Denver is filled with attractions and things to do over the holiday season with kids, making the Mile High City a top family travel destination. Whether you are heading to Denver to spend the festive season with family or are local and just looking for some fun holiday activities, there is much cheer to be had. Here are our picks for the top seven things do with kids around this city at the base of the Rocky Mountains.
1. Christmas at Gaylord Rockies
The Gaylord Rockies Resort transforms into a Christmas winter wonderland in December with its extravagant decorations and full line-up of holiday events designed especially for kids. Head to Mistletoe Village to experience ICE! featuring Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The walkthrough attraction features two-story ice slides and ice sculptures all carved from more than two million pounds of colorful frozen water. Other activities at this resort in Aurora include ice skating, ice tubing and breakfast with Rudolph and friends. You can stay the night or just purchase tickets to specific events.
2. Santa’s Village at Chatfield Farms
A part of the Denver Botanic Gardens family, Chatfield Farms in Littleton puts on a kid-focused Christmas event that is open nightly from Dec 16 to 22. Colorful holiday lights illuminate the gardens and you can take a hayride to a giant walk-through snow globe. Kids will also love playing in a real elf house and seeing Santa and his elves at work. There is also a chance to meet and take photos with the jolly old fellow himself as well as Mrs. Claus and the reindeer. There is even a short outdoor movie to screen at Santa’s Cinema.
3. Santa’s Workshop at the North Pole
About 1.5 hours southwest of Denver and just west of the town of Manitou Springs at the base of Pikes Peak is Santa’s Workshop at the North Pole, which is another magical adventure for kids. Right at the entrance to the Pikes Peak Toll Road, that winds its way to the top of the 14.000-plus foot mountain, Santa’s Workshop features an ice-covered metal pole representing the “North Pole” and more than two dozen amusement park rides that are family-friendly. You can also visit Santa’s House here.
4. Denver Aquarium Breakfast With Santa
Kids can grab breakfast with Santa and Sharkey at the Denver Aquarium on the first three weekends in December. Seating begins at 8:30am and this event features a chance to grab photos with Santa and the aquarium’s shark mascot while chowing down on a delish breakfast buffet. All while surrounded by giant tanks of fish — keep an eye out, sometimes Santa like to go for a swim with the sea creatures in these tanks. Reservations are required for this event.
5. Punch Bowl Social Stapleton
The whole family can have fun on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings between 5pm and 9pm throughout December at Punch Bowl Social’s Stapleton location. They are running a holiday themed outdoor mini golf game complete with life size candy canes, snow globes and sparkling lights. Nick’s Holiday Putt Club also offers holiday photo ops a plenty and a snack shack serving seasonal adult beverages with clever names like the Golden Age of Garland (visit to see what’s inside). Kids can enjoy hot chocolate.
6. Denver Zoo Lights
One of Denver’s longer running Christmas shows is Zoo Lights at the Denver Zoo, which have been a production for nearly 30 years now. Featuring more than two million sparkling lights spread across 80 acres, wandering through the zoo and interacting with the 3,000 animal residents who live there is a magical experience for kids and adults alike. Zoo Lights requires special tickets and often sells out. If this happens, your little one still has a chance to experience the zoo and meet Santa during the first two weekends in December — note Santa is also not present for the nightly Zoo Lights experience.
7. Camp Christmas
Camp Christmas is another top Denver holiday attraction put on by the Denver Center for Performing Arts and held at the Hangar at Stanley Marketplace. The grandiose holiday extravaganza will put the whole family in the festive season spirit with a walk through this immersive indoor installation. Denver’s newest holiday experience, Camp Christmas features mesmerizing displays and decorations from Christmases through the ages that have an added extra touch. For instance, this is where you can see Marie Antoinette in a Rococo sleigh and Santa in ancient Rome.
8. Bandimere Speedway
At Bandimere Speedway in Morrison you will find a drive through Christmas display showing off more than 1.5 million lights. The display is synchronized to holiday tunes that play through your car’s radio, which really makes this holiday experience come to life. Along the way, kids will look wide-eyed at giant candy canes, snowflakes and singing snowman. We recommend blocking off about 30 minutes so you can take it all in.