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    Ranger Trail, Boulder

    Plan an Easy Family Escape to Boulder

    Your kiddos deserve to have a REAL summer, and by golly, you're going to give it to them. That's the sentiment we keep hearing from parents — and the good news is it's totally do-able in Boulder, even now. Here are some ideas.

    Hotel Pools Are Open

    Many of Boulder's hotels have pools that are open for family swimming. Here's a list of all Boulder hotels with pools. So treat your family and check-in for a couple of nights at one of Boulder's hotels.  

    Spruce Pool, a public pool in downtown Boulder, and the Boulder Elks Community Pool are now open by reservation. too, but be aware they are booking up quickly already. The Boulder Reservoir is open for summer swimming and has incredible mountain views.

    Hotels with Pools

    Hilton Garden Inn Pool

    Prepared-Parent Tip: Call the hotel ahead of time to make sure the pool is open, as circumstances can change. Here's some info from USA Today about how to enjoy pools safely. "There is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to people through the water in pools, hot tubs, spas, or water play areas," the CDC says on its website.

    Go for a Low-Pressure Hike

    We say “low pressure” because we know what hiking with kids is like: sometimes it’s a go, sometimes not so much. The good news is you can ease into at the South Mesa Trailhead, which has cool stuff to capture their attention right off the bat. Little ones will want to scramble down to the shady creek bed and dip their toes in the water or find skipping stones. Bobolink Trail is another good family option, with a flat, wide trail that meanders alongside Boulder Creek. More easy hikes are listed here.

    Family hiking McClintock Trail Meadow

    Prepared-Parent Tip: Always bring sunscreen and plenty of water for everyone. And now's a good time to teach the little ones about Mountain Manners

    Cool Off in Boulder Creek

    Sometimes all kids need to put a smile on their faces is to get in up to their knees in a gentle stream! A good place to do so is on Boulder Creek near the Boulder Public Library. Families with older kids may want to give tubing a try, although be aware the creek is closed from Eben G. Fine Park (a popular entry point) to the western edge of the city.

    Boulder Creek Kids Wading

    Prepared-Parent Tip: The Boulder Creek Path runs right through the heart of Boulder and is also a good spot for a family bike ride. Make a stop at Scott Carpenter Park to tumble down the grassy hill and admire the Flatirons view.

    Stroll Down Pearl Street

    Take a little walk down vibrant Pearl Street, with its colorful flower boxes and restaurants that have opened out onto the street for open-air seating. Start off right at Piece, Love and Chocolate on the West End of Pearl, and then burn off the sugar you all ingested as you make your way east, stopping at the Boulder Book Store to read a book or two, Into the Wind kite and toy shop, and the climb-able animal sculptures between 14th and 15th streets. Along the way, you’ll see some mesmerizing street performers, balloon artists and plenty of lunch spots.

    Little boy looking at toys in the Into the Wind shop in Boulder

    Prepared-Parent Tip: Your best bets for potty stops are at the public restrooms at 13th and Pearl, Peppercorn (hidden in the back among the table linens) or the Starbucks. Be sure to be a good patron and buy a little something if you're gonna use the facilities.

    Play on a Farm

    Boulder is surrounded by farmland, and some local farms have reopened to families. One such farm is Sunflower Farm. You'll need to make a reservation online for Farmfest Public Hours, which will grant you direct contact with your favorite farm animals: the goats, sheep, llama, cows and horse. Enjoy the huge shade trees with incredible tire swings, sit on a tractor and discover an old airplane, sandboxes, bicycles, hammocks and free-roaming chickens, among many other things to explore. Munson Farms (in Boulder) offers classic farm-stand shopping (be sure to get some peaches-n-cream sweet corn) and beautiful views.

    Girl hugging a Goat at Mountain Flower Goat Dairy

    Prepared-Parent Tip: Don’t forget the sunscreen and bug spray. Leave your pets at home. And always call ahead to check hours (sometimes farmers have to close unexpectedly to work the fields or tend to the animals) or to see if you need a reservation.

    Laugh Together at Gateway Park Fun Center

    Good, old-fashioned family fun awaits at Gateway Park Fun Center, where you can play mini-golf, drive go-karts or swing away in the batting cages.

    Kids playing putt-putt golf at Gateway Park Fun Center

    Prepared-Parent Tip: There are two wineries — Bookcliff and Settembre — just a cork’s toss away that are open for tastings. Do with this information what you will. 😉 

    Tool Around at Valmont Bike Park

    It’s a blast to watch Boulder’s hard-core cyclocross riders negotiate the bumps and turns at Valmont Bike Park, but it’s even more fun for parents to watch their own kids try the Tot Track, designed for striders and tricycles. If they get bored with that, there’s a Tot Lot playground to climb on. The views are gorgeous, so bring some snacks and sprawl out on the picnic tables.

    Woman and little boy biking at Valmont Bike Park

    Photo: Dave Wright/Flickr Creative Commons

    Prepared-Parent Tip: Very nearby Valmont Bike Park is the Boulder Municipal Airport. If your wee ones are into airplanes, take an extra 10 minutes to pull up outside the runway and watch gliders and small planes land and take off.

    Enjoy Some Good Food, Outside

    There are lots of expanded outdoor patios available for dining in Boulder. The city has taken extraordinary steps to close a few roads to through traffic so that restaurants can open additional seating right on the street. You'll need to wear a face covering to any restaurants and can remove it for eating or drinking. Restaurants are allowed to serve guests inside at 50% capacity inside, too. Read more about Dining Safely in Boulder, which includes a map of street closures for outdoor dining.

    Downtown Dining Picnic Table

    Prepared-Parent Tip: Most Boulder restaurants are kid-friendly, so don't worry too much about where to go. You'll be welcomed just about everywhere.

    Eat Ice Cream

    With its trippy tapestries and colorful artwork, Glacier Homemade Ice Cream has our hearts as a true Boulder landmark. They have created more than 1,000 flavors of ice creams, sorbets and gelatos, with about 80 available at a time at their two Boulder locations (plus a cart on the Pearl Street Mall). Or at Ben & Jerry's, taste classic flavors — Cherry Garcia, Chunky Monkey, Totally Baked — the way they were intended: freshly scooped on a cone or in a cup at the old-school Pearl Street shop. If you'll take your double-scoop with a side of mountain views, then the Chautauqua General Store is the place for you. This tiny cottage shop, just steps from the Flatirons, is the perfect place to stop for a post-hike reward. It's run by the same folks who procure teas for and run the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse, so be sure to try the Lady Grey tea ice cream — it's divine.

    Hand holding an ice cream cone in front of the Flatirons

    Prepared-Parent Tip: The Chautauqua area is a busy, busy place on summer weekends. Your family can take the free summer weekend shuttle up to this area to snap some pics, grab some ice cream and spare yourself the parking headaches. Strollers welcome aboard.