An August 2005 trip
to Denver by VickiFunes
Quote: I went to Denver to spend "quality time" with my two grandkids, ages 5 and 9. However, after trip expenses and buying gifts for the children, there was little cash left for the fun activities! Luckily, Denver has plenty of things for families on a budget to do!
Attraction | "Hammond's Candies factory tour"
Nevertheless, be warned that the Hammond's factory is a bit hard to find. First of all, we went to the address listed in my 2004 guidebook---only to find that the factory was no longer at that location. After making a phone call, we learned the new address (at 5735 N. Washington St., where they moved about 14 months ago). We still couldn't find the factory easily, and, as it turned out, it's set back from Washington Street behind another building. But, we're glad that we persevered, because my grandchildren loved the tour.
If you go, you will start out in the reception/waiting rooms. While waiting for your tour group to be called, you can look around at the displays---antique candy-making equipment and memorabilia---or get a snack at the snack bar. When your group is called, you will first go into a screening room to see a short film about the company and the candy-making process. Next, the tour group gets a look (from behind a long row of windows) at the candy-makers performing their craft. All the while, the group's tour guide gives interesting facts about candy making---all very interesting, but there are way too many facts to remember them all! Myself, I was particularly interested that the cooks have to work with the candy on heated tables during the candy-shaping process---or else the candy would cool too fast and no longer be pliable. There can be no air-conditioning, either, because the cool air would also prematurely harden the candy. Therefore, temperatures in the candy-making room are generally 90°F to 100°F, and can get even hotter on a toasty summer day! After watching the candy makers at work, you will move into the packaging and shipping room. The day we were there, workers were putting wrapped candy into boxes by hand. Then the tour was over and we were led into the beautifully decorated gift shop. It was fun just to browse and explore! There were so many attractive and colorful displays---and items to purchase, of course! There's also an area with various hard candies you can sample, but, sadly, none of the chocolate candies are included in this free-sample area.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 19, 2005
5735 N. Washington St.
Denver, Colorado 80216
Attraction | "Celestial Seasonings factory tour"
During our hour-long wait, we did have several interesting things to do. First of all, we headed for the free "tea sampling" area. There's a wide choice of tea samples to try. Several teas are pre-brewed and waiting in dispensers. On the other hand, hot water is also provided, so you can select your own favorite tea from several dozen boxes set out for you. My grandchildren--neither of whom have ever enjoyed herbal teas--"went crazy" trying out the different flavors! Next, we enjoyed looking at the cute decorations in the building. My granddaughter, age 5, particularly enjoyed snuggling in the life-sized stuffed "Sleepytime Bear." Next, we strolled about the herb garden and learned what some of our favorite herbs actually look like when they're growing. Finally, it was time for our tour. First, we saw an introductory film about the history of the company. Next, we got to enter the factory--but, alas, we were disappointed. We were touring on a Saturday, and no tea is processed over the weekend. So the bulk of our tour--besides looking at machinery lying still--was a question-and-answer session held by our tour guide.
I was particularly interested to learn that "Sleepytime" tea is the company's #1 best-seller, and that my personal favorite (peppermint tea) ranks #5 in sales. A part of every tour is a journey into the "mint room" where the peppermint is stored away from all of the other herbs, to keep the mint's strong flavor from tainting the other, more delicate, ingredients. My, how that room clears up a stuffy nose! When the tour was finished, we each received a packet of four sample tea bags and then were led into the gift shop. The displays were beautiful, and the products were intriguing. I thought the prices were a bit steep though. The deck of cards I had wanted was $6, so I just didn't buy them.
Celestial Seasonings Factory
4600 Sleepytime Dr.
Costumed guides give demonstrations (although the museum really needs more of them than the four who were there when we visited). We were able to see a weaving demonstration and horses being hitched to a wagon and taken for a ride. When we got to the 1960s one-room school house, the kids enjoyed playing school, tending the wood stove and using the real McGuffey's Reader. Next, we went to the 1890s area, where we toured the home, the barns, and the workshop. The grandkids particularly enjoyed watching the antics of the pigs wallowing in their mud hole and getting to see two cows up close and personal. Myself, I enjoyed musing about what it would be like to have to cook meals on the home's old-fashioned wood-fired stove!
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 19, 2005
Littleton Historic Museum
6028 South Gallup
After my grandkids' playmates left, we steered them into the museum building, because, if we left them to their own devices, they would have kept climbing onto and off railroad cars forever. Inside the building, we saw displays of railroad historical info and memorabilia, a working HO scale model railroad (which seemed to be a favorite of adult and child visitors alike), a Morse code exhibit, and a "penny squisher," which, for a $0.50 fee, stamped a drawing of a locomotive onto my grandson's penny. We missed seeing the introductory video, the library of 10,000 books about railroading, and the train ride (which wasn't running that day.) As we left, we toured the gift shop, which sells a wide variety of items, both for kids and serious train buffs.
By the way, the museum is easy to find. Signs on I-70 tell you which exit to take, and other signs guide you once you leave the interstate.
Colorado Railroad Museum
17155 West 44th Ave
Golden, Colorado 80401
+1 303 279 4591; +1
Attraction | "Picnic at Red Rocks"
After enjoying the natural scenery along this road, we made our way to the "top circle parking lot," which is the closest parking lot to the visitor center. The center, like the park itself, is free. My favorite exhibit was discovering which musical groups have played at the famous amphitheater. My grandkids, ages 5 and 9, most enjoyed seeing the dinosaur exhibit. (Red Rocks Park sits adjacent to Dinosaur Ridge, an area where many fossils have been found.)
Next, we toured the amphitheater itself. It's a gorgeous venue. One doesn't need a musical performance in order to enjoy it--it's just a joy unto itself. We climbed down the zillions of stairs to explore the stage itself. It was fun standing where the musicians stand, imagining what it would be like to play there in that spot! Climbing back UP the zillion stairs to the parking lot... now, that was a workout! We certainly didn't feel the need to find a hiking trail after that!
Next, we headed to the picnic shelter to eat our little feast. The views on all sides were spectacular. After eating, the kids enjoyed exploring the little trails around the picnic area.
Last, we headed to the Trading Post. We enjoyed looking at the wide variety of Red Rocks souvenirs on sale. We checked out the snack bar, too--and we were glad that we had picnicked! A 20-ounce bottle of soda sells there for $2.50 (which is funny, because I noticed the same bottles for only $1.50 at the visitor center)!
We left the park with happy kids, and we hadn't spent any cash, except for the gas to get there!
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 19, 2005
Red Rocks Amphitheater
12700 West Alameda Parkway