Parents looking to entertain kids in downtown Denver, rejoice! City Park, situated next to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and the Denver Zoo, is a dreamy, kid-friendly haven in the midst of noisy, bustling east Denver. Though you’ll hardly find solitude, especially on a warm, sunny weekend afternoon, the sweeping, green fields, fantastical playground, and placid lakes is a trifecta in a kid’s mind.
City Park is the largest and one of the most popular in Denver, and droves of sporty youth take to the different fields for soccer, lacrosse, and field hockey games when the weather is nice. The tennis courts nearby are well kept, free to use, and if you arrive solo, you’ll probably find someone willing to accept a challenge. Likewise, you’ll almost always see impromptu volleyball courts erected in the flat grass, and groups are typically friendly.
Both Ferril and Duck Lake are located within the 330-acre park, though neither is open to swimming due to prolific and unsafe algae blooms. That doesn’t mean you can’t get yourself a middle-of-the-lake perspective—there are paddleboats available to rent on Ferril Lake in the summertime. Double-creasted cormorants, egrets, Canada geese, and of course, mallards abound on these healthy lakes, and myriad other species of birds have been spotted on the grounds. Hawks, woodpeckers, magpies, and a variety of nuthatches are often spotted, and, if you’re lucky, you might catch a stoic great blue heron, or a friendly goldfinch.
The Martin Luther King Jr. statue is an important historical monument and worth spending a few quiet moments with. The Shakespeare Elm draws quite a few curious literary-minded visitors—its was planted near the intersection of 17th Avenue and Colfax Blvd in the spring of 1916, and the placard beneath reads: “Shakespeare Elm: The scion from which this tree was grown was taken from the tree at Shakespeare's grave at Stratford-on-Avon."
In true community park fashion, events throughout the year bring people together for a number of different reasons, and one of the most notable is the City Park Jazz concert series that marked its 30th year of existence in 2016. Free concerts are held every Sunday spanning 10 weeks across June, July, and August, and the lineup samples from fresh, local musicians. Keep up with the schedule by following this link.