Kids love grandparents. I could end this blog post here, because that’s the gist of the whole darn thing. But I’ll expand so you get the idea.
My parents live about 15 miles west of Denver, Colo., in the best little Wild West town called Golden. (If by some off chance you like Coors beer, well, it’s made here.) My 7-year-old son basically keels over with excitement every time we go visit my folks. I mean, can ya blame him? Grandparents are the best—basically the only people with an unadulterated license to spoil your kids rotten.
And spoil him, mine do. They’re always coming up with fun activities all in the name of seeing my little guy smile. I’ve rounded up five of my favorites, museums to swimming pools, in case you journey the mere two-hour plane ride from Chicago to Denver. Which, by the way, is a super-fun city—I was born and raised there, so no questioning my authority. Enjoy!
You know that bottled water brand Eldorado? Well, whether you do or don’t, this artesian water is sourced in the lovely, bohemian town of Eldorado, Colo., about 30 miles east of Denver. Eldorado also happens to boast an epic swimming pool that opened in 1905 and retains much of its flavor from mid-century America (including a red metal—yes, metal—water slide). Need further convincing? Take it from Edgar Allen Poe, who penned these words published in 1849: “Gaily bedight, a gallant knight, in sunshine and in shadow, had journeyed long, singing a song, in search of Eldorado.”
294 Artesian Dr., Eldorado Springs, Colo.
Well, I once let a tarantula named Rosie crawl all over my hand at this place, so it forever holds a place in my
nightmares heart. Home to more than 5,000 animals, this little slice of nature lover’s paradise invites kids to touch a starfish, see a black widow, dig for worms and more. The main attraction, of course, is the actual butterfly pavilion, where roughly 1,600 mesmerizing butterflies hang out in 7,200 square feet of habitat that resembles their native rainforests.
6252 W. 104th St., Westminster, Colo.
Though Colorado is home to some serious mountain climbers, Earth Treks is likely the closest I’ll get to experiencing that particular adrenaline rush. More than 28,500 square feet of climbing walls stretch up to 48 feet high, catering to climbers of any level, novice to advanced. Kids can take one-on-one lessons for a reasonable fee on one of the smaller walls—which, in my experience, is a fail-proof confidence builder.
700 Golden Ridge Rd., Golden, Colo.
As much as I love a good amusement park, sometimes the large-scale ones are a little overwhelming—especially for younger kids (and, well, me). Built in 1908, Lakeside is just the right size and offers a variety of attractions, including Kiddies Playland just for the tots. My favorite ride, obvi, is the Cyclone—a traditional wooden coaster that’s been operating there for almost 70 years.
4601 Sheridan Blvd., Denver
A vintage arcade, table games, bowling and a top-notch bar makes this mama one happy gal. Let the little ones go nuts with skeeball, foosball, ping pong and more while you enjoy anything from a Watermelon Polo Bowl (tequila, watermelon, strawberry and lime) to Punch Bowl’s selection of “adult milkshakes” (whiskey, malted milk, vanilla soft serve and candied bacon?!). You know where to find me.
65 Broadway, Denver