In an age of 24/7 digital media, we all could use some old-fashioned family fun. From barns, stables, and an authentic root cellar to a tucked-away tepee, this 12-acre history park brings the past to life in a farm setting situated in the middle of the city. “Four Mile is a great place to connect visitors and residents to local Colorado history and the spirit of the people who settled the area,” says the park’s executive director, Laura Hiniker.
“There were a number of ‘mile houses” along the Cherokee Trail, coming into Denver,” Hiniker continues. “We”re significant because our standing structure is still here,” she adds, pointing to the park’s centerpiece, the Four Mile House, a Denver landmark that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Erected in 1859 by the Brantner brothers, the building is Denver’s oldest home, and was once a welcome sight for weary travelers looking for rest and a home-cooked meal before heading into Denver.
Today, park-goers are invited to peruse the home and its period furniture during guided tours, offered Wednesday through Sunday on the half-hour, from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Guests aren’t admitted without a guide—”That’s just because we have artifacts we like to make sure are preserved,” Hiniker explains. “But the rest of the grounds can be viewed on self-guided tours.”
Other popular attractions include “re-creation buildings” such as a bee house, summer kitchen, and privy. “Our prairie schooner and restored stagecoach are very cool,” says Hiniker. Keep exploring, and you’re bound to run into horses, goats, and chickens before stumbling on the site’s outbuildings, where “blacksmiths” and “quilters” while away their hours.
“We”re really focused on hands-on learning,” Hiniker says, pointing to Four Mile House’s collection of touch items, a pond where kids can pan for gold, and activity packs available for checkout at the front desk. Four Mile’s year-round programming is another draw for families. This month, celebrate America on July 1, from 5 to 10 p.m., during Four Mile’s Independence Celebration. The event features live music, food trucks, historic demonstrations, and a reading of the Declaration of Independence. Bring a blanket and stick around for the Glendale fireworks show.
Other annual events include a Pumpkin Harvest and Christmastime soirée. There is a Small Settlers class on Tuesdays for children ages two to five. Wednesday nights through August 16, Four Mile hosts Swallow Hill’s Shady Grove Picnic Series. The festivities are fun, but sometimes it’s the quiet that moves families the most. “There are plenty of secret nooks,” Hiniker adds. Don’t be surprised if your favorite family moment involves little more than a blanket under a shade tree, a simple picnic lunch, and giggly, gadget-free conversation.
Check it Out
715 S. Forest St., Denver
Need to know
Open Wednesday to Friday, noon to 4 p.m., and Saturday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
$5 adults, $3 youth, and free for children age six and under
Admission is free on the second Friday of every month. On these “Living History” days, interpreters dress up to bring various aspects of Denver’s Pioneer past to life.