Denver abounds in child-oriented activities, and the listings below will probably appeal to young travelers of any age. In addition, some sights listed in the previous sections may appeal to families. They include the Butterfly Pavilion and Insect Center, Colorado History Museum, Downtown Aquarium, Denver Art Museum, Denver Museum of Miniatures Dolls & Toys, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Denver Zoo, Four Mile Historic Park, and the U.S. Mint.
The Big Blue Bear
Denver has a new face to the world, and it’s peering into the second floor of the Colorado Convention Center. Known popularly as “The Big Blue Bear,” the 40-foot blue ursine immediately became Denver’s most photogenic piece of public art when it was installed in 2005. Sculptor Lawrence Argent designed the big fella--officially named I See What You Mean--and then a California-based fabricator shaped him out of 5 tons of steel, fiberglass, and cement; transported him to Colorado in sections; and bolted him into place.
The sculpture is located right by the convention center’s 14th Street entrance, and can be photographed from inside or out. For a Denver souvenir, it’s hard to beat the little blue bear replicas available at the Denver Art Museum, inside the Colorado Convention Center, and at the visitor information center at 16th and California streets.
Kids will go bananas for Casa Bonita, and not because of the food. Equal parts amusement park and family restaurant—and famously featured on “South Park” in 2003—this is the largest restaurant in the Western Hemisphere, complete with fake cliffs in the middle of the action where actors regularly take swan dives into the pool below. That is just the beginning of the entertainment, ranging from mariachi bands to a video arcade to Black Bart's Cave, where spelunking comes with a few thrills and chills. Served cafeteria style, the all-you-can-eat menu ($13–$24, children’s meals $5) spans Mexican and American standards like enchiladas, burritos, fajitas, fried chicken, and country-fried steak; you raise a little red flag at your table when you want seconds. Open Sunday through Thursday 11am to 9pm and Friday and Saturday 11am to 10pm, Casa Bonita is located in the JCRS Shopping Center, 6715 W. Colfax Ave. in Lakewood ([tel] 303/232-5115; www.casabonitadenver.com).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.