Top 10 Summer Adventures for Colorado Families
posted by: Julie Bielenberg
Let’s get right to it! It’s been a LONG semester, with quite a chaotic start to 2019. There was more than one bomb cyclone, a school shutdown, and a legendary Denver Public School teacher strike; nonetheless, if there’s one thing that will recharge the children is a journey to Colorado’s mountains, historic towns, hot springs, kid adventure courses and more this summer.
Part one includes the top 10 Colorado summer adventures for families and part two will include the most updated information on our top ten favorites. Cheers to summer mamas and well done for surviving a wild and wacky year! Take a deep breath and enjoy our incredible bounty of vacation ideas and journeys.
A Grazing Life, Colorado Springs
I’ll admit, my daughter and I like hanging out with sheep and cows more than most people; however, for those who would rather just view at a glance and enjoy awesome cuisine, A Grazing Life is the summer dinner adventure. This true, farm-to-table experience on the Frost Livestock Company’s ranch in Fountain, near Colorado Springs, has two options. Throughout summer, families can visit on scheduled Saturdays to tour the operations, visit animals, and picnic on the grounds. There is also the farm-to-table dinners with visiting Colorado Springs’ chefs that is more adult-focused with music and spirits, but still suitable for children. We did both, I am in love, and it’s not because founder, Mike Preisler, and I both went to college in Wisconsin together; albeit, years apart. Nope, it’s because the farm, operation, cuisine, and animals are outrageously impressive.
Piney River Ranch, Vail Valley
If you love moose and a majestic, throw-back cabin setting, then book Piney River Ranch. It’s unbelievable that a little exit from the I-70 at Exit 176 in Vail, and a 30-minute drive results in one of the best family-resorts in all of Colorado! YES! Here’s why. The private, forty-acre retreat, is often popular with day hikers as there is a restaurant onsite as well as boat rental facilities. However, the secret is staying the night in the new glamping tents. They are certainly luxurious with lots of amenities included—1-queen, 2-twin beds per tent, linens/pillows provided, wood burning stove (when able to use, fire bans are common), parking for one vehicle per tent, pets welcome and a shared men’s and women’s guest bathhouse with standard flush toilets. The lake and surrounding streams provide ample fly-fishing, hiking, canoeing, stand-up paddle boarding, waterfalls to hike to or simply relax by the fire pit.
Platte River Fort Resort & Event Center, Greeley
Platte River Fort Resort & Event Center opens their new campground and onsite eatery, Hank’s Bar & Grill that will operate Tuesday-Friday 12pm-8pm. This massive property is on 235 acres and includes 1.5 miles of the South Platte River and a herd of around 30 Texas Longhorn Cattle that roam the grounds. The campground features approximately 30 sites dependent on tents and guests. This can include trailer, RV or tent camping. Rates will be around $35 for a trailer or bigger rig, tent camping around $15 a night. This is an easy drive or visit from the Front Range; the Resort & Event Center is a five-minute drive from the University of Northern Colorado or 1.5 miles from downtown Greeley. Platte River also has six yurts by the river, sleeping up to four people and a covered wagon, which sleeps up to four as well.
The Elizabeth Hotel, Fort Collins
The Elizabeth Hotel is one of my top recommendations for Denver mamas who want a quick escape with the tweens! This brand-new, luxury and hipster-based hotel in downtown Fort Collins is by far one of the best things to happen on the Colorado hotel circuit in the past couple years. The hotel has a swanky jazz and music theme and rentable records children can take to the room and play on an old-fashioned record player. There are also musical instruments for rent. A rooftop bar, downstairs restaurant and bar with awesome giant-size games for kiddos and the best market North of Denver! The black and white tiled San Fran-esque market has ice cream, coffee, wine or beer to purchase and take, a full menu, grab and go and much more, it’s worth multiple stops.
Three Rivers Resort, Almont
My littlest was 2.5-years old, it was time to get him on the river. After a day of mellow drift fly-fishing with the guides from Three Rivers Resort, we were convinced this was the spot to put the tyke in the raft. We choose a mellow, late summer trip on the Taylor, a leisurely drift down the river with no more than a class II rapid, and the best splashes for cooling off. This resort has been around decades and is great with youngsters. My big kids even like the river jumps at the end, there’s something for everyone. Plus, the Resort is easily accessed if you are coming off Cottonwood Pass from the Front Range or its right between Crested Butte and Gunnison. They have seven different river, lake and water trips, overnight lodging, restaurant onsite and much more.
Lost Forest, Snowmass
From trout hook fishing to a Treeline Tour Challenge Course, the new Lost Forest in Snowmass should not be missed this summer. The new adventure park is located on the mountain near Elk Camp, and is worth seeking out for the entire family. We were thrilled to give Lost Forest a whirl last summer and loved the climbing wall with different routes. There is the Canopy Zip Line, the Breathtaker Alpine Coaster, Rugged Ascent Climbing Wall, Aerial Approach Disc Golf, and Timber Territory Paintball. It is truly fun for the whole family whether you prefer to take it slow and participate in disc golf, or are more of an adventurer willing to attempt the Treeline Tour Challenge Course. Snowmass is open daily from June 21 through September 2, and the Lost Forest is accessible from 9 am to 3:30 pm.
River Run, Granby
You can’t miss the brand new opening of River Run RV Resort! Just two hours from Denver, along the Colorado River, escape the city and experience a different version of Colorado. There are so many lodging options to choose from furnished rentals to RV sites. This fall there will even be glamping options in covered wagons. The fun doesn’t stop there, the list of amenities offered is just as impressive as the lodging. Everything from kayaking to spa services will make for a great retreat for the whole family, so don’t miss out on this new opportunity this summer!
BEST OF BOULDER
Embassy Suites by Hilton Boulder
This is the best new family-friendly option in Boulder! Free breakfast, petit rooftop pool, happy hour loaded with vegetables, juice and craft drinks for adults. There is onsite parking, spacious rooms, great interior spaces for lounging or for the wee ones, the fountain and water pond are quite entertaining. Summer rates start at: $299 per night.
CU’s Lego Exhibit
In 2014, a group called the Colorado/Wyoming LEGO Users Group took roughly 1 million LEGO pieces to CU to form an extremely detailed CU campus. It features some of the most popular sites on campus like Old Main (the first building at CU), Fiske Planetarium, the Hill, and even Folsom Field with CU playing their 2015 homecoming game. Both realistic and imaginary reflections of life are presented in this exhibit. There’s a scavenger hunt on paper to find items in the exhibit, and it could take hours. It’s the most impressive Lego build I have ever seen in person and it’s fun to walk the campus in summer with the littles.
Bike To Farm Tour
Herschel Goldberg, founder of Boulder Bike Tours, loves getting people excited about not only cycling in Boulder, but the whole aspect of what eating local means. This was by far one of my son’s and I favorite nights of the summer. I was given my first ride on an e-bike and Herschel taught Hank some awesome bike tips and tricks on his rental. We did the Thursday night “Sunset Tour” where you start downtown and ride to a farm a little outside of the city (still in Boulder) with wood-fired pizza featuring veggies that are harvested that day. There’s music playing, children dancing, libations, coffee, etc. It’s the epitome of Boulder!
The Maven Hotel at Dairy Block
The Maven Hotel at Dairy Block is the official partner hotel of the Colorado Rockies and the closest hotel to Denver’s Coors Field. Located one block from the ballpark, The Maven offers stunning views along with the special baseball-themed Diamond Suite, which features a wrap-around porch and a curated collection of baseball art, movies and snacks for the true baseball fan to enjoy. Priced at just $189 per night, The Maven Colorado Rockies Home Run package knocks it out of the park by including an overnight accommodation for two, two Colorado craft beers or sodas, two boxes of Cracker Jacks, $25 Rockies Stadium Gift Card – good for food, beverages & gear inside Coors Field and valet parking. That’s a CRAZY awesome downtown deal.
Urban Unplug is a new package offered by Curtis Hotel offering Digital Detox. This urban getaway includes a Camp Curtis Counselor-approved map of favorite downtown Denver destinations including the Denver Center for Performing Arts, Elitch Gardens Theme and Water Park and the cool waters at Confluence Park. Campers can enjoy a $20 “camp stipend” to pay for Denver B-cycle bike rides or kayak rental at Confluence Kayaks to paddle the South Platte River. To help keep you hydrated and sunburn-free at Denver’s Mile High elevation, Camp Curtis will supply you with an Urban Survival Kit featuring sunscreen, bottled water, Chapstick and house made trail mix, root beer and more. And to combat the screen time withdrawal, the hotel will send you off with a Digital Detox Cleanse pack including Sudoku brain games, a fidget spinner and more. Prices start at just $185 per night. Plus, the Curtis is hyper-themed and quirky, including the new Marvel Suite on the “Superhero” floor and the Ghostbusters Suite on the 13th floor, the “Dun, Dun, Dunnnnn” floor.
Colorado Activity Guide
Where to pull of I-70 when you’re stuck in traffic (fun activities and restaurants)