14 Kid-Friendly Activities in the Colorado Springs & Denver Area


Summer is approaching, and it’s the perfect time to escape the “I’m bored” chorus and plan a family trip to Colorado. The Colorado Springs/Denver area is a treasure trove of family adventures, just an 8.5-hour drive from El Paso or a direct flight. Colorado has it all if your little ones are fascinated by trains, dinosaurs, hiking, children’s museums, or perhaps they are budding foodies.

1. Dinosaur Ridge | Morrison, CO

The #1 dinosaur track site (rated by real paleontologists!) is located in Morrison, Colorado, just 20 minutes west of Denver (roughly 40 minutes from Denver International Airport). It is free to walk up to the track site, which is about a 10-minute walk uphill, or there is a bus you can take from the Dinosaur Ridge Discovery Center for about $18 per adult and $12 per child. We opted to park at the gate and walk, and I used a stroller for my 3-year-old. You can also hike some longer trails if the weather is nice.

2. Red Rocks Amphitheater | Morrison, CO

Just 6 minutes from Dinosaur Ridge, Red Rocks Amphitheater is a must-see for any music lover. Musicians like Bruce Springsteen, U2, The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, and more have performed there for fans. The theater is open during the day as long there are no shows that night, and it is free to visit. You can walk along the risers and through the Visitor’s Center, where they list every artist who has performed since 1941. It is important to note there are many steps at Red Rocks Amphitheater, and if you are not accustomed to the altitude (6,450 feet above sea level), it is essential to take it slow and bring water! 

Kid friendly Colorado activities
View from the stands at Red Rocks Amphitheatre

3. Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge | Commerce City, CO

Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge is a hidden gem located in Northeast Denver. The refuge has over 20 miles of hiking trails but also offers an 11-mile drivable tour and an audio podcast you can listen to as you drive. The refuge features deer, bison, prairie dogs, raptors, and waterfowl. We were lucky enough to spot two young coyotes playing with each other at sunset!

Kid Friendly Colorado Activities
Bison at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge

4. Denver Museum of Nature and Science | Denver, CO

This place is HUGE! With three levels, you can explore anything from dinosaurs to wildlife to space to the human body to their current feature, Orcas (for an additional fee). It is located in Central Denver (VERY close to the Denver Zoo) and has free parking on site, although it fills up quickly. We spent a few hours here walking around and exploring the different areas. The vast space exhibit has many excellent features and activities, including a play area for toddlers. There is something for all ages here, and it was worth the trip. Tickets start around $25 per adult and $20 per child ages 3-18.

5. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo | Colorado Springs, CO

Voted #5 on the Top 10 US Zoos list by USA Today, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is a must-see. Built into the side of a mountain, the zoo is one of a kind. As you enter the zoo, you are greeted with the giraffe habitat; the platform for visitors is elevated so you can see them face to face. The best part? For $3 (one feeding) or $5 (two feedings), you can purchase lettuce and feed the giraffes! Some zoos have specific feeding times, but Cheyenne Mountain Zoo offers daily feeding. In addition, they offer rhinoceros and elephant feedings at select times throughout the year. For little ones that enjoy feeding goats, you can feed the barnyard friends for $1 per feeding. The zoo just recently opened a new penguin exhibit, and if you are lucky enough, a zoo ambassador may be escorting a penguin around the habitat for visitors to enjoy. If you have a foodie in your family, Pizza with a View offers excellent pizza and an even better view. 

6. Manitou Springs Adventure Arcade | Manitou Springs, CO

This little arcade is fabulous and gives you physical tickets (no arcade card!) when you win prizes! They have pinballs, claws, racing games, and more. The best part? Some games only cost a dime or a quarter! Some of the arcades are outside, and some are inside, so just like everywhere else in Colorado, watch the weather. Manitou Springs also offers some great t-shirt shops and other touristy things. You can catch a glimpse of the top half of The Incline, too.

7. Royal Gorge Train | Cañon City, CO

We saw this on TikTok, and I was afraid it would be a tourist trap, but I was wrong! The weather can make or break this train ride, as you can walk out into the “open-air cars” whenever you want to get better views of the gorge, so keep that in mind. We bought tickets for the lunchtime train at 12:30 (Starting at $89+ for adults and $84+ for kids for coach seating with no table). The train leaves from the Royal Gorge Train Depot in Cañon City, Colorado, and travels 24 miles over 2 hours. Cañon City is a little over an hour southwest of Colorado Springs and about 2 hours from Central Denver. We were lucky to have a fantastic tour guide who pointed out bighorn sheep multiple times and gave us some great historical facts as we rode through. There are food and beverages onboard for purchase if you don’t choose to include it in your original ticket. I was nervous we would regret spending such a significant amount on train tickets, but it ended up being one of the best parts of our trip.

8. Tunnel Drive Hike | Cañon City, CO

This trailhead is only a few minutes from the Royal Gorge Railroad. Except for a pretty steep start to this trail, the remaining ~4 miles (out and back) are flat and give you a beautiful view of the Arkansas River the entire way. At the beginning of the hike, you pass through 3 tunnels, which can be fun for the kids to run through. We gave my 3-year-old a headlamp. Although not necessary, he enjoyed wearing it and seeing the light on the tunnel walls. The views are stunning, and if you’re lucky enough, you might be able to spot bighorn sheep. This trail also has plenty of benches and a great lunch or snack spot!

kid friendly activities in colorado
A view of the Royal Gorge from the Tunnel Drive Trail


During our week in Colorado, we ate at some fantastic local spots. We had pasta, biscuits, pizza, and, of course, ice cream.

9. Blue Pan Pizza | Denver, CO

We stumbled upon this Detroit-style pizza shop close to the Nature & Science Museum. I was unaware of how amazing it would be. My group split a large pizza, Detroit style, of course, and noticed their menu has MANY award-winning pizzas offered. 

10. Nuggs Ice Cream | Denver, CO

Nuggs is an adorable ice cream shop only a 5-minute drive from the area where Blue Pan and the Nature & Science Museum are located. They offer many creative homemade flavors and won an award in 2019 for Denver’s best Ice Cream Shop!

11. Denver Biscuit Co | Denver, CO

With a handful of locations across Denver and Colorado Springs, this restaurant has THREE menus: Denver Biscuit Co, Atomic Cowboy, and Fat Sully’s. You can get giant pizza slices after 11 AM and biscuits any time of the day. We got biscuits, french toast (on biscuit bread), and a cinnamon roll that was bigger than my 3-year-old’s head. We had this family-friendly restaurant on our last day and wished we had it sooner because we definitely would’ve returned.

Kid Friendly Activities Colorado
Chicken Biscuit at Denver Biscuit Co.

12. Little Man Ice Cream Factory | Denver, CO (Colfax Ave)

What can I say? We love our ice cream. We saw this on TikTok and knew we had to go. When you walk in, there are colossal glass window panes where you can watch the creators MAKE the ice cream from scratch right in front of you. There is also a giant slide inside that we rode repeatedly between bites. I got the salted caramel Reese’s Cup ice cream and still fantasize about it. 

13. Paravicini’s | Old Colorado City, CO

Located just 10 minutes from Manitou Springs, Paravicini’s has some of the best Italian food in the area. Made from scratch with fresh ingredients, this locally owned restaurant is something you can’t miss. I got Penne Alla Vodka, and my husband got Carbonara. It’s important to note that the servings are large enough to take the rest home. Our toddler enjoyed the fresh-baked bread that the server brought to the table. 

14. Rocky Mountain Beignets | Manitou Springs, CO

If you enjoy beignets or sugar, you must check this out. I didn’t take a picture because we ate them so fast. You can get regular-sized beignets or minis. We opted for the regular size for about $7; they were fresh and perfect. 

The bottom line: Colorado has so much to offer families. Take time to explore, check the weather (pack layers), and don’t forget to drink a lot of water!

If you’re staying local for summer, check out Tips to Transition and Embrace the Summer Break!

Planning to drive to Colorado to take advantage of the activities here? Check out 8 Road Trip Tips for Traveling with Kids.


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