Like most four-year-old boys, Landon has been on a major dinosaur kick lately. Between reading dinosaur books, having dinosaur fights, and playing with toy dinosaurs, we thought we should take Landon to check out the dinosaurs at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science while we were in Denver for Christmas. Grandma Ev came along too!
Denver Museum of Nature and Science is located in Denver’s City Park, 3 miles from downtown and shares a free parking lot with the Denver Zoo. Tickets can be purchased online or at the door. Convenient kiosks are located just inside the door and typically have shorter lines than the main ticket line. We opted not to purchase tickets for special exhibits this time, as this was our first visit with the kiddos and there was plenty to do and see in the exhibitions included in the general admission ticket. Landon insisted on starting out in the dinosaur exhibit, so we made our way to the top floor to visit the dinosaurs. Along with informative signs and pictures and the dinosaur bones, there were also interactive displays and plenty to touch, which Owen really liked as he toddled through the exhibit at his own pace. A volunteer docent had a booth set up with special items for the kids to touch and explore.
Landon saw many of his favorite dinosaurs, and was enthralled with the video displays showing the evolution of the dinosaurs. Some of the dinosaurs on display were ones found in Colorado, millions of years ago! At the end of the exhibit, we could watch dinosaur bones being cleaned and prepared in the laboratory.
On the north side of the museum is a family atrium area with restrooms, limited table and couch seating, and floor to ceiling windows with views of the mountains and city park. We ate our packed lunch there, and then asked Landon what he wanted to see next. I gave him a couple options, including the natural history exhibit on sea mammals. He said, “Mom, what kind of mammals are we going to see?” He’s a funny kid sometimes. We did go to the bears and sea mammals exhibit next, where there were many taxidermied animals. On the floor in this area was a projection screen of a river with swimming fish. Landon and Owen enjoyed running around trying to catch the fish and pretending to be bears in the river.
One feature of this museum that I loved was that in every exhibit, there were little separate spaces for young children. Owen spent a lot of time in the kid’s area of the human body exhibit, while we took turns looking at the other areas. The human body exhibit was very unique, in that we created a profile at the entrance with a key card, and then could participate in a number of physical tests and challenges, with the data being saved on the card. At the end, the computer prints out a score card with results. It was busy when we visited, and Landon was not up for waiting in lines, so we did a few activities, saw a movie about the effects of exercise on the body, and touched sheep’s lungs at a live dissection and demonstration before moving on.
The children’s section of the museum had all of Landon’s favorite activities! He dug for dinosaur bones and played in the water. Owen wasn’t quite big enough for the water play area, so he went to the special area for kids under 5. There was a soft play area for climbing, books, baby toys, and cute little activities. Of course, he spent the whole time climbing in and out of wooden chairs.
For a fun exercise break, Landon went down to the first floor directly under the kid area and ran around trying to avoid the T Rex and other creatures that appeared on the screen.
We capped off our time at the museum withe the space exhibit. Space is another thing that Landon is really interested in right now, but by this time, he was done learning and just wanted to play. He spent a LONG time in this little kid’s play space shuttle pretending to be an astronaut. They had the ship, and then an area like the moon, so he would drive the ship and then go on moon walks. He loved dressing up and trying to boss the other kids around in the space ship. It was so funny, there was a little girl that was not having any of it. She said, “I’m the captain now! I’m the princess and you’re my prince!” With all of our traveling, it was nice to see him play with other kids his age that speak English and he can play pretend with!
We finished off by learning about the signs that there used to be water on Mars… and playing with the red Mars sand and water. Denver Museum of Nature and Science is fun for the whole family. Austin and I enjoyed visiting before we had kids, and bringing our boys here was a great way to spend the day. Along with the exhibits we visited, there are planetarium shows, IMAX movies, gems, mummies, and many wildlife exhibits. The whole museum is stroller accessible with elevators, and stroller parking for tight areas where strollers aren’t allowed. With the small children’s areas in each exhibit, visiting with kids of any age is feasible and enjoyable. If you’re in the Denver area, check out this neat museum!