Colorado

Denver Museum of Nature and Science

Exploration and Discovery for All Ages

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We are lucky to live near the Denver Museum of Nature and Science! This museum has a lot to offer families within Colorado, or those simply passing through. With over a million artifacts, lots of hands-on experiences, and exciting rotating exhibits, this museum will keep everyone engaged throughout the visit.

The Denver Museum of Nature and Science has a total of three levels of exhibits, including: Space Odyssey, Gates Planetarium, Gems and Minerals, Discovery Zone, Mummies, Wildlife Hall, and Prehistoric Journey. Even though we visit the museum a few times per year, it never gets old.

A visit to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science is a fun family activity when in the Denver area! Tons of hands-on experiences to engage kids of all ages! #museum #denver #colorado #familyactivity

Tips for a Day at the Museum

Before you plan a day at the museum, be sure to read our tips to help you get the most out of your visit.

  1. Plan your visit! Be sure to review the museum’s website prior to visiting for the day. Figure out what activities and shows (both IMAX and planetarium) are scheduled for the day.
  2. Print out your museum scavenger hunt and keep in mind that the gift shop has some fun and cost-effective prizes to help keep kids engaged to complete the scavenger hunt.
  3. Bring snacks! While the museum has food for purchase, feel free to bring your own snacks. You shouldn’t eat or drink in the exhibit halls, but there is a dining hall and several sitting areas for families to take a break. The sitting areas are excellent places for the kids to spread their wings a little.
  4. Don’t try to see it all! While the museum is interactive, small kids will still become overwhelmed and restless after a few hours. We always save the hands-on kids area for the last stop, see more about this area below.

Our Top 3 Favorite Exhibits

You can spend a full day at the museum – from open to close and probably still not experience everything the venue has to offer! However, for us, a visit to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science is not complete without a visit to these three exhibits.

Space Odyssey

Being a space nerd, I love this exhibit. It has several hands-on experience such as, docking the space shuttle, playing in Martian sand, and testing out the various texture and weights of meteors. We haven’t experienced it yet, but they recently added a new virtual reality experience!

The Space Odyssey is also home to the Gates Planetarium and it should not be missed! They have a great show featuring Big Bird from Sesame Street, which is perfect for preschool children. This time around we watched Passport to the Universe; a 20 minute film narrated by Tom Hanks. This film perfectly depicts exactly how tiny we are in the universe. This would be great for anyone who is struggling to understand the vastness of the universe. Here are a few pictures of the space exhibit.

A visit to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science is a fun family activity when in the Denver area! Tons of hands-on experiences to engage kids of all ages! #museum #denver #colorado #familyactivity

A visit to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science is a fun family activity when in the Denver area! Tons of hands-on experiences to engage kids of all ages! #museum #denver #colorado #familyactivity

 Prehistoric Journey

This exhibit is easily my favorite at the museum. It walks you though the beginning of time all the way through the evolution of man. The BEST part of this exhibit (and, in my opinion, the entire museum) is the collection of dinosaurs. Many of the dinosaurs on display were found within Colorado or other western states, which makes the experience very relevant. At the end of the exhibit, you can peek into the paleontology lab. Many times, volunteers are working diligently and delicately on recently discovered fossils. Here are a few pictures of our journey through the prehistoric exhibit:

A visit to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science is a fun family activity when in the Denver area! Tons of hands-on experiences to engage kids of all ages! #museum #denver #colorado #familyactivity

A visit to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science is a fun family activity when in the Denver area! Tons of hands-on experiences to engage kids of all ages! #museum #denver #colorado #familyactivity

A visit to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science is a fun family activity when in the Denver area! Tons of hands-on experiences to engage kids of all ages! #museum #denver #colorado #familyactivity

 Discovery Zone

This is a fairly new area of the museum and it is fantastic! It is like a mini children’s museum within the larger museum. It offers several hands-on experiences for the kids, including a dinosaur dig and water play. My daughter, even at 7 years old, would love to spend all her time playing in the water. They also have an enclosed area for kids two years or younger. My tip is to save the Discovery Zone for the last stop because it works as a great incentive. Here are a few pictures of the Discovery Zone:

A visit to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science is a fun family activity when in the Denver area! Tons of hands-on experiences to engage kids of all ages! #museum #denver #colorado #familyactivity

A visit to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science is a fun family activity when in the Denver area! Tons of hands-on experiences to engage kids of all ages! #museum #denver #colorado #familyactivity

A visit to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science is a fun family activity when in the Denver area! Tons of hands-on experiences to engage kids of all ages! #museum #denver #colorado #familyactivity Museum Resources

Even if you can’t visit the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, you should visit their website and leverage their resource documents. Each exhibit has their own set of resources. These would be great for homeschooling or supplemental education. Here are a few I found interesting:

Do you have a local museum you love to visit? Have you checked out their website to see what resources they have available? Let me know in the comments!

Click here for a guide to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. A great family-friendly museum with lots of hands-on activities to keep everyone engaged. #Colorado #Denver #FamilyVacations

The Denver Zoo is right next door to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Click here to read more about the Denver Zoo.

Advertising Disclosure: As with all content on Travel + Family, this review was based on my own opinion. This post may or may not contain affiliate links, which if you click on, will give me a small commission at no cost or risk to you.


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13 Comments

  1. Years ago we visited with the kids. Great place and we almost couldn’t get them out. We love Denver – our son will be there next week with his two boys – I’ll be sure and forward your link.

  2. We absolutely love this museum. We go a few times a year too. I love the rocks and minerals exhibit. My son loves the mummies and my daughter loves the animals exhibits.

  3. It sounds like this science museum has a lot to offer! I agree that museums can be overwhelming and saving the hands-on or more “fun” stuff for the end is a good idea when visiting with kids! We have a local science museum called the Davinci Center and it is completely hands-on. We received passes for Christmas and I am looking forward to taking my daughter to visit it. Museums are always a great option for indoor fun on a rainy or cold day!

  4. My son will love the Space Odyssey and Prehistoric Journey. We tried to go there two summers ago but thy were almost closed, so we decided to leave. I like Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas better than Ft. Worth Museum of Science and History. They have more hands-on exhibits and more into science. Too bad it’s about 1,5 hours (incl. the city traffic) from where we live.

  5. Great article with tips that can be utilized when planning for a visit to any science museum. I also appreciate the resources you linked that are offered by the museum. My oldest is currently learning about space in kindergarten. The links provide great information for further discussion at home.

    I too am a bit of a science geek . My husband and I are sleeping over at the Minnesota Science Muesum next month for an adult lock-in. I’m so excited!

    1. An adult lock-in sounds fun! I overheard a teen at the museum talking to her parents about a lock-in she had at the museum. I loved how excited she was to show her parents where she slept and what they did during the lock in.

  6. My daughter and I would love this. Dinosaurs, astronauts…I really appreciate that so many natural history museums really focus on hands-on exhibits. I think it engages kids better. Plus, I love freeze-dried astronaut ice cream. It reminds me of being on middle school field trips.

  7. This is now on my list of places to go when I finally cross the Mississippi River! I adore museums of all kinds and this one seems amazing!

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