The weather is cold and the holidays are over — and you're wondering what to do with the kids. That's where indoor wonderlands come in, and Denver and the surrounding areas have plenty of awesome adventures for the family that don't involve heavy coats and gloves or whining about frozen toes. Get out of the house and inside one of these ten establishments for fun and excitement — no matter the weather.
Alamo Drafthouse's Alamo for All
Taking a little one to the movies can be hard. They're loud, antsy and might throw popcorn like wild animals. That's okay if you head to the Alamo Drafhouse's Alamo for All screenings (okay, maybe not the popcorn chucking). These early shows — before noon — are meant for families with little kids, people with sensory issues, and moms and dads who want to get out and see an adult show but can't get a babysitter. Recently we saw Frozen II, which is still playing, along with Spies in Disguise and Jumanji: The Next Level. Shows and times change each week, so check the schedule online. Most tickets at this time run $10, and kids can get a special booklet that they add stickers to on each visit, to win prizes.
13150 West 72nd Avenue
The indoor playground in Arvada is just one of many reasons to visit the vast recreation space. This free facility has plenty of things to climb, explore, slither through and seek out, all with a camping and nature theme. For an $8 day fee, you and the family can enjoy the 23,000-square-foot pool and water area, natural rock climbing wall, ice rink and more.
6252 West 104th Avenue, Westminster
One of the best things about winter is how few bugs are around to, well, bug you. No wasps, ant armies or big spiders lurk under unused outdoor toys. But just because the wild insects remain dormant this time of year, it doesn't mean you can't get down with some encased arachnids at the Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster. There are plenty of bug displays to take in, Rosie the Tarantula to hold, a tropical-temp area filled with live butterflies, and a whole play area for your kids to work off some steam. Bring a picnic lunch and eat in the makeshift, heated tent, and let something bug your kids for a change. Admission is free if they're under two, $8 for ages 2 to 12, and $12 for everyone else.
2121 Children's Museum Drive
Although the recent hype surrounding the Children's Museum has been about the incredible new outdoor play space, it's inside where you will want to hang this month. For babies learning to crawl, there's a whole area of carpeted, low-traffic play things to explore without getting trampled on by bigger kids. Older children will love to climb the tower-cage and explore the "roof" of the venue, while looking down at things below. There's an art studio with paint, clay and projects to enjoy, as well as a test kitchen for the budding chefs in your life. (Sign up on the sheet in front of the room as soon as you get there. The spots fill up fast.) Play vet, pretend to be a worm or small creature crawling in the ground in the Big Backyard, open up your own grocery store and launch paper rockets. There's so much to do here you can easily spend the day — especially if you pack a lunch or purchase food from the museum's simple cafe. Admission ranges from $12 to $14 a person; those under one get in free.
Denver Art Museum
100 West 14th Avenue Parkway
It may surprise you to learn that the Denver Art Museum has a ton of clever art projects and activities for kids to do. Starting on the first floor, there's the studio, which offers an array of things to create based on what's showing in the museum. It's best to do this first so any pieces your child makes can dry while you're looking around. The Precourt Family Discovery Hall is another spot dedicated to kids, and the exhibition-inspired themes change periodically. On the third floor, there's the First Light Family Space, where you can take the littles to shake off the museum constraints and create something to take home. Also find out what's playing in the auditorium downstairs. These programs are geared toward kids and take a page from the special exhibits on display. Best part: Kids eighteen and under get in free.
700 Water Street
Go under the sea at this small aquarium. From the moment you walk in, you'll see tons of native fish, some that may be larger than your child. There's a whole tank of sharks; a tunnel with rays and colorful creatures swimming all around; two beautiful tigerfish; stunning jellyfish; a pool where you can feel a stingray; and more. Admission also gets you into Sharkey's play area, which has large sea-creature sculptures your kids can climb on while they run around the contained, carpeted room. You'll get bonus points if you stay for lunch, a meal that comes with a water wall teeming with giant fish and a daily mermaid show around noon. Admission starts at $16.99; children two and under get in free.
Forney Museum of Transportation
4303 Brighton Boulevard
Explore the world of old cars, planes, carriages and giant trains. Enjoy old-fashioned bicycles, tools used to work on the railroad, so many motorcycles, and a James Bond-esque vehicle that was designed to be a car, plane and boat. Talk to your little ones about how they get around, and ask them to imagine riding a unicycle or in a bubble car. There are coloring pages available in the locker room, if you need a snack and art break, and a mechanical horse and electric train set are sure to entertain for just 25 cents a go. This museum isn't the best place to run around in, but it's interesting enough to hold the attention of most children. Kids under three get in free, three to twelve get in for $6, and adult admission is $12.
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Denver Museum of Nature & Science
Learning's beyond fun at this Denver institution. From the two-level room of dinosaur bones and early-life diagrams to the wildlife dioramas and the space area, there's so much to do. In fact, it's almost impossible to really see everything in one visit, so plan on spending the day, and then make a date to go back. For kids under twelve, the Discovery Zone has interactive stations like the digging pit, where you look for dinosaur bones and "clean" them off. There's also a water works area, a few types of blocks to work with, an art room, and hourly storytelling and puppet shows. Those under two can frolic safely in the toddler and infant area, while big brothers and sisters can visit the live bugs that museum staff like to show. Stay for lunch and eat in the cafeteria; it has plenty of food options including hamburgers, pizza, Reuben sandwiches and hot dogs. Tickets start at $13.
8601 West Cross Drive Unit B6-1, Littleton
This Littleton venue has a giant — and we mean giant — sandbox for kids to dig in. There are over forty tons of sand in this venue, complete with diggers, blocks, construction sets and other things to get dirty with. Prices start at $9.50 for thirty minutes of sand play, and it's good for kids seven years old and younger. Yes, that means your diapered toddlers are welcome to come and dig to their hearts' content. There's also a sand-free carpeted area for those tiny tots who don't want to get down and dirty, and parents can join the fun in any spot, free of charge.
7330 West 52nd Avenue, Arvada
9851 South Parker Road, Parker
If you have a house of hyper kids, take them to Sky Zone, an ultimate trampoline park that will surely tire them out. There are many places to bounce, including a dodgeball arena, a checkerboard of trampolines and obstacle courses. Jump really high and slam-dunk basketballs on the bouncy courts, play fight with foam rollers in the foam pit, and practice your circus skills with aerial silks. There's even a section for toddlers to run around and play in, free from bouncy older kids. It's not a good place for those who aren't steady on their feet, but otherwise it's worth the $16-for-one-hour-of-jumping price tag. Just be warned: Your child is likely to beg for another hour. Once you start jumping, it's hard to come down.
What are your favorite indoor activities for kids? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.