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    Winter Hiking

    Winter Family Fun in Boulder

    Even in winter, chances are the sun is shining in Boulder and the Great Outdoors are as exciting as ever. If you do hit upon a cold or snowy day, take the stance that there's "no bad weather, just the wrong clothes" and bundle up the kids for some memorable adventures in this town that only seems to get prettier with a dusting of snow. Here are some ideas to keep away the winter scaries and find some serious fun for your family this winter. 

    Go for a Winter Hike

    In Boulder, you'll just need a pair of boots and some warm layers that can easily be shed to enjoy a winter hike. South Mesa Trailhead has cool stuff to capture their attention right off the bat. Little ones will want to scramble down to the creek bed and throw chunks of snow in. Bobolink Trail is another good family option, with a flat, wide trail that meanders alongside Boulder Creek and has spectacular views. More easy hikes are listed here.

    Women on posing on top of rocks on a winter hike in Boulder

    Prepared-Parent Tip: Always bring sunscreen (yep, even in winter) and plenty of water for everyone. And now's a good time to teach the little ones about Mountain Manners

    Take in Dazzling Winter Light Displays

    Hundreds of thousands of LED lights will illuminate downtown Boulder and throughout Boulder's Civic Area (along the Boulder Creek and Central Park) for a fun light display called Snow Much Fun. With the help of a map, you can take a self-guided tour through magical, themed areas and under a canopy of twinkling lights for some much-needed winter wonder. It's free to enjoy and runs Nov. 22, 2020-Jan. 10, 2021.

    Another free light display is available beginning Dec. 11, 2020, at Colorado Chautauqua Historic District. Drive around Chautauqua Park to see 15 bear cub sculptures, each personalized by a different local artist and adorned in lights. Don't miss the new 8-foot bear installation near the Chautauqua Auditorium, too. Check Colorado Chautauqua's website for more information.

    Kids and mom looking at a tree trunk wrapped in lights during the Snow Much Fun event

    Photo courtesy of Downtown Boulder

    Prepared-Parent Tip: Check Downtown Boulder's site for a downloadable map in advance, so you can plan your route.

    Try Fat Biking as a Family

    The huge, nubby tires on fat bikes make biking possible year-round. You'll feel like a superhero crushing through the snow — and the winter scenery is unbeatable. Here's where to rent bikes, find a guided tour and routes to try

    Couple riding fat tire bikes across bridge in Boulder

    Prepared-Parent Tip: This activity is probably best suited for kids 10 and up, but if you've got a gung-ho biker who is younger, go for it.  

    Stroll Down Pearl Street

    Take a little walk down vibrant Pearl Street and cruise through some of the climbing rock and sculpture areas. Start things off right at Piece, Love and Chocolate on the West End of Pearl for a warm cup of sipping chocolate, 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, Into the Wind kite and toy shop, and the climb-able animal sculptures between 14th and 15th streets. 

    Kids sitting on a  Pearl Street bench drinking hot chocolate

    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 Capital One Cafe. Be sure to be a good patron and buy a little something if you're gonna use the facilities.

    Tool Around at Valmont Bike Park

    Boulder bikers hit Valmont Bike Park year-round, as long as there's not a foot of snow on the ground. It’s a blast to watch hard-core cyclocross riders negotiate the bumps and turns, 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. And, of course, there are plenty of tracks for riders of all levels. The views are gorgeous, so bring some snacks and a thermos of hot chocolate so you can hang out a while.

    Dirt bike trails at the Valmont Bike Park

    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.

    Go Sledding

    Boulder has some perfect sledding hills for snowy days — many of them with breathtaking views. You'll be glad you got outside, away from screens, and worked up a sweat. Check out our list of where to sled here

    Families sledding at Scott Carpenter Park in Boulder

    Prepared-Parent Tip: Make sure you keep six feet between you and your fellow sledders to ensure safe social distancing. And bring your masks; face coverings are required in Boulder anytime you can't maintain six feet of space, even outside.

    Sip Hot Chocolate

    Winter's the perfect excuse for a round of warm, chocolatey beverages for everyone. OZO Coffee has 20 varieties of mocha lattes that can be ordered with or without espresso — from the Grasshopper (with dark chocolate and mint) to the Island (dark chocolate with coconut and macadamia nut flavoring). For decadent hot chocolate, Boxcar Coffee uses pure Valrhona chocolate, giving it a smooth, rich flavor with a tiny bit of a bite. No whip cream or marshmallows available (or needed). Or try Fior di Latte's hot chocolate with a scoop of ice cream in it (heaven!). Who can choose between a red velvet cupcake and a creamy-dreamy hot cocoa? At T & Cakes, you don’t have to! 

    Young adults sitting at a table with drinks at Ozo East Pearl

    Prepared-Parent Tip: Many Boulder coffee shops (like Boxcar and Ozo) have order-ahead websites to help facilitate contactless service. Check websites before you go to see if you can order online and pick up your drinks curbside.

    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 or swing away in the batting cages. These outdoor activities remain open through winter (as long as there's not a ton of snow on the ground—and snow rarely sticks around in Boulder).

    Prepared-Parent Tip: There are two wineries — Bookcliff and Settembre — just a cork’s toss away that are open for tastings. Do with this information what you will. 😉 

    Enjoy Some Good Food

    There are lots of expanded outdoor patios available for dining in Boulder, and many of them have invested in patio heaters. You'll need to wear a face-covering to any restaurants and can remove it for eating or drinking. Restaurants are allowed to serve guests inside at 50% capacity inside, too. Read more about Dining Safely in Boulder, which includes a map of street closures for outdoor dining.

    Group sitting around a fire pit at Sanitas Brewery

    Prepared-Parent Tip: Most Boulder restaurants are kid-friendly, so don't worry too much about where to go. You'll be welcomed just about everywhere.

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