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.
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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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
Denver Places to Beat the Heat
Day Trips from Denver
Weekend & Overnight Trips:
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!
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!
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.
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.
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 email@example.com and I'll be sure to add it here.