3 tropical places to visit in Denver during winter
I know. We love Denver. We love the cold and we love that it doesn’t usually stick around for long. But sometimes not-freezing isn’t enough. Sometimes maybe we long for some greenery and that super-warm feeling you get in summer. Maybe?
Sometimes we long for the tropics.
During Colorado winters, I find myself binge-watching Netflix shows that take place in warmer climates. I like Death in Paradise…because I’m a sucker for funny British mysteries, but mostly because it takes place in the Caribbean and I like to pretend I’m there for a bit.
If you’re looking for that feeling, and if – like most of us – a cruise isn’t in your immediate future, there are a few places to visit in Denver that the kids will love, where you can visit and pretend you live somewhere warm. Be sure to dress in layers…once you’re indoors, you’re going to start peeling off those winter coats and hats as fast as possible. In fact, you might want a bag to carry everyone’s gear around. It might be overkill to bring a beach blanket and lay in the corner of one of these spots with your magazine, but I wouldn’t judge you for trying.
3 tropical places to visit around Denver
1. The Butterfly Pavillion
It’s a fun place to visit year-round, but there’s something special about seeing all these bright butterflies and flowers in the dead of winter. In spite of the name, The Butterfly Pavillion is actually an invertebrate zoo, with a variety of bugs, a tarantula (Rosie) kids can hold, sea stars and other underwater creatures, and more. Get a glimpse inside a beehive, play with some worms, and see some creatures who glow under a blacklight. Then head into the Wings of the Tropics where you can see more than 1,600 butterflies from rainforests around the world. Kids can even see butterflies emerging from their chrysalides, and if you time it right, you can watch their daily release into the rainforest habitat.
WHERE: 6252 W. 104th Avenue, Westminster 80020
COST: Adults: $12, kids 2-12: $8, kids under 2: FREE (admission is just $5/person on 1/28, 2/10, 4/21, 8/18, 9/16, 11/12, and 12/9 in 2018)
2. The Denver Botanic Gardens’ Tropical Conservatory
My favorite place to be at the Botanic Gardens in winter. See hundreds of tropical plants, including an amazing orchid collection, coffee and even banana plants. Kids will love climbing the stairs around the huge banyan treehouse to the second level…and be sure to seek out the poison dart frog exhibits while you’re in there.
WHERE: Denver Botanic Gardens, 1007 York Street, Denver 80206
COST: Adults: $12.50, kids 3-15: $9, kids 2 & under: FREE (admission is FREE on 1/15, 2/19, 3/22, 4/8, 6/5, 7/19, 8/29, and 11/3 in 2018)
3. The Denver Zoo Tropical Discovery
See animals and sea creatures more used to the warm tropics than the chilly Denver winters! Start with fish and amphibians, check out the bats (they’ll likely be snoozing, but you’ll see some moving around in there), and see more frogs, snakes, and other tropical wildlife. We always make sure to check on Bob the Snapping Turtle, and we always check in on the Komodo dragons as well.
WHERE: The Denver Zoo, 2300 Steele St., Denver 80205
COST: Adults: $13, kids 3-11: $9, kids 2 & under: FREE (admission is FREE on 1/11, 1/19, 1/20, 2/4, 2/5, 11/9 and 11/12 in 2018. Be aware free days often mean full parking lots. You can park in nearby City Park, but be prepared to walk a distance!)