Do you have a bucket list? You know one of those lists of things you want to do before you “kick the bucket”. My kids and I created our own sort of bucket list. While we didn’t call it Bucket List – we called it “Colorado Kid” list. It was all the things that we thought that people who live in Colorado should do in their lifetime. Some of the items were winter (ski, snowboard, snowmobile, ice skate on a lake, etc.); there were also quite a few that were summer items. So maybe you can start your own Colorado Kids list with some of these suggestions.
- Water World is a water park on the North side of Denver (on 88th and Pecos). It has been recognized as one of the best water parks in the country and it is right here in our back yard! https://www.waterworldcolorado.com/.
- At Elitch Gardens, you sort of get a two for one: it is a theme park and water park. There are rides for all ages and sizes and plenty of other fun happenings from free concerts to dive-in movies. https://www.elitchgardens.com/.
- Who doesn’t love a night at Red Rocks? The natural amphitheater that is famous for the amazing sound and natural setting. One of the least expensive ways to really experience the venue with the whole family is Film on the Rocks! The films are typically preceeded by an awesome local band that goes along with the theme of the movie. http://www.redrocksonline.com/fotr/.
- Free Concerts or movies is an amazing way to enjoy a Colorado evening and some entertainment. Most are free and you can pretty much find something on your side of town (because they happen everywhere). https://www.milehighmamas.com/blog/2018/06/01/summer-2018-free-concert-and-movie-guide/.
- Cherry Creek Arts Festival (July 6-8) is a world-class and award-winning arts festival showcasing the visual arts, performing arts, and culinary arts. So much to see for everyone. Just make sure you bring your water bottle. It is usually pretty warm out. My kids and I sat in the shade of the tent of the culinary stage. We watched the chef prepare the meal and wrote down the ingredients and steps. Then we went to Whole Foods, bought all the stuff and re-created the meal at home that night. Arts in the home. (We couldn’t exactly re-create some of the visual arts – and we certainly tried to recreate some of the performing arts). www.cherrycreekartsfestival.org/.
- If music is your thing, Underground Music Showplace (July) is the place to go! Let’s just call it a full two days of a free concert downtown. https://www.undergroundmusicshowcase.com/.
- Taste of Colorado (September: Labor Day weekend) is a staple for anyone who has lived in Colorado for any time. Civic Center park is transformed into a tasting haven; top artists perform (Leann Rhimes was just announced for this year) and tents upon tents of crafts/community exhibitors https://atasteofcolorado.com/.
- Renaissance Fair. A bit cheesy but fun. Yes, we all want to walk around eating a giant turkey leg while we watch jousting or say hello to a King and Queen. It is a great teaching opportunity to talk through history and culture of a different time and place. https://coloradorenaissance.com/
But if you’ve had too much in town – you can always escape to the Mountains!
- Hike! It seems like you can pretty much pull your car over on the side of the road and just start walking! Hiking is easy and fun. Stop and take pictures, see if you can find animal footprints in the dirt and try to identify the animal or just let the kids get their energy out. There are several books that can guide you and your team where a good hike might be for the ages and abilities of your crew. Some of our favorites? Bear Creek, Ouzel Falls, Royal Arch Trail and Mt. Falcon. My kids love wearing the water packs – that can be picked up pretty inexpensively!
- Want to fly over Vail Valley? Try ZipLine! We went to 4 Eagle Ranch. The ranch has the usual ranch stuff (horses, rodeo series and western family nights) but it also offers Glamping, 4×4 tours and our favorite, ZipLining. The kids and I got outfitted at the ranch, then hopped in a jeep and drove over to the Zip course. The course consists of seven zips, each getting slightly longer with the longest being 1000 feet! My daughter loved it. My son went tandem with a guide. They say they can hold most weights. www.4eagleranch.com/.
- Several areas around town seem to have these amazing Obstacle Courses and/or summer tubing.
- Lawson Adventure Park is easy to get to as it is just outside of Idaho Springs (Eat a pizza at Beau Jo’s on the way home!). You can stay at the park in a yurt, cabin or tent! But you can also just go for the day and try the activities. They have a Via Ferrata (rock climbing), Mountain Zorb (our favorite), learn-how-to-fly- fish on Clear Creek; try a short zipline, challenge course or try to stand up in a water walker. http://lawsonadventurepark.com/.
- I can’t decide if I like snowboarding or summer at Vail more. The summer Vail Discovery includes adventure courses, ziplines, mountain coaster, tubing hills, climbing wall and bungee trampoline. https://www.vail.com/explore-the-resort/activities-and-events/…/epic-discovery.aspx
- Maybe your kids aren’t ready for a full sleep-away camp (or maybe like me, you can’t really afford that). I love that YMCA Rockies has day tickets. Try your hand at archery, canoeing, challenge courses, craft shop, bike rentals, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, disc golf, climbing, swimming, tennis, rafting, volleyball or the summer tubing hill. https://snowmountainranch.org/activities/summer-tubing-hill/
- Bailey has a new adventure park. I have not been to this one yet – but it sounds like a lot of the same stuff from ziplining to obstacle courses. http://treehouseadventurepark.com/
- Rafting is such a refreshing way to enjoy the mountains and an ultimate check on the bucket list. We used River Runners several years ago with my kids. They loved it. They sat in the middle of the boat, didn’t have to paddle and enjoyed the ride. We were quite ready for lunch when the 1/2 day rafting was over. That mountain run-off water feels good at first – but even in summer it’s sort of cold! https://whitewater.net/
- Colorado is well known for our Western roots. So, we had to add horseback riding. We like Safari Ranch outside of Fairplay – because the horses are not trained to follow another’s trail. You feel like you’re out there on your own. We did a half-day of riding that ended by the grill, where we made lunch and then headed home before the summer camping traffic started on 285. www.americansafariranch.com/
- A great weekend getaway is Glenwood Springs. There is a lot to do in Glenwood. You can hike Hanging Lake, visit Glenwood Caverns, and swim in the hot springs pool. https://www.glenwoodcaverns.com/
- I grew up in Steamboat – so for me this was a must to show my kids all the places I went as a kid. I remember fishing at Lost Dog Creek, camping at big mountain and hiking Fish Creek Falls. But there are tons of things to do in town as well. Try the mountain coaster, or get a tube and go tubing down the Yampa (right by the park/library). However, it’s a three-hour drive so at least a night up there makes sense.
- Colorado Springs has a ton to offer as well. You can do it as a weekend get-away or a bit farther of a drive for a few hours of fun. There is a lot you can see and do down there as well. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is cool, as is The Cave of the Winds (and the terror-dactyl ride), 7 falls, and the drive to Royal Gorge.
- If you like sitting in a hot spring pool Mt. Princeton can’t be beat. We especially loved the part in the river where you can be literally sitting in a pool of warm water and still have your toes in the freezing cold river! We did a bit of hiking up Agnes Falls then enjoyed the hot springs afterwards.
This is just a start of the fun places we know about or have discovered. We are pretty certain that the “Colorado Kid” list is something that can be changed or added to all the time. So if you know of some other great things that scream Colorado, please send them our way!