Orvis Hot Springs
Orvis Hot Springs is worth the drive.
Courtesy Orvis Hot Springs Facebook page
1585 County Road 3, Ridgway
Pools and hot springs are the easiest way to placate bored kids during the summer; put just about any child in a pool and they'll happily shriek and splash for hours. So what's a hot springs lover who doesn't love kids to do? Drive 280 miles to Ridgway. While Orvis does allow children, its clothing-optional policy almost guarantees that you'll only encounter adults marinating in these mineral waters. Choose from three indoor and five outdoor pools — including a smoker's pond — surrounded by stunning (ahem) natural scenery.
Pirates Cove Water Park
There are pools for all ages at Pirates Cove.
Courtesy Pirates Cove Facebook
1225 West Belleview, Englewood
If you want more attractions than just a single water slide and a few swim lanes but can't bear the sensory (and financial) overload that is Water World, Pirates Cove may be just your speed. Adult admission tops out at $15, and while there's plenty of fun to be had (including a 750-gallon dump bucket above the leisure pool, four water slides and a sandy beach for kids who are future architects instead of aspiring Katie Ledeckys), the Cove is significantly smaller, mellower and easier to navigate for overstimulated kids and adults alike.
Puddle Jumper Pool
2401 Xenia Street
If you've got an ankle-biter, the best place for him or her to learn how to take the water is the Puddle Jumper. This Stapleton swimming pool is especially designed for young and beginner swimmers. It can be tough out there for a water baby, what with the other kids knocking you over into scary, too-deep water and glaring adults who don't appreciate the childlike wonders of splashing water and squealing at the top of your lungs. This zero-entry pool was designed with all that in mind: It boasts splash fountains and pads, bubblers and a dry-land playground for water-shy tykes. Just don't think too hard about what's in the water.
Staenberg-Loup Jewish Community Center
You'll be more buoyant in the JCC Aquatic Center's salt-water pool.
Courtesy Staenberg-Loup Jewish Community Center
350 South Dahlia Street
The swimming pools at the spanking-new JCC Aquatics Center are perfect even when it's cool out; both the inside and outdoor pools are heated to a cozy eighty degrees or above, so they're comfortable whether you always run cold or want to keep your muscles nice and loose during your water workout. There are plenty of classes to choose from, too; both low- and high-impact workouts are on the schedule, which also boasts expansive lap-swim hours. A summer-only membership gets you access to JCC's fitness center, and — bonus — you'll emerge from the saltwater pools with perfect beachy waves in your hair.
Union Station Fountains
Face first into the fountains.
Wynkoop Plaza is the perfect place for people who dislike swimming pools to get wet. The bubblers erupting from the plaza from May through September delight children of all ages, water-loving dogs and the occasional adult trying to cool down (or just get a quick shower after a long, long night). Parents who prefer to supervise rather than swim can settle in on one of the many restaurant patios surrounding the plaza for a bite and a drink while the kids try to figure out which geyser will go off next and passersby get a laugh out of the little ones' fountain antics.
Water World's wave pool gently returns swimmers to pool's edge.
Courtesy Water World Facebook
8801 Pecos Street, Federal Heights
For the ultimate water park death march, there's no competition. Water World has over 35 attractions — including a roller coaster/water-slide mashup dubbed a "hydromagnetic watercoaster," water slides that drop off faster than Lombard Street, a wave pool and a gondola — as well as two gift shops and twelve restaurants. It even boasts an all-you-can-eat buffet (surely the least likely food concept at a place where diners spend all day in swimwear and hurtling down thrill rides). It's crowded, it's over the top, it's a guaranteed sunburn and it's a Colorado classic; you've got to go at least once this summer.