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A Screen-Free Family Vacation in Boulder

Too much screentime got your eyes all googly? No judgment here — the pull of devices is hard for any of us to resist. If your family could use a break from the digital world or a full-on tech cleanse, come lift your gaze to Boulder's horizon with these hands-on ideas sure to make it irresistibly fun for the whole crew to spend some quality time IRL.

Look Up, Look Out

Panorama Point

A short drive up hair-pin Flagstaff Road will take you to Panorama Point, a scenic overlook with sweeping views of all of Boulder Valley and even the highway into Denver.

Photo by Abbie Youngs

Panorama Point

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Tech-Free Challenge

From Panorama Point, see if the kids can guess the following landmarks: Fiske Planetarium, Haystack Mountain, Boulder Reservoir, Pearl Street Mall and Valmont Power Plant. Use this key to help find them.

Picnic at Artist Point

Farther up Flagstaff Road from Panorama Point is the Flagstaff Summit and signs you can follow to Artist Point. This hidden picnic area is ringed by flowers in summertime and has access to captivating views year-round. Unpack your picnic and bring notebooks and markers for everyone to draw what they see.

Go Stargazing 

Let them stay up late to catch a star show. Pack a thermos of hot cocoa and head to these stargazing spots after dark. Weather not cooperating? Try a dome show at Fiske Planetarium on the CU Campus. It has one of the most sophisticated projectors in the country.

Photo by Vincent Ledvina

Stargazing at the Flatirons

Reconnect with Nature

Walden Ponds and Sawhill Ponds

There are some 24 ponds between Walden Ponds and Sawhill Ponds preserves, which are located a half-mile apart in northeast Boulder, and they are teaming with birds. Sawhill Ponds even has strategically located bird blinds for viewers. And near the Walden Ponds parking area, a walkway at Cottonwood Marsh gives visitors an inside look at tree swallows in nest boxes. Use this Walden Ponds Nature Detectives Map to keep the kids engaged.

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Tech-Free Challenge

See how many different bird species you can each count. The person who spots a new species first gets to count it as their own. Here’s a bird list for Walden Ponds.

Take a Guided Naturalist Walk

Look for traces of bears, go on a fishing excursion, see the world from a bird’s eye view, go stargazing and more on one of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks' free guided hikes, which happen regularly and are listed on naturehikes.org.
 

Sawhill Ponds

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Tech-Free Challenge

Stop by the Ranger Cottage at Chautauqua to pick up Ranger Paula’s Passport to Wild Adventures. Complete the passport and earn a free sew-on patch. You can also check out a backpack filled with binoculars, guidebooks, bug boxes, art supplies, family activities and more.

Try the Sensory Trail

Try walking in someone else’s shoes on Boulder's Sensory Trail, designed for people with vision impairment and to give others the experience of sightless hiking. You can take turns closing your eyes, with one of you acting as a guide. You'll be prompted to smell a fragrant ponderosa pine, listen for and identify distinctive bird calls, and sit in silence to "rest and remember family and friends."

Photo by Gwen Gray

Sensory Trail

Farm Visits

Run around a field, get your hands dirty and see where Boulder’s food comes from. On Boulder’s visitor-friendly farms, you can pet goats, climb trees, go on a hay ride or climb on a tractor. Find farm ideas for families.

Photo by Bee Hugger Farm

Bee Hugger Farm

Get Moving

Go Hiking

If you grow up in Boulder, you grow up hiking, so many of our trails are kid-friendly. The paths around Chautauqua Trailhead are a good place to start, or read about these 5 hikes suitable for families.

Indoor Rock Climbing

Exert some energy at ABC Kids Climbing Gym and pretend you’re in a Dr. Seuss story as you scramble over the colorful rock walls. You can also try ice climbing at one of the only indoor ice climbing gyms in the country, the Ice Coop. Or head to The Spot, with two freestanding boulders and four additional bouldering walls.

Photo by The Spot Gym

The Spot Gym

Valmont Bike Park 

The 42-acre Valmont Bike Park is a marvel that's garnered worldwide attention — and it has options for all ages. There’s a toddler course, with small bumps and jumps, pump courses, hardcore cyclo-cross trails and plenty of workarounds for the less adventurous.

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Tech-Free Challenge

Go to the podium at Valmont Bike Park. Take turns standing on the first-place tier and try to make the rest of your family laugh with a ridiculous pose. Whoever makes someone laugh the fastest wins.

Boulder Reservoir

Make a day of it at the Boulder Reservoir for beach time and water recreation galore while you admire the views of the Flatirons. Or take advantage of the super-convenient SUP paddleboard rentals on site for unforgettable photo ops.

Boulder Reservoir Beach

Ski at Eldora

If you’re relatively new to skiing, Eldora is the Goldilocks of ski resorts for your family: not too easy, not too hard...just right. With lessons for everyone, you’ll be schussing down the slopes in no time.

Eldora Mountain Resort

Unlock Creativity

Paint Pottery 

At Color Me Mine, you create a masterpiece and create a keepsake to take home. Come back in about a week to pick up your fired creations or have them mailed to you.

Color Me Mine

Escape Room Challenge

Teamwork, logic, adventure and bonding are sure to happen during an escape room adventure, in which you try to solve a puzzle to unlock your family from a fun, themed room. Boulder has two: Boulder Escape Room and Enigma Escape Rooms.

Museum of Boulder

The Museum of Boulder always has something going on for families, with exhibits on themes ranging from dinos to wolves, special events and a maker studio called the Google Garage. The little ones will surely be entertained while also learning a thing or two in an engaging atmosphere.

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Tech-Free Challenge

From the rooftop of the Museum of Boulder, see who can point out the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Flatirons correctly. Here’s a key.

Museum of Boulder's Google Garage

Junkyard Social

This STEM-focused adventure playground, Junkyard Social, is open two to three times a week for drop-in play for kids and coffee for their grownups. Kids will enjoy climbing over play structures repurposed from all matter of materials — VW bugs, bike parts, shipping containers and more. Also look for special science events for families. 

Photo by Abbie Youngs

Junkyard Social