Ranked the No. 3 best thing to do in Denver by U.S. News & World Report, Denver Zoo hosts 3,500 different animals from more than 650 species, which blend with several interpretive exhibits. Sprawling naturalistic displays place animals in environments approximating their native habitats, giving a glimpse of exotic locales and diverse behavioral patterns. The Tropical Discovery exhibit boasts a 2,250-gallon pool teeming with piscine life and exotic turtles in a waterfall-lined indoor rainforest. Two prides of lions sprawl along rocky outcroppings in the lion kopje in Predator Ridge while African wild dogs, guineafowl, and spotted hyenas play a heated game of Yahtzee. Commune with ancient cousins in the seven-acre Primate Panorama, where chattering monkeys swing from trees while powerful gorillas amble freely about their one-acre exhibit.
The Wildlife Experience, one of the country's more aptly named museums, offers a chance to encounter members of various animal kingdoms and habitats through an uncommon combination of interactive exhibits, natural history, fine art, and documentary films. Once inside, explore a variety of permanent and not-so-permanent exhibits. Globeology, is a three-dimensional jaunt that takes visitors through biomes from wild Colorado to the barren, WiFi-less tundra. Frogs!: A Chorus of Colors, meanwhile, gives visitors eyewitness access to fifteen types of colorful and vocal anurans, offering young guests insight into what frogs do when not playing a banjo or being chased by a pig.
The Plains Conservation Center is an offshoot of the West Arapahoe Conservation District, an organization appointed in 1949 to teach farming and ranching techniques that could help prevent another devastating Dust Bowl. While the PCC's mission has since expanded, the nonprofit organization's main goal remains the same: preserving the health of Colorado's plains. Between its two sites—a main 1,100-acre location in Aurora and more than 10,000 acres spread along West Bijou Creek—the organization maintains several attractions devoted to the history and environmental character of the region. These include more than five miles of hiking trails, a Cheyenne camp from 1837 with four standing tepees, and Wells Crossing, a replica 1887 farm consisting of sod houses, and heirloom gardens. For more modern sites, the Aurora location's visitor center features interactive displays and seasonal events such as Hops for Habitat, an annual fundraiser with beer tastings from local craft brewers.
Over the course of a decade, FastFrame has mushroomed into more than 300 international locations on the strength of their meticulous craftsmanship and lifetime guarantee. To showcase artwork, photos, or the first dollar made in the family counterfeiting machine, the professional framers sort through a treasure trove of materials, such as gold and silver settings, fabric-wrapped mats, and lamination. For light-sensitive items, they apply Preservation Plus framing, which uses acid-free framing accoutrements to protect portraits from fading under the withering gaze of UV rays or laser-eyed art critics.
Like a small-town railroad depot in the 1880s, the Colorado Railroad Museum’s main building features wide eaves and a bright-yellow exterior. The building reflects the Museum’s overall goal: to hark back to Colorado’s railroad era, a time when the state relied on its groundbreaking, narrow-gauge mountain railroads for supplies and information. Since 1959, the Museum has showcased the machinery of that time with an array of locomotives, passenger cars, freight cars, and cabooses. Alternatively, they present visitors with a glimpse of Table Mountain on the Museum’s train rides, enabling them to ride the rails in a bygone style without just taking the subway in an Abe Lincoln costume. To supplement its trains, the Museum hosts thousands of related rare photographs and artifacts, such as a replica of a 10,000-gallon water tank, humorously dubbed No Agua, that was once used to refill steam locomotives on the Chili Line to Santa Fe.