(credit: SONNY TUMBELAKA/AFP/Getty Images)(credit: SONNY TUMBELAKA/AFP/Getty Images)

Summer’s golden sunshine has arrived and this season is the perfect time to soak up Vitamin D by sunbathing. The Mile High City offers a fabulous variety of parks in which to explore nature and the great outdoors. There is actually an art to sunbathing. It is all about the balancing of relaxation and the pure joy of outdoor activities. Denver is a mile closer to the sun and sunscreen and lip protection is as important as the relaxation and healthy glow.

Washington Park
S. Downing St.
Denver, CO 80209

Washington Park has eight blocks of lush summer green grass right in the middle of the city, simply calling out to Denver-area sunbathers. The beauty is in the grass, trees, flowers and two big lakes that often have boat rentals. Thankfully, the trees are good sized and will provide nice protection once it is time to take a break from the hot sunshine. There are plenty of public restrooms all around the park, and even snacks at the little food and ice cream carts. In addition to the sunbathing, Wash Park offers tennis and basketball courts, and a gorgeous garden through which nature lovers can take a stroll. Once sunbathing gets a bit boring, there is an amazing bicycle/pedestrian path that is made of crushed granite, a fitness course and even a lawn bowling/croquet area.

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Cheesman Park
Franklin St. & 8th St.
Denver, CO 80206

Despite its eerie history, Cheesman Park is a favorite spot for sunbathing and relaxation that sits right in the heart of Downtown Denver. For many visitors, the rumors that the park is haunted make it even more of an interesting place to hang out. The Prospect Hill Cemetery was converted into a park around 1907. Sunbathing can be rather boring but many get a thrill out of sunbathing with the ghosts. You’ll fin dmore than 80 acres of beautifully groomed grass ideal for flying kites or playing Frisbee plus there’s a gorgeous classical Greek pavilion.
Commons Park
15th St. and Little Raven St.
Denver, CO 80202

Sunbathing can actually include activities such as reading a good book and people watching. Commons Park provides the perfect combination of both from its perch on the South Platte River. There are stone benches along the rushing river, cool looking bridges and the Denver skyline. Of course there is an abundance of grassy areas on which to spread out and chill out. Commons Park is unique in that it combines green hills, grass, trees, a river and the background of the Denver Cityscape. With the river, it is, in a way, an oasis in the middle of a city. This lovely park is also home to native plants and a sandy prairie, all reminders of Denver’s origins.

Aurora Reservoir
5800 S. Powhaton Road
Aurora, CO 80016
(303) 326-8425

Probably the ultimate concept of soaking up the rays is sunbathing on an actual beach. The Aurora Reservoir is a beautiful beach splashed right out in the middle of nowhere. Summertime is meant to be spent among the sand and water, and this location offers soft sand and amazingly clean water that even people from the coast can appreciate. There may be no surf or boogie boards but beach towels, sand toys for the kids and picnicking supplies get as close as possible to an ocean. When it is time to cool off from the sunbathing, the swimming is wonderful. Motorized boats are not allowed, and the peaceful refreshing waters make visitors forget they are landlocked. In addition to the beach, the Aurora Reservoir offers fishing, scuba diving, an eight-mile walking trail around the water and even an archery range.

Water World
1800 W. 89th Ave.
Denver, CO 80260
(303) 427-7873

Water World is just the place for mothers with little ones to squeeze in some time for themselves. While the kids are exploring the amazing adventure of this theme park, the parents can lounge on their favorite beach blanket while basking in the sun to find that desperately needed relaxation. Split the time between the sunshine and the luxury of a rented cabana to really live it up. Water World is a nice value for the family as tickets can be purchased at a discounted rate and guests are allowed to bring in their own cooler filled with snacks and drinks. After someone has had their fill of soaking up the sun lying down, there are adventures such as a ride down a lost river of Egyptian pharaohs and a wonderful lazy river.

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Colleen Bement is a freelance writer covering all things Denver. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.