Metro Denver offers a variety of attractions that appeal to everyone from the young in years to the young at heart. Visitors can experience the beauty of a collection of live butterflies that originated from places around the world at the Butterfly Pavilion to the majesty of a herd of buffalo in their natural habitat at the Bison and Elk Herds, or take a prehistoric journey at Dinosaur Ridge.
If you have a curiosity about animals from across the globe, the Denver Zoo offers more than 750 species and is just minutes from downtown Denver; and The Wildlife Experience in Parker features an extensive collection of natural history and exhibits. For plant lovers, the Denver Botanic Gardens and The Hudson Gardens and Event Center offer serene gardens and plants from around the world. Pick up the pace and visit an amusement park with super-thrill rides or a water park with more than 40 water attractions. Whichever metro Denver attraction you choose, you are destined to have fun and often learn more about the world around you.
Colorado State CapitolBroadway and Colfax Avenue Denver, 80203 303-866-2604 www.state.co.us/gov_dir/leg_dir/lcsstaff/capitoltour
Modeled after the nation’s Capitol in Washington, D.C., the building was made almost entirely of Colorado materials, including granite, white marble, Fort Collins Sandstone and Colorado Onyx, a rare, rose-colored stone used on the wainscoting and pillar facings. A gold dome made from 200 ounces of pure gold leaf tops the Capitol.
Downtown Aquarium – Denver700 Water St. Denver, 80211 303-561-4450 www.downtownaquariumdenver.com
This entertainment and dining complex showcases a public aquarium with more than one million gallons of underwater exhibits that feature ecosystems from around the world. The aquarium houses more than 500 species of animals and an interactive Sting Ray Reef touch tank. The complex includes the Aquarium Restaurant, the Dive Lounge, the Nautilus Ballroom and amusements for the entire family.
Governor’s Residence at the Boettcher Mansion400 E. 8th Ave. Denver, 80204 303-866-3682 www.colorado.gov/dpa/doit/archives/residenc.html
The Colorado Governor’s Residence includes museum-quality artwork and furnishings, including the President Grant chandelier, which previously hung in the White House. The Colorado Historical Society offers tours of the mansion.
Elitch Gardens2000 Elitch Circle Denver, 80204 303-595-4386 www.elitchgardens.com
For more than 120 years, Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park has been a family destination, creating memories worth repeating. Operating on 63 acres, it is America’s only downtown area theme and water park. Elitch Gardens is open May through October and offers 47 rides, live entertainment, shopping, dining and breathtaking views of Denver from every angle. Visit www.elitchgardens.com for additional information and to purchase your tickets online today.
United States Mint320 W. Colfax Ave. Denver, 80204 303-405-4757 www.usmint.gov
The United States Mint at Denver produces more than 50 million coins daily. Group tours are conducted on weekdays and individuals, families and groups with 15 or fewer people should contact a member of Congress for sponsorship before a tour can be conducted. Contact the Mint for more information.
Venice on the CreekSpeer Boulevard and 14th Street Denver, 80204 303-893-0750 www.veniceonthecreek.com
Venice on the Creek boasts the only punts— similar to Italian gondolas—in the country and offers you the opportunity to glide down Cherry Creek. Learn about Denver’s history on your ride or enjoy the scenery along Cherry Creek and lower downtown Denver. It also features landscaped pedestrian trails as well as ramps that lead to the bank of Cherry Creek.
Bison and Elk HerdsGenesee Park and Daniels Park Denver 303-697-4545 www.denvergov.org/Mountain_Parks
Visitors can view two herds of bison and elk in their natural habitat at two area parks. Genesee Park, Denver’s first and largest mountain park, spans 2,300 acres and includes a 160- acre wild elk and bison enclosure. Daniels Park covers more than 1,000 acres, of which 900 acres is a preserve and natural area for Denver’s second herd. The parks offer picnic areas and scenic mountain views.
Butterfly Pavilion and Insect Center6252 W. 104th Ave. Westminster, 80020 303-469-5441 www.butterflies.org
Spanning five acres, the Butterfly Pavilion is the first nonprofit, stand-alone insect zoo in the country. It features more than 1,200 free-flying butterflies, outdoor butterfly gardens, a nature trail, museum shop and deli. Visitors can watch adult butterflies emerge in a chrysalis viewing area or touch insects from around the world, including Chile’s rose-haired tarantula and Madagascar’s Hissing Cockroach. View peppermint shrimp, hermit crabs and other marine invertebrates in their natural habitat, or feel inches tall in a backyard with giant animatronic insects and interactive exhibits.
Celestial Seasonings4600 Sleepytime Drive Boulder, 80301 303-581-1202 www.celestialseasonings.com
Celestial Seasonings, the largest manufacturer and marketer of specialty hot teas in the country, offers tours through its art gallery, herb garden and factory. Enjoy samplings of more than 50 varieties of teas and experience The Mint Room where crates of peppermint and spearmint are stored. A café and gift shop are on site.
Colorado State ParksColorado 303-470-1144 www.parks.state.co.us
In addition to offering magnificent scenic views and a great outdoor experience, Colorado State Parks offers a host of activities for all ages, including camping, biking, bird watching, boating, cross-country skiing, fishing, horseback riding, hunting, ice skating, jet-skiing, sailing boating, sledding, snowmobiling, swimming and many other activities and attractions.
Coors Brewing Company13th and Ford streets Golden, 80401 303-277-2337 www.coors.com A 45-minute tour through Molson Coors’ brewery in Golden guides visitors through the beer-making process from malting and brewing to packaging. The tour of the largest single brewery in the world includes a stop at a sampling area where complimentary soft drinks and beer samples are served. Beer samples are served to visitors over 21 years of age with a valid I.D.
Denver Botanic Gardens1007 York St. Denver, 80206 720-865-3500 www.botanicgardens.org
Recognized as one of the top five botanical gardens in the nation, Denver Botanic Gardens spans 24 acres and has more than 32,000 plants from around the world. Other sites are located in Chatfield, Littleton and Mt. Goliath.
Denver Zoo2300 Steele St. Denver, 80205 303-376-4800 www.denverzoo.org
Started in 1896, the Denver Zoo has grown to be one of the most visited zoos in the country and Colorado’s most popular cultural attraction. Located on 80 acres, just minutes from downtown Denver in City Park, the zoo is recognized internationally as a leader in exhibitry and continues to grow as a leader in conservation and education programs. Home to nearly 4,000 animals representing over 750 species, the zoo is open every day. In 2004, the zoo unveiled Predator Ridge, a three-acre exhibit that features Africa’s greatest predators.
The series of five exhibits recreates a portion of the Samburu National Reserve in Kenya. Visitors can wind through rock outcroppings and brush to discover amazing views of lions, African wild dog and hyena. The zoo continues to create innovative wildlife habitats such as Tropical Discovery, Northern Shores and Primate Panorama. Gates Wildlife Conservation Education Center, a regional hub for activities, introduces Coloradans of all ages to the principles of conservation and natural resources.
Dinosaur Ridge16831 W. Alameda Pkwy. Morrison, 80465 303-697-3466 www.dinoridge.org
Located just 15 miles west of downtown Denver in the Morrison Fossil Beds National Natural Landmark, Dinosaur Ridge is an outdoor museum that features Jurassic dinosaur bones and more than 300 Cretaceous dinosaur footprints. A visitor’s center and gift shop are located on-site.
Four Mile Historic Park715 S. Forest St. Denver, 80246 303-399-1859 www.fourmilepark.org
Four Mile Historic Park seeks to preserve Colorado’s western rural heritage. It is home to Four Mile House, Denver’s oldest house, which once served as a stagecoach stop, wayside inn and tavern for travelers on the Cherokee Trail.
The 12-acre park offers school/youth programs, senior field trips, special events, guided museum and grounds tours, a summer day camp and site rental opportunities
The Hudson Gardens and Event Center6115 S. Santa Fe Drive Littleton, 80120 303-797-8565 www.hudsongardens.org
The Hudson Gardens and Event Center offers a multitude of concerts, educational programs and holiday events throughout the year. Visitors will enjoy the facility’s 21 gardens, which vary from flower, herb and water gardens to wetlands and the cascades. The gardens span 30 acres and are arranged around a garden railroad, ponds, wildlife, sculptures and other natural displays and hideaways.
Lakeside Amusement ParkI-70 and Sheridan Denver, 80212 303-477-1621 www.lakesideamusementpark.com
This amusement park offers countless rides, games and roller coasters for adults, as well as 15 rides for children. The park offers free parking and welcomes picnics.
Mile High Flea Market7007 E. 88th Ave. Henderson, 80640 303-289-4656 www.milehighfleamarket.com
Open on Wednesday and on the weekend, this indoor-outdoor market caters from 20 to 40,000 customers regularly.
Mother Cabrini Shrine20189 Cabrini Blvd. Golden, 80401 303-526-0758 www.den-cabrini-shrine.org
Owned by the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, this shrine is a place of prayer, pilgrimage and devotion to Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini. The area includes a chapel, grotto, statue, artifacts, barn and a stone house available for meetings.
National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)1850 Table Mesa Drive Boulder, 80305 303-497-1174 www.ucar.edu
Discover how scientists study weather and climate at NCAR’s Mesa Lab. Enjoy science exhibits, an educational research center, gift shop, weather trail, art galleries and special public events. The site also is a natural preserve for wildlife that roam the area and in nearby mountain parks.
Tiny Town, Colorado6249 S. Turkey Creek Road Tiny Town, 80465 303-697-6829 www.tinytownrailroad.com
Touted as the oldest village and railroad in the country, Tiny Town was created at the site of the Denver-Leadville stagecoach stop southwest of Denver in 1915. Today, the onesixth- sized town has more than 100 colorful buildings and offers a train ride that is powered by authentic steam locomotive.
Water WorldWest 88th Avenue and Pecos Street Denver, 80260 303-427-7873 www.waterworldcolorado.com
Located on 64 acres, the park features 42 water attractions, including Speed Slides, Lazy River and Thunder Bay. Picnics are welcome and parking is free. Other amenities include a gift shop, tube rentals and lockers.