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Family-Friendly, Summertime Activities in Denver

With school now over for the summer, many parents may be looking for family-friendly activities to enjoy in the Denver area. Luckily, there more than enough options in and around the Denver Metro area, for just about any interest you or your family may have. Here is an article from, which is filled with a number of family-fun zoo’s, museums, and other great attractions!

Kid-Friendly Denver

Kids are often tough to please – but they’ll be grinning from ear to ear whenever they’re in The Mile High City, thanks to Denver’s wide array of kid-friendly attractions. Interactive museums, incredible zoos and aquariums, wide open parks – they’re all guaranteed to please even the grouchiest young ones. Writer (and mom) Lori Midson gives you the lowdown on some of her favorites.


City Park is expansive greenway boasting tennis courts, picnicking areas, playgrounds, lakes for paddling and a spectacular summer concert series.

At the eastern edge of the park sits Denver Zoo, (2300 Steele St.) where education comes alive! More than 4,300 animals await to inspire awe in your family at Denver’s most popular cultural attraction. See elephants swim, orangutans swing and hear lions roar while enjoying up-close animal experiences that provide moving connections to wildlife.

Just adjacent to the zoo is the Denver Museum of Nature & Science (2001 Colorado Blvd.), a spectacular interactive museum that explores fossils and dinosaurs, the mysteries of space at Gates Planetarium (it’s out of this world!), Egyptian mummies, the riddles of the human body, and a slew of other hands-on exhibits. The newly expanded Discovery Zone has dozens of hands-on activities for kids of all ages.


Featured Things To Do


The Platte River Valley, in the heart of the city, boasts a cornucopia of family-friendly attractions and entertainments.

At the intriguing Children’s Museum of Denver (2121 Children’s Museum Dr.), infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers can spend hours roaming through scads of educational playscapes, including a miniature “Community Market,” which allows kids to take on the roles of shopper, cashier and shopkeeper. Families will find several more thematic play areas that run the gamut from woodworking and scientific laboratories to animal exhibits and a fire station that teaches safety precautions.

Nearby, Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park (2000 Elitch Cir.) offers exhilarating adventures galore with 53 rides, including the heart-pounding Mind Eraser, a twisted-steel rollercoaster that spins, dives, drops, rolls and races along the tracks. There is also a 10-acre swimming area, that offers slippery slides, crashing waves and lazy rivers.

Just a short walk away is the Downtown Aquarium (700 Water St.), a seaworthy spectacle of kaleidoscopic fish coupled with reptile, bird and tiger habitats. Here, amid the astounding marine life, kids can feed the stingrays, swim with the sharks, pan for gold, become a marine biologist for a day, or even spend the night in the aquarium.

While you’re in the Platte River Valley, hop aboard the Platte Valley Trolley (700 Water St.), an open-air streetcar that resembles the trolley on the Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood TV show. The narrated tours provide a fascinating historical account of Denver from its Gold Rush days to the present.


100 W. 4th Ave. Pkwy.
The Denver Art Museum offers a Just for Fun Family Center complete with games, creative, make-it-yourself craft areas and dress-up costumes. On weekends, kids can pick up a family backpack, a portable bag brimming with all sorts of artsy, educational activities.


7711 E. Academy Blvd. #1
At the Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum, more than 40 planes and riveting space-oriented displays occupy the sprawling space, an aviation wonderland that allows families to get up close and personal with giant bombers, fighter jets, antique planes and a search-and-rescue helicopter. The museum always has seasonal exhibits, and on the second Saturday of each month, kids can experience the electrifying buzz of climbing into the planes’ cockpits.


16831 W. Alameda Pkwy., Morrison
While you’re not going to come across any living, breathing dinosaurs while you’re here in Denver – they’re still extinct, the last we checked – you will have ample opportunity to learn about these long-gone Colorado residents. At Dinosaur Ridge in Morrison (near Red Rocks Amphitheatre) you can touch the bones of Allosaurus and Stegosaurus at the site where important dinosaur discoveries were made in the late 1800s. See how Iguanadons walked by viewing real dinosaur footprints forever preserved in the sandstone.


501 Colorado 8, Morrison
Get a glimpse of early dinosaur discoveries from Colorado, including fossils from the first Stegosaurus and Apatosaurus ever found. Located 25 minutes west of Downtown Denver, the 3,000-square-foot Morrison Natural History Museum offers a relaxed environment that is perfect for kids of all ages to explore rocks and fossils. The exhibits and guides connect visitors with the ancient story of the Front Range. Recent local excavations have yielded famous baby dinosaur footprints that were featured in Smithsonian magazine and media outlets around the world.


6252 W. 104th Ave., Westminster
Located in Westminster, a 15-minute drive from downtown Denver, the Butterfly Pavilion is the perfect indoor refuge in which to interact with live invertebrates fluttering around a lush rainforest, or to hold Rosie, a Chilean Rose Hair tarantula, in the palm of your hand-if you dare. The Wings Over the Tropics conservatory, home to more than 1,200 flitting butterflies, moths and skippers, shipped from farms as far away as Kenya and Ecuador, makes for an exhilarating wander through the toasty conservatory, awash with lush green plants. Stop by the Shrunk! exhibit, an interactive play area buzzing with insects and giant robotic scorpions and carpenter ants that move. Inspect the information charts, and you’ll learn that beetles comprise one-fifth of all living things on Earth. Who knew?


9670 W. Coal Mine Ave., Littleton
This Littleton spot is a kid’s dream come true, with Laser Tag, bowling, miniature golf and a “Foam Factory” all under one roof. Whether you are looking for a place to hold a birthday party or just have a fun day out, Fun City won’t disappoint.


There’s no shortage of fun-filled, free – and nearly free – family activities in Denver.

On the first Tuesday of every month, the Children’s Museum of Denver (2121 Children’s Museum Dr.) hosts complimentary guided story hours and playtimes, from 4 p.m.-8 p.m.

The Denver Art Museum (100 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy.) is always free for children age six and younger, and free for all on the first Saturday of each month.

The Tattered Cover Bookstore (1628 16th St.), arguably the top independent bookseller in the country, hosts hundreds of free children’s events throughout the year, including lectures, book release parties and author appearances.

Denver is an undisputed sports paradise, and while tickets to the major sporting events don’t come cheap, in-the-know baseball fanatics purchase Colorado Rockies baseball ROCKPILE seats, which cost just $4 for adults and $1 for kids age 12 and under.

Earth Day, In Denver

Today is April 22nd, also known as Earth Day. Today is a day that everyone is supposed to go the extra mile to do something positive for the environment. All across the country, many major cities have several Earth Day events which the public can attend. Denver, happens to be one of those cities. In fact, this article from FOX31 Denver, lists several of the events being held in and around the city.

DENVER — Wednesday is Earth Day and there will be events throughout the metro area.


More than 50 sustainable businesses, organizations and city agencies will be at the annual Earth Day Fair at Civic Center Park. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with Mayor Michael Hancock touring the event from 11:45 a.m .to 12:45 p.m.

Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel

A Project C.U.R.E. Earth Day plant sale will be held at the hotel (1550 Court Place) from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Downtown Aquarium

The Downtown Aquarium (700 Water St.) will have a Party for the Planet from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be a nature-themed scavenger hunt, conservation crafts and activities, animal feedings and an interactive dive show.

The Alliance Center, Denver

The Alliance for Sustainable Colorado will host a recycle and reuse drive at The Alliance Center. The public can bring items to be recycled or reused from noon to 7 p.m. at the center’s parking lot (1536 Wynkoop St.)..

Foundations Academy, Brighton

Students from Foundations Academy in Brighton will plant flowers outside the school from 10:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Students will also hang signs around the school about recycling and help students learn more about how to help Earth.

Merryhill Preschool, Highlands Ranch

Preschoolers at Merryhill Preschool in Highlands Ranch (9345 S. Colorado Blvd.) will release thousands of ladybugs back into the environment from 3 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Colorado State University, Fort Collins

Colorado State will host a volunteer tree planting as part of its designation as a Tree Campus USA. The trees will be planted at 2 p.m. near Danforth Chapel.

The Paw-Mazing Chase

BLOG-PAWMAZINGWhat exactly is The Paw-Mazing Chase? The Paw-Mazing Chase is modeled after the television show “The Amazing Race”. However, in this game each team consists of one person and one dog, or two people and at least one dog. Each team receives a sealed envelope containing a clue. Each deciphered clue will then tell each team which store at the Table Mesa Shopping Center to go to next. There are 20 stops. The first team to finish the race wins!

The Paw-Mazing Chase will start in the Table Mesa Shopping Center in South Boulder- event registration, beginning and end will be outside Boulder’s Natural Animal Hospital. This fun-filled event will take place on Sunday, June 2nd, 2013. The cost to register is $35 per team. The winning team will receive a prize gift basket valued at over $1,000 and a new Apple iPad Mini! All proceeds benefit Canine Partners of the Rockies.

Clean Conscience is excited to support our friends at Out U Go and Only Natural Pet, who are sponsors for this great event!




Plastic Bags in Boulder – Update from the Boulder City Council

Earlier this month, we covered the City of Boulder’s upcoming agenda item regarding possible regulation of plastic and paper bags.  The Boulder City Council met on May 15th to discuss the range of options for regulating the use of plastic and paper bags.


Plastic bag litter

End of the line for plastic bags?

During the summer of 2011 a number of community members and groups asked City Council to reduce disposable bag use in Boulder through an ordinance and began collecting petition signatures to spur the council to action.  As a result, the council tasked the city staff with exploring options for achieving this goal and invited large stakeholders to take part in the exploratory phase.


Based on the research, the staff presented five possible options at the council meeting:

  1. Fee or tax on plastic and paper bags;
  2. Ban on plastic bags with a fee on paper bags;
  3. Ban on plastic and paper bags;
  4. Educational campaign only; and
  5. No action.

If the chosen approach was an ordinance, its scope would need to address the type of businesses it would apply to, which could include either one or a combination of the following:

  • All retail businesses;
  • Retail businesses over a determined size threshold;
  • Businesses defined as “Food Stores” in the sales tax system;
  • “Food Stores” over a determined size threshold; and/or
  • Business defined as “Eating Places” in the sales tax database.

The city staff took a comprehensive approach to decide on the best option, including researching the results of other municipality’s ordinances on bags; the impact on local businesses big and small, consumer impacts and environmental impacts.

Based on their research and findings the staff recommended the following:

Option 1 – A fee on both disposable plastic and paper checkout bags

A bag tax would have to await voter approval, while a fee can be implemented in the near-term through an ordinance. This option:

  • acknowledges the life cycle environmental impacts of both types of bags, supporting a shift away from disposable bag use in general and not from one type of bag to another;
  • creates an effective financial incentive to change behavior;
  • is acceptable to all of the large grocers since it minimizes their implementation and administrative costs;
  • retains consumer choice and convenience; and
  • helps offset the city costs for implementation, administration, education and strategies to minimize impacts to low income consumers and tourists.

Scope of ordinance: Apply to food stores

This option:

  • targets a majority of bag use in Boulder while maximizing clarity of the ordinance;
  • avoids confusion for businesses around who must comply; and
  • minimizes city resources required for administration, enforcement and monitoring of exemptions and threshold levels.

As mentioned in the meeting minutes (large PDF) the staff felt that including additinoal business types would have a diminishing impact on reducing bag use and would demand more city resources to implement.  The staff state that this ordinance could be expanded in the future if need be.

The meeting minutes (large PDF) includes lots of additional background and data that the city staff used in determining what course of action to recommend.

So readers, what do you think?  Did the city staff make the right decision? If you were on the staff, what would you think based on the data?  Do you feel that a fee on paper and plastic bags will give you an incentive to buy reusable grocery bags?

Image credit: InfinityGivingCircle - Flickr

10 tips to green your Halloween

Halloween is right around the corner and if you’ve been looking for ways to make your Halloween celebrations healthier for your family and the planet, then check out our ten tips to green your Halloween.

1. Carpool and Walk

Walk your own neighborhood and then carpool with friends and family to go Trick or Treating in other areas.  Park strategically near the entrance of a neighborhood or subdivision and walk through it.

2. Use natural products for outdoor decorations

A great way to green your Halloween is to use natural items like straw, corn, corn stalks, pumpkins and squash in place of plastic one time use decorations from the party supply store.  Farmers Markets and local farms are great places to look for these fall harvest items.  Not only will you reduce your impact on the local landfill with plastic garbage but you will also be helping out your local farmers and the local economy.

3. Compost your outdoor décor 

If you used natural items like the ones listed above then you can compost them and use the compost in your vegetable garden or flower bed in the spring.  Watch this video for easy Halloween composting tips.

4. Bag those treats responsibly!


Use reusable grocery bags or an old pillow case for holding treats.  You can also get creative here and make the bag part of the costume.  An old backpack for your little zombie hiker or an old purse for your little princess.  You can also purchase reusable trick or treat bags.  These can then double as extra reusable grocery bags.

5. Get creative with your costume

Use old clothes and household items as props instead of plastic one time use costumes from the pharmacy.  This approach does require a bit of creativity but it’s a great way to spend some quality time with the kids.  Another advantage of using old clothes and household knick-knacks is that they are reusable and perfect for a costume swap. Talk to friends and family members to see if they have any of their children’s older costumes that they could swap.  Also, check out the National Costume Swap Day website for ideas on how to set up a swap.

6. Donate your leftover Halloween candy to a good cause

Instead of throwing away leftover candy that is still edible, where it will end up in a landfill, donate it to a good cause.  You can have your candy sent to the troops overseas by donating to Operation Gratitude or Any Soldier.  Food pantries, children’s hospitals, and nursing homes will generally accept donations, including candy.  Keep in mind that all candy that you donate should be in its original wrapping.

via Stretch Island Fruit Co.

7. Think outside of the candy box

You don’t have to give conventional candy.  There are lots of organic and unconventional sweet treats that you can give.  Check out the real fruit strips from Stretch Island Fruit CompanyLärabar makes healthy whole food bars.  They are also having Halloween sale!

Trinkets and collectables from local businesses and giftshops are great too, especially if they are made locally too.  Kids like unique things like polished rocks or some other unique keepsake.  Buying locally also strengthens our local economy.

8. Use beeswax candles

Light up your Jack-O-Lanterns with beeswax candles. They are all natural while paraffin candles are a petroleum byproduct.  There are lots of online websites selling beeswax candles.  If you want to buy locally consider asking around at your local Farmers Market or contact the local apiary.

9. Choose ethical and sustainable chocolate

Choose Rainforest Alliance Certified™ chocolate for Halloween treats. To help support healthy farmlands, forests and wildlife habitat — as well as the well-being of farm workers and their communities — look for chocolate that features the Rainforest Alliance Certified green frog seal! Find certified chocolate here.

10. Throwing a Halloween party? Skip the single-use dinnerware.

If you are going to a party or planning a quick meal with family and friends before trick or treating, skip the single-use dinnerware. Choose a more sustainable option, like compostable products. Click here to find compostable dinnerware on Amazon. has lots of great tips, ideas and suggestions to help make your Halloween fun, healthy and green. What other green ideas are you employing to green your Halloween? Share with us in the comments. 

What is your Environmental Footprint?

Did you know the average American uses 11,040 kilowatts of energy, 441 gallons of gasoline and 4,759 cubic feet of natural gas each year? Multiply that by the US population and you’ve got an extremely large energy need – one that may or may not be sustainable over a long period of time.

The food you eat, gas used in your car, the size of your home, number of hours spent on a plane this year, the amount of trash you generate and more all impact your environmental footprint, and determine how much global resources (land, water, fossil fuels) are needed to fuel your lifestyle. The energy and carbon that each person requires is called your environmental footprint, or, the impact of your natural resource use on the planet. Want to find out yours? Take this interactive quiz!

If you’re like us, you will be shocked to find out what your environmental foot print is after taking the quiz. Even though we like to think of ourselves as eco-conscious folks, we still have some work to do in cutting down our transportation, choosing more local food and recycling and reusing household materials we have instead of purchasing new. Want to reduce your footprint with us? Here are some great tips:

1. Buy organic and local.

When possible, buy organic or “fair trade.” There’s a better chance the food was grown in an eco-friendly way, and if it’s locally grown, it didn’t have to travel that far. This also goes for those double lattes — coffee often has a large carbon footprint because of the distance those beans had to travel to get here, and how they were produced. Also, try eating at restaurants that serve locally produced or seasonal foods.

2. Pay attention to packaging.

When out shopping, try to go to stores or co-ops that keep packaging to a minimum. For example, you may choose to buy the loose tomatoes rather than boxed or plastic-wrapped tomatoes. Also, take reusable bags to the grocery store. When it comes to resources, plastic is better than paper — but a reusable cloth tote-style bag is better still.

3. Ditch bottled water.

Bottled water has a huge carbon footprint — it’s bottled at one location in small plastic bottles and shipped all over. Try buying a reusable water bottle or canteen for your water. Also, a lot of restaurants have made the move from offering fancy bottled water, usually imported from an exotic source, to using in-house filtration systems that make tap water a good choice. Many plastic water bottles are recycled, but most are not, making the footprint even bigger.

4. Energy-proof your home.

We’re not talking major upgrades here… Make sure all of your windows close properly and that the attic in your home is properly insulated. This can save you big bucks on your energy bill. Also, keep your heating and cooling systems properly maintained, and switch to reusable filters when possible. Try switching from incandescent to compact florescent light bulbs. Compact florescent light bulbs use about 75 percent less energy than our normal light bulbs and last much longer. Compared to regular bulbs, the fluorescents are more expensive, but they will eventually pay for themselves due to lower energy costs.

5. Go native.

Use native plant species to landscape around your home or business. The plants will probably grow better in a familiar environment, and the plants may also get shipped a shorter distance to get to your local nursery. Also, use organic soil when planting — it’s made using more eco-friendly methods, and uses less resources. And remember, green plants are a good way to offset carbon. So plant something, anything — it helps.

6. Window shop.

If you have the urge to spend, try window shopping or browsing first. This helps ensure you are only buying things you really need, or really want, and you’re not just impulse buying. Remember, every item in a store, no matter how small, has a footprint — so if we are conscious consumers, we can reduce our own footprint and the overall footprint of our nation.

7. Take a direct flight.

If you need to travel by airplane, try taking a direct flight when at all possible. Your impact is reduced when you take one flight, as opposed to hopping on a couple or more passenger jets to reach your final destination. You might also feel a little less harried when you arrive, because changing planes can be a real hassle.

8. Switch water heaters to vacation mode.

Most water heaters have a “vacation” setting for when you are away from home for an extended period of time. Switching to that “away” mode still keeps the water warm, but will not use the energy it takes to keep a tank full of piping-hot water. Enjoy your vacation even more, knowing that you’re saving money and reducing your footprint.

9. Unplug it!

Unplug appliances that you don’t use frequently. Most electronics have a standby mode that siphons energy even when not in use. Cell phone chargers, laptops, televisions, stereos — there’s a whole list of items that should be unplugged when not in use. Try using a power strip for groups of electronic items. One flick of the switch and it’s all off.

10. Keep your car.

With gas prices seemingly always on the rise, it’s tempting to buy a hybrid or electric vehicle. But if your older-model car is in good condition, you’re better off keeping it in good running condition. Even hybrids create a big footprint when they’re built, so consider driving that old clunker for a little while longer. Also, try more eco-friendly modes of transport when possible, like buses, trains, a bicycle, telecommuting or even walking.

11. Chuck your microwave.

Admittedly, this is a bit drastic. But this speaks more to those convenient frozen dinners some rely on because of their busy schedules. A freezer full of meals is actually more energy-intensive — it costs more to freeze foods, ship them cold, display them frozen in the grocery store and keep them frozen in our homes. So while the modern convenience of the microwave and the Lean Cuisine is enticing, it’s much more resource-intensive. Cook fresh food when you can, and you’ll also find yourself eating out less often.

12. Use cold water.

No, not in the shower… but maybe in the washer. Try using cold water to launder things that don’t need to be cleaned in hot or warm water. It takes a lot of energy to heat up water — multiply that by the number of loads, and that’s a big footprint. Most major detergent makers sell detergents designed to have the same cleaning power as with regular soap. Try washing mixed loads in cold water, too.

13. Have the family over.

Family gatherings are a good way to spend some quality time with loved ones, with very little carbon impact. Cooking and entertaining for larger groups is more efficient and, per person, a lot less expensive. And who can put a price on these “carbon freebies”?

14. Make time for errands.

A lot of us try to run errands in-between work and other commitments. Try bundling errands together to reduce how far you need to travel. Going back-and-forth to the same part of town on different days to run errands uses more gas than if you planned and did everything in the same area all at once. And if you really want to make it a “carbon freebie,” try carpooling and running errands with a buddy.

15. The Three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

It seems like something from a kid’s sing-a-long, but sometimes we lose sight of just how much we buy. Try buying less, and reusing and fixing things when you can instead of buying new. And for a lot of people, recycling is as easy as rolling the trash bin to the curb. Just remember to do it at work, too.

Tips to reduce your foot print from American Public Media.