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In 1896, a small black bear named Billy Bryan was given to the mayor of Denver and the Denver Zoo was born. Today it has more than 80 acres (32 hectares) of habitats and, with more than 1.6 million visitors a year, is one of the most popular zoos in the United States.
More than 650 different species, about 200 of them threatened or endangered, are housed in enclosures almost identical to their natural habitat. Watch monkeys swing through trees, wolves prowl through a shaded wood and giraffes graze on an open field, all just a 10-minute drive from downtown Denver. It’s easy to get around either on foot or by taking the zoo’s train, which is both reasonably priced and environmentally friendly. Pull-along wagons for kids, strollers and wheelchairs are also available for rent.
One of the first points of call should be Bear Mountain. When the enclosure opened in 1918, it was the first naturalistic zoo animal habitat in North America. Today it’s considered a national historic landmark, with a collection of bears, including grizzlies and the adorable coati.
Predator Ridge offers a safe way to get close up to some of Africa’s most dangerous animals, including lions, African wild dogs and hyenas. The enclosure is a recreation of aspects of the Samburu National Reserve in Kenya.
The zoo lays claim to a number of records: the world’s only rhinoceros that paints with a brush (his artworks are displayed in the Pachyderm Building), the world’s largest indoor Komodo dragon exhibit and one of the largest habitats for endangered gorillas.
Daily feeding demonstrations draw hordes of curious onlookers. Check the timetable on the zoo’s official website to schedule them into the day. Stop for lunch at one of the restaurants, or pack a picnic. There are plenty of grassy knolls to sit on and large trees to relax under. In summer, between Memorial Weekend and Labor Day, there’s an extensive calendar of free programs, from wild encounters with reptiles to interactive bird shows. During the Christmas holiday season, the zoo hosts a spectacular light display. Millions of sparkling lights decorate the zoo along with animated animal sculptures.
Located within City Park, the Denver Zoo is a ten-minute drive from downtown, and there’s plenty of parking. It’s also easy to get to by light rail or bus.
Located in Cheesman Park, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Ogden Theater and Fillmore Auditorium. Denver Art Museum and United States Mint are also within 1 mi (2 km). 25th - Welton Station is 21 minutes by foot and 20th - Welton Station is 22 minutes.
Located in Downtown Denver, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Colorado Convention Center, United States Mint, and Paramount Theater. Denver Art Museum and Buell Theatre are also within 10 minutes. 16th - California Station is 6 minutes by foot and Convention Center Station is 7 minutes.
Located in Skyland, this vacation home is within 1 mi (2 km) of City Park Golf Course, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and Denver Zoo. Coors Field and National Jewish Health are also within 3 mi (5 km).
Located in Skyland, this vacation home is within 1 mi (2 km) of City Park Golf Course and Denver Zoo. Denver Museum of Nature and Science and Coors Field are also within 3 mi (5 km). 29th - Welton Station is 23 minutes by foot and 30th - Downing Station is 23 minutes.
Located in Downtown Denver, this spa hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Colorado Convention Center and Paramount Theater. 16th Street Mall and Buell Theatre are also within 10 minutes. 16th - California Station and 16th - Stout Station are within a 5-minute walk.
Located in City Park, this cottage is within a 10-minute walk of National Jewish Health and Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Denver Zoo and Denver Botanic Gardens are also within 2 mi (3 km).
Located in Cheesman Park, this boutique bed & breakfast is within a 15-minute walk of Cheesman Park, Denver Botanic Gardens, and Ogden Theater. Denver Art Museum and Denver Zoo are also within 2 mi (3 km). 25th - Welton Station is 29 minutes by foot and 20th - Welton Station is 30 minutes.
Located in City Park, this apartment building is within a 10-minute walk of Bluebird Theater and National Jewish Health. Denver Museum of Nature and Science and Denver Zoo are also within 1 mi (2 km).