Spoil your littlest loves with some Valentine fun by taking them on a special date. Here are 7 places for Valentine’s dates with kids in Denver.
Do you take your kids on dates? I read about a mom doing this a couple years back and loved the idea though I haven’t put it into practice as much as I’d like. But especially now that my 2-year-old and I are pretty much always together, I try to make a point of spending special one-on-time with my older son. And, every single time I’m amazed at how the dynamic is so different when he has my undivided attention (and he and his little brother aren’t slogging it out for any old reason). He acts so much more mature, he talks to me about things at school that he might not normally bring up or worries he’s been chewing on, and I see him so much more clearly than I do when I’m focused on both boys at the same time. But, perhaps most important…he seems to glow with the individual attention.
Valentine’s Day is, yes, a little bit of a Hallmark holiday, but it’s also a good reminder to slow down and take the time to show our loved ones that they are loved. And, it occurs to me that making special dates with my littlest loves is especially meaningful for both of us. Here are a few fun ideas for Denver dates with your kids…
1. The Inventing Room, Highlands/SloHi: 4433 W. 29th Avenue, Denver
The first time we walked up to the counter at The Inventing Room, we we were treated to a demonstration of nitrogen and promptly handed a bag of frozen popcorn (if you’re wondering…still tastes like popcorn, but quickly dissolves in your mouth). Since then we’ve watched whipped cream, chocolate syrup, Oreo foam, even Cheetos all get the nitrogen treatment. ‘Cause that’s just how they do it at The Inventing Room.
A strictly dessert shop, The Inventing Room is like no place you’ve ever been, and you will eat desserts here that you’ve had nowhere else because, quite simply, they invented them. Local chef Ian Kleinman, Denver’s own Willy Wonka, is the genius behind the madness.
We’ve tried Mexican fried ice cream with nitro chocolate, smores tart with chocolate pastry cream and burnt marshmallow, and my personal favorite, creme brulee waffle with nutella and grilled strawberry jam ice cream (below). The space foam actually comes with instructions to eat it within 5 minutes or it reverts to its original form and texture. (We’ve pushed the time limit and it gets a little goopy.) Your kids will think you’ve stumbled onto some kind of magical place…and it kinda is.
The Inventing Room is open Tuesday through Sunday from noon to 10pm.
2. Alamo Drafthouse, Sloan’s Lake: 4255 W. Colfax Avenue, Denver; Littleton: 7301 S. Santa Fe Drive
A movie date with my 5-year-old has become our special one-on-one time, though my husband and I often fight over who gets to be the one to take him.
The first time we visited an Alamo Drafthouse was on vacation in Austin when I was about 7 months pregnant with my youngest but already felt about 9-1/2 months. Let me sit back, put my feet up, and watch a movie while you bring me plates of food and my kid is thrilled too? Yes, please. (Turns out it’s even better to have all that when I can order a drink, too.)
But, what I really love about Alamo Drafthouse (besides my glass of wine) is that I can bring my kiddo here and order him actual food rather than overload him with the usual movie popcorn and candy that he thinks automatically comes with any movie viewing. Sure, we toss in a special dessert, but that’s after he’s eaten real food, so we both get to feel good about that.
Alamo Drafthouse has two Denver locations (Sloan’s Lake and Littleton), and shows movies seven days a week. The Alamo for All program (Littleton) is a movie program welcoming all ages (even under 3) and those with special needs with sensory-friendly shows starting before 2:05pm and looser rules about quiet.
3. The Cereal Box, Old Town Arvada: 5709 Old Wadsworth Blvd, Arvada
Overheard at The Cereal Box: “It’s about time somebody realized cereal is dessert.” And, it definitely is if you pile it high with chocolate cereal, chocolate milk, marshmallows, poptarts, and candy. All of which are readily available at The Cereal Box.
This place is truly unique…it’s essentially a build-your-own cereal bar and it is designed exactly as my 5-year-old would imagine it in his wildest dreams. Because my kiddos fight over the last bowl of Crispix. They had no idea that cereal could come in so many flavors, colors, levels of sugar, and candy (oh, the candy!) in real life.
There are more than 100 cereals to choose from…the old standbys as well as cereals you’ve never heard of. I couldn’t resist ordering up a bowl when I saw they carried my favorite Girl Scout cookies (Samoas, or Caramel Delites if you’re from back east) in cereal form!
You can also choose from one of their “cereal recipes” on the menu. The most popular is Unicorn Poop: Trix, Froot Loops, Fruity Pebbles, rainbow marshmallows, whipped cream, rainbow sprinkles, strawberry milk.
So, yeah, I’d say this is more of a dessert place than where you want to head first thing in the morning. (Although it does open at 8am, so you be you.). Either way, it will delight both your kids and the kid in you who remembers unsuccessfully begging your mom to buy Cocoa Puffs just this once. (It’s okay, Mom. I got over it.)
The Cereal Box is located in Old Town Arvada and is open Tuesday through Sunday, 8am to 8pm.
4. Board Game Republic, Golden Triangle: 900 W. 1st Avenue, Denver
In the early days of dating, my husband and I discovered we’re both a tad bit competitive when it comes to board games. But, we have only recently entered into the realm of family board games now that our oldest is 5. (And it turns out, he’s inherited the competitive gene…times two.) So, I’m excited to bring him to check out the Board Game Republic.
Funded by a Kickstarter campaign in 2015, this “board game pub” opened the following year and now houses a library of more than 700 board games, including traditional kid’s classics (Candy Land, Hungry Hungry Hippo, Connect Four) as well as new favorites (Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle). They also offer a menu of sandwiches, small plates, crepes, desserts, and a full bar.
Board Game Republic is open Tuesdays and Wednesdays (4pm to 10pm), Thursdays (11am to 10pm), Fridays and Saturdays (11am to 12am), and Sundays (11am to 10pm). $5/person gets you unlimited access to more than 700 board games.
5. Punch Bowl Social, Baker: 65 Broadway, Denver; Stapleton: 3120 N. Uinta Street
Punch Bowl Social may have expanded across the U.S., but it was born right here in Denver. The restaurant has seemingly endless entertainment options for the kids with video games, wall-size scrabble, shuffle board, darts, an outdoor pool area (Stapleton only), and, of course, bowling.
But, the best part is the food is incredibly fresh and really good. We’re talking James Beard award-winning good. (Because they’ve actually got one of those.)
Both locations are fun and kid-friendly, but while the Broadway spot attracts more of a millennial crowd, the recently opened Stapleton venue (unsurprisingly) seems to cater to more of the family crowd.
Punch Bowl Social has two Denver locations (S. Broadway and Stapleton), and is open Monday through Wednesday (11am to 1pm), Thursday and Friday (11am to 2am) and Saturday (8am to 2am) and Sunday (8am to 12am).
6. The Denver Tea Room & Coffee Salon, 1165 S. Broadway, Denver
Okay, I wouldn’t take my 2- and 5-year-old boys anywhere near a tea room at this point in their lives. But, I’d love to take my 10- and 13-year-old nieces here. Taking high tea at a tea house (and those fun little sandwiches and mini desserts) feels like an occasion even when it’s not, which makes this a perfect spot for treating an older child in your life to a special date out.
The Denver Tea Room & Coffee Salon offers a traditional tea menu, like cucumber sandwiches, but also adds a little Denver flair (like spinach green chile quiche). They can even accommodate gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free and vegan diets.
The Denver Tea Room is open Wednesday through Friday (10am to 3pm) and Saturday and Sunday (10am to 4pm) but requires a 24-hour reservation. The price is $30/adults and $26/children ages 2-8. (The Coffee Salon has different hours and doesn’t require a reservation: Wednesday to Friday, 6:30am to 4pm, and Saturday and Sunday, 8am to 4pm).
7. Skyline Park Ice Rink, Downtown: 16th Street and Arapahoe Street
Every winter tens of thousands of Denverites take advantage of Denver’s pop-up ice skating rink in Skyline Park. And it’s free if you bring your own ice skates. But, Valentine’s Day is your last chance to get on the ice as it closes for the season the next day, making this a great choice for a Valentine’s date with your kiddos.
Skyline Park Ice Rink is open through Valentine’s Day this week: Monday and Tuesday (12pm to 5pm) with slightly longer hours this Wednesday, 11am to 6pm. Bring your own ice skates or rent them ($6-$8).
Need more Valentine ideas? Check out Denver Date Night (2 Ways) for Valentine’s Day, Funny Valentines by Denver Makers, Shop These Denver Card Shops for Non-Cheesy Greetings, and 10 Denver Florists the Locals Love.