In this Denver CityPASS review, we’ll cover how the pass works, what attractions are included, and whether it’s a good fit for your travel plans. Enjoy!
When you think of tourist destinations, Denver may not be the first city that pops to mind. The mountain towns surrounding the city get most of the love, but – the truth is – Denver is home to some pretty impressive sites itself.
Besides the mountains, the Mile High City is probably more well-known for food and drinks than its museum scene. As it turns out, it’s worth making a trip for both!
If you’re hoping to save money in Denver, the Denver CityPASS might be just what you’re looking for. The pass provides a good option for seeing the city’s best sights for less.
As with all sightseeing passes, though, this card isn’t for everybody. So, let’s dive in and determine if the Denver CityPASS could be a great way for you to save money in Denver!
Denver CityPASS: How it Works
The Denver CityPASS is a build-your-own sightseeing pass that provides access to 3, 4, or 5 of Denver’s top 8 tourist attractions – saving you up to 34% off the cost of admission to your selected attractions.
All you have to do is choose how many attractions you want included on your pass and buy it online. There’s no need to specify which sites you’ll actually be visiting. Just make your way to the Mile High City and decide on the fly.
Once you purchase your pass, you’ll get an email with both a printable and a mobile ticket. Simply decide which option you’d prefer to use, and you’re good to go.
Unlike other passes included under the CityPASS brand, like the Seattle CityPASS and the Southern California CityPASS, you cannot buy the Denver CityPASS at any of the attractions. With that said, since they offer a mobile ticket, you could buy the pass minutes before heading to your first attraction and have it ready to go on your smartphone.
It’s also important to note that the Denver CityPASS expires one year after purchase. That means you must activate the pass within that year. Like most sightseeing passes, this pass is activated simply by using it at your first attraction. The Denver CityPASS is then valid for 7 consecutive days, including that first day you use it, allowing you to experience the city on your own schedule.
Top Attractions Included on the Denver CityPASS
The Denver CityPASS offers access to 3, 4, or 5 of the following 8 Denver hot spots (regular adult admission in parenthesis):
- Downtown Aquarium ($20.99)
- Denver Museum of Nature & Science ($16.95)
- Denver Zoo ($20)
- Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus ($14)
- Denver Botanic Gardens ($12.50)
- Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum ($15)
- Denver Art Museum ($13)
- History Colorado Center ($14)
*Current as of October 2018
How Much Does the Denver CityPASS Cost?
Now that you know what’s included, let’s talk about how much it costs. In the table below, you’ll find the adult and child prices of each available pass:
|Passes||Adult (ages 12+)||Child (ages 3-11)|
*Current as of October 2018
As you can see, the Denver CityPASS can save you a pretty nice chunk of cash on admission to the included attractions, especially if you’re traveling with your family or a small group.
For example, if you buy the 3-attraction pass for $39, you’ll want to make sure the regular admission costs of the 3 attractions you choose adds up to more than $39. Regular admission to the Downtown Aquarium ($20.99), Denver Zoo ($20), and Denver Museum of Nature & Science ($16.95) costs a total of $57.94. With the pass, you’d be saving $18.94 per adult or 33% off the regular price. With a few adults, the savings start to add up quickly.
Denver CityPASS Attractions Guide
Before you decide if the pass is for you, let’s take a closer look at what is included on the Denver CityPASS.
The Denver CityPASS includes access to the Aquarium Adventure Exhibit. Here, you’ll see a variety of aquatic animals and learn about their habits. In the Under the Sea exhibit, you’ll even enjoy mermaids and sea life choreographed to music! You can also board the Aquatic Express, an electric train that tours the Aquarium property, and let the kids ride the Aquatic Carousel.
There are also several activities within the Aquarium that are available for an additional fee. Examples include 4D movies, one-on-one encounters with animals, and shipwreck diving.
Denver Museum of Nature & Science
The Denver CityPASS includes general admission to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Here, you can marvel at dinosaur fossils, wildlife displays, cultural artifacts, and a journey through space. Like the Aquarium, the museum is a family-friendly attraction.
Access to the museum’s IMAX theatre and Planetarium costs extra but may be worth checking out if you want to make a complete day of it.
If you love animals, you’ll want to check out the Denver Zoo. Over 4,000 animals call it home – that includes 650 different species! Exciting highlights include Asian elephants, rhinos, and Amur tigers. The Denver CityPASS gets you access to the following exhibits within the zoo:
- Toyota Elephant Passage
- The Edge
- Predator Ridge
- Primate Panorama
- Tropical Discovery
- Northern Shores
- Bear Mountain
- Explore the Shore
- Be a Zookeeper Zone (seasonal; late spring to early fall)
- Giraffe Encounter
- Lorikeet Adventure (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday only)
Like the previously mentioned attractions, the Denver Zoo offers extra activities for an additional charge. These include train and carousel rides ($3) and up-close animal encounters (prices vary).
Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus
The Denver CityPASS offers general admission to 19 kid-centric exhibits organized based on 4 themes: explore, imagine, investigate, and create. Kids will enjoy an immersive play experience that’s educational to boot.
Some highlights include indoor mountain climbing, zip lining, and playing firefighter. Kids get to experience science while playing with water and get hands-on creating art through painting and sculpting.
This Children’s Museum is a really fun, interactive experience for kids, and parents will definitely have fun watching. It should go without saying, though, that this is not really a spot for solo adults.
Denver Botanic Gardens
More than 40 gardens sitting on 24 acres await when you visit the York Street Gardens with the Denver CityPASS. You’ll see the large “Gardens of the West” collection which features a variety of plants that live in Colorado’s climate, as well as gardens inspired by Asia, South Africa, and the Tropics. If you love colorful flowers like roses and lilies, you’ll gravitate toward the “Ornamental Gardens.”
That’s not all, though! A plethora of aquatic plants reside in the “Water Gardens,” and you can find a cool place to relax in the “Shady Gardens.” From March to October, kids can also explore the ecosystems of Colorado at the “Mordecai Children’s Garden.”
Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum
Learn about the history of aviation and check out more than 50 aircraft at Wing Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum. Here, you can also find space vehicles while learning about astronauts and space exploration. The Denver CityPASS provides general admission plus access to traveling exhibits, including entry to “Above and Beyond,” (until January 13, 2019), an interactive flight exhibition featuring flight simulations.
Denver Art Museum
If you enjoy art, you’ll easily pass away an afternoon at the Denver Art Museum. With more than a dozen collections ranging from European to American Indian art, your eyes can feast on some of the best art you’ll find in the American West.
The Denver CityPASS also provides access to current exhibitions that change throughout the year and live artist demonstrations on select weekends. (Editor’s Note: The Denver Art Museum generously offers free admission to kids under 18 year-round. So, if you’re traveling with your family, consider this when choosing how to use your Denver CityPASS.)
History Colorado Center
The History Colorado Center features permanent and traveling exhibitions that tell the story of Colorado’s rich history. There are some pretty neat displays, like the 3D postcards, and many exhibits are interactive – making this walk through history a fun time for kids and adults alike. The center also offers programs for adults and children and includes a research center with access to an extensive collection of resources.
Other Benefits of the Denver CityPASS
- Save on admission fees – If used strategically, the Denver CityPASS can save you up to 34% on the regular cost of admission to Denver’s top attractions. That means using it for the most expensive options.
- Fast–track entry – At the popular attractions, you won’t need to line up to purchase tickets. Just show your ticket (mobile or paper), and you’re in! That translates into more time sightseeing and less time standing around waiting.
- Flexibility – The Denver CityPASS is valid for 7 days once you activate it, meaning you can spread your sightseeing out over a week. Even if you opt for the 5-attraction pass, you can still enjoy a very relaxed pace.
Where the Denver CityPASS Falls Short
The Denver CityPASS is an attractive option for travelers wanting to visit some of Denver’s top attractions at a discounted price. However, it isn’t perfect.
Unlike some sightseeing cards, like the Las Vegas Pass, this pass doesn’t include any guided tours. I love guided tours, especially when visiting a city for the first time, so I would have liked to see one on the pass.
Mountains are a pretty big deal in Colorado, and there are some excellent mountain tours from Denver that give visitors a glimpse. Adding an option like that would raise the price of the pass and might not be practical. But having a mountain tour as an add-on option could make the pass more attractive to travelers who are interested in taking in the natural scenery.
Finally, the fact that you can’t buy the Denver CityPASS at any of the attractions could be inconvenient for people who might want to grab it on the fly and don’t have data available on their phones.
Who Should Consider the Denver CityPASS?
Families – The Denver CityPASS is affordable, and most the attractions are family-friendly. Kids will especially enjoy the Children’s Museum, the Aquarium, and the Denver Zoo. The Denver Art Museum offers kids free admission, so that’s also a bonus.
First-time visitors – If it’s your first time in Denver, you’ll most likely want to check out at least a few of the major sites included on the Denver CityPASS.
Travelers who like to take their time – The Denver CityPASS is valid for 7 days, so if you’re the kind of sightseer who likes to space things out, it’ll be a good fit.
Who Should Skip the Denver CityPASS?
People who aren’t interested in exhibits – If you’re not into the kind of sightseeing that involves looking at exhibits, the Denver CityPASS isn’t for you, since that’s most of what it offers.
Travelers who enjoy tours – If you really appreciate guided tours, you’ll be disappointed in the Denver CityPASS’ total lack of selection. You can view some of the most popular tours in Denver here.
Tips for Using the Denver CityPASS
- Choose the most expensive attractions – To get the maximum value from the Denver CityPASS, you should choose the attractions with the highest regular admission costs. The best value is the 5-attraction pass with the following options: Downtown Aquarium, Museum of Nature & Science, Denver Zoo, Wings Over the Rockies, and either History Colorado Center or the Children’s Museum. This combination would cost $86.94 without the Denver CityPASS or $57 with it. That’s $29.94 in savings, or 34%.
- Don’t forget the Denver Art Museum is free for kids – As I mentioned before, the Denver Art Museum is always free for kids under 18. So, don’t plan to use the pass to cover their admission!
- Buy your pass in advance – Remember, you can’t buy the Denver CityPASS at any of the attractions. So, if you want to take advantage of the discount, you need to buy it before you head to your first stop.
How to Buy the Denver CityPASS
Purchasing the Denver CityPASS is a snap! You can buy it online here.
After you make your purchase, you’ll get an email with a ticket you can print or keep on your mobile phone. I prefer using mobile tickets whenever possible, simply because it’s less to keep track of and carry. However, it’s also a smart idea to keep a paper copy just in case your phone runs out of battery. If you don’t use a smartphone, don’t have data in the US, or just prefer a paper copy, the option is also there for you.
Is the Denver CityPASS Worth it?
The Denver CityPASS may not be as impressive as some other passes (like the Chicago CityPASS), but it’s worth considering. The included attractions aren’t overly expensive, and neither is the pass, so it’s not a big commitment.
Like I mentioned before, this pass is geared toward sightseers that enjoy exhibits and aren’t looking for a bunch of guided tours. If that sounds like you, the Denver CityPASS can save you money and is definitely worth a look.
If you choose the costliest attractions, you can save 34% off the regular admission prices. That is a significant savings, which is on par with what many other sightseeing passes offer.
Thanks so much for reading and enjoy your trip to Denver! Until next time, happy traveling!