Fall Family Fun in Boulder
Time in the outdoors is crucial for adults and kids alike, and Boulder is a fantastic place to reconnect with nature. Get the fresh air you all need on a fun fall escape during one of the city's most glorious and adventure-filled seasons.
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.
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.
Stroll Down Pearl Street
Take a little walk down vibrant Pearl Street. A canopy of trees offers gorgeous fall colors as a backdrop for outdoor eating and strolling. 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.
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 Capital One Cafe. Be sure to be a good patron and buy a little something if you're gonna use the facilities.
Visit a Farm for Fall Harvest
Boulder is surrounded by farmland, and many local farms have reopened to families, with precautions. You can pick your own sunflower bouquets at the Bee Hugger Farm. Or stop by Ya Ya Farm & Orchard for a visit to their farm store, which has baskets full of hand-picked apples, as well as apple baked treats, apple cider, honey, caramel apples and their famous apple cider donuts. Another amazing kid-friendly 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. Simply want to pick up a pumpkin and take in some views, then Munson Farms (in Boulder) offers classic farm-stand shopping and beautiful mountain vistas.
Prepared-Parent Tip: Don’t forget the sunscreen. 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.
Prepared-Parent Tip: There are two wineries — Bookcliff and Settembre (reservations required for tastings at the latter) — 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.
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
Boulder has a bounty of high-quality restaurants that are also comfortable for dining with little ones. If you're craving a homestyle breakfast head to The Buff Restaurant for dishes the kids and you will love, as well as plenty of vegetarian and gluten-free options. Avery Brewing Company offers a "Little Rascals Menu" with items like grilled cheese and veggie tacos for just $5 a pop. Looking to dine a tad more upscale? Try River and Woods for cozy ambiance, farm-to-table fare and a lush backyard sitting area the kids will adore.
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.
Sip Hot Chocolate
The slightest chill in the air calls for a round of warm, chocolatey (or pumpkin spiced) beverages for everyone. OZO Coffee has 20 varieties of mocha lattes that can be ordered with or without espresso — from the Grasshopper (with dark chocolate and mint) to the Island (dark chocolate with coconut and macadamia nut flavoring). For decadent hot chocolate, Boxcar Coffee uses pure Valrhona chocolate, giving it a smooth, rich flavor with a tiny bit of a bite. No whip cream or marshmallows available (or needed). Or try Gelato Boy's hot chocolate with a scoop of ice cream in it (heaven!). Who can choose between an almond croissant and a hot cocoa with house-made Belgian chocolate? At Spruce Confections, you don’t have to!