Plan an Easy Family Spring Escape to Boulder
Ah, spring! The air is fresh and cool, the sun is likely shining, and there are lots of things to do in nature with your kiddos in Boulder, famous for its love of outdoor fun. Here's how to plan a spring getaway right now.
Spot Tulips on Pearl Street
Downtown Boulder’s brick-paved Pearl Street Mall is filled with flowerbeds that bloom with upwards of 15,000 tulips in springtime. The timing of the buds’ opening is, of course, up to Mother Nature, but you will often see the tulips begin to pop up in early April, with peak time often happening mid to late April. Bring a camera and make a day of it with Pearl Street’s amazing shopping and dining.
Go on a Wildflower "Hunt"
We've got a guide to some of the best wildflower hikes, and included is a wildflower identification guide. Make a game out of who can spot the most wildflower varieties on the trail. As early as late March, you'll start to see pasque flowers and spring beauties coming up, and then wild irises and Oregon grape moving into mid-spring — along with many other varieties. Please remember that wildflowers "grow by the inch and die by the foot," so tread carefully and don't pick any of these lovelies.
Prepared-Parent Tip: Always bring sunscreen and plenty of water for everyone. And now's a good time to teach the little ones about these Leave No Trace principles.
Go on a Mural Walk
Boulder has exploded with more than 135 murals over the last few years. Many of them have QR codes next to them so you can read a description or listen to an audio clip from the artist. Another option is this public art walk, which is great for families and takes you through downtown with plenty of places to stop for snacks and drinks.
Prepared-Parent Tip: Our mural guide marks which ones are in family-friendly locations.
Stroll Down Pearl Street
Take a little walk down vibrant Pearl Street, with its colorful flower boxes and restaurants with patios to take in that sweet springtime sunshine. 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: A good bet for a potty stop is at the Capital One Cafe. 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 spring is a great time to visit to meet...CUTE BABY ANIMALS! One such farm is Sunflower Farm, which has a few new fuzzy little lambs to greet. You'll need to make a reservation online for Farmfest Public Hours, which will grant you direct contact with your favorite farm animals. 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.
Prepared-Parent Tip: 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.
Climb on Cool Rock Formations
Just minutes from downtown Boulder is The Peoples' Crossing (formerly Settler's Park), a trailhead and hiking area that includes Red Rocks Trail. Take this short hike to end at a summit of otherworldly ochre-colored sandstone formations that are perfect for kiddos to scramble around on, as they invent imaginary worlds and games.
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.
Get Geeky at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)
If you happen to catch one of Boulder's rare rainy days but still want to connect with the natural world, head up to NCAR, perched on a scenic hillside above the city, to learn all about climate, weather and the environment. Ever touched a cloud? Created a tornado? You and the family can do both at NCAR’s visitor center. Bonus: There is a bit of kid-friendly hiking on a short loop behind the building if you'd like to get some energy out before or after visiting.
Prepared-Parent Tip: If you need more ideas on how to spend a day inside with your crew, check out our guide to rainy-day activities for kids in Boulder.