Denver makes for a fun and educational escape for families with kids of all ages. Frequent, fast, affordable and non-stop flights from Chicago make it easier than ever to embark on a three-day adventure in the mile high city. Here’s our tried-and-tested guide for a fabulous three-day weekend family getaway to Denver.
Where to stay
Located in the center of downtown Denver, the Curtis is a fun and affordable hotel with funky themed rooms that range from Ghostbusters to Star Trek. Families with train-loving tots will want to book a room at the upscale Crawford Hotel, housed within Union Station.
Meet the animals at the Denver Zoo.
Spend some time with the 4,300+ animals that call the expansive Denver Zoo home. Set off on a Predator Ridge Adventure and you’ll have the chance to touch a lion’s teeth (yikes!) and laugh along with hyenas. Or follow the Elephant Passage–if you’re lucky you’ll spot some swimming elephants!
Travel back in time to the Jurassic Age and Ancient Egypt at the Denver Museum of Nature& Science.
Just next door to the zoo is the Denver Museum of Nature& Science, an interactive museum that encourages kids to imagine and explore. Watch Allosaurus and Stegosaurus battle an 80-foot-long Diplodocus and observe scientists as they study and prepare fossils at the Prehistoric Journey exhibit, then meet the mummies and step into an ancient Egyptian temple at the Egyptian Mummies exhibit. The Discovery Zone features dozens of hands-on activities for kids of all ages.
Bite into a rattlesnake.
Denver menus are known for featuring seasonal game but the historic Buckhorn Exchange–Denver’s oldest restaurant–goes above and beyond with its wild menu. Be daring and try the rattlesnake and Rocky Mountain oysters (hint: they don’t come from the sea).
Eat breakfast with the trains.
Denver Union Station is the main railway station and central transportation hub in Denver, Colorado. Indulge in decadent pancake flights at Snooze, the in-station breakfast eatery.
Visit the wild west via art at the Denver Art Museum.
Grab an On the Trail family backpack and spend a day “on the trail” through games and activities in the Western American Art gallery. Help the cowboy move his herd of cattle, dress him in his cowboy duds and even make a bandana to take home. If your kids love creating art, stop at the Creative Corners where you’ll find a gallery-related art-making activity. The museum is free for kids 18 and younger.
Follow the dinosaur tracks along the Dinosaur Ridge Trail.
See if you can spot the dinosaur tracks along the 1.5-mile Dinosaur Ridge Trail. Over 300 hundred real life dinosaur tracks have been identified along this fascinating trail, which takes about 1.5-2 hours to hike. Fifteen stopping points along the way feature fossil sites, geological points of interest and scenic overlooks.
Dine at the world’s wackiest Mexican restaurant.
At 52,000 square feet and featuring everything from a 30-foot tall waterfall, arcade, scheduled gun fights and Acapulco-style cliff dives, Casa Bonita is likely the world’s wackiest Mexican restaurant.