Five Things to Do on Your Denver Vacation…With Children!

Colorado…truly a land of beauty. The 38th state in the Union, it is rich in culture and heritage, and is a wonderful vacation destination year round. From the beautiful, well-branded state flag, to the friendly people and inspiring scenery, Colorado is a gem to visit or to call home. Below is a list of five must see vacation stops in Denver. Our children are 5 and 7 and enjoyed each of these venues right by our side. We do recommend drinking lots of water throughout your stay as the higher elevation can lead to elevation sickness. Additionally, you may want to take a day to get acclimated to the elevation. Being from Florida, elevation sickness was certainly on the forefront of our minds.

1.  Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater

Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater is a beautiful destination to simply drive and get out at lookout points, or to hike through. Our family hiked the Trading Post Loop. The loop  is a 1.4-1.7 mile hike. However, the path is not clearly marked and we additionally hiked up the amphitheater so by the end of the hike it was closer to 3 miles. As with all hikes, take plenty of water and snacks. With small children snacks are a huge motivator. While we serve them snacks throughout the hike, we usually save a special cookie, like Oreo’s, for the end of the hike as a prize to work toward. Be sure and arrive early! We arrived around 7:30 AM and basically had the park to ourselves. By the end of our hike and a visit to the Trading Post, we had people waiting in line for our parking spot and a very busy park.

After your early morning hike, you will be very hungry. We suggest driving a little further into Morrison and grabbing a delicious Mexican dish at El Tapatio restaurant. We recommend the fish and steak tacos.

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2.  Dinosaur Ridge Bus Tour

Dinosaur Ridge is a free walking trail or a paid bus tour for $6 per person ages four and up. This great geological point of interest is presented from an evolutionary worldview. However, the incredible fossils and footprints are worth the tour. Additionally, as a Christian and a person holding to a biblical worldview, I wanted my kids and myself to hear this presentation so that we can ask better questions. Further, that we would be reminded the evidence is the same, but the interpretation is different. Our tour-guide, Dan was very friendly, funny, and informative. I talked with him afterwards about my belief in the world-wide flood of Noah’s time and the evidence for it. He was open to the discussion even while holding to his own beliefs.

Don’t forget to visit Triceratops Trail in Golden Colorado as well. We missed this and missed out on Triceratops footprints alongside plant and bug fossils. (An excuse for my family to make this trip to Denver again!)

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Our son touching a crocodile footprint found alongside dinosaur footprints at Dinosaur Ridge.

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A Brontosaur “bulge” at Dinosaur Ridge. This footprint is is missing the toe impressions, but follows in a sequence of other similar impressions of smaller dinosaurs. This is the first I have learned of such fossilized “bulges” and I can’t wait to research this some more.

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Our tour-guide, Dan, sitting next to Iguanodon (see here and here) footprints which your children can see and touch at Dinosaur Ridge!

3.  Buffalo Bill Trail and Museum  and the Lookout Mountain Nature Center

The most beautiful,family friendly hike we took in Denver was the Lookout Mountain and Buffalo Bill Trail. This trail runs one mile from Buffalo Bill’s Museum and burial place to the Lookout Mountain Nature Center providing a friendly two mile round-trip hike. We started our hike around 7:30 long before either the museum or center was opened. However, there are many beautiful photo, rock climbing, and nature observing venues along this trail that will keep you occupied between visits to the sites and before they open.  Be sure and check out the great nature materials and postcards for purchase at the Nature Center as well as live teaching and exploration classes. While we were there, Bob the Bull Snake was on display for kids to touch and learn about as they visited the center.

After our hike, we enjoyed a bison burger and brat at the Pahaska Tepee before visiting the Buffalo Bill Museum. The cost is $5 per adult and $1 per child ages 6-15.

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4.  Tattered Cover Book Store

In the center of downtown Denver, lies this beautiful niche for book lovers. Enjoy a cup of coffee and a pastry as you and your family peruse the great selection of books. The kids had a great time in the large children’s section. This is a chain bookstore, however, this particular store is larger than the others that we saw at Union Station and the Denver International Airport. A nice stop on a rainy day or an evening in downtown.

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5. Union Station and The Kitchen Next Door

After our visit to the Tattered Cover Book Store, we walked down the block to the newly renovated Union Station. This is a beautiful station in the heart of Denver that will transport you by train wherever you want to go. We didn’t board a train, but the inside sights and the outdoor fountains were beautiful to behold.

After viewing the station, we dined at one of the many restaurants located within. The Kitchen Next Door was a delicious dining experience and the outdoor seating provided a great view of the city and sunset. The kids recommend the Greek salad.

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We were in Denver enjoying these activities for three days (two days for travel). The other three days of our vacation we were in Manitou Springs just outside of Colorado Springs. Join me next Friday as we explore Five Things To Do on Your Manitou Springs Vacation…With Children!

Thanks for reading!

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