A Baby Giraffe and 10 Tips for the Perfect Denver Zoo Visit

A Baby Giraffe and 10 Tips for the Perfect Denver Zoo Visit

This post contains affiliate links. A Baby Giraffe at the Denver Zoo.

Denver Zoo pin

Are you planning a trip to the Denver Zoo or any other zoo for that matter? Is your little one begging to see that adorable new baby giraffe? My family loves the Denver Zoo, but it can get extremely crowded or overwhelming if you don’t make a plan. Before you go keep in mind my tips for a perfect zoo visit.

1. Meet Dobby, the baby giraffe!

First of all, oh my cuteness! When you arrive at the Denver Zoo, grab your map and head in the direction of the giraffes. Amid the cries of, “So cute!”, “Awww!”, and “The sweetest ever!” you will see the most adorable baby giraffe named Dobby. Yes, Dobby – isn’t that just the perfect name? I may be gushing a bit, but Dobby was a huge highlight in our recent visit to the zoo. I didn’t have the giant-lensed camera like the gentleman just down a bit from us, but we still got some good pictures of the little guy.

Dobby, the baby giraffe Denver Zoo giraffe family

Dobby was born February 28, 2017, and we saw him April 18. He seemed comfortable in front of our small group and walked around by himself and amongst the other giraffes. Furthermore, I am certain that with a glint in his eye he winked and smiled just as we turned to walk away. Surprisingly, some of my own family do not believe this assertion! Therefore, I strongly suggest you go to the Denver Zoo and see for yourself!

2. Get a membership

Going to the zoo, the natural history museum, the aquarium, and others can be costly for a family. We absolutely love the zoo so even though we don’t live in Denver I purchased a zoo membership. I ended up getting the individual and guest membership, but there are family memberships as well as several other different kinds. Compare the membership options here: Denver Zoo Memberships. 

What do I like about a membership? For one, it saves me money. If we go to the zoo more than 2 times this year it pays for itself, and anything after that is a bonus. I have the satisfaction of suggesting going to Denver and visiting the zoo at little cost other than gas. Most memberships include 1 or more additional free guest passes, tickets to ride the train and carousel, and a discount on food and other purchases. Be sure to include to tally these in your comparisons if you’re considering it.

Another thing I like is that this is an outdoor, educational activity for kids. If you’ve read much from me you’ll know my son absolutely loves animals, and he is fascinated by their different ways of survival. The Denver Zoo is a huge place, and there is always a new animal for him to discover and learn some amazing fact about. He loves to tell me and other family members all about what he’s learned. Of course, as a mom, this is a huge win for me too!

Eagles

3. Visit the zoo on a weekday

This may be a no-brainer to some parents out there, but when should you visit the Denver Zoo? Well, before we went last week I double-checked their website to be sure it was not a free day or a special event day. For example, there were added advertised activities and shows for kids during Spring break. Did we go at that time? Accidentally, yes, but then we changed our plans and did something else because the crowds were so overwhelming.

If your family doesn’t mind crowds definitely attend some of the special events, but my 4-year old gets stressed with a lot of people around and immediately wants to leave. He loudly lets us know of his unease, and it’s not fun for anyone.

Conclusion? Visit the zoo on a weekday, maybe a Tuesday or Wednesday when there are no special holidays or events happening.

Denver Zoo camel

4. Pick the main things you want to see and plan out your route

The Denver Zoo is a huge place, and you will wear yourself out running back and forth to see the specific animals requested by the kids. “Mommy, I want to see the alligator, and the gorillas, then the elephants!”

These animals are far apart at the zoo so take a moment to look over your map and plan your basic route around. If the kids are worried about certain animals make a point to show them on the map and let them know when you’ll see them. Your feet will thank you.

Monkey hanging

5. Plan out the shows you want to see beforehand

This goes along with planning your route. If you want to see any of the shows take a look at the sign as you enter for the daily show times. It’s located just after the ticket taker or you can ask in the visitor center.

I highly recommend the sea lion show as it’s one of our favorites!

In summer there are more show times than other seasons so don’t assume times from past experience. If you don’t want a screaming kid who’s devastated they missed the elephant show, it’s always good to double-check. Planning is good.

Are you looking for more educational experiences in Denver for kids?

Read all about our awesome trip to the Denver Downtown Aquarium!

6. Denver Zoo activities

What can you do to make your visit more educational? My daughter especially likes to use a scavenger hunt page to find specific animals. Then it becomes a game to her and almost a race to find the animal with its new fun fact.

Another fun thing to do for older kids is to give them their own naturalist journal. Depending on your child you can give instructions or not. I tell my daughter to sketch and label the animals she sees and write one to three sentences describing interesting things about it. Possibilities include physical description, what the animal eats and how it gets it in the wild, how it moves around, how it protects itself, etc.

You can order a fun naturalist journal like one of these from Amazon. Click on the journal to take you to the Amazon site:

7. Make a search for new animals

Go see some of the lesser known animals. Tell your kids to imagine they are going to discover new animals and introduce that animal to the world! Next, you or one of the older kids can introduce the new-found animal to the group and give some facts about them.

For example, on our last trip I fell in love with the fossa. The fossa is a predator that lives in Madagascar, has the longest tail for grabbing onto trees, and a surprisingly small head. I was fascinated watching it walk around its habitat.

8. Take a stroller or wagon and bring your lunch

Even though my son doesn’t use his stroller much anymore I still brought it to the zoo. As I’ve stated, it’s a large place! If your child gets tired of walking they can ride in the stroller, and you have the added perk of a place to stow all your gear.

Also, to save money you can pack your lunch and stow it in the stroller with an ice pack. I like to pack a lunch and then just buy a snack for the kids later in the day as a treat. Or bring your own snacks too and with an already paid for membership you won’t have to spend a thing!

Monkey Island lunch view

9. Ride the train and carousel

Carousel sign

The train and carousel are must-dos for kids at the Denver Zoo. There are always huge smiles all around, and a nice variation in your zoo experience. I like to do these two rides in the later part of our visit when the kids are getting tired and need a change in activity.

Buy tickets or get the tickets from your membership at the little house in between the train and carousel beforehand. If it’s busy and you go directly to the carousel you will waste a lot of time in line and then have to go buy tickets anyway.

Tip: If you’ll be going often save time and money and buy a punch card. With the card you can go directly to the ride and not have to wait in line a the ticket house.

Zoo train

10. Check the weather report before you go

In summer it can get extremely hot so don’t forget hats, sunglasses, sunscreen, and water for everyone. Conversely, if it’s going to be cold or rain part of the day you can still have a great zoo experience if you plan the right clothing, umbrellas, and focus on the warm houses such as Tropical Discover (lovingly called the reptile house by my family) and Bird World. Always, just follow the Boy Scout motto and be prepared!

Zoo carousel zebra

Exploring new places is always such fun, and often you don’t have to go far for a great experience. We are so lucky to have the Denver Zoo fairly close by, and whenever we travel with kids we check out the zoos and museums wherever we are. If you have a young, curious zoologist or two in tow you can have a fabulous time with a little preparation.

What are some of your favorite zoos or places to see wildlife? Please put some of your ideas in the comments. I’d love any suggestions for places to take the little ones!

How to Make YOU Time in Your Mom Calendar

How to Make YOU Time in Your Mom Calendar

This post contains affiliate links. Mom Calendar.

Mom calendar pin

For years I’ve dreamed of writing a novel. I took creative writing courses in high school but then didn’t pursue it much in college and immediately after as I was full of other travel, career, and family dreams. Unfortunately, it was not in my business mom calendar. However, as I worked away in the business and then teaching worlds, my love of reading and writing again bubbled up to the surface and called to me. Lauren! You need to write!

What can you do to accomplish personal goals?

So I tried to do what I could. I outlined or wrote a character in my 15-minute breaks. I wrote scenes and small stuff, but again the business of life and two small children intervened. Absolutely, this is still something for which I have a passion. How in the world can I make time to include my personal goals outside of family life? Last year I quit my job to stay home with our two kids, and it feels like there’s never a minute free.

My mind answered me, just do it. First off, make a plan and stick to it. Okay, that’s easy enough. But what’s practical, doable right now step one? For me, step one is simply making a calendar. What are my priorities, carve out time for them in my mom calendar, and stick to it!

Specifically, find time for you! Busy moms have to plan time in a mom calendar to accomplish their own goals outside of the home. Utilize my free printable calendar and set time aside for you, not the kids or straightening the house.

What are your goals?

Are you in the same boat as me? Do you have stories longing to come out but need time and discipline to get pen to paper, or fingers to the computer, to write? What are your goals for yourself? Perhaps take a few minutes and write out some long-term goals, and then go back and write out some short-term, step by step goals to get you there. We could go into goal setting in a series of blog posts, but I won’t go there right now, just do some brainstorming and get the basics down.

Blue planning

Once my goals are written out, my brain immediately thinks, “Okay, that’s great, but where are we going to find time to get all these things done?” If you are a stay at home mom do you have friends, acquaintances, even family, who think you have all the time in the world?

“It must be so nice to have all that free time!”

Free time, really? If you have small children at home you do not have free time. In fact, you can’t leave them alone for more than a minute or so before they climb the cabinets, wander outside, ask if you have any more paint for their wall painting, etc. If you are lucky your child will take a nap, and if you have two or more fat chance they’ll nap at the same time. Then you’re expected to get the house cleaned, plan and prepare fabulous meals, take any older children to all their art clubs, soccer practices, swimming, and bring home the car pool. The truth is there is no peace and quiet for mom to sit around and watch TV, browse the internet, and eat chocolate all day as many people infer.

To be honest, I actually had more “me” time when my kids were in daycare, and I worked my full-time corporate job. Yes, it was busy running from place to place, but there were more times during the day I could actually take a 15-minute break with no demands on me by a small person. Moreover, I could do something like take a walk or read a book for the sheer pleasure of it and not be interrupted. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a mom and loving on my kids. However, a healthy balance can be reached for your personal goals as well as family time.

Mom Calendar Plan

So how do you find time to accomplish your goals? To begin with, I go for the simple and practical: make a schedule and follow it. Make it work. If it isn’t working, move things around on your mom calendar until it does.

Have you watched the movie or read the book About a Boy? The Hugh Grant character Will divides his day into “units” consisting of no more than 30 minutes of time. At the time, as he plans his days this way he may be immature and have a schedule nothing like my own, but I like this idea. 30 minutes of time. I would even make my “unit” equal to 15 minutes. If you have a plan and a purpose, you can get amazing amounts of work done in 15-minute blocks of time.

Does planning time for you include travel? Plan to head to Estes Park, Colorado this summer!

Estes Park Restaurants feature

Would you like a mountain getaway this summer? I love Estes Park, Colorado, and I’ve given you the scoop on my favorite restaurants in and around. Because we all like to eat! Have an experience. Try out one of these Estes Park restaurants with character.

How do you plan your units? A calendar of course.

Maybe I’m just old or old-fashioned, but I really think there’s something to be said for writing out your goals, schedules, and calendars. Put them out there where you’ll see them consistently, and not just on your phone. When I want to brainstorm something I write my topics and ideas out on sticky notes and put them on a poster or my wall so I can move things around and get a visual picture in my head. The same goes for my weekly calendar. It’s not enough to write it out in my giant planner that is a pain to drag around and only gets opened once a day. I need a calendar/schedule I can stick on the wall or fold in half and stuff in my purse. Then I have it when I go out for easy reminders and edits.

My current mom calendar

If you can do it on your phone that’s great. It’s always with you. I put things like dentist appointments, dinner parties, and birthdays on my phone, but for the week broken down into “units” of time, I prefer paper. I tried a planner, but just couldn’t make it work since I couldn’t stick it on my wall, and it was so large. Then I tried designing my own weekly calendar printable I could just print out once a week, fill in when I could, and print another one next week. The picture above is my current mom calendar. It’s actually a little calmer than usual as we are recovering from Easter. You can see I have some work to do and detail to add! 

Weekly Calendar Printable

Here’s what I came up with for myself and have been using. I actually have two different versions I’ll include in the download. First, there’s one with only the hours listed for those who like a less cluttered look, and one with the half hours in case you like those extra lines and encouragement to write small. I actually prefer the on with the half hour. But wait! My Mom Calendar, as I call it, has more than just the hours of the day. It also has places for other items I brainstorm and plan for all the time: meals, the grocery list, and a basic to-do list. Download it just below to purpose and organize!

Mom calendar preview

Ultimately, if you think you can do it, you will. Equally, if you think you can’t, you won’t. Write out that mom calendar, and even if it’s only 15 minutes here and there, put in time for you. What do you want to accomplish? Find a babysitter if necessary. Set short term and long term goals. Make a plan to follow through. Get the help and the support of others.

I struggle to get time during the week, but simple things like going to bed earlier and getting up an hour earlier to write could make a huge difference in my productivity. I have some experimentation and a lot of work to do to get it right! You’ll be hearing more about my scheduling, research on writing stories, and my writing goals in the near future. I hope some of you will join me on this writing journey.

Supplies

I have a confession to make. Yes, here it is: I love pens. Not boring pens, but ink-flowing, colorful, comfortable pens that make me feel creative and happy. Highlighters, pens, and sticky notes are fabulous inspirational planning items, and I highly recommend them. Pick some up at the store or check these links out from Amazon and get your goals set and calendar planned today!

Get started today!

What are you waiting for? Are you like me and want to flex your writing skills and accomplish that first novel? Do you have fitness and exercise goals? Are you determined to get back into painting or maybe do your masters on-line? Whatever it may be, do it for not just yourself but for your family also. A well rounded you is a happier you and will rub off and make the entire household flow more smoothly.

Tell me in the comments today, what would like to carve our time for? What hidden dreams and goals are just waiting for the right chance to pull out? I’d love to hear about them!

Little Passports World Edition Review

Little Passports World Edition Review

Little Passports review pin

This page contains affiliate links. Explorer Momma was given a free 3-month membership to Little Passports for review. I only recommend things I find value in and would use for my own family.

Even though I’m not currently teaching, as a certified French and Social Studies teacher I am always looking for activities that promote learning. What will inspire, encourage, or motivate my child and others to explore? What can we do to pique their curiosity? I’ve chosen to do a Little Passports review because this is a program that can plant a seed. The seed is the joy in learning about geography, cultural diversity, and the idea of educational travel. With care, this seed will hopefully grow and bloom. 

I’ve been interested in the Little Passports company in the past, and we just recently received the first shipment of the World Edition. I’m writing this review having received a free 3-month subscription from the program as an affiliate. However, I want you to know I only write about ideas and products on my blog I use and enjoy. You will not see a negative review from me because I’m not going to write about something I wouldn’t use for my own family.

Little Passports is a delightful program sure to excite your kids about geography and travel, and from what I’ve seen so far, I highly recommend it.

Do you remember the excitement of getting something in the mail as a child? You might have received Valentine card from Grandma, a postcard from your uncle’s travels, even some stickers advertising a magazine. For me, these were fairly rare occurrences so when they came I treasured them. Now imagine your child getting their own package in the mail with their name on it once a month. Oh, the joy! Anticipation! For my daughter, the excitement of getting something fun in the mail is almost as important as the actual contents.

Need more ideas to get kids excited about learning?

10 Tips to Get Kids Excited About Learning

What’s included in the first shipment of Little Passports, World Edition

Little Passports close-up

Introductory letter from Sam and Sofia

Sam introduces himself and his good friend Sofia. This first letter sets the stage for their travel and adventures around the world. Of course, he promises future communications as they visit different countries.

Picture postcard showing Sam and Sofia

The postcard shows our friendly duo in Sam’s aunt’s garage. They’re sitting on the magic scooter they found with a GPS that can take them anywhere in the world. Imagine the possibilities!

Activity sheets

My 8-year-old daughter really enjoyed the activity sheets especially the one that teaches kids to say hello in languages from all over the world. We actually had to practice them all out loud and talked about where we might use them. Hopefully, the future pages will be just as educational and entertaining.

Travel suitcase

The suitcase in the first shipment is a fun idea. Who doesn’t love old pictures of suitcases and trunks with travel stickers all over them? The only problem is that now my 4-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter are arguing over who the suitcase belongs to, so we may have to get another one! 

Each month, you can store the items you receive from Sam and Sofia in your suitcase. In addition, they’ve promised to send more stickers and luggage tags to put on the outside. There’s  a place on the inside for the child’s name and a working clasp to open and close it.

World map

A world map is a great part of the package, and my son immediately declared he needed to put it up in his room. Moreover, the map is not just anywhere, but on the wall by his bed so he can plan his adventures. Most of these expeditions center around Australia, Tasmania, and Antarctica lately. I admit I’m a proud momma because at 4 it’s amazing to me how many places he can point out and actually knows what they are.

Also, stickers have been promised in future mailings to put on your map to track where Sam and Sofia have been.

Personal passport

The world traveler passport is a fun addition to the package. In it, kids can attach their photo on the page with their name and address just like a real passport. There are places for country stamps, of course. Also included are fun questions to encourage discussion about travel with parents. By the same token, kids even have a place to plan their future travels and think about why they want to go to each country.

Stickers of Sam and Sofia

As I mentioned, there are stickers to go on your suitcase, and we are told of more for the passport and suitcase from each country.

Boarding pass to attach to your suitcase with passwords to on-line games and activities

We haven’t gotten around to trying out the on-line games and activities yet, but they are included as a part of the package. On the boarding pass you attach to the suitcase there’s a website and codes to get in.

Parent guide

The parent guide lists out the items in the first shipment and describes some of what to expect in the future packages.

What do I think?

I think this is a fabulous program with the right amount of mystery to keep kids wanting more. My daughter cannot wait for the Brazil package to come and has been asking about it every couple of days since her suitcase arrived. This is something you can get out of it what you put in. It takes some time and attention to complete the activities and read through everything.

I also like the fact it encourages parents to get involved and talk to their kids about their travel experiences. You will need to interact with your kids and help them with certain aspects of the program, but they are free to imagine all the fun places they want to visit in the future.

A membership to Little Passports makes a wonderful gift

If you are looking for a gift for a child I highly recommend Little Passports. You can order the World or U.S. versions, and there’s even a science program. The child receiving the gift will get their initial program package and then monthly thereafter get another installment. The World program will evidently be mailings from the different places Sam and Sofia visit.

This program includes some of my favorite things. It gets kids excited about learning, inspires them to study geography, and cultivates an interest in travel and cultural diversity. Consequently,  one would hope it also sparks a curiosity that will develop into an appreciation and understanding of their part in the world, it’s people, and our beautiful differences.

Fresh Carrot Orange Mango Smoothie

Fresh Carrot Orange Mango Smoothie

Carrot orange mango smoothie

This post contains affiliate links.

What do you need to get you in a hoppy Spring mood? Spring puts me in mind of fresh flowers, rabbits invading my yard, salads, garden planting, and sunshine. Imagine if you could get a picture of all of those things in your mind’s eye with an explosion of taste in your mouth. Hard to believe but we’ve come pretty close with this fresh Carrot Orange Mango Smoothie. Try one with your favorite little one(s) today! You just might feel a bunny hop coming on.

Why we love smoothies

Why do I love smoothies? It’s fairly simple really as it’s one of the few ways I can get my son to consistently eat his veggies. He’ll eat a carrot here and there when it’s on his plate and he has to try at least one, or when a friend shares one with him. However, there is not a lot of joy at this point in his life in carrots, spinach, kale, or other healthy veggies I can get him to happily down in a smoothie. There’s also the fact they’re really good!

Bunnies love carrot orange mango smoothies

I mentioned bunnies invading my yard this time of year. Initially, every spring I smile and watch the bunnies running this way and that. Be that as it may, as more and more appear in my yard the Farmer MacGregor in me tends to come out, and I’ve trained the kids to run at them and scare them far away. While I’ve only seen a few hopping about so far this year, fortunately, we haven’t had any burrowing in and having babies.

Last year I went out to plant the garden only to find a momma rabbit had burrowed into the center of the garden and buried several babies there. My calm, rabbit-loving husband refused to do anything about it until they were moved out, but it put me in a small panic. Of course, I had to stress to the children at least daily about how we do not go near the garden or touch the baby rabbits! Thankfully, it only took about a week before they were gone.

Carrot smoothie

Make your own fresh carrot orange mango smoothie

Think about those happy, hoppy carrot-loving spring rabbits, and gather your ingredients for this incredibly refreshing smoothie. It has fairly simple ingredients, but it’s amazing! The child loved this one, and we’ve been making it often and scoring some great vitamin A from the carrots.

As with any recipe, be sure you get good ingredients to get the best flavor. Some of the mangoes we’ve seen lately have not been completely ripe, so try to get a good one or let it sit for a few days so it’s soft before using it.

Tip: Try one of these smoothie pouches to make healthy smoothies easy and portable for your little ones.

We’ve been using these Squeasy Gear food pouches since my son turned 2, and even my 8-year-old daughter will use hers for part of an easy healthy lunch. They’re super-easy to clean, reusable, and green! I can’t recommend them enough. They come in several colors so, and we literally use them almost every day. Click here to check them out from Amazon. 

Squeasy pouches

What can you do to get your kids to eat healthy today?

Read more from Explorer Momma on how to get your kids to eat healthy. Useful tips you can implement today!

Make the Carrot Orange Mango Smoothie (2 child-sized servings)

  • 1 orange
  • 1 medium/large carrot
  • 1/2 a mango
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • About 1 cup ice cubes
  • 1 tablespoon of honey

First, place all the ingredients in a high-speed blender. If you don’t have a high-speed blender you’ll need to chop your carrot into small pieces before blending, but it should come out just fine in a regular blender too. Second, blend everything together for about 45 seconds or until you can tell everything’s been incorporated and the mixture has a smooth texture. Then pour it out into 2 small glasses and share one with a friend!

Carrot smoothies with carrot and orange

Aren’t they a fabulous color?! It just brightens your day, and the fresh fruit and carrot with a hint of ginger make it incredibly refreshing. Truly, your little rabbits will be gobbling them up in no time.

Fresh Carrot Orange Mango Smoothie

Yield: 2 child-sized servings

Serving Size: 6 oz.

Fresh Carrot Orange Mango Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1 orange
  • 1 medium/large carrot
  • 1/2 a mango
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • 1 tablespoon of honey

Instructions

  1. Place all the ingredients in a high-speed blender.
  2. If you don’t have a high-speed blender, chop your carrot into small pieces before blending.
  3. Blend everything together starting on the lowest speed and turning up to the highest for about 45 seconds or until you can tell everything’s been incorporated and the mixture has a smooth texture. Pour it out into 2 small glasses.
  4. Share one with a friend.
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Hoppy bunny

Spring memories

What do you think of when you think about spring? Is it the lilacs, daffodils, Easter, egg hunts, gardening, or family coming together? I have grown more and more to appreciate these simple things and love to share a smoothie with my little guy while we go out in the backyard to stand in the sunshine and review how many vibrant purple crocuses have bloomed.

So go out today, sip on a healthy fresh carrot orange mango smoothie, and delight in the novelties of a new season.

Denver Things to Do with Kids: Downtown Aquarium

Denver Things to Do with Kids: Downtown Aquarium

Denver things to do with kids: Downtown Aquarium

Searching for Denver things to do with kids? You really can’t go wrong with a zoo or aquarium in my experience, and when one has an ocean-life obsessed 4-year-old, the Downtown Aquarium is the obvious choice.

Spring Break Activities: Denver with kids

Spring Break this year was two different weeks for my two kids (preschool and elementary) so we weren’t able to go on any far off adventures. We decided to content ourselves with a staycation and do some short day trips from home. Furthermore, the trip to the zoo was a no-brainer easy quick day trip, and the kids were super-excited.

We had our day all planned out and were set to spend at the Denver Zoo. We drove into the city and noticed a lot of traffic as we got closer and closer to the zoo. Then we discovered all the cars were actually turning into the zoo parking, the parking garage was already full, and the neighboring museum and park lots were full of zoo patrons as well. As we drove farther and farther looking for a parking spot, I watched the masses head toward our destination. Because of my perceived lack of air due to the sheer crazy number of people, my mind began screaming, “Get out of here! Now, while you still can!”

There’s not a lot I find more miserable than inching around in giant crowds, and so I suggested we forego the zoo and try the Downtown Aquarium. Needless to say, I expected some squawking, but the rest of the family immediately agreed (amazing), and we were on our way leaving the throngs behind. Phew!

Aquarium escalator

The Downtown Aquarium is a great educational place for kids

Starfish eating

The Downtown Aquarium has a ton to offer and impressively looks out over downtown Denver. First of all, the escalator as you enter looks like a giant metal fish sort of in the style of Captain Nemo’s submarine from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. You get swallowed by the fish and head up to the main floor to begin your tour. There are some remarkable displays, and then the tanks begin. Big tanks, little tanks, wall tanks, table tanks, you name it, and you can see some sort of marine life in all of these. My son loved them all but was especially transfixed at the massive shark tanks. He stared at them awhile before he recovered himself and began to lecture on the different kinds of sharks.

Aquarium shark tank

If you get tired of marine life, there are also areas with snakes, tarantulas, macaws, and even a tiger! Moreover, if you’re not expecting to see the tiger you can actually get quite a surprise after going through the glass tunnel tank. You’re still marveling at the manta rays and eels and bam! You walk straight toward a glass wall, and you’re face to face with a tiger! Now, he has a pretty large area and is often up on top of a bunch of rocks where he’s hard to see. Still, it is possible for him to walk right up next to you.

 Aquarium fish

Looking for more fun travels with kids?

Try Carlsbad Caverns With Kids: 10 MUSTS For An Amazing Visit

Hands-on activities for kids

In addition to the displays, there are some cool hands-on areas. Kids can carefully feel stingrays, starfish, horseshoe crabs, and even some small sharks. My daughter was fascinated by the thought of actually touching a shark, and it was the favorite thing she did her entire visit. Also, a close second was when she got to see “actual, real-life mermaids” to quote her. Be sure to look for the mermaid dive times when they swim in the tank with the fish. Later she actually got to talk to one of them, wow!

Aquarium fossil

My son, on the other hand, did not feel the need to touch the sharks and all the rest. He stated his favorite part was seeing the Giant Pacific Octopus, better known as Jackie. Jackie was active when we came by and was all over the tank with her eight legs whirling. “We could go to the Pacific Ocean and see a bigger one, but Jackie is nice,” the small one determined.

Giant Pacific Octopus

Denver things to do with kids: the Downtown Aquarium Restaurant

If you’re wanting to eat at the Aquarium, the restaurant is definitely an experience. The seating area is surrounded by large fish tanks of fish and “mermaids” swimming about. You can make reservations at the restaurant and request to sit near the tanks, and I would recommend this particularly if you’re visiting on the weekend or special day. The gift shop is just next to the restaurant so be ready for the kids! They’ll want marine life t-shirts, stuffed animals, hats, trucks, and all sorts of other trinkets emblazoned with  “Downtown Aquarium”.

How to cut down on cost

The one downside, in my own opinion, is the cost of the visit. It can add up quickly with Aquarium tickets, a carousel ride outside, food at the restaurant, a souvenir, and the $7 parking. If this is a concern for your family plan it all out beforehand using the current prices on the Downtown Aquarium website.  Then decide what you will or will not do beforehand. For example, you can bring your own picnic lunch and eat outside at tables on a large balcony area on the second floor. Also, you can completely bypass the gift shop if you don’t plan to purchase souvenirs.

Tip: A few days before you go subscribe to the Aquarium’s mailing list. The first email I received from them contained a half-off adult admission coupon so definitely worth subscribing. You can always unsubscribe after your visit if you wish!

Denver aquarium squid

More fun!

If you’re looking for different Denver things to do with kids, do visit the Downtown Aquarium. There are so many fish and animals for the kids to learn about, it’s well worth the time. Likewise, we were incredibly grateful to have another option when our zoo plans fell through, and everyone had a fabulous time.

What is your favorite fish or animal to see at an aquarium? What are some of the other aquariums you’ve visited or would recommend?

Explorer Momma EM

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