Denver with Teens: A Perfect Family Day

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Denver with Teens: A Family Vacation

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Plan this exciting day trip to Denver with teens and pack the fun a mile high!

Every once in a while, the family just needs to get out for a day and explore a new city. A family vacation in Denver, Colo., simply can't be beat, so I chose a beautiful summer day and decided to fill it with fun for myself and my two teens. In Denver, there are nearly endless options for entertainment, so check out our day and plan the perfect family adventure!


Morning


In Denver, dining options abound, and we chose to have breakfast in the Uptown neighborhood at WaterCourse Foods, located at 837 East 17th Street. This hip restaurant promotes vegan dining, serving no meat; eggs are from cage-free farms only. Though it was very busy, the service was friendly and the menu quite extensive. We tried French toast made with banana bread, meatless tamales and an egg scramble with tofu, cheese and veggies. My teens loved this healthy cuisine, and the prices were very reasonable. WaterCourse Foods is open Mon-Fri 7AM-10PM and Sat-Sun 8AM-10PM; 303-832-7313.

What better place to start exploring Denver with teens than the place where money is created? We made online reservations for the U.S. Mint. The mint is located at 320 West Colfax Avenue and is an excellent spot for a fascinating, educational experience. There is no charge for a guided tour (in a specific area), but reservations are recommended. Here, you and your family will get a good view of the process and can watch the coin minting in action. The Denver mint is one of only two mints in the nation that allow tours (Philadelphia is the other). Tours depart hourly and are offered Mon-Fri 8AM-2PM, taking about an hour to see the facility. They also have a gift shop on the premises, which offers a variety of unique souvenir coins, books and other items. If you wish to contact them by phone, call 303-405-4761.

Elitch Gardens Theme Park, located at 2000 Elitch Circle, was next on the agenda for our family adventure in Denver, as the teens wanted to go on a ten-story roller coaster called Twister II and a ride known as the Mind Eraser, which was like hang gliding while lying suspended from the underside of the hurtling cars. Other rides my teens raved about were the Halfpipe, a snowboard-type ride with 16 passengers on a huge board, and the 220-foot freefall Tower of Doom. The Park has over 45 rides, and you'll need 3-4 hours to even see them all. Seasonal admission is $20-$35 with online specials available frequently; 303-595-4FUN.


Afternoon


The Butterfly Pavilion was my pick of the day because parents do deserve a bit of rest after exploring Denver with teens. This is a butterfly conservatory that houses 1,200 butterflies of at least 50 species. Visitors walk through a continual, pleasant mist, and if you stand very still, the butterflies will land on you. Various displays explain the different species, and the kids are sure to love the "bug displays," which allow you to get close to cockroaches, tarantulas and other insects native to Colorado. The Pavilion is open year round 9AM-5PM, and admission is $5.50-$8.50 per person. Located at 6252 West 104th Avenue, Broomfield; 303-469-5441.

Be sure to take your teenagers by The Tattered Cover, one of the largest independent bookstores in the country. There is no better way to encourage reading than to provide plenty of options, and this store's location in a historic theater doesn't hurt either. The Tattered Cover has over 150,000 books, a café and lots of secluded corners for reading your newest find. Located at 2526 East Colfax Avenue; 303-322-7727.


Evening


Our favorite place to end our family vacation in Denver was the 16th Street Mall, an indoor-outdoor pedestrian market place that runs for blocks and affords the best eating, shopping and people-watching spots in the city. The kids loved exploring the various vendors and entertainers along the street, which is lined with oak trees, fountains, benches and tables. A free shuttle service runs up and down the middle of the mall every two minutes. This is where we flipped a coin, because with so many choices, none of us could agree on a place to eat. No matter what you choose, you simply can't go wrong, as the options are as excellent as they are plentiful.

While we chose a summer day for our family adventure, Denver offers a lot for parents and teens to do all throughout the year. With nearly 300 days of annual sunshine and mostly mild weather, it is a great city for walking. Other highlights include art and science museums, zoos, theaters and parks. Just don't forget to stop and smell that refreshing Colorado air!

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