Ultimate Guide to Family Fun

Boulder’s Ultimate Guide to Family Fun

In Arts & Culture, Attractions, Entertainment, Food & Drink, Shopping, Sports & Outdoors, Things to do, Where to Stay by Travel Boulder0 Comments

Time and time again, Boulder has been lauded for being one of the nation’s top college towns. But it’s also great for the younger crowd: for kids and families.

Boulder is a playful, spirited city, with a younger population than the national average. Although it’s full of singles and college students, 19 percent of the residents have children under the age of 18 living with them.

Boulder has also been named one of the top 25 cities for a weekend getaway (Thrillst, 2016), and we think it’s perfect for a family vacation.

Here are some of the top ways to experience Boulder with your family.

Pizza

Kid-Friendly Restaurants

Boulder is a foodie heaven. Unfortunately for picky kids, that doesn’t always bode well. We know most kids aren’t going to get down with sashimi, beet salad or split pea soup, even if you bribe them. We know what kids like. In fact, local kids helped us make the list of the best family-friendly restaurants in Boulder. All have great kids’ menus and a welcoming atmosphere for youngsters. Some even have special deals where kids can eat cheap.

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Playing in Water

Experience Downtown Boulder

Downtown is made for families. In fact, USAToday.com named Boulder one of the top 10 Best Cities to See Street Performers (2015), and downtown is the buskers’ hub. Experience downtown with your kids in a variety of ways: through free entertainment, with water, through reading or through local food, just to name a few.

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We asked local business owners and residents their best tips for families who want to experience Boulder like a local.

Local Tip

“Tubing down the creek, followed by lunch from Whole Foods or Mustard’s Last Stand. There is a great bead shop a short walk outside Pearl Street (Nomad Bead Merchants, 1909 Ninth St.).”Leslie Gonzales, of Longmont

Biking

Outdoor Activities

This is the hardest list to narrow down because the possibilities are infinite. Boulder’s outdoor adventures are extensive and most are great for curious kids, too. Here are a few of our favorites, including the obvious (hanging out at Chautauqua Park) to the local secrets (picking raspberries at a farm), and from active (an outside American Ninja Warrior course) to soothing (hanging out at the Peace Garden) to educational (learning about nature at an environmental education center).

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Don’t Miss Out on These Upcoming Family-Friendly Events

View Full Events Calendar

Local Tip

“Check the OSMP website for lots of free kids programs, activities and hikes throughout the year, but especially in the summer. Picnic, hike or visit the Flagstaff Nature Center (open summer weekends) at the summit of Flagstaff Mountain. The Shakespeare Festival has activities and camps for tweens and teens. Have a picnic on [University of Colorado campus] quad before the festival. They have great prices for youth tickets. If you’re a resident of the area, see the show for free by being a volunteer usher.”Lisa Melli Gillespie, Open Space and Mountain Parks volunteer, of Boulder

Boulder Parks

Best Boulder Parks

Truly, every park in Boulder is great for families. You can’t go wrong with any of the open space offerings. But a few parks stand out for their unique play structures or proximity to other natural features. Check out the giant dinosaur at East Boulder Community Park or the tunnels at Arapahoe Ridge Park. Foothills Community Park is close to three other parks, surrounded by walking paths.

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Local Tip

“There are some really fun playground structures (my childhood kingdom), including Scott Carpenter and Foothills Community Park. One thing I always enjoyed as a kid was going to the library together and then hanging out by the creek with the books we got afterward.”Meri Burgess, University of Colorado student, grew up in Boulder

WOW summer art classes

Arts, Science and Culture

Boulder is filled with artists and scientists, so it’s no surprise that some of the most exciting activities in town for families involve arts, culture and science. There are outdoor concerts, educational museums, art classes and an incredible public library. Don’t miss the Fiske Planetarium or the Colorado Music Festival.

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Warrior Challenge

Indoor Activities

Boulder’s nature is so incredible, it’s hard to want to go indoors. But with these special activities, it’s worth it. Play laser tag and jump at Dizzy Fun Center, test your obstacle course skills at a warrior training center in Broomfield and play soccer (and enjoy a beer and the game) at Boulder’s indoor soccer arena, to name a few.

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Local Tip

“Gateway is a fun, non-outdoorsy thing to do. The pinball place in Lyons. Picnic on Flagstaff, near Flagstaff restaurant. That overlook. Picnic at Eldorado State Park, down by the river.”Douglas Brown, father, of Boulder

Feeding Girraffe at Denver Zoo

Day Trips From Boulder

While there’s enough entertainment in Boulder to keep your family amused for weeks, it can be fun to take a short day trip from the “Boulder bubble” to see some of the other nearby family-friendly attractions. The Butterfly Pavilion, Denver Zoo and, of course, the Rocky Mountain National Park are just a few of the destinations you can reach in a short drive. These day trips are close enough to station in Boulder, drive out for the day and return to your Flatirons home base in the same day.

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stuffed animal

Children’s Shops

Pick up a memorable souvenir of your trip or a great gift at some of Boulder County’s fantastic, family-friendly shopping options. There are specialty stores, such as Into The Wind (a kite shop), Liberty Puzzles (old-fashioned, artistic puzzles) and Atomic Goblin Games in Longmont (where teens enjoy gathering to play games). There are also cute places to pick up clothes and some fun toy stores where you’re encouraged to stay and play all day.

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Local Tip

“Our best tips for folks visiting either of our family-owned, independent shops are to touch everything, make a mess and have fun. We are a hands-on experience with a focus on community and relationship-building. We love the mix of individuals and families that visit our store from all over the world. We delight in ensuring that everyone finds something special, no matter what the age or interest of the child. Clothes Pony & Dandelion Toys is not your run-of-the-mill kid’s store.”Becca Bramhall, co-owner of Clothes Pony in Boulder

Hotel Pool

Family-Friendly Hotels

Boulder doesn’t have as extensive of a hotel selection as Denver, but what it lacks in quantity, it makes up in quality. In addition to some incredible luxury and historic lodging options, Boulder also offers plenty for kids. Look for hotels with play areas, slides, pools, outdoor activities and a close proximity to parks and water.

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Learn More About Boulder County for Families

Want to learn more? Here are a few prominent, family-centric, local organizations to reach out to. They regularly offer events and can provide more guidance about things to do.

Local Tip

“Hiking or walking the path along Boulder Creek up into the canyon. When I was a kid, we used to fish there. I grew up in the Table Mesa area, so Scott Carpenter was where I used to go swim. We’d also ride our bikes up to NCAR or hike the trail behind it. I love Boulder. There’s also hanging out at the Boulder Reservoir in the summer, Taste of Pearl and concerts at the amphitheater or Chautauqua.”Sue Brans, of Erie

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