Colorado Roads Conditions and Denver Traffic

Whether visiting Colorado for a family vacation, staying in Denver for a convention, just driving out to Denver International Airport, or considering a move to the Denver area, one of the most unpredictable elements of life in Colorful Colorado is the current road conditions on major highways, Interstates, and city streets. If Colorado’s fast changing weather weren’t enough, the state’s geography ensures that what is happening in Denver, isn’t necessarily anywhere near the same thing that is happening in the foothills, or mountains, or even just twenty miles north or south.

Typically, summer road conditions in Colorado are of limited concern to tourists and residents alike. Although spring thunderstorms and the occasional summertime microburst can cause heavy rains, they are generally short-lived, and confined to a small area. Keep driving, and a few minutes later, the concerning weather is far behind in the rear-view mirror. If it ever does get bad enough, pulling over on the side of the road and waiting five or ten minutes will most likely bring more favorable conditions.

In fact, most Coloradans fear the problems caused by road construction in the Summer much more than those caused by Summer weather.

Colorado’s Winter Roads, Denver Snowplows, and Ice

On the other hand, winter driving conditions in and around Denver can range from dangerous whiteouts on slick ice covered streets, to bright sunshine and dry pavement, and that’s just in a 40 mile radius! Fast moving weather fronts can mean that driving from Loveland to Denver in the morning on clear, dry roads, will be a distant memory come evening with blowing snow and blizzard conditions on the highways.

Weather forecasts are often no help in this area either. The Rocky Mountains enormous geologic footprint casts an equally long shadow across the world of meteorology. Light storms predicted just the night before can turn into raging winter storms, and forecasted blizzards often turn out to be just a couple of inches of fluffy white snowfall.

Fortunately, the Colorado Department of Transportation, known locally as CDOT (pronounced see – dot) provides road condition updates around Denver and all over Colorado. These updates are broadcast frequently on radio stations around the state.

Even more useful is a website maintained by CDOT and its Intelligent Transportation Systems or ITS branch. Found at www.cotrip.org the COTrip website provide current road conditions, weather maps, drive times around the Denver Metro area and along popular highway and Interstate routes, as well as live traffic information and traffic jam flags. Of course, why take CDOT’s word for it when you can see for yourself.

CoTrip has links to dozens of traffic cameras all over the state. There is no need to wonder what things look like near the Eisenhower Tunnel. Just pop over to CoTrip and look at the tunnel’s traffic cam. Other traffic cams are setup around the state and there are several dozen Denver traffic cams pointed at both I-25 and I-70, as well as along those numerous city streets that are technically Colorado State Highways.

Make COTrip the starting point for researching current and upcoming driving conditions.

Fun Places In Denver For Kids – Funtastic Fun

Update: Funtastic Fun is closed permanently. The owner opened a new place called Lollipop Park inside of the South Suburban Rec center in Centennial. Some of the rides were reinstalled there.

There is no shortage of fun places to take kids to in Denver. A plethora of cultural attractions awaits in Downtown Denver, everything from the Denver Zoo to the Denver Art Museum, to the Children’s Museum, the Denver Mint, and more. If cultural or educational places aren’t what you are going for, there is always Elitch Gardens amusement park in Denver. But, what if you are looking for a fun outing around Denver for children that has rides and games, but is also indoors?

Denver’s Indoor Amusement Park Funtastic Fun

Funtastic Fun Denver Indoor Amusement Park
Funtastic Fun Interior Picture

Funtastic Fun is an indoor kids amusement park. Located on Broadway just south of Denver in Englewood, Funtastic Fun provides a place for kids to run around, act crazy, and ride on some carnival rides.

Good parenting skills require being constantly on the lookout for new, fun places to take your children. After all, the usual stuff runs out pretty quickly and kids get bored fast these days.

A drive up South Broadway on the way into downtown might have parents noticing an indoor carnival looking place on the east side of Broadway. Curiousity about Funtastic Fun might lead to a new place to take kids to play inside.

Funtastic Fun is located in a large building with big windows designed both to let in light, and to show off the rides and attractions inside to passing families driving by. Visible from the road are a Ferris wheel and a train, suggesting great laughs and fun times inside. Yet, Funtastic Fun also looks exactly like that kind of place that seems good from the outside, but inside might be a little old and busted. Fortunately, that is not the case here.

This Denver indoor amusement park consists of a handful of carnival rides including the Ferris Wheel and train, as well as a “Whip It” ride, and a teacup ride reminiscent of the teacup rides at amusement parks like Disneyland, Disneyworld, and even local Denver amusement park, Six Flags Elitch Gardens.

These four rides make up the sum of the mechanical rides with belt buckles and operators, but there is more. A giant ball pit (larger than any you’ve seen at Chuck E Cheese), two jumpy castles, a log roll type ride, and even a free range riding area for those cars that you power by twisting the handles back and forth. A big side-by-side double slide at the end of a long wiggly bridge also brings smiles to the faces of most kids.

There is also a black light room and an odd but fun room where you stand against a green wall and wait for a flash which then makes an eerie illuminated shadow on the wall where you were standing.

Rounding out the play arena is a collection of video games, and skill games like Skeeball. These games are not included in the admission price and require the separate purchase of tokens in order to play.

A nice family friendly policy prohibits teenagers and adults without small children which prevents packs of teens “hanging out” and potentially hogging or blocking off other things your kids might want to try.

How Much Does Funtastic Fun Cost

Tea Cup Ride at Funtastic Fun
TeaCup Ride Denver's Funtastic Fun

Funtastic Fun charges $11.95 for admission to pretty much all kids, even babies and toddlers. The exception is “babies on their backs.” In other words, if you have a baby under a year old, make sure you bring the stroller that has them laying there in order to get them in free, otherwise, they have to pay too.

The price for adults is $2.95 per adult, so a Mom and a Dad will both pay to get in.

All of the rides except for the Whip It allow adults to ride too, so you can ride the Ferris Wheel with your toddler or other young son or daughter. There didn’t seem to be a weight limit, and we rode with two adults and two kids in one car, but it was really tight. The cars aren’t very big and two adults might be better off splitting up into two cars. The same was true of the train.

Is Funtastic Fun worth it?

Whether or not Funtastic Fun is worth it for your family depends on a few factors. First, there are only four rides, so if you just want to ride rides all day, this might not be the place for you. Second, it can get crowded, especially on weekends and holidays although there are never long lines. Third, this is really a place for children. Even with the video games, teens are likely to get bored fast.

Four kids plus Mom and Dad adds up to $53.70, which is WAY cheaper than Elitches. You do get unlimited rides, and playing on the other things is also free, but video games and Skee-ball are extra.

In the end, Funtastic Fun is a family friendly, fun place to take kids in Denver. It is also a rare treat of an indoor venue where loud, rambunctious, and excited kids are more than welcomed, which can be great after a few days of cold and snow have ratcheted up the cabin fever in the little ones.

Downtown Denver Public Library

Denver-public-library-books-graphic The Denver Public Library Downtown Branch is located on the Southeast edge of the main downtown Denver area next to the Denver Art Museum and Civic Center Park with both the Colorado State Capitol Building, and the Denver City and County Buildings near by. Branch libraries are located through out the city.

The library building itself is something of an interesting architectural piece. On one hand, the building is composed of perfectly normal building shapes and colors, just like you would draw in a picture, and that is its genius. Of course, real buildings typically don’t look like the ones drawn on paper, but this one does. It is pastel colored with each segment of the building forming a perfectly drawn shape, cylinders, rectangles, and squares.

Inside, the Denver Public Library book collection sprawls across four floors. The library Children’s section is on the first floor, as is the Reference Section, and the popular fiction and multimedia section. The top three floors contain the bulk of the library’s books and are categories in the traditional Dewey Decimal System manner.

The library has numerous computer workstations with public Internet access. This can make finding a free one can be difficult despite time limits placed on consecutive usage, as many people camp out for as long as they are allowed online. For that reason, it is advisable to search the library’s card catalog online prior to visiting if you are looking for something specific. Otherwise, a handful of computers scattered throughout the library are marked as being either Card Catalog Only, or No Internet Access. These stations are generally not occupied.

Residents of Denver can use the online catalog to not only search for materials, but also to place books, DVDs, and CDs on hold. The great thing about the system is that in addition to reserving the materials, the user may also choose where to pick up the materials, meaning that there is no need to drive all over town to a specific library to get the book you want. Simply place a hold on the book and select your nearest Denver Library Branch to pick it up.

Denver Public Library Hours

The main downtown branch of the library is open every day, although only for a half a day on Sundays.

However, all local branch library locations are closed on Sunday. Additionally, falling tax revenues have caused Denver and the library system to endure major budget cuts. Unfortunately one money saving method being used is closing branches for additional days. The 2010 Library Schedule of hours has most branches closed on Sundays and two other days each week, so check the Denver Library Hours prior to venturing out.

Hotels Denver International Airport DIA

Whether traveling to Denver on business or pleasure, or just for the fun of a family vacation, if you fly into Colorado, you’ll pass through Denver International Airport. DIA, as it is known to everyone, sits far to the east of Downtown Denver. As such, the hotels at DIA are much better for catching an early morning flight out, or for crashing after a late flight into Denver, than they are for sightseeing around Denver. Likewise, travelers on business looking forward to meetings in downtown or at the Denver Tech Center will likely be better served by staying at one of Denver’s top hotels in those areas.

If your plan is to see some of the fun Denver attractions the city has to offer, consider staying closer to downtown or whatever area your Colorado travels or sightseeing trips will be concentrated in.

For those looking for good Denver Airport hotels, there are now plenty of nationally recognized brand name hotels and motels near Denver International Airport. If you visited Colorado and tried to stay near the airport several years ago, rest assured that while the airport itself is still more or less out in the middle of nowhere, it is no longer isolated from Denver lodging.

DIA is east of the city. Lodging in northern Denver is another option for experienced travelers.

Lodging Denver International Airport DIA

Fortunately, travelers and locals alike, have plenty of lodging choices at the Denver airport. Here is a listing of some of the DIA hotels near the airport.

  • Quality Inn & Suites
  • Staybridge Suites Denver Airport
  • La Quinta Inn Denver International Airport / DIA
  • Comfort Suites DIA
  • Embassy Suites at Denver International Airport
  • Microtel Inn DIA
  • Residence Inn by Marriott
  • Denver International Hotel
  • Days Inn & Suites
  • Ramada Inn and Suites Denver International Airport
  • Courtyard by Marriott Denver Airport
  • Fairfield Inn By Marriott Denver Airport
  • Hampton Inn Denver-International Airport
  • Holiday Inn Express & Suites Denver Airport
  • Homewood Suites by Hilton Denver International Airport
  • Hyatt Place Denver Airport

Most of the Denver airport hotels are pretty similar with standard business accommodations being the norm. If you are looking for high-end hotels in Denver or boutique hotels, then downtown or other areas of Denver are your best bet. Luxury Denver hotels and Denver resorts are not what the hotels out by the airport are all about.

Basic information about Denver

With that being the case, the best hotel in Denver near the airport for most travelers will be whichever one offers the lowest price room. Or, if going for the cheapest room rate isn’t for you, stay at one of the chain hotels that you have frequent flier miles or other traveler rewards programs with. Hilton Honors rewards and Marriott Rewards are just two of the major hotel rewards program available from major hotels nationwide.