Day Trip Itinerary:
Visit the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and the Denver Zoo
Fall is in the air! and it's the absolute best time to hit up City Park for a thrilling day trip to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and the Denver Zoo. Yes, we've done your homework so you don't have to. Let's kick things off with a bang at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Then, after soaking up all that science goodness, let's walk over to the Denver Zoo to see science and animals in real life!
We totally understand that it could be hard on your wallet to get the family tickets to both the Museum and the Zoo on the same day, but did you know about Free Days? If you plan your trip for on a Free Day at either the Museum or the Zoo, you could visit both while only paying for one! Or simply, come on separate days by taking advantage of free days at both places.
Free Day dates:
Regular Admission Tickets:
Alright! Put on your comfy sneakers, and get ready for a full day of adventures and learning. We're starting off at what our locals like to call "The Dinosaur Museum."
Denver Museum of Nature & Science
Girl looks up at Mr. Bones at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. (Photo/ Julio Poletti)
Pro tip: Get to the Museum early to find parking on the ground level. Most times of day you should find parking in the underground garage but it's always a good idea to get here before 9 a.m., especially on the weekends, to make sure you get a spot.
Walking through the Denver Museum of Nature & Science main entrance, little eyes are sure to widen as they peer up at the enormous T. rex skeleton and its raised foot and bladelike teeth towering above. Now that you've arrived at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, we highly suggest you pick up some coffee on the second floor at the Coffee Lab.
Want to travel back in time or across the cosmos? Burn some energy at the Discovery Zone or fill up on pizza at the T. Rex Café? Want to catch a psychedelic Pink Floyd spectacle at the planetarium or immerse yourself in film at the giant-screen Infinity Theater? Whatever you’re looking for, you’re bound to find something here to pique your curiosity!
Here are just a few of things you could do to fill your itinerary:
First Stop: Space Odyssey
Girl interacts with immersive installation in Space Odyssey exhibition at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science (Photo/ Chris Schneider)
First, take a second to feed the saber-toothed cat a coin to hear his bloodcurdling roar! From there, you’re going to want to head over to our flagship exhibition Space Odyssey. Here you will embark on an interstellar expedition full of interactive exhibits and vibrant displays that truly bring the wonders of the cosmos to life. Whether you want to explore distant galaxies, learn about the planets in our solar system, remote control a rover on Mars and even "touch" a meteorite, your space adventure is sure to take off here.
From here, you can take your space adventure to the next level by catching a show at the Gates Planetarium. Get tickets, here.
After returning from space, it’s time to travel below the Earth’s surface with the Coors Gems and Minerals Hall. Traveling through what seems like a mine shaft, you’ll encounter sparkling treasures, everything from the largest known pocket of aquamarine ever discovered to a giant Brazilian topaz once owned by surrealist painter Salvador Dali.
Second Stop: Wildlife Halls
Couple stands in front of polar bear diorama at Denver Museum of Nature & Science. (Photo/ Chris Schneider)
Whenever you’re ready, head up to the second floor to start your next adventures. Go ahead and take a calming stroll through the natural world in our Wildlife Halls. It’s up to you where you go and what to see, but wherever your path takes you, you won’t be disappointed. From walruses lazing about a vast Arctic expanse to double-wattled cassowaries in the Queensland Rainforest, these scenes will take you into the wild, providing a unique, intimate view into the diverse world of animals and ecosystems that share our planet. We hope you walk away with a deeper understanding and appreciation for the natural world around us.
After that, it’s time to take an exhilarating journey into the world of human biology with Expedition Health. From the minute you step foot into this innovative exhibit, you'll find yourself in the middle of a personalized adventure that revolves around you and your health. By utilizing real-time data about your own body, such as heart rate and muscle movement, Expedition Health offers an individualized and tangible exploration into the marvels of human physiology.
If you’re traveling with little ones, you definitely don’t want to miss the Discovery Zone. Here the kids can get their hands wet in the Water Way or dig for fossils in the sand and explore caves in Dinosaur Gulch while you can sit down and sip a caffeinated beverage from the nearby Coffee Lab. The Discovery Zone is not just about fun and games. It's about building foundational science and critical-thinking skills – and while playing fun and games!
Third Stop: The Infinity Theater
Clown fish swims in coral reef in the film “Secrets of the Sea” showing at the Infinity Theater in the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. (Photo/ MacGillivray Freeman Films/Howard Hall)
Infinity Theater is finally here! Our new theater is now open with brand-new upgrades, including a new lobby entrance, an impressive laser projector and sound system, new audio and visual accessibility features, enhanced programming, 2D and 3D capabilities and much more.
Get tickets, here.
Secrets of the Sea in 3D
The underwater spectacle will introduce you to incredible marine life, from pygmy seahorses and opalescent squid to majestic manta rays and tiger sharks. Shot across 16 breathtaking underwater locations, including Tahiti, Mexico, the Philippines and California, this extraordinary film also presents a great opportunity to learn about how important marine biodiversity is to maintain the health of our oceans.
Flight of the Butterflies in 3D
Prepare for your imagination to take flight with this awe-inspiring film, "Flight of the Butterflies." You'll join magical Monarchs on their extraordinary journey through the remote mountain peaks of Mexico, guided by one scientist's relentless 40-year search to uncover their migration secrets. The film's mesmerizing visuals, produced by an award-winning team including Oscar® winner Peter Parks, are sure to leave you spellbound.
Jane Goodall’s Reasons for Hope
Finally, the Infinity Theater presents the deeply inspiring film “Jane Goodall’s Reasons for Hope.” This film delves into the life and philosophy of the iconic Dr. Jane Goodall. Using historical footage of Jane’s pioneering primate research and her current work as a global advocate for environmental and wildlife conservation, the film provides a heartening and compelling look at her message of hope. This thought-provoking film is an inspiration not just for nature lovers, but for anyone who believes in the power of hope, the resilience of nature, and the indomitable human spirit.
Fourth Stop: Expedition Health
Guest interacts with exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science (Photo/ Julio Poletti).
Expedition Health ® is about YOUR human body and how it is constantly changing and adapting in ways you can see, measure and optimize through the choices you make.
In the exhibition gallery, you will experience highly personalized activities, become immersed in a theater experience that engages all of your senses, look at microscopic cells from your own body in a laboratory, participate in live demonstrations and programs, and meet "buddies" who will help you learn about your health.
Fifth Stop: Anschutz Family Sky Terrace
Denver skyline and Downtown with pink clouds, as seen from the fourth floor terrace of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. (Photo/ Rick Wicker)
By now, you’ve had a super full day and the sun is probably starting to set over the mountains. Now is the time to head up the elevators to experience the best panoramic view of Denver and City Park. Get ready to soak in the view with an unparalleled panorama of the Denver skyline set against the mystical Rocky Mountains.
As long as there aren't any private events in place, you can access the Anschutz Family Sky Terrace for free during business hours by walking to the West Atrium on the first floor, past Space Odyssey, and taking the elevator up to the terrace. As soon as you see it, you'll wonder why you had never visited or hosted your parties here.
FYI, the Anschutz Family Sky Terrace is available to rent for special events. Click here to reserve your special date.
Time to hop on over to the Denver Zoo! Simply walk out the front entrance of the Museum, and walk west towards City Park and follow the pathway to the Denver Zoo.
You've arrived at the Denver Zoo!
Denver Zoo Entrance (Photo/ Denver Zoo)
First Stop: Benson Predator Ridge
Pro tip: Skip the line by making sure you get your tickets online ahead of your visit! Free parking is provided in our garage or on the surface lot to the east of the Zoo.
Once you’re inside, stop at Cup and Cone for a coffee and afternoon treat to continue your day right! Once you have your afternoon snack, head across the path to Benson Predator Ridge, where you may see our African lions or spotted hyenas! Specifically designed to showcase the charismatic predator species of Africa's Samburu region, Predator Ridge continues to set the gold standard for animal care and guest experience for zoos around the world.
Spanning nearly five acres, this habitat evokes the varied landscapes of the African savanna. As the two species move among the rotational yards, they enjoy a variety of different environments while experiencing the presence of other species, much as they would in the wild. Predator Ridge makes a great first – or last stop as it’s right at the front of the Zoo.
Second Stop: Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Animal Hospital
Guests watch a procedure at the Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Animal Hospital (Photo/ Denver Zoo)
As you head west, through the Zoo, don’t miss out on the Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Animal Hospital, across from Sheep and Goat Mountains! The state-of-the-art hospital features a lobby of viewing windows in Schlessman Family Foundation Visitor and Education Center, which is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. On any given day, guests may be able to view the medical care that is critical to the wellbeing of Denver Zoo’s animals. If the treatment rooms are not in use, interactive video displays and staff facilitators educate guests on the many procedures, treatments and surgeries we perform each year to ensure our animals thrive.
Pro tip: Generally, weekdays before 11 a.m. are the best days to try to catch a procedure, but there is never a guarantee.
Note: Due to the unpredictable nature of medicine and the work being conducted in the hospital, we are unable to provide advance notice of upcoming procedures, or guarantee that you will see a live procedure during the time of your visit.
Third Stop: Toyota Elephant Passage
An Asian elephant demonstrates behaviors at Toyota Elephant Passage (Photo/ Denver Zoo)
Make your way over to Toyota Elephant Passage, where you might even catch a demonstration with one of our Asian elephant boys! One of the largest and most complex elephant habitats in North America, Toyota Elephant Passage features two miles of interconnected trails on 10 acres of varied terrain. In this unique multiple-species habitat, Asian elephants, greater one-horned rhinos and Malayan tapirs can rotate among five unique, abundant habitats. Other species that call this habitat home include the fishing cat and Asian small-clawed otters!
Pro tip: Demonstrations happen daily at 11:00 a.m. and 1:45 p.m., weather permitting.
Fourth Stop: Samburu Grille
Capuchins enjoy a tasty treat (Photo/ Denver Zoo)
You’re probably getting hungry, so take a break and grab some food at any one of our delicious locations! Samburu Grille has all the concession classics, including burgers, chicken tenders and sandwiches. Check out Kamala Café, just past the elephants, for fresh Asian-inspired cuisine including potstickers and spring rolls, sesame chicken rice bowls and firecracker meatballs - also the perfect place to pick up a soft serve ice cream or Dole Whip during your visit. Other offerings include Simply Pizza, Scratch chicken and Zoo Gardens.
Fifth Stop: Flamingos and Final Tips
Denver Zoo Chilean Flamingos (Photo/ Denver Zoo)
As you make your way toward the entrance, you might notice a new habitat! Just east of Harmony Hill will be our new flamingo habitat! With topography inspired by the landscapes of the Andean highlands, our favorite flock’s fabulous new home will provide both the flamingos and their fans year-round access to both indoor and outdoor living spaces – including multiple wading pools, nesting islands and multiple vantage points for viewing our most fabulous flock. This habitat is slated to open in the Fall, but keep an eye out on our channels for the latest updates!
Now, you've had a great day!
You'll probably want to do this again and we want you to get the best value for your money. Both Denver Museum of Nature & Science and the Denver Zoo offer membership programs that allow you to visit any and every day with free general admission for an entire year. Membership means more memories to last a lifetime!
Denver Museum of Nature & Science Membership, here.
Denver Zoo Membership, here.