There are many attractions in Colorado that have been developed to occupy, entertain and educate children. The high tech new developments encourage thoughts of the future. Simulated situations, such as banking, shopping and cooking, as they are today can be explored. History is explained through the lives of Buffalo Bill Cody and the miners that once occupied and worked the gold mines. Visitors can be transported to the paint mines used by the Native Americans to decorate their pottery. Even further back in time, the dinosaur exhibits portray life during the late Jurassic era. It will take a lifetime to see it all.
1.WOW Children's Museum
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The museum is an informal early learning center, designed to foster creativity, innovative thinking, problem solving and a love of learning. Learning spaces allow children to explore concepts such as art, banking, the health industry and the market place. There is a forest of light, a pirate ship and a lighthouse to explore. The Discovery Garden teaches about plants and outdoor cooking. A recent addition is the Micro U exhibit which is geared towards infants and toddlers. The museum offers a birthday party service and rents out the entire facility which can accommodate 125 people.
110 N. Harrison Avenue, Lafayette, CO 80026, Phone: 303-604-2424
2.Banjo Billy’s Bus Tours
Glenn, the owner of this business, is a jack of all trades. He brings one of his skills, for improvising comedy, to the bus tours. The old school buses, disguised as hillbilly shacks, transport passengers to the other sides of Denver. The comfortable armchairs belie the shabby exterior. The guides know all the history, scandal, ghost stories, folklore and tales of crime and passion. The tours are not for the fainthearted. They run frequently and take approximately 90 minutes. Private, customized tours can be arranged.
1890 Telluride Lane, Boulder, CO 80305, Phone: 720-938-8885
3.Buell Childrens Museum
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The museum is part of the Sangre de Cristo Arts Center and focuses on art, history and science. The 12000 square facility stretches over two levels and houses 50 high tech, multisensory exhibits designed to appeal to all ages. In the Magic Carpet Theatre, visitors can take over the stage lighting and sound and star in their own show. In the Artrageous exhibit, would be artists use mixed media to create collages and other artworks. The Buell Baby Barn has a barnyard theme and caters for ages 1-4. The museum was voted best in Pueblos and second best for art in the country.
210 N. Santa Fe Ave. Pueblo, CO 81003, Phone: 719-295-7200
4.Buffalo Bill Grave and Museum
William J. Cody, was a renowned buffalo hunter, hence he was given the nickname Buffalo Bill. He traveled the world, hosting Wild West shows and was invited to perform at Queen Victoria's Jubilee in the UK. He had a soft spot for children and allowed orphans to enter his shows for free. The museum depicts his life and shows. It is situated in Lookout Mountain Park near his grave, where visitors can learn about buffaloes and other wildlife, and enjoy the mountain scenery. Each February the museum celebrates William Cody's birthday. The shop has a stock of stetsons similar to his, for sale.
987 1/2 Lookout Mountain Road, Golden, CO 80401, Phone: 303-526-0744
5.Butterfly Pavilion and Insect Center
The mission of this center is to change the way people think about invertebrates. Scientists believe that invertebrates, which include insects, crustaceans, molluscs, and arachnids, make up 97% of the animal kingdom and are vital for the planet's survival. The center provides hands on learning experiences through its exhibits and educational programs. The Colorado Backyard contains giant insects which demonstrate the city's diverse invertebrate population. Seasonal exhibits include Bug-a-boo and Bugtober Masquerade, showing the illusion and camouflage tricks insects use. The Low Sensory, guided tours take place first thing in the morning, by natural light, allowing visitors to see the 'inhabitants' waking up and preparing for the day.
6252 W. 104th Avenue, Westminster, CO 80020, Phone: 303-469-5441
6.Cave Of The Winds Mountain Park
Visitors should expect to spend a day at this attraction. Each cave tours lasts between 1-2 hours and there are several rides to experience. The Discovery tour traces the history and geology of the caves along electrically lit concrete paths in 15 rooms, up and down 196 steps. The Lantern tour explores almost a mile of the unimproved sections of the cave, through dark, narrow tunnels and uneven stairways. The Cave Trek entails crawling, climbing and squeezing through a mile of muddy passages, all the while listening to ghost stories and folklore. Beyond the caves, there are a range of hair-raising, nail-biting rides with names like Terrordactyl and Bat-a-pult.
100 Cave of the Winds Rd Manitou Springs, CO 80829, Phone: 719-685-5444
7.Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
Philanthropist Spencer Penrose built a lodge in mountains near Colorado Springs in order to house his growing collection of exotic animals. In 1926, this collection became the genesis of the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. It now houses 750 animals, exhibited by region, on 146 acres of land. The zoo's mission is to connect people to wildlife and undertakes animal care, conservation and captive breeding. Mr Penrose built a 100 foot observation tower on the land and dedicated it to American humorist, Will Rogers, a contemporary who died in a airplane crash. Visitors may drive up to explore the tower. The Run to the Shrine is held each May.
4250 Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Rd. Colorado Springs, CO, Phone: 719-633-9925
8.Childrens Museum of Denver
This museum caters for children from birth to 8 years old. The philosophy is that children are not 'blank slates' but intellectual explorers, and that play is invaluable in learning. Children are given the opportunity to create, invent, solve problems and use their imagination. They can explore the Adventure Forest, the Big Backyard and the simulated rock climbing and kayaking in the Box Canyon. They can investigate water, bubbles and energy sources and play at being a vet or going to the market. There is a café, gift shop and Book Nook. Birthday parties can be arranged at the zoo.
2121 Children's Museum Drive, Denver, CO 80211, Phone: 303-433-7444
9.Colorado Model Railroad Museum
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Dave Trussell and several volunteers spent five years putting together the model railroad at the museum. There are 500 scale locomotives, 80 scale miles of train tracks and 28000 trees in the 5500 square foot building. The Oregon, California and Eastern Railway wooden bridges are accurately portrayed in the miniature landscape. The museum has collections totaling several thousand artifacts, including a full sized 1919 caboose. Permanent exhibits include Department 56 Christmas villages set in Dickens' time, the North Pole, New England and several others. A rare post-war Lionel Trains Collection is on display. The museum attracts 20000 visitors per annum from around the world.
680 10th Street, Greeley, CO 80631, Phone: 970-392-2934
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10.Denver Museum of Miniatures- Dolls and Toys
© Denver Museum of Miniatures- Dolls and Toys
From 1981 to 1987 the museum collection was itinerant, moving from venue to venue in the capital. From 1987 to 2019, the museum leased the Pearce-McAllister Cottage from the State of Colorado Historical Society. It now has an opportunity to own property which will be ready to open early in 2020. The museum curates more than 20000 items, including a rare Japanese friendship doll made in 1927, WPA dolls and other toys made during the Depression and various vintage books, board games and mechanical toys. The piece de resistance is the O'Meara Someday House, a dollhouse and furnishings that was modeled on the owner's own childhood home.
P.O. Box 9765, Denver, Co, 80209, Phone: 303-322-1053
11.Denver Museum Of Nature and Science
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Edwin Carter moved into a cabin in Breckenridge and over many years amassed an almost complete collection of the fauna in the area. In 1892 he was approached by several prominent citizens of Denver to move the collection to the capital. He sold it to them for $10000. This formed the nucleus of the new museum, along with collections of crystalized gold, moths and butterflies. During the 20th century staff were dispatched to 6 continents to bring back specimens. The museum is world famous for its dioramas. For the 50th and 75th anniversary, the museum added a planetarium and IMAX theater. In 2010, 3D technology was added.
2001 Colorado Blvd., Denver, CO 80205, Phone: 303-370-6000
Ten veterinary staff members, 79 keepers and 12 curators take care of the 3600 animals at the Denver Zoo. The animals are housed in habitats as close to nature as possible. They are provided with environments in which they are mentally and physically stimulated, where they can dig, swing, climb and forage. There are special diets for each species and often for individual animals within the species. Visitors are given opportunities to actively engage with certain animals and to assist with feeding. Special events include Boo at the Zoo, Zoo Year's Eve and Taps and Tails, an evening in a beer garden surrounded by wild animals.
2900 E 23rd Avenue, Denver, CO 80205, Phone: 720-337-1400
13.Dinosaur National Monument
There are two visitors' centers in the Dinosaur National Monument which spans the border between northeast Colorado and Utah. The Quarry Exhibit Hall, in the center in Utah, houses a cliff face, with 1500 exposed fossils, and an 80 foot mural depicting dinosaur life during the late Jurassic era. There are several sites where petroglyphs and pictographs, i.e. rock etchings and paintings, can be found in the area. There are six campgrounds in the monument as well as hiking trails and rivers suitable for white water rafting.
4545 Hwy 40, Dinosaur, CO 81610, Phone: 435-781-7700
14.Fort Collins Museum of Discovery
Since opening in 2012, this museum has attracted 700000 visitors from all 50 states. It hosts more than 400 science- and culture-based programs each year. The many long-term exhibits covers a range of topics from agriculture and astronomy to wilderness areas and wildlife. Examples include the Sound and Music Lab, Tot Spot and First Peoples display. Institutions such as the Smithsonian and National Geographic have brought touring exhibitions to the center. The Digital Dome Theater enables viewers to experience places and historical events in 360º. The museum runs summer camps and other educational and outreach programs throughout the year.
15.Georgetown Loop Railway
Silver Plume and Devil's Gate are the two depots at the ends of the narrow gauge railway loop. They are two miles apart, high in the Rocky Mountains, 45 minutes from Denver. the train trips starting at each end cover the same terrain, namely mountains, forests and canyons. There are different classes of service, from coach, in an open box car, to the deluxe presidential option which includes a personal attendant. There are a range of tours including the Haunted Mine Adventure, the Lighted Forest and gold panning. The train rides last 75 minutes and the tours 2½ hours.
825 Railroad Avenue, Silver Plume, CO 80476, Phone: 888-456-6777
16.Ghost Town Museum
© Ghost Town Museum
This museum came into being in 1954 in order to preserve the heritage of Colorado's Wild West. In 1858 Pikes Peak experienced a gold rush. A railroad was needed to transport the gold from the western frontier. At the height of the gold rush, trains were running to and from the fields six times a day. Towns sprang up around the mine fields but were soon abandoned when the gold ran out. Remnants were gathered and used to create a 'town' inside a large historic stone structure where the trains were maintained. Visitors can pan for gold, shop for gifts and have a picnic on the premises.
400 S 21st St., Colorado Springs, CO 80904, Phone: 719-634-0696
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17.Grand Adventure Balloon Tours
The hot air balloons operate all year round from Winter Park. Once aloft, passengers can see the a hundred miles of the snow-covered mountains of the Continental Divide. The winds and weather dictate the flight path so no two flights are the same. The balloon flies over the treetops, skims the Fraser River and makes a good vantage point for viewing game. On landing, the 200 year old champagne breakfast tradition is followed. Special occasions, even weddings, can be celebrated in the balloons which can take 10-12 passengers. These include photos of the event and a celebratory breakfast afterwards.
220 County Road 522, Fraser, CO 80442, Phone: 970-887-1340
18.History Colorado Center
© History Colorado Center
The center was opened in 2012 in Denver's Golden Triangle Creative District and is dedicated to telling the history of the state. There are 40000 square foot of interactive exhibits for all ages to enjoy, across six main themes. Colorado Stories is an anecdotal display and includes a simulation of a ski jump. The Time Machine is a 40 by 60 foot interactive map of Colorado. As the sensor moves over an area, its history is revealed. The Denver Diorama depicts the city as it was in the 1800s. Living West focuses on the natural history of the mountains, plains and the vital role of water.
1200 Broadway, Denver, CO, 80203, Phone: 303-447-8679
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19.Eureka! McConnell Math and Science Center
The museum was a volunteer program, founded by John McConnell. It was first called, 'Science in the Hands of Kids'. Its mission is to foster a passion and respect for Science, Technology, Arts, Engineering and Mathematics (STEAM). The center offers programs that target different age groups. Those targeting the 3-5 year age group are called Science Sprouts, Lil Learners and Mini-Makers. There are explorations and field trips for older learners as well as after school care, 'no school' days and summer camp programs. The center hosts regular fun fundraising events such as Friday Flicks, Saturday Science and A Night at the Museum.
1400 North 7th Street, Grand Junction, CO 81501, Phone: 970-254-1626
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20.Kit Carson Carousel Museum
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The carousel at the museum was made by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company (PTC). The first carousel at Elitch Gardens was PTC#6 which was purchased in 1905. By 1928, it proved to be passe and an upgrade was ordered. PTC#51 had four rows, totaling 46 carved animals that moved up and down. The purchase was considered to be extravagant, a decision that cost the councilors their reelection. In 1981 the inner row of three horses and a donkey were stolen. They were retrieved and returned by horse box. The Wurlitzer organ, called The Monster, was made in 1909 and has 255 pipes, drums and cymbals.
Kit Carson County Fairgrounds, Burlington, CO 80807, Phone: 719-346-7666
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21.Morrison Natural History Museum
The museum's motto is, “Small Museum; Big Discoveries”. It is indeed a small grassroots operation, run by passionate volunteers, in a cabin, 25 minutes from Denver. The museum came to prominence when members discovered traces of dinosaur activity in the Dinosaur Ridge. It is open daily at 10 am and there are three guided tours per day. There are fossils and dinosaur skeletons and skulls on display indoors which visitors are permitted to touch. There are several activities in the grounds and space for relaxing and enjoying refreshments. The volunteers organize regular field trips to local outcrops.
501 Colorado 8, Morrison, CO 80465, Phone: 303-697-1873
22.The Paint Mines Interpretive Park
There are 750 acres of geological formations and colorful strata of clay in this park. The bands of color were caused by variances in the oxydization of the iron compounds in the rocks. Native Americans traditionally used powdered rocks to make shades of pigments for painting their pottery. Arrowheads and dart tips have been found in the area, suggesting ancient human habitation. There are four miles of hiking trails laid out with interpretive signs along the way. The terrain covers prairie, badlands and wetlands and visitors can expect to see or hear coyotes, mule deer, horned toads and raptors.
29950 Paint Mines Road, Calhan, CO 80808, Phone: 719-520-7529
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23.Tiny Town and Railroad
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There are more than 100 child-sized 1:6 scale buildings at this attraction in the foothills outside Denver. In 1915, George Turner started making the buildings to amuse his daughter. By 1920 Tiny Town was opened to the public and by 1924, there were 125 buildings. The 'town' fell on hard times. It was hit by floods, a fire and was all but abandoned until 1987 when the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) adopted the town and auctioned off properties to its members for upkeep. It now offers train rides through the town, for adults and children. There is also a playground, snack bar, picnic area and gift shop.
6249 South Turkey Creek Road, Morrison, CO 80465, Phone: 303-697-6829
24.Zippity Zoo Barnyard
The barnyard is situated on a working alpaca farm where the animals are bred, raised and sold. Byproducts such as alpaca wool, articles made from the wool and alpaca 'gold' are also sold on the premises. It is a space for play dates, birthday parties and family picnics. Visitors get to meet some of the other animals on the farm, including a horse, llama, pot-bellied pigs, ducks, chickens and the stars of the show, the alpacas. In October, there is a patch of pre-picked pumpkins for sale. The farm also offers agritourism field trips and hosts seasonal family farm festivals.
6921 Ridge Valley Ct – Loveland, Phone: 970-231-6444
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24 Fun Things to Do in Colorado with Kids of All Ages
- WOW Children's Museum, Photo: Cheryl Casey/stock.adobe.com
- Banjo Billy’s Bus Tours, Photo: Joshhh/stock.adobe.com
- Buell Childrens Museum, Photo: Maksim Kostenko/stock.adobe.com
- Buffalo Bill Grave and Museum, Photo: cfarmer/stock.adobe.com
- Butterfly Pavilion and Insect Center, Photo: Ana/stock.adobe.com
- Cave Of The Winds Mountain Park, Photo: Douglas/stock.adobe.com
- Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Photo: Liz/stock.adobe.com
- Childrens Museum of Denver, Photo: Aleksey/stock.adobe.com
- Colorado Model Railroad Museum, Photo: Alessandro Cristiano/stock.adobe.com
- Denver Museum of Miniatures- Dolls and Toys, Photo: Denver Museum of Miniatures- Dolls and Toys
- Denver Museum Of Nature and Science, Photo: Creativa Images/stock.adobe.com
- Denver Zoo, Photo: Gary/stock.adobe.com
- Dinosaur National Monument, Photo: Lydia/stock.adobe.com
- Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, Photo: Bob/stock.adobe.com
- Georgetown Loop Railway, Photo: Nick/stock.adobe.com
- Ghost Town Museum, Photo: Ghost Town Museum
- Grand Adventure Balloon Tours, Photo: kyrychukvitaliy/stock.adobe.com
- History Colorado Center, Photo: History Colorado Center
- Eureka! McConnell Math and Science Center, Photo: davit85/stock.adobe.com
- Kit Carson Carousel Museum, Photo: Joy Fera/stock.adobe.com
- Morrison Natural History Museum, Photo: chingyunsong/stock.adobe.com
- The Paint Mines Interpretive Park, Photo: Angela/stock.adobe.com
- Tiny Town and Railroad, Photo: Robert Keenan/stock.adobe.com
- Zippity Zoo Barnyard, Photo: edb3_16/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Margaret/stock.adobe.com