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.
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 Flatirons.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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 Park, North 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.
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!
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.
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.”