Our 2021 two-week Winter Holiday Break started with one day to explore Denver.
With just one day in the city (and a starting point of the Hilton Embassy Suites Convention Center), we decided to focus on the Denver Museum of Nature & Science (we receive free admission through our Membership with Virginia Living Museum and the reciprocal ASCT Passport Program) and the Denver Botanic Gardens at York Street (we received admission for two adults through our Membership with Norfolk Botanical Garden and the Reciprocal AHS Membership).
With some time left, we visited the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver (we received free admission through our Membership with The Hermitage Museum & Gardens and the Reciprocal NARM Membership). We were thankful for the $100+ saved with reciprocal memberships when we realized the cost of rideshare fares we would incur due to the NFL game coinciding with our museum day. We spent the evening touring the public holiday lights displays around the city.
Denver Museum of Nature & Science
2001 Colorado Blvd, Denver, CO 80205
Highlights: We spent the bulk of our visit in the permanent Gems & Minerals, Prehistoric Journey, and North American Indian collections.
Denver Museum of Nature & Science is incredibly easy to navigate, with each section telling an easy to understand but comprehensive story of its collection. The museum was virtually empty at opening on Sunday, though by lunch the crowds were growing.
A bulk of the museum’s second floor is the Wildlife Halls, with impressive dioramas depicting natural scenes around the world. Unfortunately (or fortunately?), our nine year-old was sensitive to the once-living baby animals on display, and we decided to skip those galleries.
The temporary exhibitions included Survival of the Slowest, highlighting counter-intuitive animal adaptations and Guitar: The Instrument That Rocked the World.
Denver Botanic Gardens
1007 York St, Denver, CO 80206
Cactus & Succulent House
Ornamental Grasses Garden
Birds & Bees Walk
The Mordecai Children’s Garden was closed for the winter, so we were able to see most of the Gardens and have lunch at the Offshoots Café in two hours. Despite nearly 60 degree temperatures, the ponds were frozen and snow was still visible in shady spots.
Had it been cooler, we still would have found plenty to see with the Meet Your Habitat exhibition inside the Science Pyramid, the Tropical Conservatory and the Cactus and Succulent House.
The Octopus Initiative was the first of its kind that we have encountered; it allows Denver residents to choose from local artists’ works to “win” the chance to display them in their own home through a lottery system. We capped off the Denver museum tour at MCA’s rooftop Café & Bar for drinks and macarons.
Downtown Denver at Christmas
The Big Bear Sculpture
Artist: Lawrence Argent
Title: “I See What You Mean”
Location: Colorado Convention Center
2005 by Lawrence Argent, entitled “I See What You Mean,”