Colorado4Every mom, and every travel story I‘ve read, recommends Denver’s outstanding museums and zoo. I’m sure they’re terrific. But we got a little museum-ed out this summer. So instead of the usual family attractions, we found some great alternative family fun in Denver.

First, we plunked down our stuff in spacious rooms at the Grand Hyatt Denver. While it’s mainly a business and wedding hotel, it’s also a great spot for families. More on this in a minute.

Here are sites I’d recommend for families visiting Denver in the summer:


Colorado2See a Colorado Rockies game at Coors Field. No advanced planning necessary. Two hours before the game, we went online and got 4 upper deck tickets for $59, which included one hot dog and soft drink per person. The seats were in the top rows of the upper deck, but that didn’t matter to us — it was a beautiful night, a great stadium, a nice, easy-to-get-to neighborhood and a good deal for a family night out. The scoreboard‘s big video screens had fun things to watch between innings. My only warning: slow concession lines and $7.25 for a beer.

Browse the Tattered Cover book store. Located along the free 16th Street shuttle, this is a great place to spend an hour or two. The store’s woody loft interior gives this giant bookstore a comfy feel, and the children’s book area is separate, with seating nestled in the stacks. The day we were there, we saw signs for that night’s book signing by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. So, clearly, a prestigious book store in Denver. Afterward, we walked a few blocks to lunch at Wynkoop Brewing Company.

Get a hot pretzel at Wynkoop Brewing Company. This microbrewery has some standout beers (plus tours of its on-site brewery). But if you’re traveling with kids, you’ll want to go and order the giant hot pretzels, which come with two dipping sauces. Try it with the Rail Tie brown mustard. You can get lunch or dinner as well, and my kids fawned over the grilled cheese made with white cheddar and mozzarella cheese.

Colorado3Order anything at Little Man Ice Cream. You need a car to get here from downtown Denver, but this little ice cream shop is worth the trip. It’s housed in a giant milk pail, in the residential Highland neighborhood, and sells creative types of ice cream and gelato. The line can be long at night, I’m told. But during our late-afternoon weekday stop — no line at all. They change flavors regularly, but I recommend the salted caramel ice cream.

Walk through the river at Confluence Park. This public park, with a walk-in shallow water play area, is where Cherry Creek and the South Platte River meet. My husband deemed it “just OK,“ and “not that clean,“ but I disagree — and think it’s as clean (if not cleaner) than any of Chicago’s popular beaches. Being a hot day, the kids and I loved splashing around in the ankle-deep water, and watching people ride inner tubes down a little pass (I had no idea where they got the tubes — I didn’t see a place to rent them, or I would have).

Colorado6Shop at the REI flagship store. Alongside Confluence Park is a massive REI store, one of its largest in the U.S. If you’re an REI fan like I am, you’ll definitely want to stop here. There’s a large Starbucks attached to it, so you can dump the hubs and kids on their large outdoor seating area while you shop.

And now, more on the Grand Hyatt Denver hotel

Colorado5I’m coming around the concept of business hotels for family travel. At 9 a.m. on a Tuesday, at the Grand Hyatt Denver, it was like our own private hotel. We had their nice indoor pool and outdoor deck — stocked with swimming noodles, toys, nice wicker lounge chairs — all to ourselves. Same with the hotel’s new rooftop shuffleboard deck (had to pull the kids away from it), tennis court (they have racquets available) and running track made out of crushed-tire material. The whole outdoor recreation area is surrounded by skyscrapers, which makes it look so cool.

Perhaps the hotel’s best feature is its great downtown location — just a 1 ½-block walk to the free shuttle that runs up and down 16th Street — a main drag of restaurants and shopping. We were able to take the shuttle to most places we wanted to go, including Coors Field.

Downtown Denver seems like it’s all brand new and many parts have a hipster vibe. Most of all, it’s a fun place for families and we can hardly wait to return.

A media rate was provided by the Grand Hyatt Denver, but the opinions expressed are completely my own. If you go to Hyatt and book this hotel, Traveling Mom will receive a referral fee.