As you prepare to say goodbye to summer vacation, consider what is left on your list of things to do before school begins. Take a break from back-to-school shopping with these 10 fun ideas. Make the final days and weeks of summer memorable.
1. Take a hike. Maybe you weren’t able to get in as much mountain time with the family as you hoped. Set aside a day for a kid-friendly hike, such as St. Mary’s Glacier. For added fun, pack a lunch to enjoy at the top while you chat with your children about what they loved best about their summer.
2. Camp out. Camping with little ones takes advanced planning, so aim for simple, carefree camping fun in your backyard. Invite a friend or two and play a game of tag with flashlights when it gets dark. Roast hot dogs and marshmallows in an outdoor fire pit or over the grill. Snuggle up under the stars, point out constellations or play a game of “would you rather” with your kids. (Examples: Would you rather have the power to fly or be invisible? Would you rather live in the mountains or at the beach?)
3. Bike along Platte River. There are 28 miles of trail along the Platte River for families to enjoy together, whether you tackle the whole length or just a short portion of it. It’s an outing filled with exercise and fresh air, and you can stop along the way as much as you like. Start the trail at the REI Denver flagship store and make your way through Denver to enjoy the city from a different perspective. If the kids aren’t much for biking, try a leisurely stroll to admire the art painted along the walls. Point out unique buildings, sculptures, and other features you see along the way.
4. Check out a Rockies game. Spend a day rooting for the home team. With Rockpile tickets priced so low, there’s no reason not to head to the ballpark for a hot dog and some action-packed baseball with the whole family.
5. Catch a sunrise. Whether you’re peering over Lookout Mountain, posted up at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, driving up Guanella Pass, or cozy in your own backyard, a sunrise in Colorado is one of the most wonderful beauties to witness. Wake your kids up early just one morning (if they aren’t already up) to share in the first light of the day. Just think, maybe they”ll go to bed early that night, and you”ll be on your way to an earlier bedtime schedule for school. After sunrise, beat the breakfast rush and grab a stack of pancakes at Snooze or another great spot near your home, or just enjoy breakfast on your own porch as a family.
6. Pick some fruit. August is the month for sweet strawberries and red raspberries at Berry Patch Farms in Brighton. Load up the car with the entire crew and head out into the fields to pick fresh berries. It’s like an easy treasure hunt with the best payoff ever.
7. Take a sunset stroll. Walk around Sloan’s Lake or any other of the metro area’s beautiful parks in the evening. Choose one with a playground so the kids can play until the sun sets, then stop and admire the last rays as a family. It’s a great time to share hopes for the next school year, too.
8. Spend the day at a mountain resort. The winter slopes transform into family-friendly playgrounds each summer, with a plethora of activities the entire crew can enjoy. From scenic chairlift rides to hiking trails and alpine slides, there’s a little something for everyone. Head to the mountains early for one last summer hoorah.
9. Drive up Trail Ridge Road. If you have yet to make your way up Trail Ridge Road this season, now is the time. Spend the day enjoying everything that Rocky Mountain National Park has to offer, including hiking around Bear Lake and searching for elk herds. Make the drive up Trail Ridge Road to stand above the treeline and gaze over miles and miles of mountains and sky. Let the kids take their best photos along the way.
10. Ride the Georgetown Loop. A scenic ride on an old mining railroad is an exceptional way to close out the summer with your family. The Georgetown Loop takes reservations online, and for an additional fee, you can enjoy a tour of a mine while learning about the history of gold mining in Colorado.
Lucy Beaugard is a Denver-based photographer and writer.