages movement, music appreciation, and rhythm in kids ages three months to five years. Six Colorado locations. 720-515-VARK.

Hike or Bike Trail

Top Five
Winner: Cherry Creek Trail

Gain access to this 42-mile trail from the eight communities it passes through, or the seven other trails that feed into the paved pathway. Stretching from downtown Denver to Franktown, the Cherry Creek Trail offers diverse scenery from cityscapes to grasslands, and provides the perfect travel method for those commuting, exercising, or just exploring a new area of town. From Confluence Park to Franktown.

Nature Center

Top Five*
Winner: Butterfly Pavilion

Kids get a new view of the world through the eyes of the 5,000 animals housed in the Butterfly Pavilion’s tropical rain forest, Water’s Edge exhibit, and outdoor nature trail. From butterflies to beetles and spiders to sea stars, families gain a deeper understanding of the crucial roles these creatures—including Butterfly Pavilion mascot Rosie the tarantula—play in our planet’s ecosystems. 6252 W. 104th Ave., Westminster. 303-469-5441.

*Tie occurred in this category

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Place for an Animal Encounter

Top Five
Winner: Denver Zoo

Learn about the species inhabiting the world’s biomes thanks to the Denver Zoo’s renovated facilities, interactive activities, summer camps, education in conservation efforts, after-hours events, and top-notch exhibits. Daily demonstrations and live-feedings give families insight and knowledge about animals from turtles to tigers. 2300 Steele St., Denver. 720-337-1400. 

Freebie

Top Five
Winner: Littleton Museum

Step back in time as you explore the farms, blacksmith shop, and schoolhouse, and visit the animals at this living history museum that is free every day. Volunteers in period-appropriate clothing perform regular duties around the farm, and special events throughout the year highlight the lifestyle of those who settled and developed Littleton. Kids will have additional fun interacting with the activities in the Kids’ Connection center. 6028 S. Gallup St., Littleton. 303-795-3700.

Annual Family Event

Top Five
Winner: Denver Zoo Lights

Visitors see Denver Zoo in a completely new light during the holidays. Millions of dazzling colorful lights illuminate the exhibits, buildings, and walkways during Denver Zoo Lights, while guests have a chance to observe the animals’ nighttime behaviors. You may even come across a wild Santa Claus while exploring. 2300 Steele St., Denver. 720-337-1400.

Water Park or Swim Center

Top Five
Winner: Water World

Splash, slip, and slide in the 50 attractions of this nationally acclaimed water park. Families take it easy in the Lazy River, race down water slides, or experience the thrilling rides spread throughout the park. For summer 2018, updated cabanas and new food options greet guests and the new Glacier Run attraction gets riders gliding downhill at 25 miles per hour on a mat, traveling past frozen features, just like penguins. 8801 N. Pecos St., Federal Heights. 303-427-7873.

Playground

Top Five
Winner: City Park, Denver

On any sunny day, you’ll see families pushing a stroller around City Park’s perimeter or having a picnic near Ferril or Duck Lakes, kids playing in the Gates Interactive Fountain, and bicyclists of all ages pedaling around the inner trails winding through the historical monuments. Though founded in the 1880s, this park continues to be a favorite recreational area nearly 140 years later. 2001 Colorado Blvd., Denver.

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