Friday, August 2, 2019

Introducing the Denver Diaries: Lakeside Amusement Park

Welcome to the Denver Diaries, a series of posts about all of the cool places and things to do in Denver. I figured it would be cool to highlight the spots I've been and go more in depth than just making a list. Plus, I love the more off-the-beaten-path activities, so while you will see a post about the Denver Museum of Art in the future, you'll also get places like today's gem — Lakeside Amusement Park. 
The Wild Chipmunk sign is hidden behind a tree on the far side of the park.

When you walk into Lakeside you would expect it to be loud — children's screams, popping popcorn, that god awful carnival music blaring — but it's not. On a summer Monday evening around 7 o'clock it's relatively quiet. As the night goes on those sounds gear up, but even still there is a type of peace that the park provides. Tucked behind rides and colorful buildings are little parks with benches and beautiful views of the Front Range. It's not all puke-inducing rides, but a more wholesome adventure park meant for you to bring your own picnic, plop down and watch the sunset at before hightailing it over to the bumper cars. It's kind of an enigma. 

Lakeside Amusement Park opened in 1908, under a different name, as a trolley park, and today it is one of the oldest amusement parks in the U.S. and is the oldest in Colorado. It's not a theme park; it's not Busch Gardens, it's downhome fun for pretty cheap. And yeah, some of the rides are a little terrifying and everything could stand with a coat of paint, but it is fun and a look back to an era that no longer exists — but that we need a reminder of. Sometimes it's fun to throw, a bit, of caution to the wind and act like your ten again. It's okay to be a kid at heart in an adult's body. We all love $2 creamy ice cream cones and $4 admission. 

I will not lie; the main reason this place had been on my list of Denver spots to visit was because of the aesthetic of the park. I mean, scroll through the photos, it is a retro dream just meant for Instagram. Architecture is one of my passions — I'm horrible at geometry so I know I could never do it professionally, but I love the design of buildings — and this park caters to that. Aside from the pretty factor, the rides are so old school that they are fun. I had never done bumper boats but got to go on 'em here, and it has a classic bumper car house, plus, a carousel, ferris wheel mind-bending house of glass and all of those classic spiny rides that make you want to lose your lunch. There's also a kiddie land with much smaller rides meant for the tiny tots and tikes in your life. 

I took my best friend so we could take photos and ride on a few rides, but Lakeside would be such a great first date spot or a place for a group of girlfriends to go. While there we saw some 20-somethings celebrating a guys birthday — they were in over-the-top hats and had clearly pre-gamed pretty heavily...which I am here for. 

They do have food in the park and, in my opinion, it's cheap. From what I saw, there's: pizza, popcorn, cotton candy, soda, ice cream and more. And that ice cream was amazing, Hannah and I had it twice because we were so surprised by just how creamy and decadent it was. 

Overall, Lakeside is a fun place. But don't go in expecting to not be a little fearful of some of the rides, but don't let yourself judge it either. It's a forgotten spot that every person living in Denver should check out at least once in their life, at the very least, for the photos. 

Lakeside Amusement Park is located at 4601 Sheridan Boulevard, Denver, CO 80212. It's open most days, but check the calendar to be sure. Child rides are open by about 6pm daily, adult rides are open by about 7pm. Admission is $4 for entrance and ride coupons are 0.50 cents each; rides are typically 1–6 coupons.

Looking for more Denver content? Check out my current dining guide.

The famous ice cream cone I've been talking about — both swirl and plain vanilla were delicious.
A, now, defunt ticket booth for a ride toward the back of the park.  
The train station's tour is visible from most points in the 
park — the kid's train slowly chugs along the lake's edge.
The College Inn serves up a majority of the park's food, including pizza. 
You can see, the park is good during golden hour and at night for photography. 
This ride was, by far, the most packed at the park. It's a roller coaster that the teens seemed to love. 
The house of glass is a classic amusement park spot, in my mind, 
and I loved getting confused and turned around. 
I loved all the little details, like a rainbow fence and the top bit of the carousel. Someone really put thought into the design of the park and it's sad that people dont' appreciate it.
I think I took about 300 photos of the pink and turquoise Ferris Wheel.
The Merry Go-Round is kind of hard to get a photo of, but that pink neon is great. 
 Just more little details, like the original tower of the park and the "Scrambler" logo.
The Auto Skooter is the old-school bumper car hall, but that font at golden hour killed me.
Probably my favorite thing, the bumper boats, also had one of the most aesthetic designs. 


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