Colorado for kids: Garden of the Gods day trip from Denver

Garden of the Gods is a great spot in Colorado for families. In fact, TripAdvisor ranked it the No. 1 park in the U.S. (No. 2? New York’s Central Park.)

Garden of the Gods is a great Colorado day trip for families with kids of different ages. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)
Garden of the Gods is a great Colorado day trip for families with kids of different ages. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)
Garden of the Gods is a great Colorado day trip for families with kids of different ages. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)

Garden of the Gods is a great spot. In fact, TripAdvisor ranked it the No. 1 park in the U.S. (No. 2? New York’s Central Park.) It’s also a quick drive from the Denver metro area, and if you’re traveling with kids — or not — it’s got a lot to offer. Here’s what it looks like. (Also don’t miss our Cave of the Winds trip.)

The front desk looks like a visitor center front desk.
The front desk at the Garden of the Gods Visitor Center in Colorado Springs. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)
The front desk at the Garden of the Gods Visitor Center in Colorado Springs. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)
But you quickly get the sense that it’s kind of special. There’s a lot to look at, especially straight up.
Don't forget to look up at the Garden of the Gods Visitor Center in Colorado Springs. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)
Don’t forget to look up at the Garden of the Gods Visitor Center in Colorado Springs. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)
Here’s probably the most impressive single room at the visitor center.

Yes, you can try to identify animals by their poop here.

There's a lot to see at the visitor center at Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)
There’s a lot to see at the visitor center at Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)
They also have quirky bathroom signs, for whatever that’s worth. Here’s Zebulon Pike.
The quirky men's room sign at the Garden of the Gods Visitor Center in Colorado Springs. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)
The quirky men’s room sign at the Garden of the Gods Visitor Center in Colorado Springs. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)
I always love these scale models.

There are buttons kids can push that light things up. The kids I saw using this definitely didn’t care what the lights meant, but the mere presence of the lights increased engagement time by at least 5 minutes.

Here's a scale model of Garden of the Gods in the visitor center. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)
Here’s a scale model of Garden of the Gods in the visitor center. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)
There’s no shortage of dinosaur stuff if your kids are dino fans.

There’s also a movie that we didn’t stop back for, but the guides told us kids love it. “Travel through one billion years in less than 15 minutes! Plunge deep into hot magma. See dinosaurs, ancient sea monsters, and more.” Sounds promising.

There's plenty to look at if your kids are dinosaur kids at the Garden of the Gods visitor center. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)
There’s plenty to look at if your kids are dinosaur kids at the Garden of the Gods visitor center. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)
Great views from the visitor center, if you want to sit right outside with some food.
You can't beat the views from the main level, gift shop and cafe at the Garden of the Gods Visitor Center. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)
You can’t beat the views from the main level, gift shop and cafe at the Garden of the Gods Visitor Center. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)
But probably bring your own snacks. None of this looked great.
The menu at the Garden of the Gods Visitor Center. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)
The menu at the Garden of the Gods Visitor Center. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)
Time to drive to a trail.

Even if you never get out of your car, you’ll see some pretty amazing sights, making Garden of the Gods a really accessible gem of a public park.

Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)
Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)
We picked Palmer Trail.

Literally only because there was parking right in front of it. Any of the Garden of the Gods trails would have worked fine for us, traveling with a child under 5 years old. We just wanted to get out and walk until she didn’t want to anymore.

A trail at Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)
A trail at Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)
Again, with the scenery here, it’s hard to go wrong.

Our kid enjoyed walking around just fine, although predictably we were more awed by the sight of giant red rocks than she was.

A view of Garden of the Gods from Palmer Trail. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)
A view of Garden of the Gods from Palmer Trail. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)
You’ve probably earned a beer at Trinity by now.

Trinity Brewing, 1466 Garden of the Gods Rd., was on the way back into town, had an astonishingly accommodating menu, and the brews were good, too.

A FLO IPA on cask at Trinity Brewing in Colorado Springs. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)
A Flo IPA on cask at Trinity Brewing in Colorado Springs. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)
They didn’t mind a tiny dino infestation.
Playing with toy dinosaurs at Trinity Brewing in Colorado Springs. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)
Playing with toy dinosaurs at Trinity Brewing in Colorado Springs. (Dave Burdick/Denverite)
Have fun out there!

Dave Burdick

Author: Dave Burdick

Dave Burdick is the editor of Denverite. He has previously worked at The Denver Post, The Daily Camera, The Huffington Post, Naropa University up in Boulder and the Best Buy down by Park Meadows circa "Now That's What I Call Music" volume 4. His parents are retired local newspaper journalists, and he is married to a freelance journalist. He lives in Denver with her, their two children and a dog.