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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Gelato Boy's hot chocolate with a scoop of ice cream in it (heaven!). Who can choose between a hunk of butter fudge and a creamy-dreamy hot cocoa? At Kilwins, you don’t have to!
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).
Boulder has a bounty of high-quality restaurants that are also comfortable for dining with little ones. If you're craving a homestyle breakfast head to The Buff Restaurant for dishes the kids and you will love, as well as plenty of vegetarian and gluten-free options. Avery Brewing Company offers a "Little Rascals Menu" with items like grilled cheese and veggie tacos for just $5 a pop. Or check out Rayback Collective, Boulder's indoor/outdoor gourmet food truck park, adorned with twinkle lights, fire pits and wooden recliners, plus space for the kids to play and stretch their legs.
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.