Time and time again, Boulder has been lauded for being one of the nation’s top college towns. But it’s also great for the younger crowd: for kids and families.
Boulder is a playful, spirited city, with a younger population than the national average. Although it’s full of singles and college students, 19 percent of the residents have children under the age of 18 living with them.
Boulder has also been named one of the top 25 cities for a weekend getaway (Thrillst, 2016), and we think it’s perfect for a family vacation.
Boulder is a foodie heaven. Unfortunately for picky kids, that doesn’t always bode well. We know most kids aren’t going to get down with sashimi, beet salad or split pea soup, even if you bribe them. We know what kids like. In fact, local kids helped us make the list of the best family-friendly restaurants in Boulder. All have great kids’ menus and a welcoming atmosphere for youngsters. Some even have special deals where kids can eat cheap.
Downtown is made for families. In fact, USAToday.com named Boulder one of the top 10 Best Cities to See Street Performers (2015), and downtown is the buskers’ hub. Experience downtown with your kids in a variety of ways: through free entertainment, with water, through reading or through local food, just to name a few.
This is the hardest list to narrow down because the possibilities are infinite. Boulder’s outdoor adventures are extensive and most are great for curious kids, too. Here are a few of our favorites, including the obvious (hanging out at Chautauqua Park) to the local secrets (picking raspberries at a farm), and from active (an outside American Ninja Warrior course) to soothing (hanging out at the Peace Garden) to educational (learning about nature at an environmental education center).
Truly, every park in Boulder is great for families. You can’t go wrong with any of the open space offerings. But a few parks stand out for their unique play structures or proximity to other natural features. Check out the giant dinosaur at East Boulder Community Park or the tunnels at Arapahoe Ridge Park. Foothills Community Park is close to three other parks, surrounded by walking paths.
Boulder is filled with artists and scientists, so it’s no surprise that some of the most exciting activities in town for families involve arts, culture and science. There are outdoor concerts, educational museums, art classes and an incredible public library. Don’t miss the Fiske Planetarium or the Colorado Music Festival.
Boulder’s nature is so incredible, it’s hard to want to go indoors. But with these special activities, it’s worth it. Play laser tag and jump at Dizzy Fun Center, test your obstacle course skills at a warrior training center in Broomfield and play soccer (and enjoy a beer and the game) at Boulder’s indoor soccer arena, to name a few.
While there’s enough entertainment in Boulder to keep your family amused for weeks, it can be fun to take a short day trip from the “Boulder bubble” to see some of the other nearby family-friendly attractions. The Butterfly Pavilion, Denver Zoo and, of course, the Rocky Mountain National Park are just a few of the destinations you can reach in a short drive. These day trips are close enough to station in Boulder, drive out for the day and return to your Flatirons home base in the same day.
Pick up a memorable souvenir of your trip or a great gift at some of Boulder County’s fantastic, family-friendly shopping options. There are specialty stores, such as Into The Wind (a kite shop), Liberty Puzzles (old-fashioned, artistic puzzles) and Atomic Goblin Games in Longmont (where teens enjoy gathering to play games). There are also cute places to pick up clothes and some fun toy stores where you’re encouraged to stay and play all day.
Boulder doesn’t have as extensive of a hotel selection as Denver, but what it lacks in quantity, it makes up in quality. In addition to some incredible luxury and historic lodging options, Boulder also offers plenty for kids. Look for hotels with play areas, slides, pools, outdoor activities and a close proximity to parks and water.
Want to learn more? Here are a few prominent, family-centric, local organizations to reach out to. They regularly offer events and can provide more guidance about things to do.