Whether you’re moving to the state, planning a staycation or simply heading out, there are plenty of amazing experiences awaiting you during the summer in Colorado. The state’s many parks and preserves are ideal for family activities or family hiking, but plenty of amazing options are overlooked in the summertime. Whether you want to view the mountains from your own personal hot air balloon, spot wildlife or just relax and catch a movie in the park, these are some go-to ideas for Colorado families this summer.
Go back in time
The Pueblos, Colorado’s first and oldest inhabitants, left behind compelling ruins and cliff homes to explore. Visit Mesa Verde National Park in the southwest part of the state and enjoy hiking to the ruins or take a guided tour. This is no ordinary stroll, it includes tunnels, ladders and a chance to go inside some cliff dwellings that are more than 500 years old. Not into climbing? Nearby Hovenweep National Monument also offers a chance to tour archeological ruins with a little less climbing; the site offers a 1.5 hour walking tour perfect for exploring.
Make a splash
If you are heading to Denver, you have not one, but two water parks to choose from. Both Water World and Elitch Gardens offer plenty of watery fun for kids and adults of all ages and are the perfect spots to cool down on a hot summer day. From the slides to the wave pool, you can find something for the whole family at Denver’s water parks.
High flying adventure
A zipline gives you a unique look at the world. A zipline that combines a workout with a sightseeing tour gives you the best of both worlds. You’ll have to ascend above the trees to start your tour, so ziplining is best for those who can climb well and enjoy adventure. Once you’ve made your way to the treetops, it is time to take the plunge. Depending on where you go for your zipline tour, you could see mountains, the forest or even some important landmarks. Ziplining is a fun but somewhat pricey venture; expect to pay about $100 per person. As a rule of thumb, kids need to be age 7 or older to participate. Just search for “ziplining” in the county you’ll be traveling in to find nearby tours.
Movies in the park
Each week, the public parks and recreation departments in Colorado host a movie night – and you’re invited! Movie nights are free of charge for the whole family and allow you to get outside and enjoy a beautiful summer evening, complete with entertainment. Each park has a different setup and movie schedule, so you are sure to find something the whole family will enjoy – don’t forget the s’mores!
Make animal friends
Visit the Denver Zoo to meet up to 750 species and explore a variety of specialty activities and educational adventures. The zoo may be the place to spot large wildlife, but the butterfly pavilion and aquarium offer plenty of educational and fun opportunities as well. Tour one or more of these animal activities when you visit Denver this summer.
You don’t have to go to Denver to enjoy animal activities and get educated; the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs has a special emphasis on African animals like elephants and giraffes and educational opportunities throughout the summer. This location also offers an educational camp for children each summer, with behind the scenes and hands on learning opportunities. Tour one or both of these animal attractions when you visit Colorado this summer.
Drift away to adventure
Kids as young as three can join the family for an adventurous trip along one of Colorado’s rivers. Beginner whitewater rafting trips allow you to include the entire family — and are just rough enough to be thrilling, but not scary. For older kids and teens, a more challenging expedition might be just the thing for summer adventure; most locations offer a variety of options to perfectly suit your family’s needs. Prices vary based on the skill level and length of the expedition; most locations provide everything you need to raft safely.
Soar high above the clouds
Afraid of heights? If not, then a one of a kind hot air balloon tour might be just the thing to try this summer. Balloons lift off and gently soar on the breeze, allowing you to take a leisurely look at your favorite parts of Colorado. Allow a few hours for a balloon tour – and bring some extra cash; while it packs plenty of fun, these tours can run as high as $250 per person.
Take a hike
Not only does hiking provide plenty of physical benefits, it boosts everything from creativity to emotional wellbeing, too! Spend a day hiking through the scenic mountain and valley paths at any one of a number of Colorado parks and trails. Rocky Mountain National Park offers plenty of kid- and family-friendly options and makes it easy to get ready to explore nature in a whole new way.
School’s out and it is time for fun; incorporate a few of these activities into your vacation plans and you’ll have the best summer yet this year in Colorado.