Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Trip Story: Denver

If you've never been to Colorado, you may not be aware of the fact that flying into Denver International Airport does not necessarily mean that it makes the most sense to start your trip in Denver. The airport is quite a way out of town and positioned such that it is fairly convenient to several other prominent Colorado cities- when I was working on the itinerary for our trip, it became clear that we could reasonably start or end our trip in Denver, Colorado Springs, Boulder, or Fort Collins.

I decided to start in Denver, though. I figured we needed a few days to adjust to altitude before attempting anything too strenuous, and Denver offered the perfect spot for a slow introduction to our mile-high (and higher!) vacation.

I have family in Denver, and we spent our first couple of nights with my cousins. This made our gentle introduction to Colorado even more gentle- they made us feel very welcome, and took great care of us. They also gave us some ideas of things to do that were a little bit off the beaten path, and gave us a chance to check out neighborhoods that most tourists probably miss. In short: it was awesome.

One of the things we did with our first day in Denver was go paddleboating at Washington Park. Sadly, Pumpkin wasn't much into this experience, but the rest of us enjoyed it.

Not shown: Pumpkin explaining why this sucked
My cousins had a camping trip planned, so after a couple of nights with them, we said goodbye and moved to a hotel for one night. We spent our final day in Denver doing more usually touristy things. Given Mr. Snarky's obsession with state capitols, it almost goes without saying that we checked out Colorado's capitol building. It was nice, but since I do not share Mr. Snarky's love of capitol buildings, my favorite part was the spot on the outside stairs with a marker noting you are exactly one mile high. We took a family picture there- or tried to. Petunia wasn't interested in joining us, so we have a nice picture of me and Mr. Snarky with Pumpkin.

We strolled around the capitol area a bit, but the heat and humidity was getting to our fragile San Diego climate sensibilities, so we decided we needed to head inside for a short break before walking on to lunch. We ducked into the Denver Public Library, and spent some time in the excellent children's room. 

After a nice lunch at a local Mexican restaurant (Zocalo, if you're curious- I had delicious Mexico City style street tacos), we headed to the History Colorado Center. I'd read that they had an interactive exhibit about homesteading that the kids might enjoy. "Enjoy" would be an understatement, actually. The kids loved it. The grown ups grew a bit tired of the interactive portions after the first 50 or so go-rounds, but found the short movie and exhibit about Kiowa, a now abandoned homesteading town, to be fascinating.

You can hardly blame my city kids for being delighted with the chance to gather "eggs" and "milk" a "cow," though.


There were other exhibits, but we hardly got to see them. Mr. Snarky was very impressed by the "time machine" in the lobby. You move the big machine to one of the special spots on the giant map of Colorado on the floor, press a button, and then get to watch a short movie about a historical event that took place on that spot.


After we left the History Colorado Center, we headed to the Denver Children's Museum, which also delighted our kids.

A firetruck was just the start of the delights
One of our guiding philosophies about traveling with our kids is that we have to plan in activities that they will enjoy, so we didn't mind spending so much time at museums aimed at them. However, we did insist on seeing some sights the adults wanted to see. After some rest time in the hotel, we headed out again again to stroll around Larimer Square and to go see the big blue bear at the convention center:

That is me and Pumpkin at the bear's feet
The kids didn't much see the point of Larimer Square, but they thought bear was pretty cool. Pumpkin was a bit disappointed it didn't have laser red eyes like the big blue horse at the airport, though.

We had a great time in Denver. There were a lot of cool things to see that we didn't get to this trip- I want to go back and see the mint when the kids are old enough to appreciate the tour, for instance. But that's OK, we'd love to go back.


  1. I think we're approaching the point where Baguette may enjoy that kind of museum--I'm really looking forward to taking her. And these look like they were a lot of fun. Plus there's that bear.

  2. Totally agree about planning stuff that's fun for the kids. Our spring break trip to the Netherlands featured more playgrounds, pizza, and zoos than any previous trip I've taken to Europe ever has. I can't say it bought us any goodwill from the kids when we made them go to art museums, but that is what it is.

    1. I've come to really enjoy spending time at playgrounds and children's museums when we travel- we meet and actually talk to more locals there than pretty much anywhere else we go. And we've gotten some great tips on things to see and places to eat from people we've met. Something about standing next to another parent pushing your kids in a swing makes it easy to strike up a conversation.

  3. Humid? Denver? The mind boggles. Maybe you were just missing cooling ocean breezes. :)


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