10 Things to Do with Kids in Boulder This Summer
Don't let the weeks slip by without making some fun family memories this summer. With tons of kid-centric activities and attractions, Boulder's a great spot for an easy-peasy, stress-free summer family getaway (yes, it can be done!).
1. Frolic on Pearl Street
Let’s start off right at Piece, Love and Chocolate on the West End of Pearl Street 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, the rock garden play area in front of Peppercorn, the squeal-inducing pop-jet fountain in front of the old courthouse, 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 Capitol One Cafe. Be sure to be a good patron and buy a little something if you're gonna use the facilities.
2. Play on a Farm
Boulder County has over 850 farms! Several of them are ready to welcome your family. Try Ya Ya Farm & Orchard (25 minutes north of Boulder), a charming, pick-your-own apple orchard where you can feed horses and pick flowers, too. Munson Farms (in Boulder) offers classic farm-stand shopping (be sure to get some peaches-n-cream sweet corn) and beautiful views. Here are more ways to enjoy Boulder farms with your family.
Prepared-Parent Tip: Don’t forget the sunscreen and bug spray. And if you’re going to a pick-your-own farm, make sure to bring some containers to hold and weigh your haul.
3. 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.
4. 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, and we've got a tubing guide here.
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.
5. Get Down to Outdoor Music
Music is even sweeter on a summer breeze in Boulder. There are several free outdoor concerts that happen regularly throughout the summer. The best one for families with younger kids (under 8 or so) is Meadow Music, which in 2021, is being held downtown at the Boulder Bandshell. Don’t be surprised when your kids act like tiny groupies, hanging on every word of their fun-filled songs about nature.
Prepared-Parent Tip: Bring a picnic and something yummy to sip. While the youngsters are enthralled, you might be able to kick back and relax for a few moments (gasp).
6. Nosh at the Boulder Farmers Market
The festival atmosphere of the Boulder Farmers Market (named No. 1 in the country!) makes it a cheery Saturday-morning or Wednesday-afternoon family activity. Enjoy some live music and food samples, but really the best thing to do is to order up some steamed dumplings or a slice of pizza from the prepared food area, take it into the adjacent Central Park or beside Boulder Creek and have a little picnic. The market is at the doorstep of the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art and the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse.
Prepared-Parent Tip: The nearby Boulder Public Library is nearby and makes a great, calming, cool, indoor, pre- or post-market stop.
7. 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, swing away in the batting cages or play inside the jingling-jangling arcade to win prizes.
8. 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.
9. Grab a Bite
Boulder is all about good food, and Boulderites take their kids to nearly every restaurant in town, so feel free to do as they do. If you’re looking for ease, you can count on these choices: The Buff is a great family-friendly spot for breakfast, with giant flapjacks. Foolish Craig's is a downtown favorite with young ones, thanks to their crepes and sandwiches. And The Sink, on The Hill, is a good old standby, too, with pizzas and burgers and walls covered in customer-created graffiti (feel free to let your kids add to it!).
Prepared-Parent Tip: Here are a few places that are great for to-go food:
- Rincon Argentino Baked-to-order empanadas.
- Flower Child Healthy yet yummy and kid-friendly.
- Organic Sandwich Simply the best sammies around.
- Lindsay’s Boulder Deli Sandwiches, soups and ice cream, too.
- Falafel King Overflowing plates of Mediterranean goodness.
- Illegal Pete’s Crowd-pleasing burritos, tacos and quesadillas.
- Fresh Thymes Eatery Gluten-free and vegan options galore.
- Mustard’s Last Stand A hot dog stand with vegetarian options, too.
- Curry n Kebob Delicious Indian fare that’s easy to take away.
- Motomaki Fresh wraps that are a cross between sushi and burritos.
- Pizza Colore Good old-fashioned big-as-your-head slices to go.
- Dish Gourmet sandwiches and salads.
10. 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. 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.
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.