There is no need to fill every day of summer break with a nonstop itinerary of activities. But for those days when you need to get out of the house and create a little summer magic, metro Denver is full of exciting museums, active play, and attractions. Keep this list on the fridge for quick reference when you need ideas.
Climb, swing, scramble, slide, and catch the best view of downtown Denver from the tippy top of this 500-foot-long aerial adventure course opening at the Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus this spring. Kids and grown-ups can test their bravery and strength.
Catch a Rockies game at Coors Field or cheer for a neighborhood team at the local park. Grab tickets for the Saturday, August 3 Star Wars Night at Coors Field—the Rockies will face the San Francisco Giants with Star Wars themed sights and sounds filling the ballpark.
Whether you pack up the gear and head to the mountains or just set up a tent in the backyard, sleeping outside and roasting s’mores on a Colorado summer night disconnects kids from the screens and connects them with nature.
One of the greatest minds of the Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci was not only an artist, he was a scientist, engineer, architect, and inventor. Learn more about his work with a visit to Leonardo da Vinci: 500 Years of Genius, at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science through August 25. Kids day camps inspired by da Vinci’s work and the exhibition run throughout the summer.
Visit Civic Center Eats on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays to try a new food truck, at Civic Center Park downtown throughout the summer months. Or, try a new recipe and set up your own little restaurant or food truck at home.
Metro Denver is full of splashy fountains and spraygrounds just perfect for kids on a hot summer day. For a downtown adventure, ride the light rail to Union Station and play in the jumping fountains in front of the 100-year-old historic landmark. Grab an ice cream treat in LoDo before heading home.
Let the kids take the wheel racing go-karts around town, from Boondocks and Adventure Golf and Raceway in the north to K1 Speed and Unser Karting in the south. Kids can pick indoor or outdoor, based on the weather.
Whether you lace up your shoes and walk a city trail like the High Line Canal or take the kids on a more challenging Front Range trail, pack plenty of water, snacks, sunscreen, and your sense of adventure.
Kids can get up close with crawly bugs, fluttering butterflies, and underwater invertebrates at the Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster. The newest exhibit, Colorado Backyard, will feature indoor play structures, live animals, a virtual reality experience, and an opportunity to explore the invertebrate habitats in Colorado.
On June 10, the planet Jupiter will be at its closest approach to the Earth and it will be visible all night long, shining brighter than any other time of the year. Start out the summer with a Jupiter viewing in your own backyard, and then explore other elements of space at Gates Planetarium at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.
Want to make a difference this summer and teach the kids about giving back? Check with local nonprofits and volunteer groups for projects that are open to families and children. Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (VOC) Family Volunteering programs offer families with kids age six and up opportunities to participate in half-day or weekend-long outdoor stewardship projects.
Spend a hot afternoon searching the shelves and reading together at your neighborhood library. Colorado’s libraries also have more than just books, they hold storytimes, free classes, crafts, and other activities that don’t require quiet indoor voices. Be sure to register the kids for the Summer of Reading program at the beginning of June and rack up the reading hours throughout the summer.
Discounted summer movie programs make the long break more budget friendly. Watch for Harkins Summer Movie Fun and Alamo Drafthouse Kids Camp programs for discounted theater showings of favorite family movies.
Learn about the diverse animals, birds, plants, and habitats that exist close to our Front Range homes in one of the many nature centers in the metro area. Check out Lookout Mountain Nature Center, Carson Nature Center, and Majestic View Nature Center for exhibits, hands-on exploration, and special events.
The balmy summer evenings in Colorado invite families to grab a picnic dinner and enjoy one of the many outdoor concerts or movies of the summer. Pick a free one in a local park or visit Red Rocks to introduce the kids to a favorite band or a Film on the Rocks family film.
No need to drive all the way to Palisade to taste a bite of the quintessential summer-in-Colorado treat, check the local farmers’ markets around the metro area starting in August. If you do have a free weekend, the drive up to Palisade for the Palisade Peach Festival on August 15-18 will reward you with orchard tours, 1K, 5K, and 10K races, peach eating and recipe contests, a barbecue, parade, ice cream social, and all the peachy cuisine you could wish for.
Pick a destination or items to search for around the city and develop a scavenger hunt to get familiar with Denver or your neighborhood. Find a big blue bear (hint: he’s peeking in the Convention Center windows), a light rail station, a park with a pond, a fire station, a tree with a bird’s nest, or whatever fun things would excite your family.
Pick Lakeside Amusement Park or Elitch Gardens for a day of thrilling twists, turns, plunges, and loop-the-loops. A new collaboration between Elitch Gardens and the Meow Wolf museum brings an artist-driven immersive dark ride full of color, sound, and interactive moments called Kaleidoscape for the 2019 season.
See a Musical
The summer lineup at Denver Center for the Performing Arts is perfectly family friendly. From Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (July 9-28) and Anastasia (August 7-18) to Fiddler on the Roof (June 11-16) and Wicked (May 8-June 9), there are magical musicals all summer for every age and interest.
Colorado is home to trains of all shapes and sizes. Train loving families can view a variety of historic trains at the Colorado Railroad Museum or Forney Museum of Transportation or ride everything from the large train (Georgetown Loop) to the small (Belleview Park or Tiny Town).
Colorado may be landlocked, but the Downtown Aquarium gives kids an opportunity to dive into an exploration of marine life. Celebrate World Oceans Day on June 8 and Sea Turtle Day on June 16 at the aquarium to learn more about how to protect the ocean and the creatures that call it home.
Visit the Farm
City kids rarely get a chance to see where their food comes from. Take the family on a true “field” trip to the farm for a chance to pick your own produce or learn more about animal care and life on the farm. Forty-acre Berry Patch Farms in Brighton has been inviting families to pick their own berries or purchase farm fresh veggies since 1994. For a glimpse of dairy life, Mountain Flower Goat Dairy in Boulder offers special visiting hours with a chance to pet goats, tour the farm, and watch goat milking demonstrations.
Summer and water go hand-in-hand and Water World is Denver’s spot for summer water rides and attractions. Smaller neighborhood water parks, like Pirate’s Cove in Englewood and H2O’Brien Pool in Parker can be more convenient for families in the south area of metro Denver.
These cells in plant stems carry water and nutrients up from the roots to a plant’s leaves. See the varied and beautiful results of xylem cells at work in the exhibits at Denver Botanic Gardens (DBG) and Chatfield Farms. Mordecai Children’s Garden at DBG gives young children a playful hands-on exploration of plants and the natural world.
Dig into the events of days gone by at one of the many historic spots around Denver. Stroll through living history museums like Four Mile Historic Park or Littleton Museum or dig deep in the culture of the Ute tribe, Colorado’s longest continuous residents, through interactive exhibits at History Colorado Center.
Explore the more than 3,600 species over 84 beautifully-landscaped acres in the historic Denver Zoo. Up-close animal encounters, zoo keeper talks, viewer-friendly habitats, and informative signage make each visit to the zoo feel fresh and exciting.