Staycationing in Denver? The Urban Corridor’s Best Summer Adventures
posted by: Julie Bielenberg
Always a nice choice for families is Chautauqua Park located at the base of the Flatirons in Boulder. This National Historic Landmark has rental cottages with 48 miles of hiking trails and thousands of acres of natural lands right outside the front door.
On weekends in July, Arts in the Open will take audience members on a moderate hike amidst the scenic backdrop of Boulder Open Space while scenes from “Goldilocks” are performed along the way.
The historic Chautauqua Dining Hall (a tradition since 1898) has recently undergone a huge overhaul and the wraparound porch offers some of the best patio dining in Colorado. If you visit on a Saturday, be sure to also visit the Boulder’s Farmer’s Market (voted the best in Colorado by USAToday readers). Still need more? Head to the trendy, historic Pearl Street Mall’s restaurants, shops, street performers and Pop Jet Fountain–they never fail to entertain. (boulderdowntown.com)
We love Colorado Springs staples like the Garden of the Gods Park, Pikes Peak – America’s Mountain, the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center and Manitou Cliff Dwellings but the big news this summer are additions like the country’s first indoor drone racing facility, a public marketplace and a new adventure experience at Cave of the Winds Mountain Park. Don’t miss Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s new Gray Wolf pups, either. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s newish $13.5 million exhibit Encounter Africa. Highlights include an amphitheater that allows guests to see elephant training, enrichment and husbandry, a new exhibit for the African lion pride and a “Skybridge” that takes guests from the exhibit to the barn, enabling them to see the elephants from above. (cmzoo.org)
For a thrill, check out the Cave of the Winds’ Wind Walker Challenge Ropes Course that is located on the rim of a 600-foot drop into Williams Canyon. Colorado Wolf Adventures have teamed up to host “Up Close with the Wolves” this summer. The 4,400 square-foot Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument’s Visitor Center offers more fossils on display and interactive exhibits. If a train ride is on your bucket list, the South side of the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park takes on a new look with the addition of Pinon Ridge Play-Land, a 2,000-square foot playground built specifically to blend into the natural surroundings. And last but certainly not least, The Broadmoor Soaring Adventure consists of 10 zip-lines that range in distance from 300 feet to 1,800 feet as well as moderate hiking and rope bridges while you enjoy the Seven Falls area. Dine at the new Sevens Falls Restaurant 1858 and don’t miss their trout fritters, honey lemonade and peach cobbler. (visitcos.com)
Denver is exploding with commerce from new hotels, restaurants, breweries, kid gyms, it seems to be at its peak in terms of construction and neighborhood transformations from RiNo and lower downtown, to Stanley Marketplace lies right on the line of Denver and Aurora, Denver is in an epic era. Here’s what families need to know to experience this sizzling summer in the city. If your family is around during Independence Day, make sure you venture over to Civic Center Park on July 3 to enjoy a concert, light show and fireworks display that you will never forget. If you haven’t ventured to the RiNo art district, this summer it’s going to be on the bucket list, especially with Central Market, Shake Shack and new family-friendly joints in the urban mecca. This district features colorful murals as well that the children will enjoy. Hotels are popping up monthly it seems and there is plenty of exploring to be done.
As always, visit the Denver Art Museum, it’s one of our favorite Rocky Mountain cultural institutions, and arguably, one of the best art museums in the nation! From rotating exhibitions to great family programming, adventure backpacks and fountains to splash in out front of the museum, it’s a great choice on a hot day to cool off, plus, it’s FREE for kids! (dam.org) The Arapahoe County Fair, July 26-29, is a summer tradition since 1906 with carnival rides, rodeos, concerts, fireworks, 4-H shows, tractor pulls and so much more.
Denver Zoo, History Colorado Center, Main Branch of Denver Public Library, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Children’s Museum, City Park, Washington Park, Sloan’s Lake, Denver Mint, Capital tours, Highlands neighborhood, Old South Gaylord Street—family fun, summer educational opportunities and so much more have never been more prolific in Denver. Summer in the city! (visitdenver.org)
Visit the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery and don’t miss out on the Tornado Tunnel, it’s a kid and adult favorite. More kid fun includes wandering through the Gardens at Spring Creek, a trip on the Magic School Bus offering up kid tours, farm tours and history tours. Stroll down Main Street (College Avenue) near the CSU Campus and take in the coed culture and the blooms at the Annual Trial Garden. The Farm at Lee Martinez Park is an agricultural oasis smack dab in town. And, to top off any day, had to The Colorado Room for some of my favorite local eats in town, may I recommend the bison poutine?
Got a kiddo who likes to groove, the new 164-room Elizabeth Hotel in Old Town (111 Chestnut Street) opened to the public in November and pays tribute to FoCo’s deep-rooted music scene. With record players in the guest rooms, a piano in the hotel’s Sky Bar, jazz music at the rooftop Sunset Lounge, a lending library chock full of musical instruments you can borrow and even a Music Suite complete with a baby grand piano, the musical theme permeates this modern luxury hotel.
I scream, you scream . . .The latest endeavor from Denver fave Little Man Ice Cream – called Churn – opens this summer at The Exchange, an innovative new development featuring food, entertainment, mercantile and creative outdoor areas (located at 200 North College Ave). Fittingly, Churn will anchor the open-air central quarter.
There is weekend ‘Toons at The Lyric Cinema’ on Saturday and Sunday mornings from 9 am till around noon for free cartoons on the big screen. You never know what’s playing – old-school Looney Tunes, maybe The Tick or Johnny Bravo – but you can count on an all-you-can-eat cereal bar for just $5 and a full brunch menu from the kitchen. (lyriccinema.com/weekend-toons).
Ready for a little pinball revival? Pinball Jones, an Old Town original since 2011, recently expanded to a second location. This “barcade” is a true arcade, chock full of vintage and brand-new pinball machines, as well as pool tables, air-hockey tables, skeeball and more.
Get your junior jam on at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, which features a permanent music-oriented exhibit. The Music & Sound Lab explores the physics of sound, the history of the Fort Collins music scene and some of the technology behind everything from Edison wax cylinders to iPods. The museums’ OtterBox Digital Dome Theater hosts concerts as well as a monthly “Acoustic Treatment” event, where a rising local musician shares tales in between an intimate acoustic set.
Don’t forget that Fort Collins has Colorado’s only Wild & Scenic River that is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Wild & Scenic Rivers Systems. Cache la Poudre River located in the northern Front Range and dubbed the “Poudre” by local residents and longtime visitors, the main and south forks of the river originate in Rocky Mountain National Park and then flow north and east through the Roosevelt National Forest before eventually passing through Fort Collins.
If you would like a little guidance on your first adventure, Fort Collins-based Front Range Ride Guides is ready to take you on your first fat-bike adventure. (visitfortcollins.com)
Summer is in full swing in Golden! The Golden History Museum Grand Re-Opening was on June 23rd! New inclusions added to the museum include The History Lab, The Salon, Touch Gallery, and Epic Events. This renovated museum is not something you want to miss this summer. The inaugural Artsweek Golden occurs during the week of July 16 – 22. This is a weeklong arts celebration full of art festivals, sidewalk paintings, performance art, beer and art pairings, and so much fun! Don’t forget to explore Golden Summer Nights every Saturday & Sunday with free carriage rides, live music, extended store hours, activities and more. (visitgolden.com)
If you are on your way to the Rocky Mountain National Park, you must make a stop in Loveland. The Larimer County Fair & PRCA Rodeo (August 3-7), is something that you can’t miss. It is the biggest event that happens in The Ranch, for good reason. There are an abundance of activities including parades, concerts, and fireworks. Don’t forget to bring your swimsuits because Loveland is also a huge water destination that includes Boyd Lake State Park, Carter Lake as well as Lake Loveland Swim Beach. If you are looking to spend a day truly connecting with your family check out Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch dude ranch vacations. This is a great way for the whole family to unplug and reconnect with each other. Kids have the option to learn horseback riding and go to kids camp with fun activities. (VisitLovelandCO.com)