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!).
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 Starbucks. Be sure to be a good patron and buy a little something if you're gonna use the facilities.
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.
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: If you stop by the Ranger’s Cottage at Chautauqua Trailhead at the base of the Flatirons (allow ample time for congested parking or, better yet, park and ride the free weekend Park-to-Park hiker shuttle), the rangers can recommend a trail for your family and you can check out a free Nature Pack containing binoculars, a scavenger hunt, magnifying glasses, field guides, art materials and activity suggestions. (Best for ages 4 and up.) There's also a public restroom here.
Head to Eben G. Fine Park, not far from downtown Boulder, and join in the creek-side revelry that happens on warm days — picnics, cookouts and music make it a lively scene on the banks of the creek and around the play structures. There are actually some sandy shores here, perfect for wading and splashing around. Families with older kids may want to give the rope swings and tubing a try, as Boulder Creek was named one of the 10 best lazy rivers in the country.
Prepared-Parent Tip: The Boulder Creek Path runs right through the heart of Boulder and is 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.
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, on the beautiful lawn of Chautauqua Park. It starts with a fun, easy hike where kids are encouraged to guess the animal of the week (who then pops out of the woods in costume). Next, a concert is put on by the fabulous duo Jeff and Paige. 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 blanket, 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).
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, which offers free kids art activities during the market, too.
Prepared-Parent Tip: The nearby Boulder Public Library has story time for children of all ages on Saturdays at 10:15am, which makes a great, calming, cool, indoor, pre- or post-market stop.
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.
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.
If you have children 5 or older, stop in at Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory for a free, 30-minute tour. They happen every hour on the hour; just make sure to arrive at least 15 minutes early to ensure a spot on the tour and sip unlimited tea tastings! You’ll walk the production floor, step into the knock-you-over peppermint room and watch a video.
Prepared-Parent Tip: Keep this one in your back pocket for a rainy day; it’s a great indoor “outing.”
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: Mountain Sun has a convenient downtown location, is wonderfully kid-friendly and is sooo Boulder-y with tapestries, concert posters and craft beers! 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:
If you’re looking for more ideas, also check out these Things to Do in Boulder with Kids.
Originally published on Mile High Mamas.