Editor’s note, 2/21/20: This article has been updated with 2020 dates.
There’s just something about spring that has the whole family in the mood to get outside. Even better, the activities that a Colorado spring lays at our doorstep are affordable—even free—simple pleasures everyone can enjoy. Not only will you save money avoiding big spending activities, but the kids will be having too much fun to even notice.
1. Hit the Trail
Whether that means finding a super local trail or packing up the car for an all-day excursion, Colorado is home to some of the best outdoor playgrounds meant for exploring and wandering. Everyone in the family can get into a solid hike. Pick two to three options and allow your child to cast the final vote. Let your child browse photos of the trails online or map out where you’ll stop for lunch.
If you’re looking for an easy trail close to Denver, try Elk Meadow Park in Jefferson County. The various connecting trails can be combined for a longer hike or if your family is just looking for a leisurely stroll, try the 2.4-mile Meadow View to Elk Ridge to Sleep S trail.
2. Pack a Picnic
One of the best parts of the spring season is the weather. Most days are perfectly warm and breezy—with the exception of a random spring snowstorm or two. Take advantage of sunny days by packing up a picnic and heading to the park. If your family is tired of trips to the neighborhood park, head to your favorite lookout spot and set up a blanket for a midday feast. Lookout Mountain Park (only 30 minutes from Denver) is a great spot to relax and enjoy a mountainside picnic while taking in some spectacular views.
3. Enjoy a Festival
With warmer weather comes plenty of city activities—several of which are free. Take advantage of what Denver is offering this season and head to one of the many spring festivals. Even the littlest members of your crew can be entertained with kid focused activities, food, and fun.
The Cinco De Mayo Festival in Denver runs from May 2 to 3 at Civic Center Park. Festivities are free and include live music, food, a parade, and kid specific activities.
4. Hop on Your Bike
Whether you own your own bikes or borrow a few from friends, there are several places to bike around Colorado with the family. Soak up a sunny day, strap on your helmets, and head out for a morning ride. Not only is biking together fun, it’s a great way to get in some exercise, too. Pack a snack and plenty of fluids, then map out a shady spot to stop, and soak up each others company.
Test out your wheels on the Cherry Creek Trail. Confluence Park in downtown Denver is a great spot to stop along the way for a quick snack break.
5. Plant a Garden
What could possibly be more “spring” than planning and planting a garden? Roll up your sleeves, break out your seed packets, and let the kids design their own garden plot. If you don’t have the space to plant a new garden, consider growing herbs in pots or planters. Let your kids lead the way and take responsibility for the care it takes to grow and maintain a plant. For the littlest growers, start with something forgiving like growing a bean indoors or planting a potato in the yard.
6. Kick a Ball
OK, so you don’t have to just kick a ball, any sporting activity will do. Whether you’re in the mood for a game of kickball or a “HORSE” tournament, playing outdoors and practicing teamwork is a great free way to spend a spring afternoon. This is also a way to explore your child’s sport interests before signing them up for a specific league.
7. Take an Evening Walk
Put on the headlamps or bring a flashlight and head out for a walk around the neighborhood. This could easily become a nightly ritual for your family. Take time to talk to your children, ask them questions, point out things that look different in the evening, encourage them to choose the direction you’ll walk, and, most importantly, have fun. Evening walks can be a great way to unwind after a long day at school or work. It doesn’t have to be a grand adventure, just a quick stroll will do and if you end up at a local ice cream spot, that’s not terrible either!
8. Build a Tiny Village
Get outside and gather little bits of nature to create a tiny village, whether you imagine it’s for a family of gnomes or fairies, this is a fun way to bond over creativity. Use the trunk of the tree to create a doorway, build a mini teepee from small sticks or a fire pit using pebbles, and add a bit of imagination. Help your child think of fun ways to turn nature into little homes; you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how creative they can get.