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 nearly 300 pieces of public art, mostly sculptures, spread all over, in front of city buildings, dentist’s offices, schools, and private homes. You can drive around town, playing a game of spot the statues, but I don’t recommend it if you want to keep your insurance premiums down. Instead, go directly to where the bulk of the artwork is on permanent display, at the Benson Park Sculpture Garden. And it doesn’t cost a thing to enjoy.
The park is a dazzling site, with over 130 sculptures of all shapes and sizes placed around three large ponds. When I first took my kids there, their response was the usual, “Oh no, do we have to walk?” But once they meandered down the trail and 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 ever corner.
Benson Park is in a quiet, residential area, so it feels peaceful and uncrowded. On the cold spring day we were there, it was certainly free of people. The morning snowfall added to the magical air of the place as we took our time walking the trails.
This is the kind of place you’ll want to 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.
There are picnic tables, benches, and bathrooms, so don’t worry about how much time you spend. We were surprised to find two hours gone by without even noticing.
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 water slide.
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.
All photos by Phil Corless