Editor’s note, 2/21/20: This article has been updated with 2020 dates and details.
Spring Break is on the horizon, but perhaps the family budget doesn’t allow for plane tickets this year. No need to fret! With a variety of unique places to stay nearby, it’s not hard to feel like you are getting away. Whether you want to hang out in the Denver area or head to farther-flung mountain adventures, have budgets economical to extravagant, here are “staycation” options to prime your family’s springtime travel plans.
The Goal: Unplugged adventure near Rocky Mountain National Park
Located just minutes from Estes Park and the national park, families seeking hassle-free time away from screens and schedules will find plenty of it here. Offering a wealth of activities to fit every adventurer and weather condition—roller skating, horseback riding, archery, guided hikes or snowshoeing, challenge courses, indoor crafting and arts, swimming, or climbing the new indoor wall—families need only to show up and start having fun.
Lodging includes cabins of all sizes—they are all dog-friendly, too—and hotel-style lodge rooms. Buffet-style dining provides a good option for parents who don’t want to plan or cook meals for the week. Even better, many on-site activities are included for overnight guests, making this an affordable option for families.
For 2020, spring break at YMCA of the Rockies features Frozen Worlds weekends. From March 13 to April 2, special programming is being offered for all ages including snow fort building, snowflake crafts, educational polar bear and deer talks, penguin egg races (practice carrying eggs like penguins!), and winter science experiments. Cabin rates are lowered for the spring break period, or guests can visit for $25 with a day pass.
The Source Hotel, Denver
The Goal: A happening stay in the heart of the city
This trendy hotel and marketplace incorporated into a former iron foundry in Denver’s RiNo Art District boasts 100 guest rooms offering natural light, modern decor, and open-air views of the Denver skyline. There are even some jaw-dropping views from the toilet seat (yes, you read that right). Families in particular love the “two queen” category that sets beds perpendicularly to break up the room. But what truly sets it apart is the property’s Market Hall featuring 25 independent food and retail vendors, from wood-fire and smoked-foods eatery Smōk to modern, Israeli delicacies at Safta, as well as a rooftop gastropub, beer garden, and pool terrace with panoramic views. (The pool is heated year-round.)
Guests also have easy light rail access to offsite adventures, and the hotel provides transportation to nearby Zeppelin Station, a collection of international food stalls and creative vendors—from urban Colombian fare and Japanese-style poke bowls to Nashville hot chicken and burgers, fries, and shakes—to satisfy every taste bud.
The Goal: An active spring break without weather worries
Coloradans never truly know what weather they’re going to get during spring break, which can make planning a challenge. At Great Wolf Lodge Colorado Springs, all the action takes place indoors. There’s plenty to do: swimming, splashing, and sliding in water features from Cub Paw Pool for the littles to the high-speed Wolf Tail for big kids; challenging fears on the Howlers Peak Ropes Course; and reaching new heights on the Rustic Ridge Climbing Wall. There’s even an indoor adventure park, an arcade, and a Build-A-Bear Workshop with exclusive characters like Wiley the Wolf and Brinley Bear, in addition to numerous on-site dining options from buffets to craft beer.
This spring, families can book a stay in a Spring Breakout suite, which includes seasonal bedding, spring decor, and a spring-inspired blooming tree. Available from February 28 through May 3, 2020.
Vista Verde Guest Ranch, Steamboat Springs
The Goal: Laid-back mountain luxury sans crowds
This luxury guest ranch located just north of Steamboat Springs is perfect for families seeking to enjoy spring snow and exclusive service away from crowded ski resorts. While cross-country skiing is the crowd favorite at Vista Verde, guests can also enjoy outdoor pursuits like backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, fat biking, tubing, horseback riding, sleigh rides, ice fishing, and snowmobiling. Or try “snowga,” where guests snowshoe out to a rustic cabin in the woods for an all-levels yoga class by the wood burning stove, then snowshoe back. Guests can also head indoors for a weekly cooking class, wine tasting, beer tasting, leather working, or photography workshop. The property’s horseback riding program is unrivaled and includes either quiet rides on the snow-packed trails or in-depth instruction with a ranch wrangler in the heated indoor arena.
Kids can do most activities with their parents or opt for the kids program (ages six to 12 years) for activities like a snowshoe adventure, tubing party, and even snow and ice experiments. All activities include gear and guiding, and all meals are prepared by talented chefs. After dinner, snuggle up in your luxurious log cabin, complete with a bubbling hot tub out on the deck under the star-filled sky (12 cabins total).
Out-of-the-Box Spots to Stay
- Go Big!
- The Gaylord Rockies Resort and Spa does things on a grand scale, with 1,500 guest rooms, eight restaurants, a real train car in the sprawling Grand Lodge, spectacular views of the Rockies from towering 75-foot-tall atrium windows, and Colorado’s biggest TV screen in the Mountain Pass Sports Bar. That’s not to mention an abundance of activities for families of all ages, including a spa, arcade, and 22,000 square feet of aquatic experiences including indoor and outdoor pools, winding waterways, and slides.
- Be a Jailbird
- Pueblo’s family-operated, boutique hotel, Station on the Riverwalk, repurposed the town’s former police station and jail. Each room is named by cell number, offering a new twist on the term “incarceration.” Families can enjoy plenty of activities around Pueblo, from touring the Rosemount Museum—set in a 19th-century mansion—to exploring the town’s riverwalk and visiting the Pueblo Zoo.
- Off-the-Grid Luxury
- You might think staying in a yurt would be “roughing it.” But not at Tennessee Pass sleep yurts near Leadville, outfitted with log beds draped in linens, as well as wood stoves, a kitchenette with fresh water, cookware, and dishes, and dining table with chairs. Guests can even order catered meals for delivery. Complete with a Nordic center and cookhouse—guests can cross-country ski or snowshoe for a gourmet meal—spend the day exploring the Tennessee Pass wilderness, then retire to a cozy home away from home.
Deals for local activities this spring break:
On the lookout for deals on local attractions? Visit Denver suggests two citywide discount pass options, depending on the attractions you want to visit.
- The Denver CityPass includes eight participating attractions to choose from including the Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus, Downtown Aquarium, and Denver Zoo, allowing up to 35 percent savings on admission.
- Mile High Culture Pass is just $32.50 for a three-day pass to seven different cultural attractions, and offers exclusive discounts to other attractions including Butterfly Pavilion.