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Fall in love with Denver again…with a little help from your local guidebook author

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Mindy Sink is the author of the guidebook Moon Denver, a co-author of Colorado Organic: Cooking Seasonally, Eating Locally and has written extensively for The New York Times. Learn more about Mindy at www.mindysink.com.

What to do when family and friends with kids visit our dear Mile High City?  It’s a question so many of us moms ask–whether it’s just to make fun for our own family or entertain the guests.

As the author of Moon Denver, a Moon Handbooks guidebook, I should be totally prepared for this. And I am, as long as I keep my guidebook nearby with pages earmarked for the many possibilities.

My brother-in-law and his family will be joining us for Spring Break this year and this means I’m planning now so that we can keep our 4-year old happy along with her 11, 10 and 6-year old cousins who have never been to Colorado before.

So here’s a look at what I have in mind and a peek at just how handy my guidebook can be to other families.

The “Excursions” chapter of my Denver guidebook was the place to start since we needed to plan in advance. Since this family of five is driving out from Wisconsin to spend a week with us, we want to keep the driving to a minimum during their stay. “Excursions” lists a handful of wonderful places to visit less than a two-hour drive from Denver. We may do a daytrip to Boulder and Eldora for skiing, then we are reningt a cabin up in Estes Park for a few days. This gives the kids a mountain experience without the highway driving and lots of hiking and wildlife viewing opportunities.

The “Sights” chapter will keep us busy and entertained while we are in Denver. The obvious choice is the Denver Museum of Nature and Science with it’s bounty of all ages activities from Gates Planetarium to the Phipps IMAX Theatre, but I suspect we’ll be in the Expedition Health exhibit most of the time. People of all ages can “test” their heart rate, walking stride and other health matters in an engaging environment here. We’ll also go to the Denver Art Museum where kids activities are embedded in many of the exhibits—such as make-your-own western art postcard. The Denver Botanic Gardens has expanded their café during extensive renovations and it might be a perfect place to let kids enjoy the Colorado sunshine and have room to roam freely.

“The “Restaurants” chapter will be needed when we aren’t able to grab a bite at one of the museums or other sights. My “Restaurants” chapter has listings for every neighborhood in Denver for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We like walking to Dixon’s in LoDo where the menu has enough variety for the whole family, but if we end up in Cherry Creek North we will head straight for Second Home in the JW Marriott. Each chapter begins with “highlights” and one of my favorites is Bang! in the Highlands neighborhood.

There might even be a chance to use the “Nightlife” chapter, if we can trade off babysitting. Or the “Shops” chapter will be handy if the husbands and kids don’t mind—though I know we are definitely taking our guests to Denver’s one-and-only Rockmount Ranchwear for at least some t-shirts.

In addition, my guidebook includes chapters on “Hotels” and “Arts and Leisure.” It’s so handy to know which hotels have a pool for the kids to splash in and there are also tips on trails for hiking or snowshoeing as well as other outdoor activity tips.

I always keep my guidebook updated with the latest openings and closings of local businesses on my blog. I welcome comments and love to hear about people’s experience with the book or new places.

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