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Flex Mom: How to pursue your own passion while juggling motherhood

Moms, you know that feeling where you’re ready to scream in frustration but you feel so lost that you don’t think anyone would hear you anyway?

Maybe you had a reservation at Sushi Den because you desperately needed to get out two months into maternity leave, and the babysitter cancelled. Maybe you had just cleaned up the house, and you turn around and both kids spilled food all over the floor. Again.

After seven years of stay-at-home parenting, I’ve certainly felt like my mind was going to blow. At one point, I ended up handing the baby to my husband, running to my room, and screaming into a pillow. So nobody heard me.

While what I’m about to say might also apply to working moms, I know for certain that stay-at-home motherhood doesn’t come with warnings about the frustrating endless repetition of raising children – cooking, cleaning, laundry, diaper changes, cooking, cleaning, laundry, diaper changes – or about the loneliness that comes with child-focused, one-sided conversations.

I remember being told I was lucky to be at home with my kids, that not everybody could afford to do this, and that I shouldn’t complain. But without sharing how I really felt, without opening up conversations with other people about how to handle this life, I missed out on opportunities to authentically connect and learn – and then I spiraled further into isolation and frustration.

What if it didn’t have to be this way?flexmom1

The new name for a thriving caregiving parent is the Flex Mom, a mom who continues to prioritize her children, but understands how to create the space and structure in her life to pursue her own passion.

The Flex Mom sets goals outside of her family life – goals that light her fire and fit the lifestyle she wants to live – while continuing to be present with her children just as stay-at-home parents are. As a Flex Mom myself, I flow between the multiple roles of mother, wife, friend, author, and business woman, and the energy I get from being lit up with excitement about pursuing my goals flows back into my home life. While this doesn’t eliminate the repetition of home-making, it does shift your perspective because it becomes simply one part of your day instead of consuming your whole day.

Imagine if you loved blogging and could open up a site like Mile High Mamas, working during kids naptimes and after bedtimes. Imagine if you love crafting, and you figured out how to clear the space in your life to not only craft, but then sell your goods at the Sweet William Market.

That doesn’t happen by accident. People who follow their passions do so with care and thought, planning for how to sustain their new life while still managing their home life. Some steps might include taking care of yourself first, creating goals that fit your skills and passions, redefining your boundaries and community, and mastering skills around communication and technology and mindfulness.

If any of this describes you, see if you’d like to claim the title of Flex Mom. It would be a shame to waste any more of these precious child-rearing years being miserable, because the world could use more happier moms, women who unleash their amazing, powerful passions to the world.

To learn more about Flex Moms, pick up the book by Denver-based author Sara Blanchard or visit the website at www.flexmombook.com.

Deals: Starbucks, Spring Skiing, Rocky Mountain Train Show & More

The Oscars are a big deal at our house. For several years now my mom, dad, sister and I bet on who will win each category. The loser has to buy everyone else ice cream. This is a fun and great tradition (probably more fun since I’ve not had to buy one round yet). But, even more – I love now that my teen kids who don’t always want to hang out and watch TV with me for a full evening are into it to. I guess the old bribery of “if you do this I’ll give you ice cream or a cookie” doesn’t make me as bad a parent as I once thought.
 
Starbucks. Every once in a while, Starbucks will offer a buy one get one free promotion. They are at it again March 2 through 6. Share a Macchiato with a friend.
 
Belly Bliss. It’s big news! Lauren Williams, owner of Belly Bliss is having another baby…sort of…a new location! This time to celebrate Stapleton’s Stanley neighborhood location – they are offering FREE classes – classes like Belly Yoga, Parent and Toddler Yoga and Mommy & Me Yoga. For a full schedule look here: Belly Bliss Classes.
 
Rocky Mountain Train Show. I was never really into model trains – but my grandpa was. He had a whole room in his house that was dedicated to the toy. Men and boys Rocky Mountain Train Show. I was never really into model trains – but my grandpa was. He had a whole room in his house that was dedicated to the toy. Men and boys (women and girls too) will love the Rocky Mountain Train Show this weekend – March 4 & 5 at the Mart (451 E. 58th, Denver). General admission is $10 but kids 12 and under are free (as are seniors and scouts in uniform).
 
Spring in Ski Country. One of the best times to get your tushie to the mountains is in the spring. Warmer weather and still great snow….plus, great fun events. Arapahoe Basin will have afternoon concerts, Cooper will have $30 Thursdays (lift tickets just $30) and afternoon concerts; Aspen/Snowmass celebrates springMarch 15-19 with world cup skiing and concerts; Copper Mountain hosts the world’s largest Easter Egg Hunt April 16; Crested Butte hosts Leftover Salmon concert on March 18; Eldora offers college specials on Fridays; Loveland offers free snowcat rides for the rest of the season; Purgatory has s’mores and tubing on March 13 as well as McDonalds cardboard derby on March 18; Steamboat has concerts planned every Saturday through April 8 and Winter Park celebrates Springtopia with concerts including the April 22 appearance of Michael Franti. 
 
Prom Dress Exchange. This annual event provides high-school aged youth formal attire for prom or other formal school functions at reduced or no cost. Their event will be held on Saturday, March 4th, 2017 from 8am – 3pm at NOAH’s Event Venue, 11885 N. Bradburn Blvd., Westminster, Colo. 
 
Boulder International Film Festival. This acclaimed event includes free activities for kids as young as 5.  The BIFF provides screenings at local schools, as well as activities free of charge for children and teens. In one weekend, kids can watch award-winning films, learn the basics of filmmaking and transform themselves into zombies. The event line-up: Friday, March 3, 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., Teen Opening Night and Teen Short Film Competition Awards, ages 12+ at the Youth Pavilion at the Boulder Public Library (includes complimentary food from Sushi Zanmai). Saturday, March 4, Animation Station, 10 a.m. to noon, ages 6+. Shorts Program One, 12:15 p.m. to 1 p.m., ages 5+. Shorts Program Two, 1:15 p.m. to 2:15 p.m., ages 8+. Parent/Child Filmmaking Workshop, 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., ages 6+. Sunday, March 5, Zombie Makeup Workshop, 12:15 p.m. to 2:15 p.m., ages 8+. Shorts Program One, 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., ages 5+.  Unless otherwise stated, all activities take place at the Boulder Public Library (enter north door, Canyon Blvd., just east of 9th St.)
 
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Email me if you know of any great Denver deals!
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Denver Summer Camp Guide 2017

Summer camp season is upon us!  To help you navigate the many wonderful camps in Denver, we have compiled a Colorado Summer Camp Guide for 2017.  In addition to this directory, we will be featuring a variety of Denver camps over the next few months that give a more in-depth glimpse of camp life.  Also, don’t procrastinate–many spots are filling up quickly!

Camp Categories

Arts Camps (music, dance, etc.)

Academic Camps

Outdoor Camps

General Camps

Sports Camps

Featured Camps

CU South Denver and Coding with Kids

CU South Denver and Coding with Kids have partnered together to offer a wide variety of camp programs for children and teens from 5 to 16 years old. From Little Coders camps for early readers, to Minecraft Modding for gamers, to Game Development in Scratch and Advanced Game Development in JavaScript and Python, the choices are yours! We also offer a great intro to robotics camp where participants learn how to build and code robotics components using Arduino kits. Tech-savvy instructors will guide small groups of campers as they unleash their creativity to build games, interactive stories, websites, programmable circuits and more. Campers will receive personalized instruction and collaborate with new friends. After camp, participants will be able to share projects with family and friends and continue development through online access. View our complete summer camp offerings for more information or register for a camp.

Cookies and Cursive™ Camps

Cookies and Cursive ™: Mindful & Artistic Handwriting for Children introduces elementary kids to the delights of the traditional American cursive handwriting style through a fun and engaging learning approach linked to the language of baking. Discover the power of your handwriting and become a cursive chef! Children will learn how to read cursive and begin learning how to properly form letters, write words, sentences, paragraphs, and one’s signature in cursive. The first 8-day Cookies and Cursive™ camp will run June 19, 20, 21, 22, 26, 27, 28 and 29 (9:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.) at the Koelbel Library in Centennial. Space is limited. Cost is $192 per child (10% discount for more than one child registration per family). Designed for 3rd – 5th graders but children from higher grades are also welcome to participate. Take-home practice is a key component of this program. Call 720-684-8119 for additional locations/dates and to register.

Pedalheads Camps

Pedalheads is a fun, educational learn to ride summer bike camp for kids 3-10. From training wheels to trails, Pedalheads has safe, fun and challenging bike camps for children of all abilities. Since 1995, we have taught over 200,000 children to ride, using our own Pedalheads teaching method, combined with small classes and exceptional instructors. With 75+ locations across the United States and Canada, our comprehensive program opens up a world of opportunities for a lifetime of cycling. We teach beginners right up to competent riders the skills they need to succeed on the trails and ride safely on the street. Set your child on the path to a lifelong love of riding! Find out more at pedalheads.com.

Aurora History Camp

Join us for a week-long, half-day camp designed to engage your kids with their past. Campers stretch their critical thinking skills while engaging with history all week long. Activities include building a giant geodesic dome to connect with Aurora’s aerospace and military history, programs and crafts related to our state’s natural environment, a suburban relay race showcasing the rapid expansion during the mid-twentieth century and much more. So, hop on our 104 year old trolley trailer, fight for water rights and compete to be the finest suburb! Camp is July 24 – 28 (9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.) for ages 8-12. Space is limited! Visit AuroraMuseum.org or call 303-739-6663 for more details.

PALS Summer Chess Camps 

The mind can fly – chess gives it wings!  PALS Chess Academy is proud to offer four kid-friendly and inspiring Summer Chess Camps taught by Colorado State Chess Champion Lior Lapid!  Lior is ranked as a National Master and is a former two-time scholastic National Champion.  He has 20 years of experience teaching chess to kids in schools and camps. PALS Summer Chess Camps are filled with creative lessons on chess strategy in all phases of the game, incorporating humor and storytelling for kid-friendly instruction.  We will have two outdoor recesses for plenty of exercise, and healthy snacks are provided.  For Kids Ages 5-12, no prior experience necessary. For information about costs, locations, early-bird discounts and sibling discounts, please visit our website at: www.palschess.com/camps. Each camper will receive their own tournament chess set, a PALS t-shirt and a personalized certificate of accomplishment!

 Steve and Kate’s Camp

Every aspect of our summer camp is designed to put kids in charge of their own learning experience.  That way, kids develop the confidence to try, fail, and learn on their own.  And only they know what comes next.  We believe that when you trust kids, they learn to trust themselves.  Whatever your child’s passion, they can push their limits at our camp.  Stop-motion animation, fashion, coding, breadmaking, sports, music, dance, and so much more.  Lunch and snacks are included in the camp fees, and  we’ve got one of the most flexible payment options of any camp: buy Day Passes online and use them whenever you want. You don’t even need to tell us that you’re coming—just show up!  If you have any leftover Day Passes, we’ll provide a full, automatic refund at the end of the summer.  BOOM – summer solved!  http://steveandkatescamp.com/

Keystone Science School

We believe that every child in Colorado and around the world deserves Camp!  We combine hands-on science with outdoor, experiential education to create Science, Adventure, FUN! The Rocky Mountains present the perfect landscape for campers to challenge themselves as we hike, backpack, raft, climb, ride and explore Colorado. Our programs follow a progression that ensures that campers can return each year for a fresh, exciting experience with new things to learn. From our Stellar Day Camp program (K-5) to our residential Discovery Camp (2-12) to our wilderness-based Keystone Mountain Adventures (9-12) or Keystone Voyagers (7-9), campers have the opportunity to evolve from curious learners to confident and skilled outdoor leaders. Spark your Imagination with Keystone Science School this summer. keystonescienceschool.org

High Altitude Tennis 

Fun, action-packed, convenient summer tennis camps in Denver, Colorado for kids 7-18 years old! Check out what tennis mom Nancy I. from Littleton, Colorado had to say about High Altitude Tennis Summer Camps: “My kids are jazzed, they love it and are inspired by the highly skilled, experienced and ethical staff!”And here is what student Hana K. from Parker, Colorado had to say: “Everyone at HAT is amazing, like my second family!” Rated 5 stars on Yelp and 5 stars on Facebook. Weekly camps begin May 29th and space is limited. Learn more by visiting www.highaltitudetennis.com today!

Talk to the Camera

Talk to the Camera is Colorado’s First On-Camera & Movie-Making Classes and Camps. Created by two Denver moms who have been in your shoes, and wanted to provide public speaking and on-camera learning experiences for their own kids. Want your kids to get creative and have fun this summer? Kids dream, write, create, film, act in and produce movies and videos! Our professional editing team will publish your child’s videos to our website shortly after the camp. We offer week long summer camps Monday to Friday for ages 7-13 that are taught by entertainment industry professionals at 11 Denver-Metro area locations in Denver, Evergreen, Golden, Greenwood Village, Highlands Ranch, Littleton, Lone Tree and Parker. Register by June 1st to get Early Bird pricing! Learn more and register at www.talktothecamera.com or call 720-217-9551.

CBMF Bluegrass Kids Camp

 A fun, 5-day music camp in Crested Butte that provides kids (ages 7-14) an amazing experience in bluegrass music education. Students learn to play in a bluegrass band with other students, write songs, and advance their individual skills through instrument break-out sessions. The day camp offers training for first-timers as well as intermediate players, provided by faculty from the esteemed Swallow Hill Music School in Denver. This camp is a collaboration between the Crested Butte Music Festival and Swallow Hill Music School. Crested Butte, CO – One of the most beautiful towns in Colorado, Crested Butte (altitude ~9000 ft) is surrounded by jagged mountain peaks and hosts one of the country’s finest wildflower displays. Crested Butte is 30 minutes from Gunnison, 1 hour from Montrose, and 4 hours from Denver. crestedbuttemusicfestival.org

iDTech

iD Tech is the leader in summer STEM education programs for students ages 6–18. Over 275,000 students have attended iD Tech since 1999. Camps are held at over 150 prestigious campuses in the United States, including Mile High Academy in Highlands Ranch, The University of Denver, The University of Colorado Boulder, and Colorado State University. Summer courses teach everything from coding, robotics engineering, and 3D printing to virtual reality game design and cybersecurity.  Skills include: *Students develop new tech skills while completing their own project. *Courses are taught by knowledgeable adult instructors armed with both tech skills and lively, summer camp personalities. *Students build key 21st century skills like creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking. *Small class sizes, only 8 students per instructor, ensures more personalized learning. *Students gain self-confidence and a competitive advantage in both school and future careers. Learn more at iDTech.com.  

Engineering for Kids

Engineering For Kids brings science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), to kids ages 4 to 14 in a fun and challenging way through workshops, camps, clubs, and parties.  We are proud to inspire children to build on their natural curiosity by teaching engineering concepts through hands-on learning. Engineering is, after all, one of the fastest growing industries in the world! Join us for Robotics workshops, weekend Minecraft Education programs, Programming classes and affordable Tech Summer Camps.  Conveniently located in the Streets of SouthGlenn Shopping Center, we offer an inspiring and fun Learning Center designed to allow for hands-on projects in the Engineering Rooms and a computer lab. Contact our offices for more information at 720-390-7972 or visit us online at http://www.EngineeringForKids.com/Denver.

JCC’s Camp Shai and MACC Academies

The Jewish Community Center of Denver offers exciting summer opportunities for children in kindergarten through 10th grade. The Mizel Arts and Culture Center (MACC) is a non-profit theatre within the JCC whose mission is to illuminate the human experience through arts and cultural programs. At the MACC’s Art Academies & Wolf Theatre Academy, young artists flourish under the supervision of professional theatrical and visual artists who are also experienced educators. The academies are dedicated to empowering youth to find their creative voices as they develop collaborative skills and build community. The JCC’s Camp Shai & Shai Sports are summer day camps that provide engaging activities for kids that spark their imagination and inspire them to celebrate their individuality. Campers will participate in engaging summer activities and leave camp every night with a new song to sing and an exciting story to tell. www.jccdenver.org/camps

 

Digistars® Make-a-Movie Workshop

Kids unleash their creativity and bring their stories to life in a stop motion animation or live action filmmaking program! They write, act, direct, film, and edit their own films in a fun and exciting week! We watch and analyze film clips to learn techniques, and take outside breaks in a nearby playground. Moviemaking integrates art with technology and demands storytelling skills that can feed into success in school and beyond. Week-long camps (M-F, 9 am-3 pm, with extended care available) are offered in June, July, and August for grades 1-8. Programs include Claymation and live action moviemaking using green screen technology. The production process is hands-on, kid-driven, and collaborative. Our enthusiastic and trained instructors are professional filmmakers with film degrees and class size is limited so save your spot as soon as possible! Learn more and register at https://digistarsworkshop.com/summer-camps/

   ​eXL Learning-Summer Learning Adventures

eXL Learning is excited to announce new summer Learning Adventures at our Lowry location (Lowry Town Center) and this year at our new location at the Stanley Marketplace.  All classes are MondayFriday at 8:00 am-11:30, 12:00-3:30 pm or full day.​ Families choose from full-day or half-day options.  Need more time?  We also offer extended day options for working families. Why are our summer classes so popular? We find out what kids are most excited about and incorporate opportunities that allow kids to apply academic content.  You won’t find the dreaded summer learning loss occurring with our summer Learning Adventures. Pokémon Madness, Hogwarts Wands & Wizardry, Minecraft Math, Toy Invention, are just a very few of the exciting classes that we are offering at both of our locations. ​Space is limited.  Join us!​ www.exllearning.comwww.mindcraftmakerspace.com303-364-9581​. ​

Avid4 Adventure

This summer, experience the power of authentic outdoor adventure. Avid4 Adventure camps teach pre-K – 12th graders of all levels to climb, paddle, bike, hike and thrive in the outdoors. With help from our time-tested curriculum and insanely experienced instructors, we give campers solid skills and character-shaping confidence, launching them into a lifetime of empowering adventure. Day camp locations in Boulder, Golden, Highlands Ranch, Denver, Lafayette, Castle Rock and Colorado Springs (NEW in 2017!) Overnight camps in Bailey and Evergreen, Colorado. Learn more and sign up at www.avid4.com or call 800-977-9873

Denver Botanic Gardens

The Gardens has camps for kids that are full of garden explorations, games, activities, cooking and plants to take home. Week-­long camps take place MondayFriday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. and are offered during spring and summer breaks. For urban garden explorers, camps at York St. offer hands-on activities, special tours, games, plantings, cooking and more. There are garden and art-themed camps at this location. For those who would like to spend time down on the farm, Chatfield Farms camps in Littleton provide opportunities for kids to take care of the animals, explore the frog pond, learn about life on the historic Hildebrandt Ranch and much more. All camps are for ages 6-12 and most York St. camps have aftercare offerings. botanicgardens.org

Summer Camp at Denver Botanic Gardens

Summers spent outdoors are so much fun! Denver Botanic Gardens offers week-long camps at York St. and Chatfield Farms that go outside to explore plants, nature, food, art, pollinators and so much more! Your kiddos will look forward to spending a week at the Gardens full of plant explorations, games, activities, cooking and potting plants to take home. Each year we introduce several new camp themes while continuing the most popular ones.

Nothing says summer like sunscreen, hats and lots of water. Water is a 2017  programming theme at the Gardens so each camp will find a creative way to incorporate education about where our water comes from, why water is such an important natural resource and how everyone can conserve water at their house and garden.

There are three camp options at the Gardens’ York St. location. For kids who love to create, the Art in the Gardens camp will foster a passion for the art of science through drawing, sculpting, painting, cooking and gardening. Participants will explore iconic art of Alexander Calder and make connections between plants and art through form, color and texture. For kids who are not shy about trying new foods and love learning about different culture, Global Gardens camp will allow them to travel the world without leaving the Gardens! In our collection and display gardens, we have plants from all around the world that thrive in semi-arid climate and soil like we have in Denver. In addition to learning about global plants, participants will get to cook and taste foods from the around the world. The final York St. camp Potions and Plants is perfect for your little scientist who loves to do experiments at home. This camp allows them to feed their scientific curiosity without making a mess in your house! Participants explore the magic, myth and mystery at the Gardens and even get to concoct a plant potion and plant a magical mini-garden to take home.

 

For kids that live in south Denver area or just really love to interact with animals and history, the Chatfield Farms camps will take their appreciation for farm life to the next level. The Life on the Farms camp allows kids to care for the farm animals, learn what it takes to make vegetables grow, explore the Hildebrand Ranch, and make snacks from ingredients grown on the farm. The Plant, Grow, Eat, Repeat hones in on the incredible edible world of plants. Kids will learn how to grow, care for and prepare favorite foods while having fun on the farm. Last, but not least, the Aquatic Adventures camp reveals the fun and creepy, crawly wonders of water and aquatic habitats. Kids will immerse themselves in nature along the banks of Deer Creek and the wetland ponds while observing frogs, insects and birds of prey. 

Camps at Denver Botanic Gardens provide so many fun and explorative opportunities that your kids may not even realize, they are learning important things about the environment, science, art and critical thinking while on summer break! If you don’t tell them, we won’t either.

 

All photos are © Denver Botanic Gardens. Photo by Scott Dressel-Martin

Momma Chef’s Homemade “Snow” Cones

Now that winter has made its return, most kids are happily playing in the snow. But here’s one way to get rid of the snow – eat it! Try my recipe for homemade “snow” cones. It’s made with real outdoor snow and homemade syrup that takes just minutes to make. Your kids are going to love being in the snow and eating it with this yummy recipe!

Momma Chef’s Homemade “Snow” Cones

2 c. of snow per each snow cone

1 c. water

1 c. sugar

Kool Aid liquid (I like cherry and grape)

**see “tips” below

In a saucepan, mix the water and sugar and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally for about 2 minutes until the sugar is dissolved.

 Remove from the stove and divide the liquid into two bowls. In one bowl, squirt about 8 drops of Kool Aid Liquid cherry. In the other bowl, do the same with the grape until desired color.

 Put the bowls in the refrigerator until the liquid is cold. When it’s ready, take your kids outside and have them scoop about 10 cups of fresh snow into a large container (this will make about 5 snow cones). Make sure it’s clean snow!

 Back inside, put the snow into a 1-cup measuring cup and press down until the snow is compact. Keep filling until the cup is full. Turn the cup over, shape it into a ball and put the snow ball into a bowl or snow cone cup. Spoon flavoring over the snow and enjoy!

 Tips:

  • My kids like to use a spoon and straw to eat their homemade snow cones.
  • Remember snow melts fast, so enjoy these treats right away!
  • The syrup is good for 10 or more snow cones. When finished, store any leftover syrup in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to two months.

About Momma Chef

I am a mom of three active boys (ages 12, 8 and 5).  Although I often feel like I’m struggling with some aspect of parenting, my one sanctuary is the kitchen. My children like different foods and constantly request a variety of things for dinner. I used to tell them, “I am not an octopus with eight arms who can make eight different meals!”

Over time, I figured out a way to make dishes they all love by developing easy, quick recipes. That led to the creation of my blog, Momma Chef, for parents like me. My recipes are simple and delicious, using no more than six ingredients and under six minutes of prep time.  It will look like you’ve spent hours in the kitchen with help from Momma Chef. Connect with Momma Chef on Facebook!

Family Travel: On Top of the World in Leadville

I was driving the rutted, icy streets of Gunnison a few weeks ago, bemoaning the endless winter, the ever-present cold and the seemingly endless gray skies. Normally, Gunnison is sunny and bright, although very cold. Not this winter. It felt as if I had been transported to the Midwest and I was over it. I wanted sun and warmth…and streets that didn’t require a 4 wheel truck to navigate.

So I packed up the kids and went to Leadville for a weekend.

I realize that Leadville is a curious choice given its altitude- 10,000 feet above sea level- and copious amounts of snow. Despite that, Leadville was full of sunshine and affordable activities for my family and yes, even that elusive warmth we had been seeking. Turns out we didn’t need to go to Mexico for a break from winter- we could find it all in Leadville.

Those of you who go on long car rides with children know the desperation that hits when you have exhausted all of your snacks and your kids have lost all of their patience. This was my experience as the kids and I pulled into Leadville on Saturday evening. My kids had resorted to constant whining and I had fallen back on the idle threats that seem to define parenting whenever whining is involved. I am pretty sure I said things like, “If you don’t stop whining, I will turn this car around and we will go home RIGHT NOW” (this was never going to happen) and “If you don’t stop hitting each other, I will cancel all fun activities for this weekend!” (this was also never going to happen). We pulled into High Mountain Pies in the nick of time where I over-ordered (apparently each of my children needs their own pizza and a gigantic root beer) and I attempted to mitigate any and all sibling rivalries while we waited for our pizzas. Fortunately, everyone who worked there was chill beyond belief, the pizzas were quick and delicious and even my notoriously picky children ate without complaint.

Let’s discuss hotels for a moment. A good, family-friendly hotel has the following characteristics: good beds for jumping, actual televisions with actual channels and Lucky Charms in the breakfast buffet. Silver King Inn and Suites checked off every box. Bonus points to the front desk clerk for buying Girl Scout cookies from daughter. Extra bonus points for having a waffle maker at breakfast so that same daughter could make her very own waffles and proceed to pour gallons of syrup all over them. Silver King is kind of amazing.

Day 1: Ski Day at Play

My kids love to ski. The only problem? The 8-year-old is a black diamond skier. The 4-year-old, not so much. As a single mom, it can be hard to meet both kids’ needs (and wants) on the ski hill. I planned our day at Ski Cooper in anticipation of this and I was generously rewarded with happy, satisfied and tired children. I signed the youngest up for a lesson and planned a morning snow cat tour to Chicago Ridge with the oldest. Everything was going swimmingly…until I made the mistake of taking the preschooler on a run before his lesson (on the longest magic carpet in Colorado!) and then forcing him to stop skiing so he could meet his instructor. Cue the world’s greatest tantrum. The boy did NOT want to stop skiing and he really did not want to stop riding what truly is a magical carpet. Here’s where Ski Cooper really shined: every single staff member worked to help me get my boy back on track. They corralled him when he ran away. They soothed him through his tears and they knew exactly what to do to calm him down. Not one person acted frustrated or put out. In fact, I think the only adult on the verge of losing it in that scenario was ME.

As soon as I escaped, Hazel and I hopped on the snowcat for a tour to Chicago Ridge and you guys. This is something you need to do in your lifetime. The views will take your breath away- and not just because you’re at 12,000ft. You can also ride the snowcat to ski (the most affordable snowcat skiing in the state) but on this day, we were in it for the experience. And what an experience it was. Just look at the pictures and tell me you don’t want to do that.

Upon picking the now-happy demon child preschooler up from lessons, I did what I do best as a parent: I let my children eat candy and chips for lunch. Because we were skiing and because we were on a mini-vacation and because yes, I totally gave in.

After scarfing all of the sugar and carbs she could handle, Hazel took off to race in the town race series taking place that weekend. There is something I need to explain here. Hazel had never skied at Ski Cooper before. Yet, I let her take off on her own, find the race course on her own and ski on her own. If this were any other large resort, this would never happen. But at Ski Cooper, it’s totally OK. It’s easy for kids to find their way around and the minimal lifts (2) allow kids independence and the freedom to explore (she killed it in her race by the way).

We ended our day skiing all together, happily roaming down every run we could find, while Tygh sang about trucks and Hazel practiced her backwards skiing and looked for jumps in the trees. Ski Cooper was a complete win.

If you have ever vacationed with children, you know that there will need to be drinks involved, even if those drinks are only coffee. I like my evening drinks to induce a little relaxing so we headed to Period Brewing where I quickly herded the kids upstairs to find couches! space! games! toys! Periodic Brewing gets us. My kids were entertained. I was relaxed. And the drinks weren’t bad either.

Day 2: Dog Sledding

For our second and last day in Leadville, we planned to do something the kids had been talking about for ages- dogsledding. First, I had to tear them away from the endless cartoons in the hotel room (we obviously don’t have real TV in my home) but once I accomplished that difficult task and fed them delicious pastries and hot chocolate at City on a Hill (this coffee snob gives them an A+ for strong, strong coffee), we made a beeline for Alpine Adventures, where my kids could barely contain their excitement. I knew this because they spilled about 6 cups of hot chocolate in the reception area while we waited.

After cleaning up 6 cups of hot chocolate, my kids got to experience their dream: cuddling with 8 adorable huskies. And oh yeah, driving a dog sled. If you’ve never gone dog sledding, I definitely recommend it. Watching the dogs run so hard and so fast (completely normal for their breed) is a wondrous sight. Watching your kids drive a dog sled with so much marvel is also a wondrous sight. Our guide reveled in telling the kids every single fact about huskies and their ability to run, to eat and yes, even to poop, something that delighted the preschooler to no end.

By the end of the afternoon, I had unwittingly adopted 50 huskies and they were all going home with us in our car.

As soon as I pulled on the highway towards home that afternoon, both kids had nodded off, likely dreaming of waffles, snowcat rides and dogs. I felt deeply satisfied. We didn’t escape to the beach- we escaped somewhere better. Somewhere that allowed us to be outside, in brilliant sunshines, doing things that made all of us happy. And that beats the beach any day.

Eryn Barker lives, works and plays in the Gunnison Valley. You can read her writing on her blog, Gunny Girl, or find her on Twitter,Instagram or Facebook.

Friends

I had many great friends in my younger years.  My parents still marvel at their social, spunky little daredevil who jumped out of the crib before they even contemplated the possibility.  I always made a friend shortly after we parked our popup camper at a campsite.  I can look back at elementary, middle, and high school fondly and recall some great people in my life who have grown into accomplished women and men.   My friends in college were basically my family for four years, and I think I took those connections for granted at the time–many of which remain today.  You don’t have to speak to a good friend very often to have him or her pop into your mind from time to time.

I have very little contact with friends from my youth because I made the decision to move across country as soon as I graduated from college.  I have a social media outlet that allows me to peek in on other’s lives, but I don’t meet up for coffee or grab dinner with my childhood friends, most of whom live on the East Coast where I spent the first twenty-three years of my life.  Because of that, I now appreciate Facebook and other social media much more than I ever thought I would.

I remained completely off the grid in my 20’s, even when my husband and I only had each other, and meeting people continued to be a challenge.  We both made friends at work and through our neighbors, but we realized quickly that it was nothing like college.  We weren’t crammed into a building with people the same age, similar interests, and the same early gen-ed class that we ran to in order to arrive on time.  We didn’t sit around with a group of new people on a Friday night discussing life stories and philosophical change with our Boone’s Farm blue wine…well, mine at least. No, we were definitely adults now, and we felt separated and disillusioned in many ways.

We continued to each have select friends, mostly co-workers, and we were genuinely happy with the life we were trying to build.  We accepted our choice to live in Colorado.  Our contentedness only grew with time.

My happiness changed when I became a mom.

Originally, I was teaching online and loved working from home, but the isolation of having a newborn and a career to juggle, all in one place, changed me.  I knew that I had to make an effort to reinvent myself and my life, just like my little guy was doing for me in other ways daily.  So I got online and actually went to some events on Meetup.com.  I used to think that I would never do something like that, but in the end, I found my friends who would become an extension of my family.  I found places like story time at the library, which my son absolutely loved. I had fun singing “Five Little Monkeys” with him, yet I yearned to speak to other women and see how crazy their morning was and what they were feeling that day. And eventually I did…

I may be a social person, but it doesn’t come easy.  I think of myself as a bit of an extrovert and an introvert.  I like to be home.  I like my space.  But I like people just as much, if not more.

Friends are an essential, healthy part of life for anyone, but for a new mom, that need extends beyond my wildest expectations.  A profound shift took place when I made new life.  I needed support and wisdom.  I craved people to commiserate with, laugh with, learn from, share with, and ultimately grow with over time.  

I now have women who I trust to take my son in a heartbeat–if I am sick or have an appointment, want to work, or just need some time.  I have friends with whom I can share everyday occurrences over the telephone, and spend genuine time with on a weekend.  That time is something I no longer take for granted.  I feel enriched by the intelligent, refreshing people who have entered my life since I became a mom.  The life-altering event of motherhood might have made me lose some aspects of myself, but what I gained in my son and in others surpasses the loss.

Many of my friends live in a similar world that I do.  We have family.  We love our family.  Our family just lives thousands of miles from us.  It’s a choice we made, and a much more common choice in contemporary life, but it’s not always effortless.  So when our family might be a phone call or Google hangout away, our friends are beside us and become our family, our saving grace, and our life lines that remain strong and unchanged with time.

Holly McCann is a “stay-at-home” mom who rarely stays indoors and enjoys frequent adventures with her active two-year-old little man in Denver, Colorado where she currently resides and writes.  Her love for language began when she started teaching English to high school students and continued when she pursued a Master of Liberal Studies in Creative Writing from The University of Denver.  Nothing, however, could fully prepare her for the challenges and true bliss that motherhood brings her way every day.  It takes her to a different level as a person and inspires her to write and then write some more.  She believes in the power of kindness and is a self-professed realist. Holly credits her inspiration to those around her, especially her fluffy cats.  You can find more of Holly’s writing on her blog at www.wateringthevines.com; follow her on Facebook at Watering The Vines, or catch her on Twitter @WateringVines.

11 things to do in Denver this weekend

There are plenty of fun events in Denver this week including the Denver Baby & Kids Experience, Circus 1903 and Inside the Orchestra. Go to our event calendar for the full listings. 

Denver Baby & Kids Experience at the National Western Complex
Feb 25 
Baby & Kids Experience is an educational and entertaining consumer show for parents, babies and kids. This year we’re featuring the Baby Box Company (free baby boxes!), Dora the Explorer with Rocky Mountain Honda, a photo lounge with Honest Kids, free professional photo with Moments in Focus Photography, Petting Zoo, Face Painting, Bounce Houses. Parents $10; Military/Senior $8/ Kids are FREE! 

Ballet MasterWorks at Ellie Caulkins Opera House 
Feb 17  – 26 
Colorado Ballet will present a collection of three master ballet works to live music by the Colorado Ballet Orchestra in Ballet MasterWorks. The production includes Firebird, by choreographer Yuri Possokhov and music by Igor Stravinsky.

Toddler & Me Yoga at Echo Yoga & Co-op 
Feb 21 
Bring your crawlers, walkers, and runners (toddlers and kids ages 1 and up) for a wonderful chance to stretch and play. The first half of class is devoted to developing a kids yoga practice for your little one.

Circus 1903: The Golden Age of Circus at the Buell Theater
Feb 21 – 26 
The producers of the world’s biggest magic show, The Illusionists have teamed up with the award winning puppeteers from War Horse to present a thrilling turn of the century circus spectacular.

Newsies: The Broadway Musical at the UA Denver Pavilions 
Feb 22,  7:00 pm
Seize the day one last time! The Tony Award®-winning musical will make its worldwide cinema debut in an exclusive three-day event and stars Jeremy Jordan, reprising his Tony Award®-Nominated performance as “Jack Kelly.”

The Sporting Affair gala to benefit Make-A-Wish Colorado at Wings Over The Rockies Air & Space Museum 
Feb 23 
Wishes take flight as Make-A-Wish® Colorado honors wish heroes who have helped share the power of a wish® and reveals the names of several children who have been selected to have their wishes come true.

The Snow Queen, a Fairytale Ballet at the Broomfield Auditorium 
Feb 24, 7:30 pm
Danse Etoile Ballet presents The Snow Queen, a new ballet based on the classic tale by Hans Christian Andersen. Shows are Feb. 24th at 7:30 p.m., Feb. 25th at 2:00 p.m. & 7:30 p.m., and Feb. 26th at 2 p.m. at the Broomfield Auditorium.

Under the Sea Mystic Mermaid Breakfast at the Downtown Acquarium 
Feb 25, 8:30 – 10:00 am
The “Under the Sea” Mystic Mermaid Breakfasts in on February 25.  Sign up today to spend the morning enjoying delicious food, getting autographs and taking photos with our Mystic Mermaids.

A Little Cinderella Tea Party at the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance 
Feb 25 – 26 
Ballet Ariel will once again delight audiences of all ages with two performances of A Little Cinderella with Tea Party, February 25th and 26th at the Cleo Parker Robinson Theatre.

Free Day at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science 
Feb 27, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
The Scientific & Cultural Facilities District is a voter-approved special district in the seven-county metro area that provides a stable source of supplemental funding to more than 300 scientific and cultural organizations inside the district’s boundaries.

Inside the Orchestra’s Tiny Tots Performances at the Boettcher Concert Hall 
Feb 22, 27, 28
Tiny Tots gets children truly inside the orchestra by seating the audience on the floor and surrounding them with a 30+ piece orchestra. Designed for children six and under, this 45-minute program gives young ones the chance to interact with the conductor and the musicians and learn about the instruments in the process.

Spring Break in Denver 2017: Over 50 activities listed!

The countdown is on for Spring Break 2017! If you’re staying in Denver, no need to dismay as we have updated last year’s popular Spring Break guide. Whether you want to hunker down indoors, get outside or explore something new, we have you covered with these fabulous Spring Break offerings, categorized by geographic area.  Also, don’t miss 12 Colorado Spring Break Vacation Ideas and Deals. 

CENTRAL DENVER

  • Denver Museum of Nature & Science–The largest collection of Viking artifacts to visit North America is at the DMNS March 10-August 13.  Experience a myth-busting exhibition that has captivated a million people around the world. Vikings: Beyond the Legend lays waste to the one-dimensional stereotype of bearded barbarians with horned helmets.
  • Denver Zoo–The Denver Zoo is 80 acres of fun in City Park. Don’t miss the newly opened tiger exhibit, The Edge. This one-acre exhibit is designed to both mimic the natural living environment of Siberian tigers and provide the zoo’s tigers with more space to explore.
  • Mizel Museum

    Mizel Museum

    Botanic Gardens  – These top-ranked U.S. botanical gardens offers spectacular garden displays, outdoor art exhibits, gardening classes, spring break camps and workshops at two great locations–Chatfield and Denver.

  • Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus. The Museum recently went through a $16.1 million expansion, creating a 9-acre campus and doubling their exhibit space. Several exciting new exhibits were part of our expansion, including Altitude, The Art Studio, Energy, Joy Park, The Teaching Kitchen and Water.
  • The Denver Firefighters Museum (downtown) – The Museum offers not only outstanding exhibits on the history of fire fighting in Denver focusing on the Denver Fire Department, but innovative and exciting hands-on activities that allow visitors to interact with the traditional exhibits
  • History Colorado Center–This $110 million experiential museum makes Colorado history fun and has exciting new workshops, exhibits, programs, and performances that spark curiosity and ignite the imagination.
  • United States Mint Tour (downtown) – Discover how our currency is made and take home a souvenir – FREE. Reservations are required for the 45-minute tours that are run every 90 minutes.
  • Molly Brown House Museum (downtown) – Learn about the life and times of “Unsinkable” Molly Brown in her restored Victorian home in Denver, Colorado. This is one of the most visited historic sites in the state of Colorado, and one of only a handful of sites nationally dedicated to the interpretation of a woman’s story. Admission to the Molly Brown House Museum is by guided tour only.
  • Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys. Where beloved childhood toys are elevated to art, and workshops are inexpensive.
  • Denver Art Museum (downtown) – Each spring break they have a themed break that allows the whole gang to make art in the galleries, work alongside artists, and check out Family Backpacks from the Family Activity Cart. Kids 18 and younger receive free general admission.
  • Downtown Aquarium. This features over 500 species of marine life and mammals in the million-gallon Aquarium Adventure Exhibit.
  • Mizel Museum. Rooted in Jewish values that have universal relevance, the Mizel Museum is a gem tucked away in a residential area in Denver’s Hilltop neighborhood. Kids will love their interactive road map as they journey along the 4,000 Year Road Trip: Gathering Sparks. They’ll learn about art, artifacts and digital media that narrates and illuminates Jewish history and culture.

NORTH

  • APEX Movement. Do you want to be the next American Ninja Warrior? Many of the TV’s program’s best athletes train at APEX Movement. Classes, birthday parties and open gym are available so your kids can challenge themselves the Ninja Warrior way.
    (Apex Movement)

    (Apex Movement)

  • Mid-air Adventures. Mid-Air Adventures offers a safe, active and unique experience for guests of all ages. Their 12,000 sq. ft. facility offers giant swings, zip lines, 20’ climbing wall, rope bridges, slides and a toddler area.
  • Hammonds Candy Factory Tour (Denver) – Hammond’s complimentary candy factory tours are fun and educational for candy lovers of all ages. Hundreds of thousands of people from across the globe have seen how their famous, handcrafted candy canes, ribbon candy, and lollipops are pulled, twisted, and shaped by hand. No reservations are required for small groups.
  • WOW Children’s Museum (Lafeyette)–This interactive museum educates children in the areas of arts, sciences and life. At the new and improved Bank of WOW! Exhibit, children and families can practice money recognition, counting and basic math skills, and learn about saving and spending
  • Butterfly Pavilion (Westminster) – Home to over 5,000 animals including Rosie the tarantula and a tropical forest where 1,600 butterflies rule the sky. They offer a daily spring break camp.
  • Gateway Park Fun Center. Boulder’s only indoor and outdoor family fun center with batting cages, go-carts, mini golf, an arcade, driving range, inline hockey and more.
  • Go hiking. There are so many beautiful hikes in the Boulder area and my favorites are at Chautauqua Open Space Park. Be sure to stop in the Ranger’s Cottage for interactive fun or eat at the historic Dining Hall. For here for more Boulder hiking ideas.
  • Louisville Community Park is a park that has it all. There is a grassy area for the kids to run free in, spray grounds to cool off in the summer, a large sandbox, playground and even a dog park with swim beach to watch the pooches play.
  • Boondocks Fun Center (Northglenn)–This 8-acre indoor/outdoor amusement center offers everything from bumper boats to laser tag to a Kiddie Cove to batting cages.
  • Greeley Freight Station Museum: Examine intricate model railroad layouts, a wooden caboose from the Colorado and Southern Railroad and more than 1,000 railroad artifacts. See actual trains come and go on nearby tracks.
  • Adventure Golf and Raceway (Westminster). This is a great place for mini golf and go karts in the Denver area. 
  • Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge (Commerce City)–Located 10 minutes from downtown Denver, this 17,000-acre refuge is one of the largest urban wildlife refuges in the United States. It consists of open lakes, wetlands, prairie grasslands, and woodlands and an excellent hands-on visitor’s center.
  • Celestial Seasonings. Visit the Celestial Seasonings headquarters in Boulder, Colorado and unlock the mysteries of tea with a free guided tea tour.

SOUTH

  • Hudson Gardens (Littleton) – The Hudson Gardens’ 30 acres non-profit botanical gardens are located along the bank of the South Platte River. Admission is free every day.
  • Westlands Park (Greenwood Village) – The Westlands playground includes three play areas sized for toddlers to teens. There are two large climbing structures which satisfy both the technical climber as well as the inexperienced child. In addition to the main play area, there are three multi-use playing fields, an in-line hockey rink, a natural water sculpture, a pond and a hike / bike trail.
  • Jumpstreet Indoor Trampoline Park (Littleton, Lakewood, Greenwood Village) – Wall-to-wall trampolines provide fun, indoor exercise and a perfect outlet for inclement weather days.
  • Carson Nature Center

    Carson Nature Center

    Jungle Quest (Littleton). Exciting Indoor Ziplines, Huge Safari Swing, 20-foot High Rock Climbing Wall, Swinging Cargo Net, Burma Bridges, Treehouse and Slides and Jungle Caves –for Kids 5 and up.

  • Carson Nature Center (Littleton)–South Platte Park has over 880 acres of open space along the South Platte River with five lakes open to fishing, 2.5 miles of the South Platte River and the Mary Carter Greenway for walking and biking, nearly 4 miles of natural surface trails, and the Carson Nature Center and classroom.
  • Lollipop Park (Centennial)–This indoor children’s amusement park is located inside the Family Sports Center and offers a carousel, bounce castles, train ride, small Ferris wheel, teacup ride and more.
  • Great Play (Highlands Ranch)–This unique gym for kids 6 months-10 years old makes it fun while developing motor skills, sport skills, fitness and coordination in their patented Interactive Arena.
  • Gameworks (Stapleton)–This 36,000-square-foot pubby amusement center and sports bar features hundreds of electronic games, a laser tag arena, big-screen TVs and comfort food.
  • Robert F. Clement Park (Littleton)–Clement Park is set on a 60-acre lake with a 1.4-mile walking path around it, tennis course, baseball fields, batting cages, multi-purpose fields, horseshoe pits and three separate playgrounds.
  • Littleton Museum. Located on 39 acres, this free museum consists of two living history farms (one from the 1860’s and one from the 1890’s), a small lake, a collections center, and a main exhibition and administration building.
  • iFLY Denver Indoor Sky Diving (Lone Tree). Fun,  safe indoor skydiving adventure Safe for ages 3 and up.

EAST

  • Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum (Denver) –An extensive collection of aircraft and related aviation and military exhibits preserving the history of the service men and women who served at Lowry Airforce Base. There are more than three dozen aircrafts on display in this 44,000-square foot space.
  • Dart Warz (Centennial)–Want an ultra cool alternative to paintball or airsoft? Look no further than Dart Warz.
  • Centennial Center Park–This 11-acre city park has a killer playground, nature areas, amphitheater and a water area in the summer. Located on the north side of Arapahoe Rd., between S. Revere Pkwy. and S. Vaughn St., adjacent to the Centennial Civic Center.
  • Wildlife Experience – The Wildlife Experience services became part of the Liniger Building at CU South Denver as a wildlife conservation exhibit featuring fine art.
  • Monkey Bizness (Centennial, Denver, Lone Tree) -You’ll find interactive inflatables, play structures, climbing walls, and games of all shapes and sizes. There is a separate section just for toddlers with their own play equipment.
  • Morrison Nature Center at Star K Ranch (Aurora). Star K Ranch “regulars” include mule deer, painted turtles, snapping turtles, red-tailed hawks, American kestrels, western meadowlarks, great horned owls, and blue jays. Costumes, blocks, puppets, kids’ books, and live animal exhibits make Morrison Nature Center a great place for kids.
  • Plains Conservation Center (Aurora)–The Plains Conservation Center is an outdoor education facility and state-designated natural area that educates children about Colorado’s eco-history, and nurture conservation efforts.
  • Unser Cart Racing – Kids… go carts. Can’t lose right? 

 WEST

  • Dinosaur Ridge (Morrison) – Part of the Morrison Fossil Area National Natural Landmark, Dinosaur Ridge area is one of the world’s most famous dinosaur fossil localities. Enjoy exhibits, a shuttle tour, and real dinosaur tracks. 
  • Majestic View Nature Center (Arvada)–Majestic View Nature Center and Community Park has more than majestic views–The 3,000- square foot Nature Center features hands-on nature and environmental displays, wildlife exhibits, a kid’s area, classrooms and meeting space.
    Apex Center

    Apex Center

    Earth Treks Climbing Center (Golden)–Earth Treks Golden features more than 28,500 sq ft of climbing with walls up to 48 ft high, including tons of bouldering and roped climbing for all ages and abilities.

  • Majestic View Nature Center (Arvada)–Majestic View Nature Center and Community Park has more than majestic views–The 3,000- square foot Nature Center features hands-on nature and environmental displays, wildlife exhibits, a kid’s area, classrooms and meeting space.
  • Apex Center (Arvada)–Perfect for an inclement weather day, this recreation and entertainment center houses two ice rinks, an awesome indoor aquatic play area, climbing wall, gyms, indoor track, themed indoor playground and more.
  • Colorado Railroad Museum (Golden)–Lose track of time year-round at this 15-acre railyard featuring over 100 engines, cabooses and coaches, a garden railway, renowned library and roundhouse restoration facility with working turntable.
  • Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave (Golden) – The Buffalo Bill Museum’s exhibits include memorabilia from Buffalo Bill’s life and Wild West shows, Indian artifacts, antique firearms and more. The spectacular views overlooking Denver are a bonus!
  • Casa Bonita (Lakewood) – It’s about the atmosphere and entertainment, kids love it, menu is limited.  Euphoric memories from your childhood?  Visit again–it hasn’t changed.
  • Lookout Mountain Nature Center (Golden)–Lookout Mountain Nature Center invites kids to connect with the natural world through interactive exhibits about the flora and fauna of the foothills ecosystem. Kids enjoy a hands-on play room and observation room.
  • Hiking. The western slope is home to some of Denver’s best hiking trails. Our favorites including Red Rocks, Matthews/Winters, Evergreen, Deer Creek and much more. Go here for maps, directions and regulations: http://jeffco.us/parks/open-space/.

What adventures would you add to our list?

 

Colorado Spring Break Vacation Ideas and Deals!

Warmer temperatures, blue-bird skies, stellar snow conditions and an itinerary packed with one-of-a-kind events and activities ensure Colorado is the perfect setting for an unforgettable spring break vacation. Whether it’s the whole family looking for downhill thrills or fun on the ranch, Colorado is the perfect destination to welcome a new season of fresh adventures. 

Staying closer to home? Don’t miss Spring Break in Denver 2017: Over 50 Activities Listed

Ski Swim Stay (Glenwood Springs). For families with pre-teen children in tow, Sunlight Mountain Resort gives parents an affordable skiing excursion where kids 12 and younger ski free with a paying adult. After conquering the slopes, there’s no better way to après than at the world’s largest hot springs pool. The Ski Stay Swim Package lets families choose from several hotels that all offer a free shuttle to and from Sunlight Mountain and many are within an easy walk of Glenwood’s historic downtown.
 
Kids Ski Free (Crested Butte). Crested Butte has long been my favorite resort town in Colorado and their Spring Break does not disappoint. Beginning April 1 through closing day (April 9), kids 12 and under ski free; no strings attached, no parent ticket required, no lodging stay required, no advance reservations, just a good ole free ticket for the littlest rippers. From Camp CB (the resort’s kids’ ski and ride school) to the Adventure Park that includes the tubing hill to a rock-climbing wall, miniature golf and bungee trampolines, there is plenty of fun. On Saturday, March 18, the seventh annual Ski Town Break Down is a spring celebration with live music featuring the Colorado jamgrass revolutionaries, Leftover Salmon. If you want to dump errr drop the kids off, they’ll love Kid’s Night Out while Mom and Dad take on the town.
 
Spring Break on the Ranch (Granby). From March 12 to April 9, C Lazy U Ranch will offer everyone from young students to older couples the chance to relax and participate in some last-minute snow activities such as sledding, ice skating, snowmobiling, cross country skiing and more. A modified kid’s program allows families to eat together, while parents get some alone time in-between meals. As an all inclusive resort, guests can relax as they know meals, activities and lodging are all covered in nightly rates.
 
No School, Kids Rule (Colorado Springs). Available March 17 to April 4, Cheyenne Mountain Resort’s No School, Kids Rule camp inspired experience invites families to forge a new adventure from on‐property movie nights, games and gourmet campfire s’mores to off‐property treks at the only mountain zoo in the United States. At the resort, guests can also explore over 200 scenic acres, swim a few laps, play a game of golf or relax at the Alluvia Spa & Wellness Retreat.
 
Late-season fun (Aspen). There are some great deals and a whole lot of fun in March. The 16th annual Bud Light Spring Jam, the premier spring festival in the Rocky Mountains, will bring two weeks of competitions, downtown concerts and parties to Aspen Snowmass.  Another great options is The Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES), which is a non-profit environmental science education organization that offers fantastic programs for children and adults.
 
Night Bike Tours (Winter Park). A combination of skiing and mountain biking, ski biking offers an alternative to skiing and snowboarding down the slopes. On Friday and Saturday nights from mid-December to late March, Night Bike Tours are available for two hours of night riding. It’s the perfect way to see the mountain in a whole different light. Tours include a guide, ski bike rental, orientation, gondola lift access, helmet, headlight, glasses and visibility vest.
 
Bird Watching (Monte Vista). With reduced foliage during the early spring months, birds and other wildlife species are easier to spot across the state. During the second weekend in March, the Monte Vista Crane Festival hosts wildlife experts, local naturalists and biologists who present educational workshops, while flocks of dancing sandhills assemble in the neighboring farm fields. Bus tours to the nearby refuge and adjacent farmlands provide visitors with the opportunity to view this spectacle up close and personal, with a knowledgeable local guide. 
 
YMCA of the Rockies (Estes Park and Granby). YMCA of the Rockies’ two locations–860-acre Estes Park Center and Snow Mountain Ranch’s 5,100-acre family ranch–have long been our favorite family getaways. Over spring break, enjoy tubing, ice skating under a covered pavilion, traditional sleigh rides, horseback riding, sledding, Nordic skiing, dog sledding and their line-up of special events like Mountaineering Weekend.
 
Art & History (Denver). Learn more about Denver’s landmark train station, which originally opened in 1881. Denver Union Station underwent a massive $54 million renovation in 2014 to re-open as home to the independent Crawford Hotel, plus an eclectic mix of 12 Colorado restaurants and retailers. The Denver Art Museum offers the Costume Studio, Create-n-Takes, and Family Activity Cart. General admission is free for kids 18 and younger; a special ticket is required for Star Wars™ and the Power of Costume.
 
Guided Adrenaline Adventure (Rocky Mountain National Park). The Stanley Hotel has teamed-up with world-renowned outfitter Kent Mountain Adventure Center, to offer the ultimate play and stay package. For those looking to learn something new, push their boundaries and capture a photo of a lifetime, the adrenaline package includes a full-day of guided backcountry skiing, frozen waterfall ice climbing or an avalanche awareness course. All packages include a Kent Mountain private guide, transportation, basic rental gear, park passes and a range of accommodation types at the Stanley Hotel.
 
National Parks. Peak season for Colorado’s four national parks runs from May to October, making the spring months an excellent time to take advantage of Colorado’s treasures before the rush of summer begins. Discover solitude atop North America’s tallest dunes at Great Sand Dunes, see why Black Canyon of the Gunnison is considered a dark-sky site with very little light pollution, perfect for winter-sky stargazing, imagine what life was like for the Ancestral Puebloans who called Mesa Verde home or take a ranger-led snowshoe ecology walk through Rocky Mountain National Park’s subalpine forest. 
 
Kayaks on Snow (Monarch). Many know kayaking to be a popular past-time during Colorado’s warmer months, but on April 15, those ready to brave the cold can enter the Kayaks on Snow race on Monarch Mountain. The custom course purposely includes banks and plenty of bumps for contestants, who race head-to-head, sliding down the icy path before ending in an icy pond.  
 
For more information, visit www.colorado.com.