Friday, July 6, 2012

Denver Shouts

On our trip to Idaho we were able to spend two days and three nights in the wonderful, mile-high city of Denver. We stayed with a friend and her somewhat temperamental but adorable cat, Harrison, and also met up with a couple other friends in the city. We were able to pack quite a few things into the couple days without it seeming like we were running around like crazy tourists.

Children’s Museum of Denver: We met up with a friend, her husband, and their little girl at the Children’s Museum of Denver. We had a blast at the Richmond Children’s Museum at the beginning of the year and we love the Playseum in Washington, DC too. So the bar was high in my mind as far as children’s museums go. This one was no different. In fact, I think it might have to be my favorite of the three, and we didn’t even cover everything while we were there. The boys loved climbing in the old firetruck with their firefighter gear on. The bubble room was fantastic. Kids and parents can make and pop all kinds of bubbles. There are small safety glasses to keep the bubbles out of little eyes as they experiment with bubbles of various sizes and shapes. In one spot you could even make a giant, rectangular bubble around yourself by pulling on a rope! The art room was well-run and set up perfectly. Calvin was in heaven, since he considers himself an impressionist artist. At one point he was painting the same picture with both hands at once. What I was most impressed by was the recycling station. There was something similar at the Richmond’s Children’s Museum, but this was above and beyond. At these stations, at which adult supervision is needed probably for all kids, but especially for kids under 10, there are real tools and blueprints for various projects. Most of the materials are recycled objects—egg cartons, cereal boxes, toilet paper tubes, etc. The boys and I modified a soda bottle boat blueprint and made little sail boats. Unfortunately it was lunchtime and we had a couple of hungry and tired boys, otherwise we would have explored even more of the museum. Next time we’re in Denver I hope to find more time to spend at the museum.


Ceiling fan artist
In the giant bubble!
Bubble engineer
The recycling/construction area
These blueprints were organized by difficulty 
Hammond’s Candy Factory: While looking online for factories to tour, I came across Hammond’s in Denver. First off, the kids got little paper hats to wear and then we were ushered into a room to watch a movie about the history of the company. It’s a pretty cool story of a family-run business that started small and has since grown, but all of the candy is still handmade. Seems like we learned most of what we needed to know, and were able to see more of the process in the video than we could on the tour. What I learned that I didn’t want to know was the amount of corn syrup and sugar that goes into each of their batches of each of their candies. Gross. Didn’t make me want to eat any of it. Our guide was scattered and extremely hard to follow as she was showing us what was going on in the factory. There are only a couple windows to look through, and not much was going on by the windows. We did get to see a huge red and white candy roll get stretched out and turned by hand into candy canes, which was cool. At the end of the tour the kids get to dig through a bin of “oops” candies—broken pieces of wrapped lollipops and candy canes—to pick out one piece to take home. That was about the only thing geared toward kids. Everything else was the guide was saying was over their heads. At the end of the tour we were conveniently briefed on the various sales going on and ushered into their store full of beautiful candy. Overall, this tour is not terribly interesting, especially for kids. At least the tour was free, so we didn’t feel like we’d lost anything. I do not recommend taking the time to go on this tour.


Peering little candymakers 
Workers hand-twisting candy canes
Fourth of July candy display
Wings Over theRockies—Denver’s Air and Space Museum We thought about going to the aquarium, but didn’t think we had enough time to make it worth the cost, so we found Wings Over the Rockies, the Denver air and space museum. The boys love space, so we thought this would be a safe bet. We live by the Udvar-Hazy SmithsonianAir and Space Museum, which we absolutely love, and it seems like it would be hard to top—they have the space shuttle Discovery for crying out loud. The cool and unusual thing about Wings Over the Rockies is that you can touch almost everything. You can walk under some of the planes, and in a B-1A plane you can put your head inside the bomb bay and see pretend, to-scale models of atomic bombs. They also have manikins dressed in period garb by some of the planes, which was mostly cool and only creepy a couple times. There’s one of the actual X-Wing Fighters used in the Star Wars movies that is autographed by some of the actors and production crew. A mock-up for a proposed space station model was donated by the creators after the model was rejected. You can’t go in it, but you can look inside. The museum is in an old hangar so there is a lot of space for kids to run around, which is one thing we love about Udvar-Hazy as well. This was a surprise find, and one that I highly recommend to anyone visiting Denver, even if you don’t have kids.


Rotating display in the entryway that they boys loved
A museum employee gave the boys little model airplanes.
The sides were removed to show the engine.
Wheels, Clark for scale
Bomb bay of the B-1A
Model passenger plane
Touch and look!
Star Wars souvenir

Colorado Rockiesbaseball game: The boys love baseball and they did well at the one Nationals’ game we’ve gone to this year, so we took them to a Rockies vs. Nationals game at Coors Field. By the time we bought tickets there were only the more expensive ones or the $4 cheap seats—a section called the Rockpile way out in centerfield. We opted for the cheap ones and came a little early to stand by the Nats dugout, toting the boys in their Nationals garb. They were excited to get to see some of the players they know up close and personal. Then we headed to our seats, where the boys were not all that involved in the game since we were far away. They were also extremely active, so it wasn’t a super pleasant experience. Also the Nationals lost, so that was a bummer. I recommend paying a bit more and buying closer seats. And if your kids don’t like baseball, don’t go. If you can leave your kids with someone else and if you like baseball, it’s a nice park to watch a game, and has a beautiful view of the city.

3 SHOUTS (with 3 year olds)

The few times Cal wanted to sit down, he wanted to sit by himself
for some reason.
Our first time seeing Stephen Strasburg...unimpressive unfortunately
No wonder they didn't care about the game, right? Check out the view.
At least Scratchy and Smoochie enjoyed the romantic view.
There are a lot of outdoor things to do around Denver, but they are more fitting for older kids. Hopefully next time we can take advantage of those. If you're in Denver and have other insights on fun things to do with kids-- I'd love to hear them!

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