Museums provide a great way for people of all ages to experience something new and learn more about the world around them. Colorado has an endless amount of exciting, unique, and enriching museums to visit. If you’re a Colorado native looking for your next Saturday outing or a visitor planning a fascinating vacation, check out this guide to Colorado’s top museums to make the most out of your next adventure.
Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave – Golden
The Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave memorializes William F. Cody, widely known as “Buffalo Bill.” Buffalo Bill was a legend of the American West who spent his life crossing the Great Plains for work. He was a fur trapper, a miner, a rider for the Pony Express, and a scout for the army—he earned his nickname for his skill as a buffalo hunter during those days. Later in life, he began a career in show business in various shows and troupes. The museum contains many artifacts and memorabilia from these shows. You can also visit Buffalo Bill’s grave on Lookout Mountain, which overlooks the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains.
Denver Museum of Nature & Science – Denver
After over a century of researching, gathering, and hosting collections, this museum earned its spot as Denver’s leading cultural institution. From their IMAX theater to their temporary exhibits, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science has a seemingly endless expanse of education and culture. Visitors can explore everything from ancient fossils to space exploration. With daily shows in the planetarium, a constantly rotating cycle of visiting exhibitions, and a vast array of permanent exhibits, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science will make you want to come back again and again to see it all.
Colorado Railroad Museum – Golden
This museum in Golden celebrates Colorado’s long and rich railroad history. Experience the past firsthand by exploring the fascinating 15-acre railyard and more than 100 historic railcars. While there, you can also have a look around the prominent library, the roundhouse restoration facility, and the working turntable. On Saturdays in the summer, visitors can also ride one of the trains. Colorado Railroad Museum hosts events all year, so visitors can always experience the fascinating history of the rails in the state.
Molly Brown House Museum – Denver
“The Unsinkable Molly Brown” is best known for surviving the Titanic, but a tour through her home in Denver will show you all the other amazing things she did with her life. As one of the only historic sites in the country dedicated to a woman, the Molly Brown House Museum commemorates and explores her philanthropy and activism—both unusual for a woman during her time. Visitors will also learn about the house’s history and all who inhabited it, from the original owners who lost it during the silver market crash in the late 1800s to the concerned citizens who saved the house from demolition in the 1970s.
Denver Art Museum – Denver
Combining world-class art exhibits with a family-friendly and interactive experience, the Denver Art Museum provides a thrilling destination for the entire family. It’s home to multiple permanent collections, which includes the Oceanic art, Pre-Columbian art, and the popular American Indian art exhibits. The museum also houses numerous traveling or temporary exhibits. Visitors can explore through programs, tours, demonstrations, and hands-on activities. Denver Art Museum continues to grow each year with new buildings, collections, and visiting exhibits for visitors of all ages to enjoy.
Forney Museum of Transportation – Denver
With over 600 artifacts, the Forney Museum of Transportation grew from a personal collection in a garage to a fascinating experience for anyone who visits. The museum’s massive collection of historical transportation ranges from bicycles and motorcycles to steam locomotives and everything in between. Visitors will marvel at highlights such as Amelia Earhart’s first car, historic Denver Cable Cars, and Union Pacific’s “Big Boy”—the world’s largest steam locomotive. If it has wheels and a history, you’ll probably find it at Forney Museum of Transportation.
History Colorado Center – Denver
A hub for all things Colorado culture and history, the History Colorado Center offers an immersive, captivating experience for all who enter. This high-tech, hands-on museum features unique exhibits that teach visitors about the rich history of the state and the American West in general. Experience virtual ski jumps and interactive floor maps, or view traditional artifacts and exhibits. The museum is home to any piece of Colorado history imaginable. Since opening its doors in 2012, the History Colorado Center has more than earned its status as a Smithsonian Affiliate.
Children’s Museum of Denver – Denver
While many of the museums on this guide to Colorado’s top museums are family-friendly, the Children’s Museum of Denver is designed entirely for kids eight and under. Every part of this museum is devoted to empowering, teaching, and investing in the next generation. Visiting kids can experience and learn through the playscape exhibits built specifically for their size and enjoyment, and those include an interactive veterinary clinic, grocery store, and fire department. Parents of babies and toddlers can also enjoy the museum with the serene Center for the Young Child exhibit. You’ll also find plenty of adventure parks and outdoor areas for kids to get active and soak up the sunshine. It’s an experience your kids will never forget, and you can further commemorate the trip with Colorado kids’ shirts, onesies, and baby flat bill hats.
Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum – Denver
Located at the former Lowry Airforce Base, the Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum holds over 50 aircrafts. Visitors can explore rare and historic planes and space vehicles, as well as the museum’s archives, research library, and interactive exhibits. Wander through the historic Hanger No. 1 to go on a flight simulation, learn about Colorado astronauts, or check out a World War II-era bomber plane—it’s one of only five remaining in the world. There are also several youth programs and special events for visitors to check out throughout the year.
National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum – Leadville
Appropriately located in the historic mining district of Leadville, the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum honors America’s mining history and the men and women who pioneered it. Visitors can check out replicas of mines and caves, old mining clothes, equipment, photographs, and samples of the gems and metals miners could find in the area during its heyday. Throughout the summer, you can also tour the nearby historic Matchless Mine and Baby Doe’s Cabin.
No matter your age or reason for visiting, there’s no end to the education and entertainment you can find in Colorado’s museums. Plan your next day trip around one of these fascinating museums found throughout the state.