Sometimes, park days happen because everyone’s been cooped up in the house for too long.
The kids are using the furniture like a parkour course, someone’s trying to put the dog in a dress, and everyone generally just needs to Get. Out. And so you head to the nearest outdoor space so everyone stops ruining your stuff.
But other times, especially during the summer, park days can be more of an event. Those serve a purpose, too — when everyone’s seatbelted in for a drive, no one can poke at each other…and often a nice drive home after a day of playing can put cranky kids to sleep when they desperately need a nap.
These three playgrounds are all more than 20 minutes from downtown Denver, but once you get there, there’s plenty to do. My advice? Wear the kids out playing, make a pit stop for a good latte for you, and take the leisurely road home. It’s true — sometimes getting there (or back!) is half the fun.
1.) Kittridge Park, Evergreen:
With a brand-new playground last fall, Kittridge Park has some really cool features for kids. The playground is built to look like a tree house with nooks and crannies to hide in, walls to climb, and musical instruments to play. There’s also a smaller playground for toddlers. Bring a towel, because after you’re done playing you can walk down a little path to Bear Creek to splash around and play in the sand. And on hot summer days, Kittridge is a little cooler than the metro area.
Drive from downtown Denver: approximately 40 minutes.
Bathroom situation: Port-a-Potties
My suggestion: Start with a (free!) tour of the Hiwan Homestead Museum in Evergreen — be sure to check out the game room. After spending an hour or two there, head to Kittridge Park for a picnic, playing, and cooling off in the creek.
2.) City Park, Georgetown:
The big-kid playground reminds me of a castle, with painted walls, walkways for kids to run through, and of course slides and tire swings. And for younger kids, an area that looks like a frontier town:
Drive from downtown Denver: approximately 50 minutes
Bathroom situation: no bathrooms. Stop at the Visitor’s Center when you exit I-70 before heading to the park.
My suggestion: Bring a picnic lunch to eat at the playground, let the kids play for a good long time, then head a few blocks over to Main Street for window shopping and an ice cream cone before the trip home. Also, bring a jacket, even if it’s boiling hot when you leave the metro area. You never know.
3.) Parfet Park, Golden: Not, strictly speaking, a playground…but there is an awesome 2-level slide that ends near Clear Creek.
Kids can spend a good amount of time sliding down, then running back up the steps to do it all again. There are also bronze fish sculptures near the creek (be warned — they can be hot on sunny days!). And you can walk along the Clear Creek Trail, stopping every now and then to stick feet and hands in the water in calm areas.
Drive from downtown Denver: approximately 25 minutes
Bathroom situation: bathrooms are available in the Golden Visitor Center, across the street from the park.
My suggestion: take a picnic to Parfet Park. Eat, let the kids slide for a bit, then stroll west (upstream) along Clear Creek Trail. Cross the pedestrian bridge, and walk back down the other side to the Clear Creek History Park. You can wander through the history park and watch the chickens in their coop (and feed them if you have some loose change) before heading back to your car.
How about you? Do you have a favorite park that’s worth the drive?