Every parent knows that little brains tend to get fixated on one thing and dwell on it for weeks, months — maybe years. Some obsessions are more fun than others (if your ears are bleeding from the last 76 replays of Frozen’s “Let It Go,” you are not alone).
Check out the kid-friendly Colorado trip ideas below, organized by interest. We guarantee that they will feed your kiddo’s obsessions, score serious “best parent ever” points with your little one and actually be fun for you, too. Win-win-win. So there, Elsa.
Train Rides & Museums
Colorado’s history is rich with locomotive lore and is full of memory-making spots for little engineers. Read on for a sampling, and for more, view our full list of Colorado train attractions.
- Forney Museum of Transportation, Denver
Families love the just-right size of this attraction, yet there is no shortage of antique vehicles — motorcycles, cars, fire engines and trains.
- Colorado Railroad Museum, Golden
A hit with families, this museum is full of unique, historic train cars, models and a working turntable. Train rides are offered on Saturdays.
- Colorado Model Railroad Museum, Greeley
Kids and adults alike are fascinated by the miniature world on display. An eye-spy game will have you hunting for hidden figures among the model trains and landscapes.
- Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad & Museum
The ultimate interactive experience for train lovers is an actual train ride. The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad travels between Durango and Silverton along the Animas River through scenic wilderness unaccessible by any road and has museums at the end of each line for little conductors to explore.
- Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, Antonito
The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad travels through beautiful southwestern terrain and offers a unique Cinder Bear Experience for young children and a junior engineer program for those aged 5–12.
There are nine more historic and scenic railroads in Colorado offering family thrills that range from zooming across a canyon floor to climbing up a steep mountainside. Find more Colorado train rides for kids >>
Dinosaurs in Colorado
Your kid clearly rocks (pun intended), and luckily, there are tons of dinosaur attractions in Colorado, many of which are home to some of science’s landmark dino discoveries.
- Denver Museum of Nature and Science
Explore the Prehistoric Journey exhibit, Dinosaur Gulch in Discovery Zone, films and dino-themed events.
- Dinosaur Journey Museum, Fruita
Hands-on experiences and robotic displays bring to life the ancient beasts that once called this area home.
- Dinosaur Ridge, Morrison
Some of today’s best-known dinosaurs were first discovered here. Take daily self-guided and guided tours of excavation sites and exposed fossils.
- Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center, Woodland Park
Life-sized replicas, fossils and a guided tour make this small-town attraction a fun stop.
- Dinosaur National Monument, near Dinosaur
Inside the main visitor center, Dinosaur Quarry, guests can see fossils from the world-famous Carnegie Dinosaur Quarry, where approximately 1,500 dinosaur bones are left in place in a cliff wall. There’s lots more to explore, and the National Park Service even offers a Junior Paleontology program.
Castles for Princesses
Your kiddo can act out all her favorite Disney scenes at these cool and quirky Colorado castles.
- Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, and Cherokee Castle & Ranch, Sedalia
Both locales offer a fancy teatime service to delight little princesses.
- Miramont Castle Museum, Manitou Springs
An air of mystery surrounds this mansion, with period re-creations on display and a treasure hunt to guide kids through the building.
- Denver Art Museum
The north wing is a modern architect’s take on a castle, which might intrigue your little one. In the Kids’ Corner, there are costumes to try on, and the Just for Fun Center is stocked with huge foam bricks, perfect for building one’s own castle.
- Bishop Castle, near Colorado City
A lifelong project of a local Coloradoan who lives on site, this weird and wacky castle is worth a roadside stop. Be warned that climbing the steep spiral staircases is not recommended for small children.
Wee ones with a wild side (don’t they all have one?) will be tickled by the furry friends at these animal attractions in Colorado. Check out this fun infographic about Colorado's Wildlife from A to Z >>
- Wild Animal Sanctuary, Keenesburg
Rescued lions, tigers, bears and wolves roam the sanctuary’s 720 acres, their dignity restored through the efforts of this incredible nonprofit, as visitors gaze unobtrusively from above.
- Downtown Denver Aquarium
Walk through an impressive loop of underwater wonder with face-to-face views of sharks, rays, otters, reptiles and even tigers.
- Liniger Building at CU South Denver, Parker
Check out interactive dioramas in the Globeology exhibit and films on the theater’s larger-than-life 3-D screen — all part of the building’s Wildlife Experience.
- Colorado Zoos
The Denver Zoo has a loyal family following, with an impressive new elephant habitat; the giraffes steal the show at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs and the Pueblo Zoo offers pleasantly shaded grounds and up-close encounters.
Fun for Fairies
Colorado’s carefree spirit and love for nature mean pint-sized fairies are right at home here.
- Denver Botanic Gardens
A fairyland-like escape from its urban surroundings, the gardens offer places to frolic and learn about plantlife.
- Butterfly Pavilion, Westminster
Bring your gossamer wings and flit around this great indoor science adventure. The rainforest area is filled with 1,600 fluttering butterflies, plus lush greenery, koi ponds and meandering pathways.
- Western Colorado Botanical Gardens, Grand Junction
Also frolic-friendly, the natural haven has a butterfly house and four themed gardens.
- Carousel of Happiness, Nederland
Pure joy alights on little faces who ride this one-of-a-kind carousel, which has 56 hand-carved and painted animals to ride. Spot the hidden fairies perched in nooks and crannies around the enclosure.
- Tulip Fairy and Elf Festival, Boulder
Each spring (April TBD, 2017), Pearl Street blossoms with thousands of tulips, which are “woken” annually by the tulip fairy and hundreds of little fairy and elf helpers.
Old West Attractions
Giddy-up, little doggies, and try one of these Old West adventures.
- Dude Ranches
Build the ultimate out-West vacation around a family-friendly dude ranch, complete with horseback rides, cattle drives, singing around the campfire and chuckwagon dinners. View listings for dude-ranches in Colorado >>
- Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site, La Junta
Be transported back to the Old West with a tour of this adobe fort that served as a trading post for trappers, travelers and Native Americans.
- Kit Carson County Carousel, Burlington
Grab the reins on this nostalgic carousel. Built in 1905, the wooden horses and other animals are all original and hand painted.
- Bee Family Centennial Farm Museum, Fort Collins
Experience farm life with activities such as milking cows, pulling a horse-drawn plow and grinding corn for chickens at this working farm.
- Agricultural Heritage Center, Longmont
Tour working outbuildings and meet farm animals up close. Then head to the big red barn to see how much weight you’d pull as a draft horse.
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