Denver boasts its fair share of top summer theme parks to keep the young and young-at-heart entertained. With a myriad of amusing rides and attractions, all ages will find something they enjoy.
There are both your standard amusement park rides like roller coasters and merry-go-rounds, as well as water parks to beat the summer heat. Season dates vary, however, most parks open by Memorial Day and remain open through Labor Day, much like your neighborhood swimming pool. A couple of the last listings aren’t you’re typical theme park, and are located just outside the Mile High City metro.
Here are the theme and water parks near Denver, CO, in no particular order:
Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park
Denver’s most well-known and largest theme park, Elitch Gardens boasts both an amusement park and a water park in the same riverside location. While the water park is open from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day from 10:30 am until 6 pm, the amusement park has a longer season.
Open starting mid-April for season pass holders, then on weekends until early May when it begins operating daily. Continuing until mid-August, the park is only open on weekends through October for its Halloween festivities. Boasting thrill, family, kids’, and water rides, the park also hosts events, concerts, and dive-in movies.
Sold to a group of local investors, led by billionaire Stan Kroenke, owner of the Colorado Avalanche, Rapids, Mammoth, and Denver Nuggets, the future of Elitch is uncertain as the area is being transformed into a new residential and commercial neighborhood known as The River Mile. Taking up to 25 years to complete, it will force Elitch Garden to either close or relocate.
2000 Elitch Cir, Denver, CO 80204 | 303-595-4386 | elitchgardens.com
Located in Federal Heights, just 9 miles north of Downtown Denver on I-25, Water World is Colorado’s largest water park. Boasting over 300 Ellis and Associates certified lifeguards, Water World is a well-known summer attraction for Denverites and was even mimicked on an episode of South Park (as Pi Pi’s Splashtown).
With attractions for all age groups, even adults will find many of the rides thrilling. Guests can enjoy taking a gondola ride, going on slides, floating down the lazy river, or jumping in the wave pool. There are also dining options, like the Pharaoh’s Feast All Day Buffet, and a surf shop where you can pick up bathing suits, sunscreens, and souvenirs on-site.
The park is usually open from Memorial Day to Labor Day from 10 am to 6 pm. Day passes come with access to the entire park, allowing you to leave for lunch and return.
8801 N. Pecos St, Federal Heights, CO 80260 | 303-427-7873 | waterworldcolorado.com
Lakeside Amusement Park
Opened in 1908, Lakeside Amusement Park is one of Colorado’s oldest theme parks. Even if you’re more into sightseeing than riding the rides, it’s a perfect park for that. With a minimal admission fee, except for those shorter than 36″ who can enter for free, guests who wish to go on the rides will need to purchase additional ride coupons or get a bundled pass.
Named after the lake that stands as the park’s centerpiece, some of the rides include a cyclone coaster, flying dutchman, merry-go-round, drop tower, bumper cars, and a myriad of spinning rides. The beautiful lake centerpiece gives the theme park its name.
Offering free parking, Lakeside Amusement Park is just off I-70 on Sheridan Blvd. It’s scheduled to open on May 14th, 2022, stay open for only weekends until June, then go daily except for Tuesday through August 21st, 2022. Then weekends only again through September 18th, 2022. They even host summer camp trips for three fun Fridays during the season.
4601 Sheridan Boulevard, Denver, CO 80212 | 303-477-1621 | lakesideamusementpark.com
Tiny Town & Railroad
While this next one’s not your average amusement park, it is a family-friendly park with a theme. Located in Morrison on Highway 285, just a little ways southwest of CO-470 and the plains of Denver, Tiny Town is home to a miniature village and railroad.
Less than 30 minutes from downtown, this “World Famous” gem is best suited for younger children. With playgrounds, train rides, child-sized buildings, a snack bar, and a gift shop, families can spend a day exploring together. Great for birthday parties, Tiny Town & Railroad’s season starts on May 28th, 2022. Open daily from 10 am – 5 pm through labor day, admission is minimal.
6249 S Turkey Creek Rd, Morrison, CO 80465 | 303-697-6829 | tinytownrailroad.com
Lawson Adventure Park
A “stay and play” destination due to its year-round, on-site lodging, Lawson Adventure Park, boasts a myriad of mountain accommodations, including fully furnished cabins and yurts, as well as campsites. They even have a full bar inside their main check-in cabin.
Located 45 minutes west of the capital via Highway 70 in Dumont, which is next to Empire, Lawson Adventure Park’s main attractions are open in the summer, though if you stay in spring or winter they have deals and itineraries on nearby outdoor recreation. While there aren’t roller coasters or water slides, instead guests can enjoy outdoor, alpine activities.
During the summer, whitewater rafting is popular on the nearby Clear Creek as are short trips to float on the Upper Colorado River. Guests can also do a Via Ferrata, see the area from new heights while ziplining, ride UTVs, or go fishing. For those looking for something a touch upscale, there is also a fine dining hurt that serves elk and bison.
3440 Alvarado Rd, Dumont, CO 80436 | 855-372-7238 | lawsonadventurepark.com
Check prices, availability or book Lawson Adventure Park & Resort
That’s a roundup of the notable theme parks within an easy drive of Colorado’s capital city. After Golden’s Heritage Amusement Park closed in 2018, the Denver area lost one of its longtime family attractions. Hopefully, the ones mentioned above are here to stay and prosper.
Heading south, scope out the theme parks in the Colorado Springs area.