Have you checked out my post on 10 Ways to Save on Your Summer Vacation? One of them is to take a staycation which is a fantastic option for those of you that would prefer to stay close to home this year. A staycation is similar to a vacation, except you get to pass on the flight tickets, long road-trip gas costs and hotel expenses. 😉 One of the most difficult things about planning a staycation is thinking of creative things to do. This is where a theme can really come in handy. Select a theme that your family is interested in and then seek out activities that fit within that theme. For those of you that are in Colorado, I have included a round-up of some of my favorite Denver staycation and summer activity ideas below!
Historic Denver Activities
Denver Mint: Tours of the Denver Mint are free, but you will need to make a reservation online. Keep in mind that you must be at the tour entrance no later than 15 minutes before your tour time. Also, don’t forget that there is no parking at the Mint, so you will need allow for some extra time to find a public lot in the area and walk back before your tour is scheduled to start. Lastly (I learned this the hard way), the Denver Mint does not allow any bags in their facility (with no exceptions) and there are also not any storage options, so make sure to leave all bags and purses at home or in your car.
Red Rocks Park: Admission to the park and parking is free. They also have guided tours available for $6 for adults and $3 for children and seniors.
The Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave: Open daily 9:00am to 5:00pm through October 31st. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors over the age of 65, $1 for children between the ages of 6 and 15 and free for children under 5. Visit the Buffalo Bill Museum website for more information about this attraction.
Dinosaur Ridge: Visit Dinosaur Ridge the first and third Saturdays of each month for a 2 ½ -hour detailed walking tour of the Ridge with one of their geologists. Tours start at 9:00 am and reservations can be made at 303-697-3466 Ext. 103 prior to 5:00pm the night before. Shuttle bus tours are available for $6 or you can tour the exhibit hall for $2 (3 and under are free).
**Head on over here for more Museums and Historic Sites in Colorado.
Outdoor/Nature Themed Denver Activities
Denver Museum of Nature and Science: The museum is open daily 9:00am-5:00pm. Adult tickets are $14.95, tickets for seniors over 65 are $11.95, ages 3-18 are $9.95 and children 2 and under are free. There are also a few package deals available if you want to visit the IMAX while you are at the museum. Make sure to also check out the list of free admission days for 2015.
Denver Botanic Gardens: Tickets are $12.50 for adults, $9.50 for seniors over the age of 65, $9 for children between the ages of 3 and 15 and free for little ones under the age of two. They are open 9:00am to 5:00pm daily through May 9th and then 9:00am to 8:00pm May 10th through September 27th. Make sure to also check out the list of free admission days for 2015.
Hudson Gardens in Littleton: Admission is free for most visitors. There are also lots of bonus activities throughout the summer, so make sure to check out their activities page while planning your visit.
Denver Zoo: The Denver Zoo is open 9:00am to 5:00pm through November 1st. Tickets are $17 for ages 12-64, $14 for 65+, $12 for ages 3-11 and free for children 2 and under. There are a lot of demonstrations and activities to participate in while you are there, so make sure to check out their daily calendar online. The Denver Zoo can be very busy on the weekends, so if you can plan this activity for a weekday you are likely to have a far more enjoyable visit. Make sure to also check out the list of free admission days for 2015.
Visit a Mountain Town or Take a Hike: There is no shortage of beautiful mountain towns and hiking trails in Colorado. Visit the State Park website for lots of ideas.
Amusement Park Themed Denver Activities
Elitch Gardens in Denver: For a limited time, purchase season tickets and you’ll get them for $69.99 per person ($10 off the regular price), plus they will throw in a free parking pass. There are also lots of other perks to having a season pass. Check them all out and purchase your season passes on the Elich Gardens website.
Water World in Denver: There are a number of different admission options that start at free for children under 40″and go up to $38.47 for an all day General Admission pass. Front Range King Soopers stores also sell discounted ($5 off) General Admission and Child tickets. King Soopers also sells Family 4-Pack ticket packages that include 4 admissions (any guest 40″+), one 16″ Family Sized Pizza and 4 drinks. The Family 4-Pack is $147.96 (tax is already included–this works out to be $36.99 per person). If you purchase your tickets form King Soopers you can bypass the ticket windows and head straight for the entry turnstiles. Make sure to also check out the Water World website for other discount and coupon options. You can also stop by your local Subway store (beginning May 11th) and pickup a coupon for a 2 for 1 admission Opening Weekend (Saturday, May 23rd-Monday, May 25th). Bring an empty Diet Pepsi can to the front gate coupon center and you will save $10 in May/June and $6 for the rest of the summer. Bring a canned, non-perishable food donation for 9 Cares, Colorado Shares and receive a $6 off coupon!
This is just very small sample of the things that there are to do in Colorado, I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments section of this post.
A few other theme ideas include: Adventure Theme (sky diving, white water rafting, paintball), Volunteer Theme (select several different charities to volunteer your time with), or Spa Theme (schedule a few different spa treatments throughout the week).
Do you plan to take a staycation this year? Share with us in the comments section!
Here are a few other ideas – the Wildlife Sanctuary, Morrison History Museum, roller skating at Skate City, the city of Denver offers free movies in the park and there is free jazz concerts in City Park. There are two children museums in the metro area, the Museum of Nature and Science, the Colorado History museum, a wonderful Art Museum with kid activities too. Don’t forget the Plains Conservation Center, Sunflower Farm, Four Mile Historic Park and much more.
Theres the downtown Denver Aquarium, the Denver Children’s Museum, the Lafayette Children’s Museum, the Fort Collins Discovery Museum, Miller Farms lets kids pick vegetables out of the field with a hay ride.
Molly Brown house does historic tours, camping, fiishing, boat rentals, lake swim beaches, Redstone Park in Highlands Ranch has a water sand park and creek play area for kids, you can fish there, too. The Lego Store is worth visiting, you can build your own Lego guys or girls. Sing Sings is fun for adults if it’s still open, downtown, and the breweries do free tours with beer. Paddle boats at Morrison Lake and Grand Lake.
Sing Sing is now called Howl at the Moon. It is still fun for adults!
Also, there is a huge kids park in Fort Collins called Spring Creek if you are up north, Rocky Mountain National Park for hiking and animal viewing, if your kids are older, white water rafting, Monkey Bizness in the Demver area, I’m not sure if the Old Spagetti Factory is still open, but it is really fun, country dance places, Grizzly Rose teaches kids to line dance on the weekend at 4 pm.
Native to Colorado, there are a few not mentioned. Heritage Square in Golden, Santas Workshop in Cascade, the zoo that you can feed giraffes at in Colorado Springs, Casa Bonita has live shows and diving from cliffs, puppet shows, caves for kids, there’s a dinosaur place in Colorado Springs, Garden of the Gods, there’s some ghost towns to feed chipmunks in the mountains…at Casa Zbonita you get in free and just pay to eat.
Are there any Staycations in Colorado Springs, Co? Most of the stuff is just to far away. We can’t do a lot of walking unless there are places to sit down.
Please and Thank you
Other ideas for nearby are the Butterfly Pavilion in Broomfield, and the train museum in Golden. So much to do and see! Then there’s everything in and around Colorado Springs too.
Stephanie Kay says
My kids would LOVE to see the Denver Mint. I can’t believe how much there is to do in Denver. Hopefully we’ll visit CO one day.
Denverite here – all great tips except for Elitch’s and Water World – they’re fun if you’re into that kind of thing, but they are exceedingly crowded and NOT cheap. Lakeside is still open – again if you’re into that thing – but not that cheap. All other tips are absolutely spot on and fantastic. I’ll add one more – if you’re going to go to Denver and have a day to enjoy driving and stopping by roadside sites (en route to the dinosaur ridge), just get a map of the “Lariot Loop” – too fun, gorgeous and historical (it will include a stop at the Boetcher Mansion and the free wildlife museum, Mother Cabrini shrine – very historical regardless of whether or not you’re Catholic – plus you can pick up some free holy water – never a bad thing to have on hand, just in case) and it is a wonderful way to spend a day with or without kids. Plus for all you bikers out there (harleys and others) it will take you on some great rides. If, however, you are traveling by car/van – use extreme care. We’ve got some crazy bikers out here.
Thanks for the ideas- we also like to head to Denver for a day during the summer. Now I have new ideas! We also like to stop by Hammond’s Candy Factory when we are there though too- get a free treat to enjoy on the way back to Colorado Springs.
There is no free parking w/ season pass at Elitch’s. It’s $15 a day to park. I’d really like to know where the link is to the pass w/ free parking….
Hi Chris~ The season pass does come with free parking. I’ve updated the link to go to the correct page. 🙂
Leah Frank says
Really like this idea. Definitely the Denver Zoo and Botanicals maybe on my agenda. I don’t know about Elitch because with my stomach and those rides it may not be pretty. However, it is a great deal if you have kids or are adventure in your soul. One thing I really enjoy is if you are a fan of baseball the tour of Coors field is really fun and interesting. It is also pretty cheap. Don’t remember price but did not cost us much. Just make sure you go when the Rockies are away and there are not any kids baseball games going on. When I went there was and I was really bummed I did not get to stand out in the middle of plush Coors field and look at the vastness. Sorry I am kinda boring and don’t have high expectations.
Robin D says
Is Lakeside Amusement park closed?
If you use a fancy phone or a computer, there is a FREE site / app that shows you virtual brochure racks for all over the place so you can browse the touristy things without leaving your couch. It covers half the country so if you’re looking outside of Colorado, just change the state and travel in your mind.
Sarah Addison says
this is a great list! Thanks for sharing!
We just moved to this area back in August. This is a great list for our family with it being the first summer living here. Thanks!