Top 20 Places to Take Kids in Denver, CO
Denver's favorite places to take kids for 2022
Each year, KidsOutAndabout.com surveys Denver-area parents to find out where they love to take their kids. Typically, we showcase the Top 20 winners... but this year, in honor of KidsOutAndAbout.com's 21st birthday (we originally launched in June of 2001), we bring you the Denver area's
Of course, there are hundreds of wonderful places to take your kids in greater Denver, so be sure to browse through all of the lists and calendar on our site. Also, be sign up for our fantastic FREE weekly newsletter with dozens of ideas each week for local stuff to do with kids that weekend and beyond.
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1. Denver Zoo
Denver Zoo is a leader in connecting people to the awe and importance of wild animals while providing unparalleled care, educational experiences, and local and global conservation efforts that help save wild places and wildlife. Denver Zoo's community passionately supports our mission everyday: Inspiring Communities to Save Wildlife for Future Generations.
2. Carousel of Happiness
The Carousel of Happiness is a one-of-a-kind, magical menagerie with 57 whimsical, hand-carved animals on a restored 1910 Looff carousel, turning to the music of a 1913 Wurlitzer band organ. Open year-round in the small mountain town of Nederland on the Peak-to-Peak Highway, the Carousel makes a great day-trip from Denver. The Carousel also features an upstairs puppet theater where children can engage in creative play after they ride.
3. Kids Wonder
South Denver Metro’s only play facility for children 0 to 8 providing a wide range of fun activities dedicated to intentional play in a safe environment. Kids Wonder’s 13,000 square foot play center offers children many opportunities to challenge themselves as they learn to navigate social relationships and unleash the power of their imaginations.
4. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is like no other zoo – on a mountainside overlooking Colorado Springs. Feed our world-renowned giraffe herd, hop alongside the wallabies, and feel the powerful roars of our lion pride. Don’t miss Water's Edge: Africa, home to hippos, African penguins and lemurs. Our interactive beach gives penguins access to waddle alongside you, and you’ll see eye-to-eye with our hippos at the edge of their pool. A rope bridge will give you up-close, overhead views of the hippo yard.
Our guests contribute $500,000 per year to conservation efforts worldwide. Each admission generates 75¢ for conservation, so you can do good while you have fun!
5. Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center
The Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center is the gateway to our world-class Garden of the Gods Park. Serving as the educational heart of the park, The Visitor & Nature Center offers 30 state-of-the-art interactive exhibits that teach visitors of all ages about the plants, wildlife, geology, and ecology of the area, as well as the history of the Indigenous Americans who visited the park.
From nature walks, Geo-Trekker Theater, arts & crafts, children’s programs, and history talks -- the Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center hosts a wide variety of fun and educational experiences year-round. The sky’s the limit at the Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center! Stop by and learn what makes us one of the premiere family destinations on the Front Range!
6. Denver Museum of Nature & Science
At the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, you will experience world-class wildlife displays that take you to Earth’s wildest places, huge dinosaurs that transport you back in time, interactive space exhibits that make your mind wonder, and personalized health science fun that puts your body to the test. Phipps IMAX 3D Theater places you on the edge of your seat and in the middle of the action, and Gates Planetarium is your ticket to the universe.
Whether you have an hour or all day, with family or on your own, your mind will open to real science and adventure that dazzles, enlightens, and inspires.
7. WOW! Children's Museum
WOW! Children's Museum aims to inspire every child’s learning and curiosity through play. WOW! is committed to providing STEAM focused exhibits and programs that fosters creative and innovative thinking and nurture a love of learning.
8. Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus
At Children's Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus, you can do it all. Whether you’re navigating through a 3 ½ story climber, stepping inside a 6-foot bubble, sculpting a clay masterpiece or powering a hot balloon, there is always something new to explore. Every day, our expertly designed exhibits and programs encourage kid-powered learning and open doors for Colorado's curious young minds to express what they know and to discover, create and explore more - on their own terms.
10. Anderson Farms
Anderson Farms Fall Festival is Colorado's largest fall family entertainment destination. The 25th Annual Fall Festival runs September 21st through October 31st, 2022. Activities include wagon rides to the pumpkin patch with over 70 varieties of pumpkins, squash and gourds, a 25-acre corn maze, barrel train, pedal karts, jump pads, combine slide, farm animals, gem mining, campfire rentals and more! For the more adventurous, Anderson Farms offers Terror in the Corn an outdoor haunted experience. Buy tickets online, they will be limited.
Anderson Farms opens July 29th - August 28th for the second annual U-Pick Sunflowers. Wander and take photos though 15 acres of 17 varieties of sunflowers plus wildflowers, zinnias, celosia, amaranthus and more! Purchase a bag or bucket to take home your own beautiful bouquet. Tickets available online.
12. Denver Botanic Gardens
The mission of Denver Botanic Gardens is to connect people with plants, especially plants from the Rocky Mountain region and similar regions around the world, providing delight and enlightenment to everyone. A wide variety of programs are available for children and families to explore plants and the natural world. Mordecai Children’s Garden is closed summer 2020 due to COVID-19, but some in-person and virtual family programs are available. Visit www.botanicgardens.org for a complete list.
13. My Local Library
Of course, the libraries in the Denver area are not really ONE place, but MANY places... but it's important to emphasize how valuable libraries are for family learning and fun. The libraries in our area are wonderful about posting their events to the KidsOutAndAbout calendar so you always can get ideas for free things to do with your kids that celebrate education and imagination. KidsOutAndAbout.com takes this opportunity to salute the wonderful children's librarians who serve our community with such dedication. They're proud that locals voted them to the list of best places to take kids this year!
14. Colorado Railroad Museum
The Colorado Railroad Museum brings Colorado’s rich railroad heritage to life with thrilling train rides, hands-on exhibits, educational resources, special events and everyday fun. From ringing locomotive bells and climbing on cabooses to watching detailed model railroads in operation and riding special trains like Thomas the Tank Engine™ and The Polar Express™, the Colorado Railroad Museum offers interactive family fun mixed with authentic Colorado railroad history on 15 acres in Golden. During summer months, train rides are offered most Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Train rides are on Saturdays only from January - May and in October. There are also frequent special events, steam-ups and more. Check the website for info, admission and to reserve your ride.
15. Colorado Rockies
The Rockies are Denver's Major League Baseball franchise. They are currently members of the National League West Division. Their home venue is Coors Field.
16. Downtown Aquarium
The entertainment and dining complex features a public aquarium boasting more than a million gallons of underwater exhibits that highlight fascinating ecosystems around the world. Downtown Aquarium houses over 500 species of animals, the interactive Stingray Reef touch tank, Aquarium Restaurant, Dive Lounge, the Nautilus Ballroom and amusements for the entire family.
17. Elitch Gardens
Since 1890, Elitch Gardens in Denver has been America's only downtown theme and water park. The park is open May through October with 53 rides, live shows, thrilling roller coasters, an entire water park, and Fright Fest in October.
19. Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park’s 415 square miles encompass and protect spectacular mountain environments. Enjoy Trail Ridge Road – which crests at over 12,000 feet including many overlooks to experience the subalpine and alpine worlds – along with over 300 miles of hiking trails, wildflowers, wildlife, starry nights, and fun times. In a world of superlatives, Rocky is on top!
20. Denver Art Museum
A trailblazer in creating innovative opportunities that encourage visitors to interact with the collection, the museum is also known for the way we help our visitors explore art and their own creativity. Always FREE admission for kids 18 and under!
21. Sunflower Farm
Sunflower Farm invites you to come laugh, explore, dream, and play as you and your family enjoy the serene combination of nature, animals and farm life. During your visit, you can pet the baby goats, sheep and llamas, jump from hay bale to hay bale, play in the playhouse and giant sandbox silo, explore kids cabin, play on the new merry-go-round, swing on tire swings and peruse the airplane. Water play is available on hot days and marshmallows are for sale to toast over the bonfire on cooler days. This visit is unlike any other. Reservations are required and available online to purchase, under "Visit Us" and “Farmfest”.
Winners in Special CategoriesIn the second part of our survey, we asked readers to select their favorites in three categories. Here were their choices.
Top Arts EducatorArvada Center for the Arts and Humanities
The Arvada Center celebrates and elevates the human condition with engaging arts, humanities, education, and entertainment that expand the cultural landscape for everyone who visits us.
Top Sports EducatorYMCA of Metro Denver
At the YMCA, we ❤️ kids. We offer summer day and adventure camps; youth sports - baseball, basketball, soccer, tennis and volleyball; swim lessons for every age; early and out of school time child care; summer learning Power Scholars Academy program; and Youth in Government program. Across our 6 wellness centers and multiple program sites, we build healthy spirit, mind and body.
Top STEM EducatorButterfly Pavilion
Butterfly Pavilion is an Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited nonprofit invertebrate zoo home to thousands of animals from all over the world! Experience our indoor tropical conservatory with over 1,600 free-flying butterflies, hold Rosie our famous tarantula, explore incredible adaptations of sea stars, bees, beetles, spiders, and so much more!
We work to foster an appreciation of invertebrates by educating the public about the need to protect and care for threatened habitats globally, while conducting research for solutions in invertebrate conservation.