Five Summer Adventures for Fun-Loving Families in Colorado

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3. Butterflies at Chatfield Farms
8500 West Deer Creek Canyon Road, Littleton

For the third year, the Butterfly Pavilion and Denver Botanic Gardens have teamed up to present Butterflies at Chatfield Farms, open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily through September. Near Chatfield Farms’ main entrance – across from the visitors' center – guests can interact with hundreds of butterflies inside a 1,500-square-foot structure housing a garden with more than fifty indigenous Colorado plant species. The natural flora and fauna serve as a habitat for mostly native butterflies, though some tropical breeds have been introduced, too.

Species sightings will vary by day; keep an eye out for the monarch, painted lady, common buckeye, queen, black swallowtail, viceroy and red admiral. “We get live butterflies every few weeks,” says Chatfield Farms visitor-services representative Jackie Gordon. “We also hatch chrysalis; we’re trying to showcase the whole life cycle of the butterfly.”  

Kids love “hanging out with the butterflies,” Gordon continues. “The butterflies do land on you, and they’ll fly by your face.”  Budding photographers can bring their cameras for up-close shots. A $5 parking fee per non-member vehicle gets you general admission to Chatfield Farms, and a separate admission ticket – $4 for non-members, $2 for members – is required to enter the butterfly house. The butterfly house will be closed on July 12 and August 2 and 4.
4. Dinosaur Train Rides in Durango
479 Main Avenue, Durango 

All aboard! The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad will host its fifth annual Dinosaur Train several days in June. Based on the award-winning PBS Kids program, this special twelve-ride series has become one of the railroad’s most popular family excursions, and is particularly appealing for kids ages three to seven. 

After boarding at the depot in Durango, patrons take a scenic half-hour trip through the San Juan National Forest. Along for the ride and some very special sing-alongs is Buddy, that lovable Tyrannosaurus rex from Dinosaur Train. Grab a snack on-board, too, and settle in for a natural history presentation about dinosaurs and their habitats; this year the railroad is partnering with the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science and its team of paleontologists to provide riders with enhanced educational information and fossils, too.  

When the train reaches its destination – the Nature Trackers Adventure Area – guests have ninety minutes to participate in activities and challenges, including a fossil dig, dinosaur tracking, a live reptile show, face painting and a photo op with Buddy. “These special events reflect our continued commitment to staging fun, interactive and family-friendly events that are enjoyable for parents and children alike,” says Allen C. Harper, co-owner and CEO of American Heritage Railways, the parent company of the D&SNGRR. Standard tickets start at $24 and can be purchased online or by calling 888-872-4607. Excursion dates and times are listed online.  
5. Free Bowling at Punch Bowl Social
65 Broadway

You don’t have to venture far from Denver to have fun this summer. With old-school entertainment, culinary refinement and a stellar craft beverage program, the hip eatertainment concept known as Punch Bowl Social has been entertaining grownups and fun-loving families since opening in the Baker neighborhood in 2012.

New this summer, Punch Bowl Social is offering free, hour-long kids' bowling sessions on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, for children and adolescents under fifteen. Bowling shoes are included, and bowlers must be accompanied by an adult.

“Punch Bowl Social is quickly becoming a top spot for families to gather, and we wanted to offer parents and kids a cool space to have fun and keep busy this summer,” says marketing director Jodi Collier. When your hour is up, try karaoke, wall-size magnetic scrabble, ping-pong, arcade games and bocce, along with the establishment’s notoriously good scratch cooking. 
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Jamie Siebrase is a Denver-based freelance writer, and author of the forthcoming Falcon Guide Hiking Wth Kids, Colorado: 52 Great Hikes for Families.
Contact: Jamie Siebrase