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Vintage Vacation Ideas for Families

Good Old-Fashioned Family Fun in Boulder

There’s something about seeing your kiddo discover your own favorite childhood activities that sparks an extra level of joy. Here’s how to revel in some nostalgia for you, and create honest-to-goodness fun for them, on a Colorado family vacation to Boulder that's sure to set in motion cherished memories for the next generation.

Gone Fishin’

There’s hardly a more timeless family activity than fishing. Connect with nature and each other as you cast a line at Sawhill Ponds, a nature preserve that holds 18 ponds and reflections of the distant FlatironsPlease note: Sawhill Ponds will be closed in the fall of 2024 for a number of improvement projects. Please check here for updates.

Prepare with Care

A valid Colorado Parks & Wildlife fishing license is required for anglers 16 and older (get one here). Please make sure to properly discard any extra fishing line you have — it can be deadly to wildlife.

Paddle Just for Pleasure

From mid-May to early October, you can rent a canoe by the hour from Rocky Mountain Paddleboards (which has stand-up paddleboards and kayaks, too) and head out to glide across the 700-acre Boulder Reservoir for mountain views as you work on your tandem paddling technique.

Photo by City of Boulder

Canoeing on Boulder Reservoir

Say 'Yes' to Two Scoops

We stand by the belief that ice cream is the key to any harmonious family vacation. Wherever you happen to be in Boulder, there’s an ice cream shop nearby! In fact, we have an ice cream guide for where to go when you need a scoop or two, with vegan options, too.

Enjoying a cone at Gelato Boy

Throw Some Gutter Balls

Whether you are more likely to bowl a strike or to totally strike out, the fun’s all the same at The Connection, a bowling alley in the student union on the University of Colorado campus. Sodas and popcorn are available, as are ping pong tables, billiards and video games, too. 

Learn Something New

If you grew up doing Junior Rangers programs, you'll love Boulder's approach to nature education. Being a university town and a magnet for naturalists, there’s so much for families to learn here. Check out the City of Boulder's free guided nature hikes on themes like “Rascally Raccoons” and “Goin’ on a Bear Hunt!”. Boulder County has a great calendar of family-friendly events, too, like “I Love Bugs!” and “Barnyard Critter Day.”

Hiking the Chautauqua Trail

Little Ears Are Listening

There's no better time than when kids are young to teach them about leaving no trace. For example, it's tempting to pick flowers, but "flowers have powers when left on their towers" and influence the local ecosystem year-round. 

Visit the Record Store

Paradise Found is an indie record store that's been around Boulder in various incarnations for some 30 years, specializing in vintage and new vinyl. The current shop has a killer location right on Pearl Street and a classic, record-store vibe, great staff recommendations and good tunes always flowing out the door.

Photo by Abbie Youngs

Paradise Found

Have a Family Picnic

There really are no rules with an old-fashioned picnic. The kids can run around and stop by for bites, you can kick off your shoes while you eat, and you can make an entire meal out of snacks if you want. And in Boulder, picnics come with an epic view.

Photo by Gwen Gray

Picnic at Chautauqua Park

Climb on a Tractor

At Sunflower Farm, kids can talk the helm on a decommissioned tractor, climb in a treehouse, play tetherball, explore a teepee and enjoy a frozen icy pop from an on-site freezer by plinking 50 cents into the metal box. They'll also have a chance to commune with their favorite farm animals including goats, sheep, llamas, cows and a horse. After that,  discover an old airplane, play in the sandboxes and swing in the hammocks. You’ll need to make a reservation online for Farmfest Public Hours, available throughout the year.

Photo by Karleen Lewis

Sunflower Farm

Play a Round of Mini Golf

We can hardly think of a place better for good ol' family vacation fun than Gateway Park Fun Center. Play the beautiful, water-feature-filled 18-hole course for all ages, hit the batting cages, race on the go-kart track or play inside at the arcade. It’s hours of fun.

Photo by Abbie Youngs

Gateway Park Fun Center

Make S’Mores

Who says you need a campfire for s’mores? At River and Woods, which serves upscale Colorado comfort food in a century-old miner’s cabin, you can order tableside s’mores to roast (or char, for the less skilled among us) and assemble right at your table. In good weather, ask for a spot in their charming back courtyard under strings of lights.

Fly a Kite

Catch the breezes that blow down off the Rockies and experience the pure, childlike joy of flying a kite in a scenic spot like Scott Carpenter ParkNorth Boulder Park or Wonderland Lake Park, with views of the Flatirons that make it all the more joyful. Treat yourself to a shiny new kite at Into the Wind, Boulder's go-to kite source since 1980.

Into the Wind Kite Store

Take a Photo in a Vintage VW

On weekends, Memorial Day through Labor Day, our mobile visitor center, a bright-orange VW bus named Delilah, welcomes guests at the Chautauqua Trailhead. Take the Park to Park weekend summer shuttle to the trailhead and stop by Delilah to have your picture taken inside the bus for free. We also have brochures and can answer your visitor questions!  

Delilah at the Chautauqua Trailhead

Classic Accommodations

Channel the vacations of the 1950s and 60s and stay in a cottage or cabin close to nature for a family retreat-like vibe. At the Colorado Chautauqua, you can stay in a cozy, historic cottage at the foot of the Flatirons, next to the Chautauqua Dining Hall for delicious dining and just steps from Chautauqua Auditorium for great concerts and lectures. At A-Lodge Boulder, you’ll be tucked into Boulder Canyon, with a cabin to rent and hikes, streams and forests to explore. Or opt for the feel of a lodge at Basecamp Boulder, which is close to downtown but has an outdoorsy theme, an outdoor firepit with s’mores, bunk rooms and an indoor climbing wall.

Chautauqua Cottage

Did you know?

Boulder’s Colorado Chautauqua was founded by a group of Texas educators looking for a place to start a retreat. At the time, chautauquas were centers for regular folks to gather for spiritual, cultural, social and educational opportunities. Theodore Roosevelt called the Chautauqua movement “the most American thing in America.”