Lakewood, Colorado, is a western suburb of Denver, lying just east of the Rocky Mountain foothills. The city contains new areas ripe for exploration and old surroundings that have sprung to life again, including the revitalized Belmar area on the former grounds of a popular 1980s indoor mall. Lakewood not only has many kid-friendly restaurants, but offers outdoor fun, cheap entertainment and events specifically earmarked for toddlers.
Lakewood contains 99 parks named from A to Z. Most neighborhood parks include standard playground equipment, picnic areas and fields, but sometimes it’s worth a longer drive, so tots can enjoy a new experience. Aviation Park (lakewood.org) puts little ones in the cockpit of an airplane, while Jackson Park separates ages by providing toddlers with their own kiddie-size playground. Bear Creek Lake State Park (lakewood.org/bclp) draws daily users and campers. Ride beside a toddler’s trike on one of the many trails, help reel in a child’s first catch or take a kid on his first boat ride. Pitch a tent and stay for the night, treating little ones to s’mores under the clear Colorado night skies.
Jefferson County Public Library’s Lakewood Branch (jeffcolibrary.org) welcomes children to weekly toddler story time, helps them learn about the library’s frog, Twiggly, and provides tot-approved programs on the computer. Check out an Activity and Discover Pack learning how to make a new kid’s craft together. It is never too early to introduce toddlers to the rich history of Lakewood. The Lakewood Heritage Center (lakewood.org) presents a realistic look at what life was like in the 20th Century. While kids can look at historical artifacts in the museum, a tot would probably rather gaze at the 10 historic structures, from the comfort of his stroller.
Lakewood pools feature traditional summer swimming in five water parks, with some added twists. Ray Ross Spray Park (lakewood.org) douses tots on a spongy baseball diamond. Foster and Beck Pools (lakewoodrecreation.com/municipal-pools) appeal to parents of young ones, using zero-depth wading pools. Children’s imaginations come to life at Lakewood Link Recreation Center indoor pool (lakewood.org). The pirate ship in the children’s play area helps tots envision being thrown overboard in treasure hunting days. All pools offer age appropriate lessons preparing kiddos for swimming in the main pool.
Four recreational facilities through Lakewood Parks and Recreations Department offer special experiences for toddlers. Charles Whitlock Recreation Center (lakewood.org) introduces aspiring hockey players to the dynamics of inline skating. Lakewood Link Recreation Center (lakewood.org) teaches tiny tots somersaults at the 4,000-square-foot Gymnastic Center. Parents who do not own their own trampoline can take tots to Jumpstreet Indoor Trampoline Park (gotjump.com/lakewood), located at the Colorado Mills Mall. Little ones get acquainted with the dynamics of jumping in safe areas designed just for them. Request bumper sides and help a tot score points at Brunswick Zone Bowling Lanes (bowlbrunswick.com/about-us/283/1).
- City of Lakewood: Park Listing
- City of Lakewood: Aviation Park
- City of Lakewood: Jackson Park
- City of Lakewood: Bear Creek Lake Park
- Jefferrson County Public Library: Lakewood Library
- City of Lakewood: Lakewood Heritage Center
- City of Lakewood: Outdoor Pools and Spray Parks
- Lakewood City Schools: Municipal Pools
- City of Lakewood: Indoor Pools
- City of Lakewood: Charles Whitlock Recreation Center
- David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images