|Museums||Animals||Historic Places||Parks & Nature||Arts||Other Attractions|
Black American West Museum & Heritage Center
3091 California St
Nearly one-third of the cowboys in the Old West were black, and this museum chronicles their little-known history, along with that of black doctors, teachers, miners, farmers, newspaper reporters, and state legislators. The extensive collection occupies the Victorian home of Dr. Justina Ford, the first black woman licensed to practice medicine in Denver. Known locally as the "Lady Doctor," Ford (1871-1951) delivered more than 7,000 babies -- most of them at home because she was denied hospital privileges -- and consistently served the disadvantaged and underprivileged of Denver.
The museum's founder and curator emeritus, Paul Stewart, loved to play cowboys and Indians as a boy, but his playmates always chose him to be an Indian because "There was no such thing as a black cowboy." He began researching the history of blacks in the West after meeting a black cowboy who had led cattle drives in the early 20th century. Stewart explored almost every corner of the American West, gathering artifacts, memorabilia, photographs, oral histories -- anything to document the existence of black cowboys -- and his collection served as the nucleus for this museum when it opened in 1971. Allow 1 hour.
Hours: June-Aug Tues-Sat 10am-5pm; Sept-May Wed-Fri 10am-2pm, Sat-Sun 10am-5pm
Location: At 31st St
Transportation: Light rail: 30th and Downing
Price: Admission $6 adults, $5 seniors, $4 children 5-12, free for children under 5
Children's Museum of Denver
2121 Children's Museum Dr
Denver's best hands-on experience for children, this intriguing museum is both educational and just plain fun. Focusing on the zero-to-8 age bracket, the museum uses educational "playscapes" to entertain and activate young minds. These exhibits include "Fire Station No. 1," which teaches fire safety, and "Community Market," a faux supermarket that allows kids to role-play as shoppers and clerks. There are several other playscapes with themes ranging from biology to engineering. There's also a resource center that provides parenting information to adults. And a cafe that serves sandwiches, snacks, and beverages. Allow at least 2 hours.
Hours: Mon-Fri 9am-4pm; Sat-Sun 10am-5pm
Transportation: Take exit 211 (23rd Ave.) east off I-25; turn right on 7th St., and again on Children's Museum Dr
Price: Admission $7 ages 1-59, $5 seniors 60 and over, free for children under 1.
Colorado History Museum
The Colorado Historical Society's permanent exhibits include "The Colorado Chronicle," an 1800-to-1949 timeline that uses biographical plaques and a remarkable collection of photographs, news clippings, and paraphernalia to illustrate Colorado's past. Dozens of dioramas portray episodes in state history, including an intricate re-creation of 19th-century Denver. There's also a life-size display on early transportation and industry.
The first major new permanent exhibits at the museum in some time, "Ancient Voices" and "Confluence of Cultures," are multimedia gems dedicated to the history of Colorado's native tribes and the state's Pioneer era, respectively. The museum offers a series of lectures and statewide historical and archaeological tours. Allow 1 hour.
Hours: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm; Sun noon-5pm
Transportation: Bus: 8
Price: Admission $7 adults, $6 seniors and students, $5 children 6-12, free for children under 6
Denver Firefighters Museum
1326 Tremont Place
The history of the Denver Fire Department is preserved and displayed here, in historic Fire Station No. 1. Built in 1909 for Engine Company No. 1, it was one of the largest firehouses in Denver, occupying 11,000 square feet on two floors. In its early years, it lodged men, fire engines, and horses. Motorized equipment replaced horse-drawn engines by 1923, and in 1932 the firehouse was "modernized." Concrete replaced the wooden floor, the stables and hayloft were removed, and the plumbing was improved. Visitors today see firefighting equipment dating to 1866, as well as historic photos and newspaper clippings. Allow 45 minutes.
Hours: Mon-Sat 10am-4pm
Location: Located 2 blocks west of Civic Center Park on the north side of Colfax
Price: Admission $4 adults, $3 seniors, $2 children under 15
Denver Museum of Nature and Science
Tel: 800/925-2250 outside Metro Denver
2001 Colorado Blvd
The largest museum of its kind in the Rocky Mountain region, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science features scores of world-renowned dioramas, an extensive gems and minerals display, a pair of Egyptian mummies, a terrific fossil collection, and several other award-winning exhibitions. The museum focuses on six areas of science: anthropology, health science, geology, paleontology, space science, and zoology.
At "Space Odyssey," visitors experience a carefully crafted mix of exhibits, live programming, digital multimedia, and interactive modules that engage them in contemporary stories of space exploration. The state-of-the-art Gates Planetarium has an advanced computer graphics and video system, unlike any other in the world. "Prehistoric Journey" traces the history of life on earth through 3.5 billion years with dinosaur skeletons, fossils, interactive exhibits, and dioramas of ancient ecologies. The "Hall of Life" focuses on the science of the human body. Using a magnetic card, visitors gather information on themselves as they move through the interactive exhibits, and then receive a printout about their own physical condition at the end.
An IMAX theater (tel. 303/322-7009) presents science, nature, or technology-oriented films with surround sound on a screen that measures four and a half stories tall. Allow 2 to 4 hours.
Hours: Daily 9am-5pm
Location: City Park
Transportation: Bus: 24, 32, or 40
Price: Admission to museum $10 adults, $6 children 3-18 and seniors 65 and older; IMAX $8 adults, $6 children and seniors; planetarium $5 subsequent adults, $4 subsequent children and seniors
Museo de las Americas
861 Santa Fe Dr
Billed as the only museum in the Rocky Mountains focusing exclusively on the art, culture, and history of Latinos, the Museo is worth a stop, as is a stroll through the surrounding gallery-laden neighborhood. The exhibits here change regularly, and a semipermanent exhibit tells the story of pre-Colombian Latin America, with a replica of an ornate sunstone and exhibits on Tenochtitlan, the Aztec metropolis (on the site of present-day Mexico City) destroyed by invading Spaniards in the 16th century. Allow 1 to 2 hours.
Hours: Tues-Fri 10am-5pm; Sat-Sun noon-5pm
Price: Admission $4 adults, $3 seniors and students, free for children under 13
Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum
7711 E. Academy Blvd
More than 40 planes and spacecraft occupy cavernous Hangar No. 1, which became a museum when Lowry Air Force Base closed in 1995; now it's a burgeoning residential area about 6 miles southeast of downtown. On display are antique biplanes, a search-and-rescue helicopter, an F-14 Tomcat, a massive B-1A bomber -- one of only two in existence -- and most of the F-100 fighter series. You can also see a World War II uniform collection, a Norden bombsight, U3A Blue Canoe, and the Freedom space module, plus seasonal exhibits. On each month's second Saturday the museum hosts "Demo Cockpit Day," when visitors get to climb into the planes' cockpits. Sci-fi fans take note: A full-size X-Wing prop used in the filming of Star Wars is on permanent display. The store is filled with aviation- and space-oriented souvenirs. Allow 1 1/2 hours.
Hours: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm; Sun noon-5pm
Location: Hangar No. 1
Transportation: Bus: 6
Price: Admission $7 adults, $6 seniors, $5 children 6-17, free for children under 6
Butterfly Pavilion & Insect Center
6252 W. 104th Ave
A walk through the butterfly conservatory introduces the visitor to a world of grace and beauty. The constant mist creates a hazy habitat to support the lush green plants that are both food and home to the 1,200 butterfly inhabitants. If you stand still for a few minutes, a butterfly might land on you, but don't try to pick up the butterflies -- the oils on your hands contaminate their senses, interfering with their ability to find food. One display describes the differences among butterflies, moths, and skippers, and color charts help with identification.
In the insect room you'll discover that honeybees beat their wings some 200 times per second, and beetles comprise one-fifth of all living things on earth. Meet arthropods (the scientific name for insects) that are native to Colorado, and see exotic species from around the world. A fascinating "touch cart" allows you to get up close to a cockroach or tarantula, assuming that you really want to. "Shrunk!" features giant animatronic insects (it can be scary for little ones) and nifty interactive exhibits about the biomechanics of bugs. Also on the premises are a large gift shop and a snack bar. Outside, a .5-mile nature trail meanders amidst cacti and other desert-friendly plants. Allow 2 to 3 hours.
Hours: Memorial Day to Labor Day daily 9am-6pm; rest of year 9am-5pm
Transportation: Take the Denver-Boulder Turnpike (U.S. 36) to W. 104th Ave. and go east for about a block. The pavilion is on your right
Price: Admission $7.95 adults, $5.95 seniors, $4.95 children 4-12, free for children under 4
More than 700 species of animals (nearly 4,000 individuals) live in this spacious zoological park, home to the rare deerlike okapi as well as endangered cheetahs, Komodo dragons, and western lowland gorillas. The newest (and most ambitious) habitat here is Predator Ridge, a re-created African savanna with lions, hyenas, and other African predators. The exhibit is modeled after a Kenyan preserve, complete with artificial termite mounds that dispense insects for the banded mongoose that live here. The zoo has long been an innovator in re-creating realistic habitats: Bear Mountain, built in 1918, was the first animal exhibit in the United States constructed of simulated concrete rockwork.
The zoo is home to the nation's first natural gas-powered train ($1). The electric Safari Shuttle ($2.50 adults, $1.50 children) tours all zoo paths spring through fall. An especially kid-friendly attraction is the Conversation Carousel ($1), featuring wood-carved renditions of such endangered species as okapi, polar bears, Komodo dragons, and hippos. The Hungry Elephant, a cafeteria with an outdoor eating area, serves full meals, and picnicking is popular, too. Feeding times are posted near the zoo entrance so you can time your visit to see the animals at their most active. Allow from 2 hours to a whole day.
Hours: Apr-Sept daily 9am-5pm; Oct-Mar daily 10am-4pm
Location: City Park, 23rd Ave. and Steele St; Main entrance is between Colorado Blvd. and York St
Transportation: Bus: 24 or 32
Price: Admission $11 adults summer, $9 adults winter; $9 seniors 62 and over summer, $7 seniors winter; $7 children 3-12 (accompanied by an adult) summer, $5 children winter; free for children under 3
700 Water St
Denver's state-of-the-art aquarium -- the largest between Chicago and Monterey, California -- opened in 1999 as a nonprofit, and in 2003 was sold to the for-profit Landry's seafood restaurant chain. The sale brought the aquarium stability, not to mention new exhibits and a theme restaurant and lounge on-site. Residents include greenback cutthroat trout (the Colorado state fish), river otters, tigers, nurse sharks, sea turtles, and moray eels. Among the other exhibits: a flash-flood simulation, a gold-panning and mining display, "Stingray Reef" (visitors can pet and feed the slippery denizens), and a lifelike animatronic orangutan. On Saturdays, licensed divers and novice snorkelers can swim in the big tanks for a fee ($175 for divers, $75 for snorkelers).
Allow 2 hours.
Hours: Mon-Fri 10am-10pm; Sat-Sun
1310 Bannock St
This elaborate Victorian home, built by Rocky Mountain News founding editor William Byers in 1883, has been restored to its appearance of 1912-24, when it was owned by William Gray Evans, son of Colorado's second territorial governor. (The Evans family continued to reside here until 1981.) Guided tours describe the architecture and explain the fascinating lives of these prominent Denver families. There is a gift shop. Allow 45 minutes.
Hours: Tues-Sun 11am-3pm
Location: In front of the Denver Art Museum
Transportation: Bus: 8
Price: Admission $5 adults, $4 seniors, $3 children 6-16, free for children under 6
Colorado State Capitol
Built to last 1,000 years, the capitol was constructed in 1886 of granite from a Colorado quarry. The dome, which rises 272 feet above the ground, was first sheathed in copper and then replaced with gold leaf after a public outcry: Copper was not a Colorado product.
Murals depicting the history of water in the state adorn the walls of the first-floor rotunda, which offers a splendid view upward to the underside of the dome. The rotunda resembles the layout of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. South of the rotunda is the governor's office, paneled in walnut and lit by a massive chandelier.
On the first floor, the west lobby hosts revolving temporary exhibits. To the right of the main lobby is the governor's reception room. The second floor has main entrances to the House, Senate, and old Supreme Court chambers. On the third floor are entrances to the public and visitor galleries for the House and Senate (open to the public during legislative session from Jan to early May).
Hours: 1-hr. tours offered year-round (more frequently in summer), Memorial Day to Labor Day Mon-Fri 9am-3:30pm; rest of year Mon-Fri 9:15am-2:30pm
Location: Lincoln St. and Colfax Ave
Transportation: Bus: 2, 7, 8, 12, or 15
Price: Free admission
Four Mile Historic Park
715 S. Forest St
Four miles southeast of downtown Denver -- thus the name -- the oldest log home (1859) still standing in Denver serves as the centerpiece for this 12-acre open-air museum. Everything is authentic to the period from 1859 to 1883, including the house (a former stagecoach stop), its furnishings, outbuildings, and farm equipment. There are draft horses and chickens in the barn, and crops in the garden. Weekend visitors can enjoy horse-drawn carriage rides ($2), weather permitting. Seasonal "Heritage Events" feature pioneer-era musicians and actors as well as many food and craft demonstrations. Big events include July 4th and an outdoor theater series. Allow 1 hour.
Hours: Apr-Sept Wed-Fri noon-4pm, Sat-Sun 10am-4pm; Oct-Mar Sat-Sun noon-4pm
Location: At Exposition Ave
Price: Free admission; museum tours $3.50 adults, $2 seniors and children 6-15, free for children under 6
Lakewood's Heritage Center at Belmar Park
801 S. Yarrow Blvd
In Denver's early days, many wealthy residents maintained summer estates in the rural Lakewood area, and this historic village tells their story as well as that of others who lived and worked here. Your first stop should be the visitor center, for an introduction to the museum; you can begin a personalized guided or self-guided tour here. The village includes an 1870s farmhouse, a 1920s one-room school, a 1950s variety store, and the Barn Gallery. There's an exhibit on "Lakewood People and Places," antique and vintage farm machinery, self-guided history walks through the surrounding 127-acre park, changing art exhibits, and a picnic area. On-site are also an amphitheater and festival area, hosting a summer concert series and a slate of seasonal fairs and celebrations. Allow 1 to 2 hours.
Hours: Mon-Fri 10am-4pm; Sat noon-4pm
Location: Near Wadsworth and Ohio, Lakewood
Transportation: Bus: 76
Price: Admission $3 adults, $2 children 4-18, free for children under 4
This is where Denver began. Larimer Street between 14th and 15th streets was the entire community of Denver City in 1858, with false-fronted stores, hotels, and saloons to serve gold-seekers and other pioneers. In the mid-1870s it was the main street of the city and the site of Denver's first post office, bank, theater, and streetcar line. By the 1930s, however, this part of Larimer Street had deteriorated so much that it had become a skid row of pawnshops, gin mills, and flophouses. Plans had been made to tear these structures down, when a group of investors purchased the entire block in 1965.
The Larimer Square project became Denver's first major historic preservation effort. All 16 of the block's commercial buildings, constructed in the 1870s and 1880s, were renovated, providing space for street-level retail shops, restaurants, and nightclubs, as well as upper-story offices. A series of courtyards and open spaces was created, and in 1973 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Allow at least a half-hour.
Larimer Square hosts numerous special events: Oktoberfest (Sept) features German music, dancing, and beer; June's La Piazza dell'Arte features hundreds of artists creating pastel masterpieces on the street.
Location: 1400 block of Larimer St
Transportation: Bus: 2, 7, 12, 15, 16, 28, 31, 32, 38, or 44
Molly Brown House Museum
1340 Pennsylvania St
Built in 1889 of Colorado rhyolite with sandstone trim, this was the residence of J. J. and Margaret (Molly) Brown from 1894 to 1932. The "unsinkable" Molly Brown became a national heroine in 1912 when the Titanic sank. She took charge of a group of immigrant women in a lifeboat and later raised money for their benefit.
Restored to its 1910 appearance, the Molly Brown House has a large collection of early-20th-century furnishings and art objects, many of which belonged to the Brown family. There are also temporary exhibits (recent ones detailed the lives of servants in Brown's day and trends in Victorian undergarments), and a carriage house with a museum store at the rear is open to visitors. The house can be seen on guided tours. Allow 1 hour.
Hours: June-Aug Mon-Sat 10am-4pm, Sun noon-4pm; Sept-May Tues-Sat 10am-4pm, Sun noon-4pm. Guided tours every 30 min.; last tour of the day begins at 3:30pm
Transportation: Bus: 2 on Logan St. to E. 13th, and then 1 block east to Pennsylvania
Price: Guided tour $6.50 adults, $5 seniors over 65, $3 children 6-12, free for children under 6
320 W. Colfax Ave
Whether we worship it or simply consider money a necessary commodity, we all have to admit a certain fascination with the coins and bills that seem to make the world turn. There are four mints in the United States, but the Denver Mint is one of only two (the other is the Philadelphia Mint) where we can actually see the process of turning lumps of metal into shiny coins.
Opened in 1863, the Mint originally melted gold dust and nuggets into bars. In 1904 the office moved to this site, and 2 years later began making gold and silver coins. Copper pennies were added a few years later. The last silver dollars (containing 90% silver) were coined in 1935. In 1970, all silver was eliminated from dollars and half dollars (today they're made of a copper-nickel alloy). The Denver Mint stamps billions of coins each year, and each has a small D on it.
Although visitors today don't get as close as they once did, a self-guided tour along the visitors' gallery provides a good look at the process, with a bird's-eye view from the mezzanine of the actual coin-minting process. A variety of displays help explain the minting process, and an adjacent gift shop on Cherokee Street (tel. 303/572-9500) offers a variety of souvenirs. Allow 1 hour.
Hours: Tours Mon-Fri 8am-3pm. Gift shop 8am-3:30pm. Reservations recommended
Location: Between Cherokee and Delaware sts
Transportation: Bus: 7
Price: Free admission
Denver's largest urban park covers 330 acres on the east side of uptown. Established in 1881, it retains Victorian touches. The park encompasses two lakes (with boat rentals and fishing), athletic fields, jogging and walking trails, a free children's water feature, playgrounds, tennis courts, picnic areas, and an 18-hole municipal golf course. In summer, there are concerts. The park is also the site of the Denver Zoo and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (including its IMAX Theater).
Hours: Daily 24 hours
Location: E. 17th to E. 26th aves., between York St. and Colorado Blvd
Transportation: Bus: 24 or 32
Price: Free admission to park. Separate admission to zoo, museum, golf course, and other sites
Denver Botanic Gardens
1005 York St
Twenty-three acres of outstanding outdoor and indoor gardens display plants native to the desert, plains, mountain foothills, and alpine zones. There's also a traditional Japanese garden, an herb garden, a water garden, a fragrance garden, and a garden inspired by the art of Monet. Even in the cold of winter, the dome-shaped, concrete-and-Plexiglas Tropical Conservatory houses thousands of species of tropical and subtropical plants. Huge, colorful orchids and bromeliads share space with a collection of plants used for food, fibers, dyes, building materials, and medicines. The Botanic Gardens also have a gift shop, a library, and an auditorium. Special events are scheduled throughout the year; offerings range from garden concerts in summer to a spring plant sale to a cornfield maze southwest of Denver in the fall. Allow 1 to 2 hours.
Hours: May to mid-Sept Sat-Tues 9am-8pm, Wed-Fri 9am-5pm; mid-Sept to Apr daily 9am-5pm
Transportation: Bus: 2, 6, or 10
Price: Admission May to mid-Sept $8.50 adults, $5.50 seniors, $5 children 4-15; mid-Sept to Apr $7.50 adults, $4.50 seniors, $4 children 4-15; free for children under 4 year-round.
Denver Mountain Parks
Formally established in August 1913, the city's Mountain Parks system immediately began acquiring land in the mountains near Denver to be set aside for recreational use. Today it includes more than 14,000 acres, with 31 developed mountain parks and 16 unnamed wilderness areas that are wonderful places for hiking, picnicking, bird-watching, golfing, or lazing in the grass and sun.
The first and largest, Genesee Park, is 20 miles west of Denver off I-70, exit 254; its 2,341 acres contain the Chief Hosa Lodge and Campground (the only overnight camping available in the system), picnic areas with fireplaces, a softball field, a scenic overlook, and an elk-and-buffalo enclosure.
Among the system's other parks is Echo Lake, about 45 minutes from downtown Denver on Colo. 103. At 10,600 feet elevation on Mount Evans, the park has good fishing, hiking, and picnicking, plus a restaurant and curio shop. Other parks include 1,000-acre Daniels Park (23 miles south of Denver; take I-25 to Castle Pines Parkway, and then go west to the park), which offers picnic areas, a bison enclosure, and a scenic overlook; and Dedisse Park (2 miles west of Evergreen on Colo. 74), which provides picnic facilities, a golf course, restaurant, clubhouse, and opportunities for ice-skating, fishing, and volleyball.
Location: Dept. of Parks and Recreation
Price: Free admission
Lakeside Amusement Park
4601 Sheridan Blvd
Among the largest and most historic amusement parks in the Rocky Mountains, Lakeside has about 40 rides, including a Cyclone roller coaster, a midway with carnival and arcade games, and a rare steam- powered miniature train that circles the lake. There are also food stands and picnic facilities, plus a separate Kiddie's Playland with 15 rides. Allow 3 hours.
Hours: May Sat-Sun and holidays noon-11pm; June to Labor Day Mon-Fri 6-11pm, Sat-Sun and holidays noon-11pm. Kiddie's Playland Mon-Fri 1-10pm, Sat-Sun and holidays noon-10pm
Location: Just south of I-70, exit 271
Price: Admission $2. Ride coupons 50¢ (rides require 1-4 coupons each); unlimited rides $13 Mon-Fri, $18 Sat-Sun and holidays
Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge
Once a site where the U.S. Army manufactured chemical weapons such as mustard gas and GB nerve agent, and later leased to a private enterprise to produce pesticides, the Rocky Mountain Arsenal has become an environmental success story. The 27-square-mile Superfund cleanup site, an area of open grasslands and wetlands just west of Denver International Airport, is home to more than 330 species, including deer, coyotes, prairie dogs, and birds of prey. An estimated 100 bald eagles make this one of the country's largest eagle-roosting locales during the winter.
The Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Society Bookstore is at the visitor center, and there are 10 miles of hiking trails and catch-and-release fishing. For a guided tour, it's best to call a day or two in advance. Allow at least an hour.
Hours: Sat-Sun 8am-4:30pm
Location: 56th Ave., at Quebec St
Transportation: Bus: 48
Price: Free admission
Six Flags Elitch Gardens Theme Park
A Denver tradition established in 1889, this amusement park moved to its present downtown site in 1995. The 45-plus rides include Twister II, an unbelievable 10-story roller coaster with a 90-foot drop and dark tunnel; the Flying Coaster, a one-of-a-kind "hang gliding" experience in which passengers lie facedown; the Halfpipe, a snowboarding-themed thrill ride that involves 16 passengers on a 39-foot board; the 220-foot, free-fall Tower of Doom; and a fully restored 1925 carousel with 67 hand-carved horses and chariots. Patrons of all ages can enjoy the Island Kingdom Water Park while the little ones have fun on pint-sized rides in the Looney Tunes MovieTown. There are also musical revues and stunt shows, games and arcades, food, shopping, and beautiful flower gardens. Allow 3 hours.
Hours: Memorial Day to Labor Day daily 10am-10pm; Apr to late May and early Sept to Oct weekends, call for hours
Location: Speer Blvd., at I-25 exit 212A
Price: Gate admission with unlimited rides $45 for those taller than 4 ft., $22 for those 4 ft. and under and seniors 55-69, free for children under 4 and seniors over 69.
The Wildlife Experience
10035 S. Peoria St
Opened in 2002 near the Denver Technological Center, this impressive $40-million museum has three focuses: natural history, nature films, and wildlife art, with nine galleries of paintings, sculptures , and photography. The museum's aim is to educate visitors about conservation and the delicate balance between people and the environment, and do it in an aesthetically pleasing fashion. It accomplishes the task, with such highlights as a National Geographic Channel screening room and an interactive Children's Gallery. Also here are a 315-seat Iwerks Extreme Screen Theater, a restaurant, and a gift shop. Allow 1 hour.
Hours: Tues-Sun 9am-5pm
Location: Located 1 mile east of I-25 via Lincoln Ave. (exit 193)
Price: Admission or theater tickets $7.95 adults, $6.95 seniors, $4.95 children; combination museum/theater tickets $12 adults, $11 seniors, $6.95 children
This 64-acre complex, billed as America's largest family water park, has two ocean-like wave pools, river rapids for inner tubing, twisting water slides, several kids' play areas, plus other attractions -- more than 40 in all. Allow at least 4 hours.
Hours: Memorial Day to Labor Day daily 10am-6pm
Location: 88th Ave. and Pecos St., Federal Heights
Transportation: Take the Thornton exit (exit 219, 84th Ave.) off I-25 north
Price: Admission $29 for those 48 in. and taller, $24 for those under 48 in., free for seniors and children under 4
Denver Art Museum
100 W. 14th Ave
Founded in 1893, this seven-story museum has two distinct buildings. The main 1972 building, designed by Gio Ponti, is wrapped by a thin 28-sided wall faced with 1 million sparkling tiles. The second, a jagged, avant-garde addition, designed by renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, was finished in fall 2006, doubling the size of the museum and giving Denver a unique architectural highlight in the process.
The museum's collection of Western and regional works is its cornerstone. Included are Frederic Remington's bronze The Cheyenne, Charles Russell's painting In the Enemy's Country, plus 19th-century photography, historical pieces, and works by Georgia O'Keeffe. In 2001, Dorothy and William Harmsen, longtime Colorado residents and founders of the Jolly Rancher Candy Company, donated their prestigious Western art collection to the museum. Assembled over 40 years, the collection immediately made the museum's inventory of Western art one of the most impressive in the nation.
The American Indian collection is also excellent, consisting of more than 18,000 pieces from 150 tribes of North America, spanning nearly 2,000 years. The collection is growing through the acquisition of historic pieces as well as the commissioning of works by contemporary artists. Other collections include architecture and design; graphics; and Asian, African, Oceanic, modern and contemporary, pre-Columbian, and Spanish Colonial art.
Overview tours are available Tuesday through Sunday at 1:30pm, plus 11am on Saturday; an in-depth tour of a different area of the museum is offered each Wednesday and Friday at noon and 1pm; and a variety of child-oriented and family programs are scheduled regularly. There is also a gift shop. Allow 2 to 3 hours.
Hours: Tues-Sat 10am-5pm (Wed until 9pm); Sun noon-5pm
Location: At Civic Center Park
Transportation: Bus: 5, 7, 8, 9, or 50
Price: Admission $8 adults, $6 students and seniors, free for children under 12; free for Colorado residents Sat
Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art
1311 Pearl St
This relatively new museum covers Colorado's most illustrious artist, Vance Kirkland (1904-81), in grand fashion, while also presenting a world-class collection of decorative arts. Kirkland was a watercolor painter focused on Western landscapes when he started experimenting and combined oils and watercolors on one canvas. The traditional arts establishment dropped his modern ideas like a bad habit, but he later won accolades for creating his own artistic universe in his stunning paintings, about 60 of which are on display here. His preserved brick studio (first built in 1911) has an unusual harness he used for painting on flat canvases facedown (dating from his "dot" period). The decorative arts collection includes more than 3,300 pieces ranging from teacups to armchairs, and there are also more than 700 works by notable Colorado artists other than Kirkland.
Hours: Tues-Sun 1-5pm. Guided tour Wed-Sat at 1:30pm
Price: Admission $6 adults, $5 students, teachers, and seniors. No one under 13 permitted due to the fragile nature of the collection. Children 13 to 17 must be accompanied by an adult
Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver
Rotating avant-garde exhibitions by numerous local and national artists are the main attraction at this downtown museum. Temporary exhibits in the two floors of exhibition space rotate every 5 months. Allow 1 hour.
Hours: Tues-Thurs 10am-6pm, Fri 10am-10pm, Sat-Sun 10am-6pm
Price: Admission $10 adults, $5 senior
Tiny Town and Railroad
6249 S. Turkey Creek Rd
Originally built in 1915 at the site of a Denver-Leadville stagecoach stop, Tiny Town is exactly what its name implies -- a one-sixth-scale Western village. Nestled in a scenic mountain canyon about 20 miles southeast of downtown Denver, Tiny Town is made up of 100 colorful buildings and a steam-powered locomotive that visitors can ride for an additional $1. Allow 1 hour.
Hours: Memorial Day to Labor Day daily 10am-5pm; Mayto Sept. Sat-Sun 10am-5pm
Location: Tiny Town, located 20 miles southeast of downtown via U.S. 285 (Hampden Ave.)
Price: Admission $3 adults, $2 children 2-12, free for children under 2
Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls & Toys
1880 Gaylord St
This late-19th-century property is home to an intriguing collection of antique and collectible dolls, from rag and wood to exquisite German and French bisque. Also on display are dollhouses, from a Santa Fe adobe with hand-carved furniture to a replica of a 16-room home in Newport, Rhode Island. The museum also displays wonderful old toys, from teddy bears to model cars. The gift shop is equally delightful. Allow 45 to 60 minutes.
Hours: Tues-Sat 10am-4pm; Sun 1-4pm
Location: Just west of City Park
Price: Admission $5 adults, $4 seniors and children 5-16, free for children under 5