From native Colorado species to exotic creatures from the other side of the globe, from delicate butterflies to lumbering elephants, The Mile High City is filled with amazing animals in state-of-the-art habitats.
Lions, tigers, bears — and so much more! Set aside several hours for exploration at the Denver Zoo, an eye-opening experience for all ages. The fourth most popular zoo in the nation has about 4,000 animals representing more than 750 species. The zoo’s new Amur tiger habitat, The Edge, is presently under construction and will bring guests closer than ever to these magnificent felines. The Toyota Elephant Passage, meanwhile, will give you an up-close-and-personal experience with massive Asian elephants. Predator Ridge has a pride of lions, while polar bears frolic in nearby Northern Shores — check them out above ground or underwater thanks to a specially designed viewing window. You’ll also love Primate Panorama, where fun-loving orangutans make their home.
Denver Museum of Nature & Science
In City Park you’ll find the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, a spectacular museum that explores fossils and dinosaurs, the mysteries of space at Gates Planetarium, Egyptian mummies, larger-than life films at the Phipps IMAX 3D Theater, and a slew of interactive exhibits. The Discovery Zone has dozens of hands-on activities for kids of all ages, from archaeological sand pits to moving water features.
Colorado may be landlocked, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have plenty of marine life for you and your family to gawk at. The Downtown Aquarium features fascinating sea creatures, sharks and more. All in all there are more than 15,000 fish, mammals and plants, including an exhibition of Sumatran tigers who love to swim. And if you’re left with the urge to get a little wet yourself, you’re in luck: the Swin with the Fish and Dive with the Sharks programs let you swim alongside giant groupers, Moray eels, guitar fish, sand tiger sharks, green sea turtles and 400 of their closest friends.
Denver Botanic Gardens
Just south of the expansive City Park, you and your family will find the spectacular 23-acres that make up Denver Botanic Gardens. Trust us; you won’t just be stopping to smell the roses. As you follow the winding paths through the grounds, you’ll discover no less than 32,000 diverse and delightful plants from such faraway places as Australia, Africa and the Himalayas. There are dozens of gardens to enjoy, including the internationally recognized Japanese Garden.
Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus
One of the best ways for young kids to learn about the world around them is with hands-on activities. The Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus is filled to the brim with myriad exhibitions, playscapes, and educational fun. Kids can shop in a makeshift grocery store and even play the part of the cashier, fiddle around with the computers, stocked with challenging games, brush up on their science quotient in the laboratories, or practice their wedges on the KidSlope, a mini ski mountain that’s open year-round.
At Dinosaur Ridge in Morrison (near Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre), an outdoor museum and visitor center, you can touch the bones of Allosaurus and Stegosaurus at the site where important dinosaur discoveries were made in the late 1800s. See how Iguanadons walked by viewing real dinosaur footprints preserved in the sandstone.
One of the most unique “wild Denver” spots can be found just a few miles from downtown Denver at the 30,000-square-foot Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster. This amazing attraction combines science education with hands-on fun to teach visitors about invertebrates, science and conservation. The interactive exhibitions are geared primarily toward families with kids ages two to 12 years old, but people of all ages will embrace the beauty and wonder of the tropical conservatory filled with 1,600 free-flying butterflies imported from around the globe.