2019 Denver Kids Summer Checklist

June 18, 2019

 

 

Photocredit: Arianah at Block8 Photography

 

 

Here it is! Our Summer Checklist - keep in mind this is aimed at families with toddlers, preschoolers and smaller elementary kiddos so this will not include Summer camps or trips with high level of intensity/skill required. This blog will be a "living blog" and I will add photos, tips & tricks and more as we check them off of our list.

 

COLORED text is linked for your convenience.

 

 

Denver Central

  • Denver Zoo.

    • We like to take the zoo in "sections" but we always make sure to see our favorites - the elephants and the polar bears! I recommend splitting the zoo at least in half and spending a whole day there. You may bring in outside food, but there are plenty of choices there if you'd rather just pick it up. Denver gets hot so please, please remember your kiddos hats and sunscreen - better yet if you have a covered wagon to pull around. Small umbrella strollers may have a hard time here as the walk is long and full of hills.

  • Botanic Gardens.

    • I have to admit, we have never been to the Botanic Gardens - isn't that horrible? I tried to go when the rotting dead flesh flower was blooming...yes that was a thing and it's called a 'Corpse Flower'. I promised myself we would make it this year so we plan to get a membership soon! They have a lovely concert series too if you are looking for a fun date night.

  • Farmers Markets.

    • ​Denver.org has a wonderful list of Farmer's Markets already listed, so rather than steal their content I'll just link you over there!

  • Union Station.

    • We love hopping down to Union Station for a quick snack (try the faux pop tarts at the coffee shop inside they are amazing!). Kids love watching the trains come in, and parents will like the coffee shop and restaurants inside. Union Station is home to Snooze, a brunch goers favorite in Denver. Long lines for brunch, but no lines for play: bring extra clothes for water play in the fountains outside. Lots of giggles will be had.

 

Denver Rainy Days

  • Aquarium (Also a trolley ride behind the aquarium if it isn't raining).

    • My 6yo is OBSESSED with the aquarium and one word tells us why: Mermaids. We find the 11am showtime to be perfect...arrive around 10, walk through and then catch the mermaid show at 11 in the tanks, then head to lunch at the restaurant for a mermaid 12p show again. Schedule times are listed online as well for the different days.

  • Children's Museum.

    • ​Has the typical children's museum stuff - giant bubbles, dress up and role play - it wouldn't be very Colorado without a children's yoga studio, right?? Bring an extra shirt for littles - they will likely get paint on them or wet from the water play. The Children's Museum also built a great new play area/giant piece of art - check it out!

  • Butterfly Pavilion.

    • We like to go in April and lots of butterflies were hatching! So much fun for the littles, but try to go on the "off times" when school tours aren't there. They usually have a hot dog stand outside, but we find it best to bring our lunch or hop over to the Westminster Promenade area and grab a bite at Snooze, Caribou Coffee or one of the restaurants over there.

  • Hammond's Candy Tours.

    • ​How many places let you watch candy being made live?! We have yet to go and I'm so excited to surprise my kiddos on a tour this Summer. 

  • Museum of Contemporary Art.

    • ​If your kiddos aren't good at being patient, this may not be the best place for your family - but if they are, instilling an early love for the arts is such a fun little day trip! We like to visit our favorite taco shop (Margs Taco Bistro) and take the stroller for a walk over to the museum. Moms of Instagram, think of the photo opportunities of your little cultured explorer in front of the beautiful art!

  • Denver Museum of Nature & Science.

    • Okay, this is a full day trip! If your kiddos are old enough, be sure to schedule your day around seeing a planetarium show - it's super fun. We love the space and dinosaur exhibits, but for two years I didn't even know there was an interactive children's museum in the back of the building. Don't be like me. It's the best part for littles - I always bring an extra shirt for my 2yo though because the water display can be a little SPLASHY. We usually run through the exhibits first, grab a bite in the cafe and then head up to the museum section to wear the kiddos out. Guaranteed nap on the way home!

  • SeaQuest

    • This will be a new place for us to check out this year, looking forward to adding it to our list!

 

Denver Places to Beat the Heat

  • Broomfield Bay & Tiny Town

    • ​This little gem I found a couple years back on accident. We love it. Slides and water park, but made for little kids. If you do have a little older kiddos there's a really fun rock climbing wall where you fall/jump back into the water that the big kids seem to love.

  • Water World

    • ​This is one that I'm adding for myself - I am a full grown adult woman who loves Water World and I'm not ashamed to admit it. I will say though, if you like to ride the rides you should probably bring another mommy friend, partner, dad, grandparent or even a nanny as it's easy to lose track of 2+ kiddos or get a chance to go off by yourself on the rides little ones are too short to ride. There are two great kid areas (the east one is better to camp near) for littles to play in that will provide a whole days worth of fun. Some families even bring tents and set up camp for the day, take naps, etc. We usually just bring a stroller or umbrella for the youngest to nap under at lunch time and a picnic with lots of snacks & drinks (no alcohol or glass). Pick your campout location away from garbages (bees) and close to where you mostly will be hanging out. Get there super early to get VIP passes if you're with a group and don't want to wait in super long lines for the bigger rides. PLEASE BRING SUNSCREEN - people forget a lot if they're new or visiting Colorado. Our sun hurts, protect yourself & those sweet babies. They do supply small lifejackets for kiddos if you forget and need, but they aren't always "in stock" so snag those early too if you need them. Goggles are a win as well.

  • Elitch Gardens

    • ​I have never been, but I'm told it's fun. We may or may not go this Summer as I'm not into roller coasters so much - don't send all of the hate mail at once! I would go to check out a concert, fireworks or maybe the water park. Let me know if you love Elitch and can change my mind on going!

  • Ralston Central Park and Splash Pad

    • We recently discovered this splash pad and if it ever stops raining in Western Denver area we are going to spend a whole afternoon here!

  • Apex Center

    • Another new to us! Can't wait to go try out the water slides!

Indoor Playplaces

 

 

Day Trips from Denver

  • Ya Ya Orchard Farm

    • ​Ya ya lost a LOT of their orchard a few years back due to a late freeze. Be sure to sign up for apple picking early in the season to get in. Even if you don't get a slot on their list, be sure to go just for the fresh applesauce donuts. You'll want to bring some home for sure. The shop has fresh fruit, jams, honey and you can also buy carrots to feed the horses which is fun for the kiddos (and let's get real, us adults too). Great photo opportunities for those who like to blog! 

  • Dinosaur Ridge

    • Take a stroll around Red Rocks, or if you're up for some exercise local mom's love "Yoga on the Rocks" , pack a picnic and follow the Dinosaur Ridge dino tracks for a fun way to spend your afternoon. Kids will get their energy out playing and searching, but be sure to bring sunscreen, hats and light jackets as Colorado sun and weather can take a beating on you. Chapstick and water, water, water for those who are not locals especially!

  • Hiking at Rainbow Lake in Nederland

    • ​Kid and dog friendly, this lovely 2.5 mile hike is a great day trip option from Denver/Boulder. Stop in Nederland and ask about the Frozen Man - you're sure to find someone to tell you the history and also about Frozen Dead Guy Days (festival).

  • Broomfield Bay & Tiny Town

    • ​This little gem I found a couple years back on accident. We love it. Slides and water park, but made for little kids. If you do have a little older kiddos there's a really fun rock climbing wall where you fall/jump back into the water that the big kids seem to love.

  • Water World

    • ​This is one that I'm adding for myself - I am a full grown adult woman who loves Water World and I'm not ashamed to admit it. I will say though, if you like to ride the rides you should probably bring another mommy friend, partner, dad, grandparent or even a nanny as it's easy to lose track of 2+ kiddos or get a chance to go off by yourself on the rides little ones are too short to ride. There are two great kid areas (the east one is better to camp near) for littles to play in that will provide a whole days worth of fun. Some families even bring tents and set up camp for the day, take naps, etc. We usually just bring a stroller or umbrella for the youngest to nap under at lunch time and a picnic with lots of snacks & drinks (no alcohol or glass). Pick your campout location away from garbages (bees) and close to where you mostly will be hanging out. Get there super early to get VIP passes if you're with a group and don't want to wait in super long lines for the bigger rides. PLEASE BRING SUNSCREEN - people forget a lot if they're new or visiting Colorado. Our sun hurts, protect yourself & those sweet babies. They do supply small lifejackets for kiddos if you forget and need, but they aren't always "in stock" so snag those early too if you need them. Goggles are a win as well.

  • Elitch Gardens

    • ​I have never been, but I'm told it's fun. We may or may not go this Summer as I'm not into roller coasters so much - don't send all of the hate mail at once! I would go to check out a concert, fireworks or maybe the water park. Let me know if you love Elitch and can change my mind on going!

  • Wild Animal Sanctuary

    • ​I am so excited to finally go to the Sanctuary this Summer. The entry fees are a little confusing, so be sure to check out how to become an active supporter in order to get entry - this is a little different than just showing up like at a zoo or similar. No pets allowed, sometimes that needs to be said since Colorado is such a dog friendly place to explore.

  • Sunflower Farm

    • ​How adorable is this place? We have never been, but I had to add it to the list for this year. I'll be sure to add pictures when we go. Looks like it might be best to stop and grab a sandwich from Mod Market up the street and head over for the day. Closed M-W currently so make sure you go on a day they're open.

 

Weekend & Overnight Trips:

  • Motorhome rental

    • I fully plan to convince my partner, Severyn, to let me rent a motorhome and spend a week or two camping around the state. Wish me luck!

    • Camping spots we'd like to try: http://joyfuljourneyhotsprings.com/lodging/ It's a teepee!

  • Paonia/Hotchkiss

    • Okay, so we had the most DARLING time in Paonia last year. We went to the Delicious orchards as our favorite thing there - they allow free camping on site too (if you get there before dark it's easy to set up). If you make it a multi-family affair you could take turns with wine tours, golfing, etc and go on all family hiking. Be sure to check out the local festivals and shops and support the tourist towns!

  • Santa Fe

    • Another place we haven't been but here are the recommendations: Meow Wolf Museum, Harrell House Bug Museum, and the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum.

  • Sand Dunes

    • Looks like it is about $20 to rent sleds and we were told bring pop up chairs for Little Medano creek with an umbrella or small tent and hats for the major sun exposure.

    • Great Wolf Lodge. Technically this is in Colorado Springs, but its a great stopping point on the way back to Denver.

  • Colorado Springs

    • Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. We LOVE, LOVE this zoo. See our trip from Cora's birthday two years ago - the best thing to do is definitely feeding the giraffes. Bring some monies so you can buy bundles of lettuce to feed those big purple tongues. 

    • Seven Falls

    • Broadmoor Hotel

    • The North Pole - this place is a little odd, but through the eyes of a kiddo it's pretty cute.

    • Penny Arcade. Technically in Manitou Springs. Take a step back in time and check out this quant little town and be sure to stop at the Penny Arcade.

    • Manitou Cliff Dwellings. If you're going to jump over to Manitou you should definitely stop at the cliff dwellings for some history while you're around.

    • Bishop Castle​. No idea what to expect other than a day of exploring - this is one day/weekend trip I would love some help picking things along the way to do. It looks like there is an old-fashioned drive in movie theatre in Mesa! Please send suggestions.

 

Know something I missed? Email me at chantel@chanteldahl.com and I'll be sure to add it here.

 

XoXo,

Chantel

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