Dear Denver, My parents are coming to visit this weekend…what are some parent-friendly activities that we would both enjoy?
So this past summer, my boyfriend’s parents came to visit from Chile. For 12 days. And although we originally thought we’d be struggling to find ways to entertain them, it turns out that we barely had enough time to fit everything in.
Despite the language barrier between them and I, I would say that their visit was truly awesome. This was their first time visiting the United States and they were so excited to be here. Nibo’s mom is extremely sweet, and despite knowing only a little bit of English, she was fearless in getting around and asking for what she needed. Nibo’s dad was straight-up awesome. From wearing business casual to the public pool (and then making the request that we stop someplace on the way home so that he could purchase his very first pair of shorts ever) to kissing waitresses goodbye at restaurants, he was really fun to be around. And Nibo was a trooper. He took all 12 days off of work to be with his parents and slept on the floor in the living room so that his parents could have his bed. Buen hijo.
So below you will find a list of parent-tested activities, a few that we did with his parents and a few that I have done with my mom when she’s been in town. Feel free to comment down below if you have any other suggestions to add. Thanks for reading and good luck with the family visits (!)
Random side note: Things that continually blew his parent’s minds during their visit: Whole Foods, TJ MAXX, squirrels, and chipmunks.
Things that you may want to skip with the ‘rents: The clothing-optional hot springs at Strawberry Park Hot Springs. I am not sure if Nibo’s dad has yet to recover from seeing that hippie dude’s ding dong…
Year Round Activities
Check-out the weekly events via Dear Denver!
Go see a show. A good place to start is Denver 2 for 1 Tix. Just like the name implies, you can find two-for-one tickets to a variety of cultural events here, including museum exhibits and performances. Additionally, check-out the Denver Center for the Performing Arts for some of your more traditional theater fare and Buntport Theater for something a little bit more inventive. Downtown’s Paramont Theatre also hosts a number of parent-friendly shows.
Denver Botanic Gardens: The Denver Botanic Gardens is open year-round and a delight during all seasons. In the summer, bring a picnic and a bottle of wine for a top-notch al fresco experience. In the winter grab a hot chocolate from the cafe and enjoy the quiet of the 41 individual gardens that make up this urban oasis. But regardless of when you go, be sure to leave time for the gift shop afterwards – moms love that shit. Admission to the gardens runs $9 – $12.50/person.
Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Art: Most Denver folks have been to the Denver Art Museum (DAM), and perhaps the Clyfford Still and the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), but many have not yet been to the Kirkland. This unique neighborhood museum is filled to the gills with really cool (yes that is a technical art term) furniture, paintings, lamps, glassware, ashtrays, and animal figurines. It’s funky and eclectic and while there is a lot of stuff to look at, the size of the museum isn’t overwhelming; definitely a fun alternative to some of Denver’s larger museums. Tuesday – Sunday: 11am – 5pm; $8 for adults, $6 seniors, teachers, and students with ID.
The Denver Art Museum (DAM): Speaking of Denver’s larger museums, the DAM is always a safe bet, parents or no parents. Peep the site to view their current exhibits; general admission runs $3 – $13.
Sports: Denver is one of twelve cities repping four major sports teams: basketball, baseball, football, and hockey. It also boasts a number of other professional sports teams including soccer, indoor lacrosse, outdoor lacrosse, rugby, arena soccer, and a minor league hockey team. So if your mom or dad have jock tendencies, I am guessing you’ll be able to find some sort of live sporting event to attend – whether you like it or not.
Need a break from all the talky talky and just wanna zone out for a bit? Catch a top-rated independent film at the SIE FilmCenter, followed by dinner at one of the neighboring restaurants. Bonus: The FilmCenter also serves booze – hooray!
Tour of Stranahan’s Whiskey: Any family awkwardness will start to dissolve once the tasters of Stranahan’s Colorado whiskey get passed around. Tour is free, but reservations are strongly recommended.
Take a trip to Boulder: One of my favorite parent-friendly activities is taking a day trip to Boulder to have lunch at the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse and then do some strolling/shopping along the Pearl Street Mall #shityourmomwilllike
Brunch at Charcoal Restaurant: It always blows my mind how uncrowded this European-influenced restaurant is for brunch, given how delicious it is. Choose from potato pancakes, eggs benedict, beignets, or go big with the five-course brunch tasting menu. Charcoal offers a menu and atmosphere that will please both you and your ‘rents.
Urban Brunch at Dazzle Jazz: Speaking of going big…treat your parents to an epic brunch experience at Dazzle Jazz. With made-to-order omelets, pastries, deviled eggs, and creamy mac and cheese, this delicious brunch buffet will have you wishing you had had a second stomach. Sundays: 9:30am – 1:30pm; all-you-can-eat brunch is $18.95 for adults; $9.50 for children (under 10). For bottomless mimosas or bloody marys, add an additional $9. Live music from 10:30am – 1pm.
Introduce your parents to the concept of an “urban hipster oasis” by taking them to The Source. One of the coolest additions to Denver, this indoor European-style market offers a collective of food artisans and retailers offering everything from freshly baked bread to craft cocktails, to street tacos to contemporary flower arrangements. Have a meal at Acorn or Comida; sample a limited-release sour beer at Crooked Stave; grab a coveted baguette at Babette’s; shop gourmet foods at Mondo Market, plus so much more. Go. And afterwards, make a stop at the super cool and reasonably-priced Mid-Mod Mall. Perhaps your parents will get nostalgic and buy you a new lamp.
Mini Brewery Crawl: Use this map to help you navigate what many now refer to as the Sonoma Valley of beers…My personal recommendations for your parents? Black Shirt Brewing Co, Strange Craft Brewing Company, Wit’s End Brewing Company, and/or show them what’s up at TRVE Brewing Co. Your folks not really into beer? Try the Infinite Monkey Theorem for a delicious pour of vino or get your adult apple juice on at the Colorado Cider Company or Stem Ciders.
Top of the Hyatt: The atmosphere is somewhat dated and the drinks are a bit overpriced, but the views from the Peaks Lounge are definitely worth checking-out. Order up a Purple WooWoo from their unintentionally retro menu and enjoy the spectacular, panoramic views of the mile high and beyond.
Warm Weather Activities
Farmers Markets: Use this guide to find out what’s (organically) what.
Picnic in the park: The City and County of Denver is home to over 200 city parks, over 100 miles of trails, and 11 dog parks to its inhabitants and visitors. Get your picnic on, son! I am a big fan of Cheesman Park.
Jazz in the Park: If you have lived in Denver for at least seven days, then you know about Jazz in the Park. Jazz in the Park is a great weekend culmination of dogs, babies, adults, brie, blankets, port-o-potties, hand sanitizer, vino, and more recently, food trucks. Although I don’t know if I’ve ever actually heard the jazz (I thought I did once, but it turned out to be someone’s iPod from a neighboring blanket), it’s still an awesome way to end your weekend with friends, families, and canines.
Afternoon Tea at the Brown Palace: Keep it classy at this Denver institution. Your choice of tea is accompanied by homemade scones served with Devonshire cream, preserves, finger sandwiches, and a selection of classic tea pastries. However, keep in mind this event gets booked up fast, so make your reservations ASAP! Not able to plan so far in advance? Check-out the House of Commons instead for a more casual, yet still highly enjoyable experience.
Zoo Lights & Blossoms of Light: This ish gets crowded, so plan on going on an off night to avoid spending forever in line. Pro tip: The cafe serves cocoa, so bring some peppermint schnapps to add if you really want to get festive. Admission fees for both events can be found online: Zoo Lights admission / Blossoms of Light admission.
German Christkindl Market: European quaintness in the heart of BroDo? Yes, it’s true. Skyline Park gets transformed once a year into a traditional German Christmas Market. German music, big beers, a heated beer tent, Gluhwein, soft pretzels, Christmas knickknacks, and twinkling lights will round out this festive experience. Peep their website for daily hours and entertainment.
There are also some really awesome bike tours for breweries and food tastings! We look culinary connectors for the walking tasting tours around town too!