Kids have fun when they get to incorporate play with learning. They get to develop motor, developmental, and social skills while engaging all of their senses. What better way to get your kids to learn than by taking them to cool educational places? Check out Crème de la Crème of Thornton, Colorado’s, list of five fun places to take the family for an educational experience.

Butterfly Pavilion

A butterfly sits on a flower at the butterfly pavilion in Thornton, CO

Butterfly” licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Flickr by snowpeak

From colorful butterflies to furry tarantulas, watch your children’s faces light up with delight when they visit the Butterfly Pavilion located at 6252 W. 104th Ave. in Westminster. The Butterfly Pavilion specializes in a variety of invertebrate species including creatures that live underwater, fly, and burrow underground. With over 5,000 animals to get up and personal with, everyone in the family will enjoy their experience at the Butterfly Pavilion.

Head over to the Wings of the World exhibit to immerse yourself in an arboretum with over 1,600 free-flying butterflies from around the world. Feel the fuzzy feet of Rosie the tarantula on your hands at the Crawl-A-See-Em exhibit, and be in awe at the diverse ocean invertebrates you’ll find at the Water’s Edge exhibit. Watch the live chrysalis camera to see butterflies emerge from their cocoon, discover the wonderful insects that live in the Colorado Backyard exhibit, and take time to wander through the outdoor gardens and trails to enjoy the beauty of several of Colorado’s ecosystems.

I Want More Comics

They say laughter is good medicine so why not bring your kids to I Want More Comics bookstore so they can stock up on their favorite comics, games, and puzzles? You can find old issues of comic books, new ones, card and board games, all while socializing with others that share their love of comics. Every year, I Want More Comics hosts The Gamer Geek Gathering where you can participate in a variety of tabletop games. If you find a game you’re unfamiliar with, others will show you the ropes for a fun day of playing old-fashion board games.

You can also swap out your old board games for new-to-you ones at the Table Top Swap. Once the kids meet new friends from I Want More Comics, consider having them get together at the local Thornton Library to read from their favorite comic books or to participate in the library’s many events. Check out all that I Want More comics has to offer when you stop by their store at 55 E. Thornton Pkwy.

Hammond’s Candies Factory Tour

The entire family will enjoy stopping by Hammond’s Candies located at 5735 Washington St. in Denver to learn more about how these beloved candies are made. In 1913, Carl T. Hammond got a job in a local candy factory and after falling in love with the process of making high-quality homemade confections, started the Hammond’s Candy Company.

Today, the new proprietor of Hammond’s Candies, Andrew Schuman, has brought a variety of these candies into stores worldwide including Whole Foods, Nordstroms, and Dean & Delucca in the United States. The candies are widely distributed throughout Canada, England, Spain, Italy, and even Dubai and Japan.

When you go on the free factory tour, you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look into how the taffy, marshmallows, hard candies, and chocolates are created from scratch. After the informative and sweet-smelling tour finishes, everyone gets a sample of a Hammond’s Candy treat. Of course, you’ll want to stop by the factory store after the tour to stock up on your favorite sweet treat to take back and home and share with your friends.

Morrison Natural History Museum

If you have an aspiring paleontologist in your family, they’ll love a visit to the Morrison Natural History Museum. While this may be a small museum, it houses some of the best-preserved dinosaur bones and fossils in the Thornton area. The best way to learn about ancient dinosaurs and what planet earth was like when they roamed the land is to take a guided tour with one of the museum’s professional docents.

Visitors will get to see well-preserved fossils, dinosaur bones, and see exhibits showing how paleontologists do their painstaking work to uncover these precious dinosaur bones and fossils. A fun way to celebrate a birthday party or special event is to book a time in the fossil Dig Pit where the kids get to dig for small bones and fossils just like real-life paleontologists do in the field.

As you enter the museum, you’re greeted by a cast of a Tyrannosaurus skull that the kids can look at and touch. Head to the Ice Age room to see exhibits of animals that once lived in Colorado along with living reptiles and amphibians. Don’t forget to stop by the gift shop to take home dinosaur-themed hats, shirts, and toys, as well as educational material on this time of earth’s history and the creatures that lived on the land.

The Wild Animal Sanctuary

See lions, tigers, bears, wolves, and other wild animals that were rescued from unhealthy and abusive situations now thriving in a large open habitat when you visit The Wild Animal Sanctuary located at 2999 Count Road 53 in Keenesburg. You’ll walk along the Mile Into the Wild Walkway that soars over the habitats to see over 600 rehabilitated animals in a natural environment.

Unlike a zoo experience, a visit to the Wild Animal Experience is a great place to learn about these animals without seeing them in cages or pens, but roaming freely about the 10,000-acre enclosed sanctuary. Make sure and stop at the Education Center to learn more about the important work that the team at The Wild Animal Sanctuary does.

Our team at Crème de la Crème of Thornton, Colorado, hope you and your family enjoyed taking your kids to these amazing educational destinations in our area. Which location did your kids enjoy visiting the most? What was their favorite thing to do? Did we miss a hidden gem that you can recommend to us? If so, feel free to let us know and we’ll add your suggestion to our list.