Most families only visit Loveland, Colorado, because the town is the last stop on Highway 34 before you reach the gorgeous Rocky Mountain National Park, just 30 miles away. But if you’re heading into the national park, or simply driving through Colorado on Interstate 25, Loveland makes for an interesting stop along the way — if for no other reason than to see the statues. Loveland has hundreds of them!
There are over 300 pieces of public art, mostly sculptures, spread all over town, in front of city buildings, dentists’ offices, schools, and private homes. You can drive around town, playing a game of “spot the statues,” which might be fun for your passengers, but not for the driver. Instead, you should go directly to where the bulk of the artwork is on permanent display, at the Benson Park Sculpture Garden.
The 10-acre park is a dazzling site, with 148 sculptures of all shapes and sizes placed around three large ponds. When I first took my kids there, their initial response upon exiting the car was, “Oh no, do we have to walk?” But once they spied their first statue, a boy playing marbles with a dinosaur, they were immediately hooked. Aching feet were completely forgotten as they discovered new surprises around every corner.
My kids found life-size alligators, gigantic rabbits, dancing fairies, abstract swirls, and proud Native Americans — all on display in beautifully crafted sculptures that will have you wishing your town could pull off the same artistic miracle as Loveland. Have your camera ready for memorable poses of your kids with the various sculptures. They’ll plead with you to take a picture of them with every strange and whimsical creature they see!
Benson Park is located at the corner of 29th and Beech in central Loveland, a quiet, residential area that enhances the peaceful nature of the place. On the spring day we were there, it was practically free of people and it felt like we had the park to ourselves.
This is a city park, and is absolutely free to visit. There are picnic tables, benches, bathrooms, and drinking fountains, so don’t worry how long you stay. We were surprised to find two hours go by in a flash. And, still, the kids wanted to make another round of the park trails to see every statue a second time.
Granted, we were not in any kind of hurry; Loveland was an overnight stop for us on our way through the state. I highly recommend the new Holiday Inn Express just off I-25, which features the usual indoor pool but with a kid-pleasing, giant red waterslide.
Colorado is an amazing state with majestic mountains and stunning scenic vistas. It’s easy to overlook the little things, but next time you’re traveling through the area, you’ll find it well worth your time to add Benson Park Sculpture Garden to your list of places to see.
— Phil Corless
Phil Corless is an at-home dad of two living in the Pacific Northwest. Since 2004, he has been writing about fatherhood and family at the Idaho Dad blog. He believes the best way for kids to learn about the world is to travel through it.