With the warm Colorado sun shining down and longer days to enjoy, it feels as if it is already springtime in Denver. But wait, that was five minutes ago and now it’s snowing!
As we like to say in the Mile High City, if you don’t like the weather, just wait a few minutes and it will change. This meteorological quirk can mess up your plans with the family though.
Here are a few ideas for places to visit with the kids that offer both indoor and outdoor playscapes so that you can duck inside when necessary or just enjoy the great outdoors. All of these places are included in my Moon Handbooks Guide to Denver (Avalon Travel, 2009) and my Walking Denver book (Wilderness Press, 2011).
- The Denver Botanic Gardens has relocated and expanded their children’s garden to the top of the new parking lot. That sounds unappealing, and I was among the skeptics, but in fact it is an improvement. Kids can scramble over bridges, past streams, through tunnels, all while smelling the flowers and learning about the environment. Rainy day? No problem because you can go inside the conservatory in the main garden and still do many of those things indoors. Don’t miss the enormous beeswax artwork!
- The Denver Zoo is at its busiest during the warm summer months since the majority of the animals on display are in outdoor enclosures. But you could go on the coldest day of the year and break a sweat inside their aquarium where they have not only fish, but bats and Komodo dragons.
- The Children’s Museum is popular throughout the year for all of their wonderful indoor activities—pretend grocery shopping seems to be the perennial favorite here. However, if it’s a beautiful day, budget for time to run around their large playground with cool rock sculptures for climbing, slides, and monkey bars. Many of their annual festivals are held outdoors too on their plaza, where kids can draw on the chalkboard cow yearround or pet live animals during other exhibits.
- The Rocky Mountain Arsenal national Wildlife Refuge offers bus tours where you might see bison, deer, eagles, and all kinds of wild animals wandering about. Since you are sitting on a bus, it doesn’t matter what the weather is doing outside.
- The Denver Museum of Nature and Science could take up an entire day and you would still have things to do and see leftover. But if the weather is just to warm to resist, head outside to one of City Park’s two playgrounds west of the museum.
By Mindy Sink