Not much beats a great trip to the playground here in Denver. But if there was one way to improve upon a family outing, it would have to be: dessert. Playing outside and having a sweet treat all in one single trip is my idea of excitement. Here are some simple Denver spots where a snack and a slide are less than a car ride away from each other.
Outdoor play spaces
1. Little Man Ice Cream meets Hirshorn Park (West Central Denver)
Darling little ice cream joint and a happy park to match. Little man has ideal scoop sizes for kids. Did you know you can order a “half scoop”, which makes it easy to get two flavors for the price of one scoop? I’m always excited when they have salted Oreo and birthday cake flavors available. Little Man also has a debonaire slipper-slide and hula-hoops, but when interest wears off just cross the street for more fun.
2. Spinelli’s Market meets WH Ferguson Park (Northeast Denver)
This little Italian Market sells giant sandwiches and dozens of treats line the shelves. But that’s not all…the just opened a new bakery space across the street. Spinelli’s serves ice cream, coffee and other goodies. Also known as “turtle park”, WH Ferguson has just the right amount of quaint charm and cool shade. And now, just the right amount of ice cream!
3. Tattered Cover Bookstore meets Downtown Children’s Playground (Central Denver)
Get ready for a fun, urban day when you visit this classic Denver bookstore and cafe. Grab some treats to go and then take a jaunt up the street, cross the old railway bridges over the Cherry Creek and you’re at the exciting Downtown Children’s Playground. Kids love the soft bouncy turf, the innovative climbing structures, and the lazy river water feature (a self turning crank causes water to bubble up out of a beautiful sculpture).
4. Union Station meets outdoor fountains (Downtown)
Pretend to be a Denver tourist arriving by train. The fountains at Union Station are perfectly delightful on a warm summer day. Start by hopping into the Station and take some time to appreciate the gorgeous renovations. Depending on your mood you can duck into Pigtrain Coffee Co or Milk Box Creamery which are both located just off the fountain play area. Once you’ve got your treats, settle in while the kids soak themselves in the fountains. I like to watch all the travelers and daydream about taking a trip of my own…
5. Etai’s meets Stapleton 29th Avenue Town Center Fountains/Library (NE Denver)
Surrounded by little shops, the wading fountains in the Town Center at Stapleton are a very pleasant way to spend the day. You might try Etai’s bakery (formerly Udi’s). They offer fresh made sandwiches and baked goods. I love the kombucha, which they have on tap. Get your order “to go” and then walk up to the fountains for a dip. If you have time to plan ahead, bring a change of clothes and towel. It’s common for kids to be in bathing suits and even swim diapers. One of the fountains is fairly steep, so be prepared to make daring rescues after your children have climbed up to the top. The fountain area is equipped with shaded picnic tables and music is piped in.
Additionally, the Sam Gary Branch of the Denver Public Library is just north of the fountain area. This library offers multiple story times weekly and has a lovely kids section with toys and books galore.
7. The Dirty Cookie meets Bridges/Confluence Park
Since it opens at 5pm, The Dirty Cookie is great for a summer evening. I know it sounds like a lot of cookies but “The Dirty Dozen” will be gobbled up before you can say “Jack Sprat”. (Seriously, if you order less that that you will regret it.) Add a pint of ice cream or frozen yogurt and you’re in for a real treat. While you wait for the cookies to bake, take the kids up on the pedestrian bridge and count cars on the highway or just sit and people watch. Once the cookies are done, cross over Platt street and take your time on the bridge, peering down into the water. Then, you can let the kids run themselves silly as you cross over into the open space of Confluence Park. If you bring a blanket, you’ll have a picnic feast of cookies and fresh air!
Indoor play spaces
6. Starbucks at Confluence Park/REI
REI has opportunities both inside and outside where kids can explore and move around. Confluence park has cement boardwalks on the river and if you’re lucky you can watch folks kayaking or doing other water sports. The trolley is usually parked on the tracks, giving the area a “step back in time” sort of feel. Starbucks is on the 1st level of REI and has outdoor seating as well. If you’re looking for an actual slide, the 3rd floor of REI has a creative indoor playspace built for kid explorers of REI shoppers.
7. Coffee Shops at any Mall
You’re never too young to be a mall walker/runner/skipper. The coffee places open up early along with the mall doors which means you can have a little treat and let the kids mosey around the empty mall before landing at the indoor play area for some physical play and socializing.
What are your favorite places to get a treat and get the wiggles out? Follow Denver Metro Moms Blog on Instagram! Snap a picture of yourself or your kids enjoying one of these or another favorite Denver outing and make sure to tag us or include #DMMB so we can hear all about it.
Reading about Little Man Ice Cream and Dirty Cookie is making me sooooo hungry right now! Great list!
I know! I can’t wait to have some when it’s officially summer!