Our family recently took a trip to Colorado. Our older kids were in school, so it was just my husband, myself, and our four youngest. Yet finding family fun in Denver wasn’t difficult.
We were only in the Mile-High City for a few days (passing through on our way to Aspen), but we packed in lots of great sightseeing while we were there. Here are the highlights from our most recent trip, plus a couple of stops we’ve enjoyed on previous visits to the Mile-High City:
One of our first stops was at Hammond’s Candies, the largest handmade candy factory in North America.
Our tour started with a short, captivating film on the history of Hammond’s and the whole candy making process. Fun, multiple choice questions given at the end of each video segment quizzed how well we were paying attention.
Next, we got to go behind the scenes to see the candy makers in action. The tour is free and includes free samples, but it takes more self-control than we posses to get out of there without spending any money.
The tour exits through a gift shop and candy store, with such a vast array of mouthwatering treats that we couldn’t resist getting a few bags full for snacking on the road.
Phoenix Gold Mine
A short drive west of Denver is Idaho Springs, where you’ll find the Phonex Gold Mine. We stopped there on our way back from Aspen to take a look around and try our luck panning for gold.
Doug declared it “the single most fascinating tour I’ve been on to date” — which is saying a lot, considering taking factory tours is a big part of almost all our vacations.
St. Mary’s Glacier
While you’re in Idaho Springs, a hike up to St. Mary’s Glacier and back is well worth the time it will take for the mile-long trip. The views are amazing, and it’s fun to feel the climate change from warm, grassy terrain to frozen snow as the altitude increases.
If you’d like to tour the US Mint while you are in Denver, you’ll need to register for a spot on the tour well in advance.
Unfortunately, they were extremely busy the week we were there, and we didn’t get in this trip, despite my trying for a couple of months to make reservations.
The Melting Pot
If you’ve never eaten fondue, now is a wonderful time to try it. The Melting Pot in Littleton, CO (20 mi south of Denver), lets kids eat free on Sundays and Tuesdays in October. If you come in costume, you’ll get an additional $5 off. Plus, get 6 free chocolate covered strawberries by joining their email list. Some restrictions apply. See Melting Pot website for full details.
Another great pick for family fun was Denver GameWorks. [UPDATE: Sadly, this place has apparently closed down since we visited]
It took a few tries for us to figure out how to use the game cards we’d been assigned in lieu of tokens, but once we got the hang of it, we liked that system much better, as it meant having less to cart around and keep up with .
Coors Brewery (in Golden)
A brewery tour may sound like an odd choice for a tea-totalling family like ours, but it was very educational.
They had a great variety of games, including several different versions of pinball (with which my husband impressed us all with his quick reflexes and unsurpassed skill.
Other family favorites included Connect Four, KungFu Panda Punch, Wheel of Fortune, and skee ball. There was something there for everyone.
In addition to arcade games, they also had photo booths and air hockey tables. Our little guys really especially enjoyed those!
However, the highlight of our visit was playing G-Force Laser Tag. The referee who helped us suit up for our game told us that GameWorks’ laser tag was the best we’d ever play — and he wasn’t exaggerating. Their two-story course made it extra challenging. Also, players not only earned points for shooting members of the opposing team, but also for searching, finding, and shooting the other team’s base.
Did you know, for instance, it was Bill Coors who invented the recyclable aluminum can? He did it to keep cans out of the landfill. And, what’s more, he purposefully didn’t patent his invention, because he wanted every company to use it.
I know there’s a lot more to do and see in Denver, and that this list barely scratches the surface. If you know something especially good that I’ve missed, please share it in the comment section, so that we can incorporate your suggestions in a future trip!