Trips to Europe are out, Colorado vacations are in and we’re thrilled to present our Colorado Summer Family Vacation Guide for 2021! This year, Summit County is our top pick for family travel–it’s easily accessible from Denver and oh-so glorious once you navigate [unfun] I-70 to explore the glories on the other side.
One of our family’s favorites? The Summit County Rec Path, a 55-mile long network of paved trails that connect Breckenridge, Frisco, Silverthorne, Dillon and Keystone and Vail. It’s perfect for biking and walking and that’s only the beginning. Join us as we help you explore everything in between and stay tuned for our deep dive into each of these destinations later this summer.
Note: Want to travel beyond Summit County? Scroll to the bottom of the article for our extensive guide to the rest of our top family vacation picks in Colorado including best hikes, waterfalls, Colorado camping and so much more. Don’t miss our Summer Activity Guide with 200+ Activities.
P.S. Summer is on our mind but be sure to register NOW for Vail Resorts’ Epic SchoolKids that offers 20 days of free skiing for ages kindergarten through fifth grade at Colorado’s five resorts in 2021-22.
Family Fun in Frisco, Colorado
When I moved to Colorado 18 years ago, Frisco seemed like an afterthought to its more famous neighbors but those days are no more. Located in the heart of Colorado’s Summit County, Frisco is known as The Main Street of the Rockies with a pedestrian-friendly Main Street, which is bookended by the 10,000-ft. Mount Royal and the lively Frisco Marina, home to more than 50 locally-owned restaurants, B&Bs, coffee shops, book stores, boutiques and bars. During the summer months, Frisco offers a variety of family-friendly festivals, live music and events, including an Americana 4th of July celebration, Thursday night Concerts in the Park, running races and the popular Colorado BBQ Challenge.
Where to Play in Frisco:
Warm-weather activities in Frisco include everything from road and mountain biking, boating, kayaking, rafting, stand-up paddleboarding, stand-up pedalboarding and sailing, to golfing, hiking, fishing and camping. Download the Frisco Fifteen summer bucket list to see how many you can do.
Water. Not many mountain destinations located at elevations north of 9,000 ft. are also home to a variety of water and lake activities. Lake Dillon (also known officially as Dillon Reservoir) and the Frisco Bay Marina allow visitors to enjoy flat-water activities, including guided boat tours, which suit families well.
Biking. The paved 55-mile Summit County Rec Path is fantastic for a moderate adventure but if mountain biking is your jam, hit the Peaks Trail, which runs for 8.5 miles between Frisco and Breckenridge. The Gondola or the complimentary Summit Stage bus service takes riders to Breckenridge, making one-way bike rides between the two towns popular, but a round-trip excursion is also an achievable task for adventure enthusiasts. The Frisco Bike Park – located at the Frisco Adventure Park – is completely free and open to the public. The site includes a pump track, slopestyle course, dual slalom course and a dirt jump facility. After you get your fill of jumps, head onto miles of singletrack accessible from the Bike Park. Check out the FREE 27-hole Peak One Disc Golf Course at the Frisco Adventure Park and if you don’t have your own disc, borrow one at the Day Lodge.
Where to Stay in Frisco:
Summit Mountain Rentals. Voted the “Best Property Management Company in Summit County” for the last six years, Summit Mountain Rentals is your go-to team for vacation lodging in Frisco with a commitment to taking care of guests, properties and property owners. They offer more than 150 rentals ranging from studios to boutique condos and luxury homes, including pet-friendly lodging.
Family Fun in Breckenridge, Colorado
Where does the play start in Breckenridge? (Because it most certainly never ends). Paddleboard Maggie Pond. Take a ceramics or pottery class with Breckcreate. Stroll charming Main Street. Enjoy Breck’s lively outdoor music scene and al fresco dining. Explore Country Boy Mine, one of the largest gold mines in Colorado. Escape from one of Breckenridge’s three escape rooms. Go dog sledding in the summer.
Where to Play in Breckenridge:
The Town of Breckenridge is home to hundreds of miles of area hiking and biking trails and nearly 270 acres of open space. For a 15-minute family-friendly jaunt, follow the Trollstigen Trail to visit Isak Heartstone, a 15-foot-tall wooden troll sculpture. If you want more of a challenge, summit a nearby and underrated 13,000-foot peak (or tackle 14,265-foot Quandary Peak), or use this guide to discover hundreds of hiking trails that are right for your family.
Breckenridge Ski Resort plans to kick off the summer season with the return of Epic Discovery on Friday, June 18. Guests can expect high alpine fun with a variety of on-mountain activities including scenic rides, bike haul, alpine slides, the GoldRunner Coaster, the Gold Summit Climbing Wall, the Alpineer Challenge course, the Vista Point Overlook Tower, Bungee Trampolines, minigolf, Mini Miner Gemstone Panning and so much more. For more information on summer activity offerings, visit www.Breckenridge.com.
Where to Stay in Breckenridge:
The Grand Colorado on Peak 8 is the ultimate family-friendly resort in Breckenridge! Not only is The Grand’s location at the base of Peak 8 ideal, but kids will also love the Family Fun Center and arcade, 5 private movie theaters, 2 aquatics areas including 2 indoor/outdoor pools, 7 indoor/outdoor hot tubs and 2 kids pool/play features, the Gr8 Escape Room, summer Sport Court with life-size checkers and chess, cornhole, and other fun games and outdoor grilling spaces to hang out with family and grill up some dinner. Lodging choices range from suites that sleep 4 to four-bedroom residences that sleep 16. All residences are lock-offs, so they are perfect for big or multi-generational families. Their four bedrooms have a huge living room, dining seating for 16, and 3 suite lock-offs giving everyone a private space. Parent privacy + staying connected are a win-win at Grand Colorado.
Family Fun in Vail, Colorado
Vail may be a world-class winter wonderland but in the summer, the pedestrian villages in the three lively base areas are a labyrinth of cobblestone streets with charming plazas that are teaming with playgrounds, fountains, charming shops, a susurrus of conversation, jubilant kids on bikes and an avalanche of flowers spilling out of hanging baskets.
Where to Play in Vail:
Some of our favorites include riding up the Eagle Bahn Gondola to Adventure Ridge for zip lines, ropes challenge courses, a climbing wall, and a rebound trampoline. Imagination Station (for kids ages 2-12) encourages experimental play, the Betty Ford Gardens is the U.S.’s highest botanic gardens and the Vail Nature Center on the banks of Gore Creek hosts informative bird, wildflower and beaver pond hikes. Cool off in Vail Fountain, followed by a trip to Fuzziwigs candy shop or head over to Beaver Creek where free cookies are served daily at 3 p.m. at the base.
Sign your child up for Nature Tykes at the Walking Mountains Science Center or they’ll enjoy Little Listeners at the Library–free, fun, and informative performances by musicians from resident orchestras. Free concerts abound, including Hot Summer Nights concert series in Vail, Beaver Creek Music Experience Wednesday nights or Minturn’s Summer Concert Series. For hikes, take Gondola One and create your own (or walk down Berry Picker) or take a picnic lunch to Piney Lake followed by a hike away from the touristy madness. Nottingham Lake in Avon has a new kiddo beach and it’s a great place to learn how to SUP. Vail’s recreation path system includes over 15 miles of paved, multi-use recreation paths and my family loved our casual stroll along the Gore Valley Trail. If you can plan your visit around the Kids Adventure Games August 11-15, 2021, your kids will have the ultimate adventure!
Where to Stay in Vail:
Grand Hyatt Vail. Situated along one-third of a mile of Gore Creek’s exceptional Gold Medal fly fishing waters overlooking picturesque Vail Mountain, Grand Hyatt Vail offers an expansive basecamp for outdoor adventure or respite for nature-seeking, mountain-going travelers. The resort partners with Vail Valley Anglers to customize fly-fishing experiences for guests in front of the resort on Gore Creek or throughout the Vail Valley’s pristine fly-fishing waterways. Weekly activities include live music, champagne sabering, specialty macarons and summer sippers, après adventure specials, yoga on the Gore, guided nature walks, mountain and e-bike rentals and excursions, private area experiences with seasonal yappy hours, poolside BBQs, Hyatt Loves Locals pop-ups and more. The infinity-edge pool offers lounge seating along with private cabana rentals.
Colorado Summer Vacation Guide Additional Resources
Where to pull of I-70 when you’re stuck in traffic (fun activities and restaurants)