Denver is where I was (almost) born and raised (I was 2 months old when we moved there), so I ought to know it inside out and upside down. But when I took my family there at the beginning of June and we decided to spend our couple of days there seeing the city like tourists, it opened my eyes to new things and reminded me of just how great that place is! Let me share with you some of the fun things to do in Denver, fun places to eat in Denver and things to know if you decide to say Hello Denver!
Fun Things to do in Denver:
Like any big city, Denver is PACKED with fun things you can do. I tried to think outside the box a little bit and show you some things that aren’t your typical tourist spots. (I’ll share some of those too though.)
Hammond’s Candy Factory:
If you have any love of candy at all, this is a GREAT place to go. It’s a candy factory that specializes in candy canes of all variety! It’s completely free to tour this place. You’ll start in a room where they show you a video of the factory’s history and show you some cool candy making techniques and then you walk past a couple of rooms with a tour guide who will show you some real live candy making going on. It’s short and sweet and extra sweet because at the end they give you a candy cane and then you go into their store which is where I get snookered and buy too much candy! Make reservations (optional) and get all the details on their website.
Here’s a quick peek of what you might see:
They have rows and rows of candy canes in every flavor! I got chocolate peanut butter, my kids got flavors like bubble gum and tutti fruiti.
Seriously love this place! We’ve been twice and loved it both times.
OK, this one isn’t off the beaten path, but we went there and had a blast, so I’ve got to tell you about it.
It’s a great museum with dinosaur bones and fossils and a space center and a health area with interactive activities that test your body. We saw a planetarium show that was fantastic and there’s an IMAX theater there too. We spent about 3 hours in the museum and could have spent many more! There’s tons to do there.
Also, the museum is located in Denver’s City Park. Pack a picnic or grab lunch and make a day of it. There’s a nice pond with paddle boats and a great view of Denver. You could seriously spend the whole day here.
And as a side note, the Denver Zoo is also in city park if that’s more your style and it’s a blast to visit too. A big zoo but not too overwhelming with some really nice exhibits. We did that the last time we hit Denver and my boys LOVED it!
This was a new one for us-not somewhere we’ve visited in Denver before, but my dinosaur loving birthday boy REALLY wanted to do some dinosaur stuff while we were there, so we gave this a try. We saw some pretty cool dinosaur tracks:
And also dinosaur bones:
And my kids thought those were VERY cool.
But let me give you some words of advice after our experience there. We didn’t know what to expect and it left us sort of wandering, unsure of what to do. Check out their website before you go. They’ve got a Visitor’s Center listed and a Discovery Center. Don’t bother with the Discovery Center, there’s nothing there. We never made it to the Visitor’s Center but I can only assume that you’d have better luck there.
Overall we walked 2 miles to see these bones and while most of us did well, it was hard on the littlest. The Dinosaur Trail is FREE, which is GREAT though. You can pay for a shuttle to take you on a guided tour of the bones and tracks which might be worth it-we didn’t try it. Overall it was a cool experience and cost us nothing, just be prepared to walk.
While you’re there though, maybe bring lunch and check out the Red Rocks Amphitheater area that is across the street. It’s a gorgeous setting and you can picnic or walk through this area as well:
A couple of other ideas that we didn’t do this time but have done in the past:
Wings Over the Rockies Museum-OK, I lied. We haven’t done this one but we want to sometime! It’s an Air and Space Museum that looks like tons of fun. My boys are dying to try it.
Denver Mint-Go see how money is made! I haven’t done this one since I was a kid, but it’s something fun and different. Looks like you can make tour reservations on their site.
Water World-If it’s summer time and you want to spend a day of water fun, this place is a BLAST! Tons of water slides and pools and fun. Be sure to check for discount tickets because they always offer them.
Sporting Event-Denver’s a major sports city, so if that’s something you love, check out a Colorado Rockies game, a Denver Nuggets game, Colorado Avalanche, Denver Broncos, whatever’s your favorite!
Elitch Gardens-This was a childhood favorite, although it was in a different location when I was little. It’s a big amusement park with everything from big roller coasters to a kiddie land. AND, it’s got a water park too.
Tiny Town-Want a little slow paced, easy day trip try Tiny Town. This one is particularly good for little kids. Walk through cities of small scale buildings. AND, ride a fun little train through it all.
Pikes Peak-If you’ve got time, head down to Colorado Springs and have some fun there. You can go to the top of Pikes Peak, visit the Garden of the Gods or visit the Air Force Academy.
Fun Places to Eat in Denver:
You’ve heard of New York style pizza, you’ve heard of Chicago style pizza, but did you know there’s Colorado style pizza?
If you love pizza, you’ll love this fun Colorado twist on it at BeauJo’s in Denver. These “mountain pies” have got a “mile high” crust-big thick crust that’s crunchy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. And they bring you honey to eat with it!
Plus, they’ve got a lot of fun and unusual toppings for it. At lunch there’s a buffet or you can order whole pizzas. Definitely a fun place to hit while visiting Denver. They’ve got a couple of locations. Check out the details at their website here.
The Original Pancake House:
It’s SO good! I’ll warn you up front that it’s pricey, but for us since it’s a once in a while thing, we just enjoy it. We hit this location in Denver on one of my boy’s birthday because he loves it. Between us all we ordered everything from french toast to omelets, strawberry Belgian waffles to funny face pancakes, and my son’s favorite, chocolate chip pancakes.
And we literally ate every last bite. Just so good! It’s a fun little restaurant too with a homestyle feel and they even have little toys for the kids to play with while you wait! Perfect.
Casa Bonita: This is a family favorite for us. It’s a fun Mexican restaurant and while I’m not promising the greatest food, you WILL have a great time. It’s a cave like feel inside the restaurant, they’ve got cliff divers and melodramatic shows going while you eat, they’ve got mariachi bands that wander and play for you, a video arcade, a cave to explore, puppet shows and more. Oh and hot sopapillas that they bring around after your meal. Let’s just say that my kids are happy campers when we take them here.
Gunther Tooties-This was a fun place to go while I was in high school. It’s a fun 50’s Diner with burgers and shakes and all the 50’s glory.