Living in Denver can be a challenge when it comes to entertaining your family on a budget! Over the past few years the weather can be a factor sometimes. You never know in Colorado, one day it's freezing and snowing and the next it's sunny and almost enjoyable outside. There are also days that you ask yourself "is it really winter?" Believe it or not it has been known to get up to 70 degrees in our coldest months (December thru March)!
I have tried to come up with a list of things to do in Denver that are family friendly and affordable (free or close to). So for those of you who live here or want to visit someday I hope this is helpful.
Littleton Museum is free to get into and fun for the kids. It has two farms dating back to the 1800's, old barns, a blacksmith shop and an old house. It is really neat to see how people lived back then and it is so much better in person than looking at pictures!
Chatfield State park is fun if you like to be outdoors. The lake is huge, there are a ton of trails to hike and wildlife to see. At the end of summer there is the hot air balloon festival, during the winter they have sleigh rides and pumpkin patches. It is $6 to get in for a day/per car.
Dinosaur Ridge is cool for the older kids. It's free, so it's cool for the parents also. It's a little hard for the little ones to understand dinosaur fossils and footprints! My youngest thought we were going to see real dinosaurs. He was really disappointed!
Heritage Square has free admission. You can go in and wander through the shops, people watch and if you want to spend minimal money you can get some ice cream or ride the train. There are rides for the kids and a pond with bumper boats. For the big kids there is an alpine slide! I have to admit, I have lived here my whole life and have never riden it.
If you have the patience for crowds and strollers you can visit the Denver Zoo or the Museum of Nature and Science on one of their free days. The best way to go with the zoo is to buy a membership ($80 for the family) and it's good for a year. You can go once a week, take a picnic lunch and not spend a dime if your kids will let you! During the winter they have zoo lights. It is so fun to go to and very beautiful with the whole zoo covered in Christmas lights and decorations. I haven't purchased a museum membership before, I can't see my kids wanting to go there all that often, but they do have a really cool IMAX theater and planetarium for when they get older. The big dinorsaurs are a little intimidating for the little ones!
For those freezing cold and snowy days there is Sledding Hill. It's at the corner of Ken Caryl Ave. and Kipling street in Littleton. It is a huge hill that is perfect for sledding. They constructed a new parking lot this summer, making it a little easier to find parking.
Foothills recreation center has a lot of actvities for the kids and parents. My kids really enjoy the indoor swimming pool, the baby gym and taking art classes there. The baby gym is at the Lilly gulch center and it allows parents and children under the age of 5 to go in (for $4/child) and play in the gymnasium for an hour. The little ones love running, jumping, swinging, dancing and just being silly there. They take really good naps afterwards!
The Rocky Mountains and foothills (Tiny Town, Morrison, Red Rocks park) are always good for a drive or a hike and it's free. Generally speaking of course, you still have to pay for the gas. If you go in the fall it is worth every penny! There are plenty of hills to go sledding, there are little towns to go have lunch and site see or you can just drive to your hearts content!
If your not a mountain type person you can go downtown via car or the lightrail. There are soooo many things to do down there. You can wander down 16th street mall, Larimer square or go see the Capitol building across from civic center park. It's all free so you can spend some cash and grab some food! There are plenty of places to stop. Lots of people watching (yes that can amuse you for a whole day). Interesting window shopping and many attractions that can cost a pretty penny! There is just too much for one day.
There are the Elvis Cinemas (dollar movies) on Bowles and Kipling if you need to get out of the cold. You can get your whole family in there for the price of one admission ticket to the new release movies! The only downfall is they also charge an arm and a leg for the concessions. It's a decent theater for what you pay.
I will need to brainstorm to come up with some more ideas! I hope this has helped out in the boredom/broke department. Coming from a broke and bored mom of 3 I hope you can get a little information from this one!!!!