Here's how to have a wonderful time in and around Denver:
SCFD Free Days: Free days at participating Metro Denver cultural organizations are offered year-round through the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD).
The exhibits at the Adams County Historical Society & Museum in Brighton range from prehistory to the 20th Century. Special exhibits include a restored 1887 Victorian house and a replica one-room schoolhouse.
The Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities is one of the largest multidisciplinary arts centers in the U.S. Exhibits and events include theatre, children's theatre, musicals, concerts, dance, art galleries, and classes.
The Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster includes a tropical rainforest with over 1,600 free-flying butterflies, as well as tropical fish, birds, turtles, and tortoises. Outdoors there are gardens and a nature trail.
Central City Opera is less than 40 miles from Denver. Summer Festival performances are held in the historic Central City Opera House, built by miners in 1878. Other events are held year-round in various locations.
The Children's Museum of Denver features hands-on, interactive exhibits, events, and programs that are especially designed to appeal to children. Adult visitors must be accompanied by a child.
Headquartered in Denver, Colorado Ballet features both classical ballet and innovative dance, including an annual production of The Nutcracker. The Colorado Ballet Academy offers dance classes and workshops.
The Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden has over 100 narrow gauge and standard gauge locomotives, cars, and cabooses. The Museum also features model and garden railroads, concerts, and special events.
Historic and legislative tours of the Colorado State Capitol are available year round. An optional visit to the Dome, with its 360-degree panoramic view of Denver, is included on all tours. A video tour is also available.
The Colorado Symphony performs many different types of music, from classical to contemporary. Performances are at Boettcher Concert Hall in downtown Denver, as well as other locations in Colorado.
The Denver Art Museum is well known for its programs, exhibits, and events. Permanent collections include American Indian Art, European and American Art, African Art, Pre-Columbian Art, and Asian Art.
Denver Botanic Gardens is one of the top botanic gardens in the United States, with plants from all over the world and events for all ages. The main location covers 23 acres and includes a tropical conservatory.
Denver Center for the Performing Arts features local theatre productions, world premieres of new plays, special performances, and touring Broadway shows. DCPA also offers special events, backstage tours, and classes.
Famous permanent exhibits at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science in City Park include Egyptian Mummies and Prehistoric Journey. The museum complex also includes the Gates Planetarium and Imax Theater.
Denver Zoo in City Park is one of the most popular zoos in the United States. Special exhibits include Toyota Elephant Passage, Predator Ridge, Primate Panorama, Northern Shores, and Bear Mountain.
Some of the world's best-known dinosaurs were first discovered at Dinosaur Ridge, the famous fossil site near Morrison. Hike the Dinosaur Ridge Trail or visit the indoor exhibit hall. Guided tours are available.
Elitch Gardens in downtown Denver is the only downtown theme and water park in the United States. Rides include thrill rides, family rides, and water rides. Other attractions include concerts, shows, and special events.
Four Mile Historic Park includes Denver's oldest standing structure, the Four Mile House Museum. It was originally an inn and stagecoach stop, 4 miles from Denver. The Park has a variety of programs and events.
Littleton's Hudson Gardens specializes in flowers, trees, and other plants that thrive in Colorado. Its regional display gardens cover 30 acres. Concerts, classes, and special events are also offered.
The Molly Brown House Museum in Denver was once owned by Titanic survivor Margaret Tobin Brown, better known as "The Unsinkable Molly Brown". The Museum offers guided tours and special events.
Opera Colorado presents both standard opera repertoire and new works each year at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in downtown Denver. The Opera also offers lectures, workshops, and school programs.
Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre is located near Morrison. The amphitheatre is naturally formed from red sandstone, with perfect acoustics and panoramic views of Denver. The Park includes spectacular rock formations and a hiking trail.
The United States Mint in Denver produces American coins. The Denver Mint struck its first coins in 1906 and is the single largest producer of coins in the world. Free tours offer unforgettable sights as well as a unique gift shop.
Photo: The Denver Zoo