The Butterfly Pavilion
6252 West 104th Avenue, Westminster
The Butterfly Pavilion, which boasts being “the first stand-alone, Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited non-profit invertebrate zoo in the world,” has a gift shop that’s a flytrap for people of all ages. You don't need to pay admission to enter the store, where kids can find branded sippy cups and T-shirts, along with a host of educational materials and toys. Adults will discover framed insects, including terror-inducing scorpions and magnificent, rare butterflies; if bugs aren’t their thing, there are clothing and jewelry collections to browse through. Gardeners should definitely explore the shop’s wealth of information about beneficial insects; depending on the time of year, they can also order pollinator plants.
Children’s Museum Denver Marsico Campus
2121 Children's Museum Drive
A trip to the Children’s Museum of Denver Marsico Campus is always entertaining for kids, but it can be economically draining for their parents if they spend too long in the gift shop. The store carries an array of educational — and just plain fun — toys from companies including TY, FatBrain, Green Toys, Manhattan Toy Co., Young Scientists Club and more, along with snacks and museum-branded wearables.
Denver Art Museum
100 West 14th Avenue Parkway
In addition to the temporary Monet shop, the DAM has a regular merchandise marketplace — the Shop at the Denver Art Museum — that offers a variety of art-inspired products including jewelry, hip housewares, books, activity kits for kids and other creative gifts. Many of the items in the DAM shop, which is free to enter without admission, are made by Colorado artisans, and items range in price from $1.50 for postcards to $2,000 for jewelry.
Denver Botanic Gardens
1007 York Street
The Shop at the Gardens, which is located in the Denver Botanic Gardens’ Bonfils-Stanton Visitor Center at 1007 York Street, is free to enter. Sure, you can buy tickets here (and you’ll want to, since you don’t want to miss Blossoms of Light this season), but the shop is definitely worth a stop, since it stocks more than 10,000 items chosen by the staff to reflect the Gardens’ core values of sustainability, transformation, diversity and relevance. The impressive inventory includes plants and gardening supplies, of course, but also books (including some written by staffers), herbs and vinegars produced by the Gardens Guild, and jewelry, hats, cards and soaps made by local artisans. If you can’t find something to covet here, you’re not trying.
Denver Museum of Nature & Science
2001 Colorado Boulevard
Looking for an enjoyable shopping experience for the entire family during which you might just learn something, too? The Best of Denver award-winning Denver Museum of Nature & Science gift shop has swag for geeks young and old, and you don't have to pay admission to visit it. But while you’re at the museum — which celebrates its 119th birthday this month — you'll definitely want to check out special exhibits devoted to Pixar and extreme sports, stand in awe of the dinosaurs and mummies, and catch a film at the IMAX theater. Then head to the shop, where you can accessorize with animal-, insect- and dinosaur-themed jewelry, grab some Colorado T-shirts and magnets, and buy your little one a polished stone, an astronaut’s helmet, or kits for growing crystals and building toy robots. If you need a nosh for the road, the store also has a small assortment of tasty chocolate bars. Just beware: If you’re not careful, you might spend more time in the gift shop than in the museum.