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7 Best Family-Friendly Activities in Centennial

7 Best Family-Friendly Activities in Centennial
After incorporating in 2001, Centennial quickly became one of the nation's best places to live. Vibrant neighborhoods, unique homes, award-winning schools, and unparalleled outdoor recreation add to the city's mystique as the pinnacle of the high-end suburban lifestyle. Situated just 20 minutes south of Downtown Denver, Centennial was conceived as an "intentional community" designed for the new millennium.

More than 20 years later, it's only gotten better. Entering its third decade, the city is now a top-tier destination for anyone seeking a more meaningful experience from the place they choose to call home. Young professionals live here, taking advantage of Centennial's proximity to Denver. Empty nesters and retirees have also made the city their own, appreciating the access to great dining and entertainment and the impressive concentration of social clubs, tennis and Pickleball courts and golf courses.

But more than any other group, Centennial is where families of all ages and at all stages in their lives genuinely thrive. Belying its modest size of 108,000 residents, the city is a more close-knit rural enclave than a suburban feeder to one of the country's most vital cities. And that's precisely how the people who call Centennial home like it.

Something else they like is the community's focus on doing things together. In addition to the idyllic setting and outstanding schools, there is a deep-rooted commitment to safety and creating meaningful experiences for the entire family.

When discussing things to do in Centennial, they're not talking about your standard, run-of-the-mill outing to the movies. The real show is outside in Centennial. With that in mind, let's explore the city's unique landscape and active, family-first lifestyle with the seven best family-friendly activities in Centennial.

Regional park network

Various locations throughout Centennial
What better way to start a list of Centennial's best family-friendly activities than with the city's trademark attraction—the gray outdoors? The envy of municipalities two, three or even four times its size, Centennial offers residents and visitors alike an incredible network of parks, playgrounds, trails, recreational facilities and vast swaths of open space.

Much of it is attributable to a unique partnership with Arapahoe County, the Arapahoe Park and Recreation District, the Smoky Hill Metropolitan District, and the South Suburban Parks and Recreation District. Together with the City of Centennial and the collective communities south of Denver, the shared resources create public spaces on par with some of the country's best park and recreation districts.

With Centennial at the heart of the region, its the largest beneficiary of the cooperative, with direct access to 100 miles of trails, more than 100 individual parks, seven combined school-park facilities and more than 4,000 acres of open space—all within the city boundaries.

In all, parkland and open space cover approximately 20% of Centennial's total land area. To fully appreciate the scope of outdoor recreation in Centennial, one needs to get out in it. It's by no means hyperbole to suggest that for the next year, you could spend every day trekking across the parks and open spaces or traversing the seemingly endless bike and hiking trails and still barely scratch the surface of what the park system offers.

Centennial hike and bike trails

Various locations throughout Centennial
For our first family-friendly activity, we visit the city's lengthy network of trails. Unfurling like a never-ending ribbon of gravel, asphalt and concrete, the hike and bike trails are akin to veins in the human body, the connective tissue that binds together Centennial's neighborhoods with those in adjacent communities.

You can directly access over 100 miles of trails from within the city's borders. That ease of entry further connects you to more than 700 miles of trails throughout Denver's metropolitan footprint.

This is a draw for Centennial families because you need not be a world-class cyclist or backpacker to take advantage of the park trails. Within the city, a number of trails directly connect neighborhoods with parks, schools and restaurants. You could plan a day of family time from one end of Centennial to the other and never have to set foot inside a car.

Centennial Center Park

13050 E Peakview Avenue
While the parks and recreation regional partnership produces an outstanding variety of outdoor spaces, the crown jewel of Centennial's green spaces is Centennial Center Park. Opened in 2012 as its first city-owned park, the award-winning, 11-acre masterpiece takes visitors through Colorado history with attractions such as the Colorado Statehood Walk.

Of course, the park provides an abundance of family-friendly fun as well. Packing a ton of amenities into its relatively small footprint, the park includes the following:
  • Amphitheater
  • Barbecue grills
  • Covered shelter
  • Picnic Tables
  • Multi-tiered playground
  • Shaded areas
  • Paved and unpaved walking trails
The park is also nearing completion of a $4 million expansion project, adding an additional 10 acres, including a wintertime sledding hill, community pavilion, two gazebos, a picnic grove and a 3-acre lawn.

Parker Jordan Centennial Open Space

16450 E Broncos Parkway
Another of Centennial's city-owned parks, the 107-acre Parker Jordan Centennial Open Space is the primary link to Cherry Creek State Park (see below), Cherry Creek Ecological Park and 17-mile Park. Together completing the 40-mile Cherry Creek Regional Park Trail.

Ideal for fitness-minded families that take their health and exercise regimens next level, the open space boats and soft surface 5K loop, three fitness alcoves, and the Center of Wisdom reflexology pathway. With its connection to the aforementioned Cherry Creek Regional Park Trail, those running cross country or training for longer distances will find a perfect setting at Parker Jordan.

Cherry Creek State Park

4201 South Parker Road, Aurora
Although its address says Aurora, Cherry Creek State Park is every bit a home field for residents of Centennial. Situated on 4,000 acres of pristine prairie and natural wetlands, the park features an 880-acre reservoir at its center. Widely known as Denver's backyard playground, Centennial residents enjoy a more up-close and personal view. Cherry Creek's main entrance is a 10-minute drive from Centennial Center Park but directly accessible from several trails within the city.

Arguably, one of the country's premier urban-adjacent natural recreation areas, a visit to Cherry Creek never disappoints. A true four-season destination, the park features numerous activities in both summer and winter months and accommodates a wide variety of interests. In addition to boating activities on Cherry Creek Reservoir, visitors are encouraged to take advantage of the park's outdoor opportunities, including:
  • Archery
  • Biking
  • Birding and wildlife watching
  • Camping, including in winter months
  • Canoeing, rafting, and kayaking
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Educational programs
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Horseback riding
  • Ice skating
  • Model airplane flying
  • Nature trails
  • Snowshoeing
  • Swimming
And note to leave out the four-legged family members; the park also includes a 107-acre fenced area, with water access, for dogs to roam off-leash. 

Recreation for the whole family

The region's sometimes harsh winter weather has long necessitated indoor facilities to keep locals from making like bears and settling in for long winter naps. Especially helpful for families suffering from cabin fever, Centennial is home to several indoor winter reprieves filled with activities that keep the winter blues at bay.

But those same winter refuges are no longer isolated escapes from the bitter cold. The most popular family recreation centers are year-round affairs, with just as much to do outdoors and there is offered inside. Two of the region's best such destinations directly serve Centennial—the Family Sports Center and the South Suburban Sports Complex.

Family Sports Center

6901 South Peoria
The first of the two regional recreation centers hosted by the South Suburban Parks and Recreation district located in Centennial is the Family Sports Center. This multifaceted indoor-outdoor destination is a constant hub of activity throughout the year. Perhaps most famous as the premier host of many child-aged birthday parties, there's plenty to occupy adult visitors as well.

The sprawling complex occupies the southwest corner of E Arapahoe Road and S Peoria Street. It includes a 9-hole, par 31 executive golf course, short game practice facility, heated driving range, and 18-hole miniature golf course. For local hockey fans, the highlight is the Family Sports Center's two-sheet ice arena, one of which is used for practice by the NHL Colorado Avalanche.

Additional amenities at the Family Sports Center include:
  • Indoor sports dome
  • Arcade games
  • Bumper cars
  • 30-foot climbing wall
  • Indoor bungy center
  • Laser tag 
  • Full-service restaurant and bar
  • Pro shop and locker rooms

South Suburban Sports Complex

4810 E County Line Road, Highlands Ranch
In addition to the above two facilities, Centennial residents also have easy access to the 206,000-square foot South Suburban Sports Complex located just south of E County Line Road, across from the South Suburban Golf Course in neighboring Highlands Ranch. Another favorite landing spot for ice skaters and hockey players, the facility's three sheets of ice ensure that everyone gets equal ice time.

The massive building also houses a field house with two synthetic turf fields, two gymnasiums featuring Pickleball courts, and a full-service restaurant and bar.

If you're looking for a real estate professional to help you buy or sell a home in Centennial, Cherry Hills or surrounding communities, contact Realtor® Lisa Snyder today and allow her passion and expertise to help you navigate Denver's luxury real estate market.

*Header photo courtesy of Unsplash

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