Family Fun in This Denver Suburb
Tucked on the eastern side of the Denver metropolitan area, Aurora is the closest suburb to the Denver International Airport. Whether you're staying nearby or are planning a long layover, there's plenty of fun activities for the kids.
Hit the Beach
Keep your suits easily accessible: The kids will love romping along the sand beach of the Aurora Reservoir (5800 S. Powhaton Rd., Aurora, CO). Take a dip, rent a canoe or try your luck at fishing for trout. The beach is open from Memorial Day through the end of September, although it's weekends only after the kids go back to school in August. If you don't feel like getting wet, there are other things to do at the reservoir. Rent a bike, go for a nature hike or learn about water quality at the AWQUA Lounge Learning Center. Get silly and dress up like a fish or play environmentally-oriented games.
Commune with Nature
Learn about Colorado wildlife at the Morrison Nature Center (16002 E. Smith Rd., Aurora, CO). Hike dog-friendly trails through the Star K Ranch or watch for water-loving wildlife at the wetland observation area. Head inside to play pretend in animal costumes, put on a puppet show or try your skill with handcrafted wooden puzzles. There's also an opportunity to meet a real box turtle, tiger salamander and bull snake.
Step Back in Time
Let the kids find out what it was like to go to school in a historic one-room schoolhouse or live in a sod house at the Plains Conservation Center (21901 E. Hampden Ave., Aurora, CO). The 1,100-acre homestead includes a barn, blacksmith shop and Cheyenne tipi camp. See how people survived and ponder the kinds of chores kids had in the 1800s as you explore a garden, chicken coop and animal enclosures. Take a hike along the creek, pause under a shade tree and watch for pronghorns and other local wildlife.
Ride the range at Cherry Creek State Park when you rent a horse at 12 Mile Stables (5547 S. Parker Rd., Aurora, CO). You might see deer, antelope or other wildlife as you approach on your new four-legged friend. Rides range from a 1-hour prairie excursion to a 1.5-hour streamside ride or a 2-hour cowboy adventure. Enjoy an old-fashioned chuckwagon dinner on a sunset dinner ride and nosh on barbecued beef brisket, cowboy beans and all the fixin's.
Get Retail Therapy
There's plenty of places to shop in Colorado but Southlands Lifestyle Center (6155 S. Main St., Aurora, CO) has fun distractions for the kids as well. In winter, go ice skating at The Pond, which opens in November. During summer, Kidtopia Wednesday night events in the Town Square feature bounce houses, pony rides and entertainment and educators from local zoos, animal shelters and wildlife sanctuaries.
Indulging her passion for vacation vagary through the written word on a full-time basis since 2010, travel funster Jodi Thornton-O'Connell guides readers to the unexpected, quirky, and awe-inspiring.