When in Denver, the list of family activities is plentiful, but there is a fun and historic place to go that the kids will be begging to go back to. Located near the Broncos Stadium in downtown Denver, Elitch Gardens offers fun for all ages. It first opened in 1890 as a botanical garden and zoo and has slowly evolved into the modern day amusement park locals enjoy today.
Amusement Park Fun
It may take a little while to get through the entrance of Elitch Gardens, so come prepared with little ones. We ended up waiting about 45 minutes in total. After going through the metal detectors at the entrance, we walked into an adorable little scene of shops. They looked like something straight out of a 1930s movie scene with funnel cakes, souvenirs and hot lunch items.
Once we exited the shopping area, we came to the fork in the road. From here, go straight and to head to the water park, or take a left for the amusement park. I love that the walk to the amusement park area is reminiscent of an old Americana Main Street. There are charming little store fronts with places to eat, grab coffee and shop. The atmosphere is inspired, as there is music playing to get you ready for some rides!
Look for the centerpiece Ferris Wheel in the Kiddie Land with an entire area dedicated to the kids. This was a surprisingly large area for a local amusement park, and it was filled with unique rides that I’ve never seen before for children. Our son’s favorite was the motorcycle merry-go-round. With each spin the motorcycles you sit on pop-up and do some wheelies. They even have a few thrill rides for the little ones as well as plays on a stage that are fun and educational.
We spent a solid 2 hours just enjoying the rides in Kiddie Land. After we let our little one enjoy himself, it was time for us to go out and feel like kids again! The adult rides are equally fun, although I will say you won’t see anything too different from any other theme parks.
Ghosts & Games
I have to say my favorite attraction was the Ghost Blasters ride. Embark on a journey taking you through a spooky ghost house. Your cart comes with a toy gun attached and lets you shoot at little targets pinned onto ghosts and ghouls. I loved it, but my son was scared out of his mind.
There are some fun carnival games throughout the amusement park area that cost between $3-$5 per game, face painting, Henna tattoos and photo booths. My biggest complaint was the overpriced food. For example, we paid $13 for 3 drinks, and I was disappointed that there were no high chairs for my baby.
But overall, we had a fun and memorable day and at $36/adult and $32/child (these are ONLINE prices so make sure you buy in advance) for a day of enjoyment is kind of hard to beat. Our son is already begging to go back and the next time we are in Denver we just might treat him to a magical day of fun.
Water Park Thrills
The Water Park is free with theme park admission from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. We didn’t hit the water rides, but families who are up for some wet and wild fun can check out Disaster Canon with white water rafting through surging rapids. Older kids will enjoy a 50-foot waterfall into a tidal wave splash at Shipwreck Falls.
There are also tamer rides and attractions for younger kids and families looking for something a little less adventurous. Castaway Creek features an action river with geysers and water bubbles. There’s also a wave pool called Commotion Ocean that replicates the feeling of being in a real ocean. For kids who want to do some water slides without the big drops, Hook’s Lagoon is a five-story treehouse with lots of water adventures appropriate for the younger crowd.
Know Before You Go
Tips I think you’ll find useful.
- $15 to park per day
- Your ticket purchase covers both the amusement and water park.
- Absolutely no outside food or drink is allowed (with the exception of baby food).
- Elitch Gardens has metal detectors at the entrance, so make sure to leave pocket knives or anything similar at your hotel.
- Check the online calendar as there are places in the park where concerts, movies and other performances and festivals are held for your family to enjoy.
- Elitch Gardens sometimes run a Groupon, so double check before you go for extra savings.
- Add a Rapid Ride Pass to each ticket purchased so you can skip the long lines for some of the rides. Not all rides have that long of lines, so you may not feel the expense is worth it.
- There are a few different VIP experiences that may be well worth your dollar. Some including credits for the carnival games and other park perks.
Have a blast!
This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question, and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.