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Posts Tagged ‘Denver’

If you’re like most grown-ups without kids, you probably haven’t been to your local natural history museum since junior high. Yawn, you say? Well, you might be surprised. Sure, you can still find those creepy dioramas with lifelike stuffed animals. And of course there’s the scintillating hall of minerals, which was actually kind of cool the first time you saw it, but may not inspire a repeat visit.

One area that’s received a facelift, at least in Denver, is the dinosaur exhibit. In the past few decades, paleontolgists have made some interesting discoveries. Dinosaurs, it seems, are the ancestors of birds, not reptiles as was previously assumed. Ok, so maybe that’s not news to you…but did you know that we’ve only discovered about two percent of all the dinosaur species that ever existed? For instance, the gigantic vegetarian puertasaurus was discovered two years ago in Argentina. And the bambiraptor, a one-foot high miniature menace discovered in 1995, is currently on display as part of a special exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.

This special exhibit also features new information about how dinosaurs walked, including a 1:7 scale moving t-rex that, even in such a diminutive form, still caused me to shiver as I watched it pace. Also impressive is the full-size tyrannosaurus skeleton, mounted much closer to the ground than the one at the museum’s entrance, making it possible to imagine how easily a grown person could fit in its mouth! And if you’ve never seen a triceratops skull, now’s your chance to realize how huge these animals were.

Dinosaurs: Ancient Fossils, New Discoveries runs through January 4. The next free admission day is December 7. If you go, I highly recommend making time for two other permanent exhibits. The multi-level exhibit, Prehistoric Journey, is as impressive, if not more so, than the special exhibit. Lots of bones, but also dioramas (yay!) with creature features you’ve never seen before. You should also seek out the small, but fascinating collection of gem carvings created by Russian artist Vasily Konovalenko. Look for it on Level 3, wedged between the Botswana and South American dioramas.

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We’ve got a few relatives and friends visiting us in Colorado this summer, and we want to make sure they have a great time. So I compiled a list of activities and sightseeing within an hour or less from our hometown. I couldn’t believe all the stuff there is to do right out our front door! Granted, we do live North of Denver, a large city with some great attractions, and near Boulder and Fort Collins, both of which have their own charms.

But even in a less populated area, I imagine you could find something to see or do for a week or two like:

  • Go to the local pool or rec center.
  • Hike, bike or fish in a nearby recreation area.
  • Go to the park with your kids or dogs.
  • Go window shopping (maybe even buy something).
  • Go out for lunch (and have a beer or glass of wine!).
  • Go to dinner and a movie.
  • Take pictures of your city or nearby towns, just for the fun of it.
  • Sit in your backyard and watch the sunset.

From what I’m reading, with the price of gas and the poor economy, more people are taking advantage of what their home towns have to offer. They’ve even coined a term for it: staycation. Think about it – no airfare, no hotel bill, no car rental, no restaurant bills (unless you choose to dine out); just the cost of entertaining yourself with what will probably be moderately inexpensive or even free outings.

I love to travel as much as anyone, but I also love to save money, so I’m seriously considering a staycation later this year. Of course, the hard part for me would be to NOT do chores while I’m hanging around the house. But wasting a vacation on housework and gotta do’s is a lot different than wasting the weekend on that stuff, so I bet I could pull it off.

How about you? Are you considering a staycation this year? Have you ever taken one? I’d love to hear all about it!

Oh, and for those of you in the Denver area, here’s some fun stuff you can do near home – I’m sure it’s missing a lot of great activities, so feel free to add to the list!

Rockies Game (Denver)

http://colorado.rockies.mlb.com

          Tickets $4 – $52

 

Denver Aquarium & Lunch in Aquarium restaurant

http://www.aquariumrestaurants.com/downtownaquariumdenver/flash_content/index.html

          Open 10 am (restaurant opens at 11 am)

          Adults $13.75, Kids (3-11) $8.25

 

Denver Zoo

http://www.denverzoo.org/

          Open 9 am

          Adults $12, Kids (3-11) $7

 

Wild Animal Sanctuary (Keenesburg)

http://www.wildanimalsanctuary.org/index.htm

          Sanctuary (not a zoo) for rescued wild animals (tigers, lions, leopards, bears, wolves)

          Open 9 am

          Adults $10, Kids $5

 

Elitch Gardens Theme Park & water park (Denver)

http://www.elitchgardens.com/

          Open 10 am

          Everyone $30 (online), $35 at the park

 

Water World (Thornton)

http://www.waterworldcolorado.com/

          Open 10 am

          Adults $30 online / $34 at the park, Kids (under 47”) $25 online, $29 at park

 

Boondocks Fun Park (Northglenn)

http://www.boondocksfuncenter.com/public/northglenn/

          Go-Karts, Rookie Go-Karts, Bumper Boats, Miniature Golf, Batting Cages, Laser Tag, Kiddie Cove, Max Flight Simulator, Huge Arcade

          Open 10 am

          Adults $25, Kids (under 60”) $17

 

Gateway Park (Boulder)

http://www.gatewayfunpark.com/GPboulder/index.htm

          Mini golf, go karts, human maze, batting cages, golf practice range, arcade

          Open 10 am

          Per activity (golf $6, go karts $6.25-7.25, maze $4)

 

Denver Art Museum

http://www.denverartmuseum.org/home

          Open 10 am (noon on Sunday)

          Adults $13, Kids $3, College Students $8

 

Denver Museum of Nature & Science with IMAX and planetarium

http://www.dmns.org/main/en/

          Open 9 am

          Museum = Adults $11, Kids & Students $6

          IMAX = Adults $8, Kids & Students $6

 

Hiking at Red Rocks Park & Ampitheater (Lakewood)

http://www.redrocksonline.com/

          Open 5 am

          Free admission

          Pets allowed on leash

 

Central City & Black Hawk (Mountains)

http://www.centralcitycolorado.us/

http://www.cityofblackhawk.org/

          Small stakes gambling in historic mountain towns

 

Rocky Mtn Natl Park & Trail Ridge Road

http://www.nps.gov/romo/    http://www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/trail_ridge_road.htm

          Scenic drive on one of the highest roads in Colorado

 

New Belgium Brewery Tour (Ft. Collins)

http://www.newbelgium.com/visitus.php

          Home of Fat Tire beer

          Tu-Sat, 10 am

 

Anheuser-Busch Brewery Tour & Clydesdale hamlet (Ft. Collins)

http://www.budweisertours.com/

          Open 9:30 am

          Free tours

 

Outlet Stores at Loveland & Movie Theater

http://www.outletsatloveland.com/

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