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Up, Up and Away


The Spirit of Flight Center

What do Mickey Mouse, James Bond and Amelia Earhart have in common? At the Spirit of Flight Center in Erie, they’re all kid-friendly. Kids can find the classic Disney icon painted on the nose of World War II planes, they can check out the world’s smallest jet, which was used in the filming of the James Bond movie Octopussy or stare up at the life-sized bronze statue of pioneering aviatrix Amelia Earhart.

Of course, these are only three of the more than 1,000 awesome artifacts dating back to 1935 on display. Discover them all in a scavenger hunt hosted by center mascot Avee the aviation bug. We love that kids can sit in a B-17 cockpit for a perfect profile picture, or take a ride on the wild side by exploring the flight simulator—it lets little pilots soar through the sky simulation style.
Open M-F and the third Saturday of every month from 10 am to 2 pm. $5 or free for babes in arms. 303.460.1156. 2650 S. Main St., Erie

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

How many kids does it takes to turn on a light bulb? At the Visitor’s Center at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, you’ll discover that it depends on the type of light bulb they’re turning on—incandescent or fluorescent. Watch your kids power the two and illuminate their understanding of how much energy it takes to light the house.

Don’t let the name fool you, or the Sheldon look-alike doing research at the front desk—the place is packed full of cool facts and interactive exhibits. Flip a switch and see how solar energy can power a ski lift, learn how wind turbines work, or discover the sun’s location at any given time of year at any point of longitude and latitude. The museum itself serves as an exhibit. It’s been designed to store the sun’s heat during the day and distribute it in the evening. Talk about resourceful.
Open M-F 9 am to 5 pm. Free. Tours are available for groups of five or more by calling 303.275.3023. 15013 Denver W. Pkwy., Golden.

Denver Museum of Nature and Science

Do you know the difference between mammoths and mastodons, the massive 10,000 year old animals? After visiting the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, you’ll come out with your mammoth and mastodon hat on. No literally. You’ll come out wearing a hat with tusks.

The “Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age” exhibit features giant, life-sized mammoths on display. Your kids can check out the fossils uncovered by a bulldozer operator in Snowmass. They can get the insider scoop on a perfectly preserved 42,000 year-old baby mammoth, and play a Wii video game that will reinforce everything they learned. Give yourself an hour for this exhibit and then explore the rest of the museum. Discovery Zone, Expedition Health and Space Odyssey are YS’s picks for other great kid-friendly places to explore.
Open daily 9 am to 5 pm. $13 for adults, $10 for seniors, $8 for students. 303.370.6000. 2001 Colorado Blvd., Denver

Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art

Although the origin of the word April is uncertain, etymology suggests it comes from the Latin word aperire, which means “to open” no doubt referring to the time of year when the flowers bloom. But in Boulder, it’s the time when the Farmers Market kicks off, and when kids and parents can take advantage of some of cool activities, like free art projects on the front porch of the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art.

Starting April 6 and going until Nov. 16, on Saturdays from 9 am to 1 pm and Wednesdays from 4 to 8 pm, the art museum will host Art Stop, an art-making space on the front porch of the museum, for youths 2 to 14 years old. With the vibrant Farmers Market for the background, the kids should have plenty of inspiration. But if not, families can get inspired by touring the museum which is open for free on market days. To get kids amped on the art, the museum provides pamphlets that take the young ones through the gallery with games, questions and conversation starters.

We love the fact that kids get to immerse themselves in the beauty of the season. This is a deal so sweet, you might find yourself wondering if it’s April Fools Day.
When to go: Farmers Market days. Museum is open T-Sun 11am-5pm. 303.443.2122. 1750 13th St., Boulder

Denver Zoo

For those who thought cats were afraid of water, a reality check awaits them at the Denver Zoo.  There, you can catch a glimpse of the fishing cat, a carnivore with a taste for sushi, get its paws on its prey by diving into a nearby stream. A splash signals the catch of the day, followed by a satisfied lick of the paws.

The fishing cat is only one of the nearly 4,000 animals representing 700 species at the zoo, and can be found in its newest exhibit, the Toyota Elephant Passage, which features elephants, rhinoceroses and gibbons. The zoo is home to 188 species considered threatened or endangered, and three species actually extinct in the wild. Kids can peep all those precious animals while getting a first-hand look at two sassy white-cheeked gibbons who tightrope walk on ropes hung above the pathways. And we love the fact that guide stations complete with skulls and skins are set up around the exhibits to give kids a deeper understanding of the animals they’re seeing. Check out the lions, spotted hyenas and African wild dogs at Predator Ridge, or the monkeys and apes at Primate Panorama.

By the end of the day, you’ll have animals on the brain. So much so that you won’t think twice when you see a peacock ambling on the pathway. He’s just on his way to Bird World.
Open M-Sun 10 am to 5 pm. $15 for adults, $10 for juniors, $12 for seniors. 720.337.1400. 2300 Steele St., Denver