16 Ways to Entertain Kids Over Winter Break
Give the kids a wide range of seasonal offerings on school days off.
Winter break is a welcome respite for students and teachers alike, but it can present a challenge for busy parents and caregivers needing to keep antsy kids occupied. While it’s not necessary to fill every moment with activities, winter break is a great opportunity to explore some lesser-known destinations, and enjoy time together. Here are some fun activities to keep kids entertained over the break.
Out and About
Downtown Denver Rink at Skyline Park
Now in its ninth season, the Downtown Denver Rink offers free ice skating seven days a week throughout winter break. Skaters can bring skates or rent at the rink, and fourth graders receive free rentals. Skate rentals are $6 for kids 12 and under, and $8 for ages 13 and up. Special entertainment and programming throughout the season includes free learn-to-skate lessons. Hours vary throughout the holidays.
Denver Pavilions Holiday Carousel
The Holiday Carousel at Denver Pavilions offers free rides with a purchase at Pavilions restaurants, retailers, and entertainment venues, and from select downtown hotel partners. Rides are available 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., December 15 through January 2; a portion of the proceeds benefits Food Bank of the Rockies.
DaVinci X: The Machines & You Exhibition
Presented by Colorado School of Mines, this exhibit at the downtown Denver Pavilions illustrates the genius of two Renaissance masterminds—Michelangelo and DaVinci, through replicas of their important works. Visitors can touch and handle interactive machines. Explanatory notes and illustrative panels with DaVinci’s drawings accompany each model. $8 adults in December, $12 adults in January; $8 children ages five to 10.
Young scavengers (in fourth grade and up) can spend a couple hours exploring downtown Denver with an urban scavenger hunt. Sign up for the Denver or Denver LoDo quest (both cover about 2 miles), go to the starting location, connect to the Urban Adventure Quest website with a smartphone, and then set out on your quest, encountering challenges and learning about the city and its landmarks along the way. $49 per team for two to five people for the full tour.
Visitors to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science can check out the special exhibit Mindbender Mansion, before it closes on January 6. Filled with brainteasers, puzzles, and group problem-solving activities, the exhibit offers fun, interactive play options. Included with general admission to the museum.
Denver Zoo offers Winter Safari, a series of one-day camps for kids in pre-K through third grade. Each camp has a specific animal-centered theme. Camps available December 26-28 and January 2-4. $49 per day for members, $53 for nonmembers.
DU Ritchie Events Center
Do your kids have energy to burn? Think about a session at the University of Denver P.A.S.S. camp, held at the school’s Division I athletics facilities. Activities include rock climbing, ice skating, gymnastics, aquatics, and more. Held on select days during winter break, from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., for $60 per day. Early and late care options are available.
Four Mile Historic Park
Four Mile Historic Park in southeast Denver offers a refreshing change of pace, with a glimpse into Denver’s early days. Stop by for tours, historic demonstrations, or to explore the 12-acre park on your own. Open Wednesday through Sunday, noon to 4 p.m., with tours of the park at 12:30, 1:30, and 2:30 p.m. each day, on a first-come, first-served basis.
Art and More
Denver Art Museum
Winter Break at the Denver Art Museum, December 22 through January 6, packs in two weeks of creative activities included with admission, which is free for ages 18 and under. The Print Studio, Create-n-Takes, Gallery Games, and a walk through the galleries are available to inspire and occupy kids each day. The museum is closed Christmas Day, and offers a free day for all on January 5.
Art Spark holds creative kids camps in a historic home in old downtown Littleton and offers families the opportunity to design their own camp schedule. Need only mornings? Sign up for the half-day morning camp. Half-day afternoon, lunch bunch, and all-day camp options are also available to mix and match. Classes are held December 27-28, January 2-4, and January 7-8. Single half-day camp is $42; discounts available for multi-day packs.
School Break Days in the Studio
Stapleton’s Craftsman and Apprentice offers winter break art-making sessions for elementary-age students, with a different theme for each day. Themes include DIY buttons/magnets, printmaking, paper collage, macrame, upcycle that sweater challenge, and more, for $85 per day. Offered December 21, 26-28, and 31, and January 2-4.
Free For All
Free Family Tour
Designed for ages five to 10 and their caregivers, Clyfford Still Museum’s free family tour on December 27 is an interactive way to explore the art on display. Tours feature games, close-up viewing, and an art project to take home, all centered on a theme. The event is free, registration is required.
Ice Skating at Denver International Airport
Headed to the airport, or just looking for a unique diversion? Check out the free ice skating rink, including free loaner skates, inside the DIA terminal through January 6. Now in its third year, the season will feature special performances and appearances on the ice (check the website for details). Pop in to the adjacent Westin Hotel for hot chocolate, coffee, and snacks. Take the light rail to the airport and make it an adventure.
Stage & Screen
Adams Mystery Playhouse
Kids ages five to 12 and caregivers can enjoy a stage show, Mystery at the Toy Shop, at the Adams Mystery Playhouse at 11 a.m. on December 28, and noon on December 31. Guests bring lunch and drinks, and each table receives a clue packet to help solve the mystery that’s offered onstage. Tickets are $10.
Take in an IMAX-3D presentation of Pandas at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science before the film closes in January. The 45-minute show follows Qian Qian, the curious panda cub, with visual entertainment for kids and a heartwarming story for everyone.
Music and dance bring characters like Horton the Elephant, the Cat in the Hat, and Gertrude McFuzz together on stage at the Arvada Center. Tickets are $9-$13 for this all-ages show, which closes December 29. Performances take place Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. and noon, and select Saturdays, 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.