Denver Museums

20 Fun Places to Explore

Our list of Denver museums offer you several days of fun in the Mile High City. You'll find those with some of the best contemporary art as well as some that focus on our local history.

Other top museums in Denver include those focused on activities for kids, our local sports teams, and some of our most colorful outdoor gardens.

Read on to learn more and find some of the best options to explore.

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1. Denver Art Museum

Outside the Denver Art Museum

This is definitely one of my favorite Denver Museums since its exterior alone is an amazing work of art. I love that they have a huge diversity of exhibitions from all over the world and there is always something new to experience.

Not only will you get to see the exhibitions, but you can also see artists working in the studios here or go on a docent led tour. It is a perfect place for the whole family as there are events and play areas specifically for kids to learn and play with art.

It is located in the Denver Civic Center District which makes it a wonderful way to spend the whole day.

2. Children's Museum

Outside the Children's Museum

This is the perfect place to take your tykes when you are in the Mile High City. Something that parents will love is that there are age specific exhibits, while others are for all ages, and this will allow you to make sure everyone is having a good time and feels safe at the same time.

Some of the favorite exhibits include a 500-foot long adventure forest in the sky, the bubble area where you can play and make all kinds of tiny or massive bubbles, an art studio where kids can experiment and try out new things, and more. 

This museum is designed for kids ages 0 - 8 years old.

This is one of a few Denver museums you will find on the western end of downtown Denver. 

3. Denver Museum of Nature & Science

Outside the Denver Museum of Nature and Science

Although this seems as if it is a single museum, I like to think of it as three Denver museums in one. The reason for that is there is the main museum, a planetarium, and also an IMAX movie theater.

This museum is dedicated to subjects such as anthropology, health sciences, zoology, space sciences and others. Since it has such a diverse number of exhibits, you can be sure to find something new and exciting every time you go here. 

For those that love massive sized movies, the IMAX theater is a must visit, as its screen is over 3 stories tall. For those that want to experience something even larger, then you'll want to visit the Gates Planetarium, which can take you all over the universe and beyond! All three of these are worth it and will inform and excite you at the same time.

It's one of the Denver Museums on the eastern side of the city in City Park. 

4. Molly Brown House

Built in the 1880s, this gorgeous museum was designed with all the most modern amenities including electricity, heat, and a telephone, which was very rare during that period. During the 60s and 70s many houses such as these were destroyed or remodeled, but this one was preserved. Visiting this building is like being inside a work of art from days gone by.

When you enter, you'll see this house just as it was when originally built with interior full of art, classic adornments, and furniture so you can imagine living in it yourself. It is almost as if you are stepping back in time and experiencing Denver as a new frontier.

NOTE: This museum is open on a guided tour basis, so make sure to book your reservations in advance. It is also recommended for those 6 and older.

5. Museum of Contemporary Art

Heart outside the Contemporary Art Museum

Dedicated to the most cutting edge art from around the world, this is one of the Denver Museums that will make you think outside the box as you experience everything it has to offer. It is some of the best modern art you will find anywhere in the city.

Something I find interesting whenever I visit this museum is that even though it focuses on modern art, it also has exhibits from the past that inspired the artists of today. This means you will not only see the best of the current, but also the artists that allowed them to break out of the boundaries from the accepted styles.

6. The International Church of Cannabis

Why is this called the "International Church"? Because it is located in a 1900s' Lutheran church that has been reopened as a very different religious experience that is named "Elevationism." This is a "religion" that is based on giving the world a way for everyone to be open-minded, inclusive, and happy. That sounds like a pretty good idea to me.

This church is magnificently painted using psychedelic colors, innovative designs, and a crazy laser light experience. It is a must visit for anyone who really wants to explore the "Mile High City." There are certain times for the "experience" so make sure to check ahead.

7. Botanical Gardens

Purple flowers inside the Botanical Garden in Denver.

These two magnificent gardens include not only living plants inside their greenhouses and conservatories, but also artwork and science exhibits dedicated to helping you enjoy nature in a way that you wouldn't normally do it.

There are many diverse environments and their plants ranging from the Alpine, to aquatic, to native, to even desert cactus and succulents for you to explore and see as you learn more about the natural world.

The Denver Botanical Gardens has two locations, one on York Street and the other at Chatfield Farms. The Botanical Gardens are great for people of all ages as there is something for everyone here.

8. Clyfford Still Museum

Clyfford Still was known as one of the premier modern artists of his time. This museum allows for his influence to be continued and to help a new generation to break barriers.

The heart of the museum is dedicated to his work, but there are also traveling exhibits by other artists from around the world. You can also see talks by the artists and find information on why Clyfford Still was so important to this movement.

This is one of the few museums that encourages visitors to take photos and make their own sketches of his artwork. 

>> More about visiting this wonderful museum

9. Colorado Sports Hall of Fame

Baseball exhibit at the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame in Denver

The Mile High City is famous for teams such as the Denver Broncos, the Rockies, the Nuggets and others. Denver was also home to some of the greatest athletes such as the NFL's Hall of Famer Peyton Manning, the MLB's Dante Bichette, NBA's Chauncey Billups, and more. This is one of the Denver museums where you will learn all about each of these teams and players.

There are also special exhibits dedicated to women's sports, a kids' area, and more. You'll see all kinds of plaques, awards, and trophies in the Sports Hall of Fame. You'll learn about all of these and you can also take a "behind-the-scenes" tour at the Empower Stadium at Mile High. These tours usually sell out in advance, so make sure to plan ahead. 

>> Learn more about visiting this fun sports museum

10. Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Art

This is one of the Denver Museums that is unlike any that you will see anywhere else since it is dedicated to the incredible Vance Kirkland. It is also dedicated to the many other artists that inspired him, or that he inspired.

There is a special section dedicated to Vance Kirkland and his artistic eras through his life. It is amazing to see how his art transformed throughout his 55-year career. Works from other artists include those such as Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Marianne Brandt, Le Corbusier, and many others.

Note: This museum only allows people ages 13 and up since most of the art pieces displayed are very fragile.

11. History Colorado Center

This is one of my favorite Denver museums to learn all about Colorado and specifically its influence on the American West. This museum is welcoming of all ages and it makes sure that everyone will be included and able to experience it.

There are always new interactive exhibits to be seen and enjoy. It takes you through a journey to see how Colorado evolved in the past, is changing in the present, and is planning to become even more important in the future. 

12. Forney Museum of Transportation

This is a one-of-a-kind museum as far as I've ever experienced. This is fantastic place for kids of all ages as you can experience how transportation has evolved from basic horse drawn wagons, to trains, to planes, and cars up to the present day. Every time I visit is, I'm amazed at how much artistry is present in it even though they are supposed to only be modes of transportation. 

Some of the exhibits include Amelia Earhart's 1923 Kissel "Gold Bug" plane, a rare 1923 Hispano-Suiza classic car, and even a full size Union Pacific "Big Boy" Steam Locomotive engine! The museum also houses lots of fun things like toys and diecast models, vintage apparel and bicycles. Basically, almost anything that has to do with transportation in the USA is housed right here.

13. Wings Over the Rockies

Old airplane inside Wings Over the Rockies in Denver

Unlike the Forney above, which is about every type of transportation, the Wings of the Rockies is one of the Denver Museums dedicated to only machines related to flight and the Air Force. Something I love about this museum is that it is located on the old Lowry Air Force base so you can get a real feeling for what it was like back in the old days.

Not only will you see all kinds of airplanes, and information about them, but there is also a 3/4 scale X-Wing Starfighter for Star Wars fans. If that isn't enough, you can try out your hand on the Simulator Experience and see how well you can fly through the sky and against enemy combatants. Last but not least, there are traveling exhibits from around the world that change regularly.

It has been named one of the top 20 best aviation museums around the world.

14. American Museum of Western Art

Step back into the past of the American West and experience art in a way you can't anywhere else. The art here ranges from classic cowboys, to incredible painted majestic landscapes, to today's Colorado all in a beautiful three story museum.

I love to walk through this museum and get an idea of what it was like when Colorado was developing and becoming the state that it is now. I almost feel like I'm riding a bronco when I see the paintings of them because they are so realistic and alive. I also enjoy the paintings that show the different cultures of this state working together and becoming one as there are so many peoples from different areas that were, and continue to, live here.

15. Byers-Evans House: Denver Museums

Byers Evans House in Denver

This is very special one of the Denver Museums because it focuses specifically on women and their influence on the state of Colorado through the years. Many of the exhibits show how women influenced major changes in the state, often having to stand on their own without support, and make their dreams a reality.

This includes helping women get the right to vote, equality, and so much more not only in Colorado but across the USA. You might even find your desire to make changes after seeing what these courageous women accomplished. The museum only has guided tours since there is so much to learn and see in this gorgeous house-museum that was built in 1883 and furnished just as the Evans' family had it when they lived here.

16. Mizel Museum

This museum is dedicated to helping others understand how social justice is important to today's world. Using the views of Jewish history and how their people fought for social justice, and continue that battle, it welcomes people of all religions, cultures, and offers insights on how to work to make the world a better place for all. 

When you visit it, you will find many pieces of art, information on the Jewish culture and beliefs, artifacts and so much more. However, this museum is much more than that and a perfect example is when Rabbi Wagner opened the first interfaith exhibition in the world in 1986, this was for Jewish, Christian and the Muslim faith to see their common humanity and while also celebrating their differences. 

17. Money Museum

An exhibit inside the Money Museum

This small museum is a fun place to learn about money and see a lot of it. There are displays with cash and coins from different eras and you can even use coloring pencils and pens to design your own money at one of their exhibits. 

People always enjoy taking photos of their face behind the huge $100,000 bill. Another great photo-op is in front of the massive glass display with money throughout the years behind it. There is also lots of cash bills from other countries. Last but not least, don't miss the exhibit with $30,000,000 in US bills all in one area. It is amazing! 

18. Denver Mint

The entrance for visitors at the Denver Mint.

If you enjoyed the Money Museum, you are gonna LOVE the Denver Mint. This building is on the Denver Historic Register and is beautiful both inside and out. The building was originally made because of the gold rush and the government realized they need to build the currency right there instead of moving it elsewhere.

Since this is still a fully functioning mint that produces billions of coins each year, you will get to see them being manufactured right in front of you! There are also loads of other cool exhibits and a fun gift shop where you can use some of your own cash to buy things. Just don't spend too much! 

Note: Tickets are first come, first serve so plan ahead. Also you can only see the Denver Mint on a guided tour and it is for 7 years or older.

>> Learn more about visiting the Denver Mint

19. MOA: Museum of Outdoor Arts

Colorful exhibit at the Outdoor Arts Museum

The Museum of Outdoor Arts is one of the Denver Museums that has a few different locations. The "M" in MOA stand for Museum. This is an indoor museum where they have exhibits that are constantly changing. Some of these are dedicated to fairies, ice castles, time machines and pretty much anything you can imagine!

As would be assume by the "O", there is the Outdoor section that is spread throughout Denver and has over 150 pieces of art for you to enjoy as you explore it. These primarily include sculptures, while some are mobiles that move with the wind, and many more. They are all amazing, but probably my favorite is the living mural which has over 35,000 plants curated by around 15 people to make specific designs across the wall.

Note: The "A" stands for Artists and the classes they teach to them, but these are not open to the public.

20. Denver FIREFIGHTERS Museum

The final of the Denver Museums on our list is the Firefighters Museum which is located in a classic 1909 firehouse. You can see lots of photographs, exhibits, and loads of equipment that the firefighters used to keep the city safe back in the day. There is a massive panel with all the switches and knobs that the firefighters used to communicate with each other and keep the Mile High City from burning down.

The collection of fire engines, ranging from some of the first to some of the most current, is a totally cool exhibit, especially when you consider how much they have changed through the years. This hidden gem has a fun interactive area for kids, so you can let them learn more on their own.

Something I like is that it is near to the Mint, so you can see both in one day if you plan it out.

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