If you could plan the perfect summer for your family, what would it look like? Lazy days spent by the pool? Non-stop adventure in the mountains? Road trips and plane trips galore? Colorado has it all, and the best part is that it’s all in your own backyard. Here’s our bucket list of Colorado summer fun, from mountain adventures and trendy summer eats to must-see exhibits and challenge courses for the kids. Get the summer fun started.
Play on a Mountain Top
So what if the snow has melted and the slopes have closed? There are still plenty of fun reasons to head to Colorado’s ski resorts. Mountaintop parks offer a roundup of outdoor activities from relaxing to adventurous. This summer the newest addition, The Lost Forest at Snowmass mountain, debuts with a 5,700-foot long Breathtaker alpine coaster, a challenge course with introductory to difficult levels, a climbing wall, and an expanded network of hiking trails, all tucked among the trees. Packages start at $84 per person and include access to Elk Camp Gondola and Chairlift, and access to Lost Forest activities.
Watch a Star Shower
Each August, the Perseid Meteor Showers splay twinkling lights across the night sky. Some years the show is more spectacular than others, and 2018 is predicted to be a good year, weather permitting. Just get away from the city lights on the peak night of August 12, find a dark spot, and look up. On other clear summer evenings, you can share a stunning view of the Milky Way with the kids in one of three Dark Sky designated locations in Colorado: Hovenweep National Monument, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, and the cities of Westcliffe and Silver Cliff. These locations have minimal light pollution and offer stargazing events or programs throughout the summer.
Run with Bubbles
What kid doesn’t love bubbles? The Bubble Run in Lowry on July 28 gets the family moving in a fun way, running (or walking is OK, too) through bogs of colored bubble foam. $50 per runner, kids four and under race for free with paid adult registration. Great Lawn Park Lowry, 101 N. Yosemite St., Denver.
Take on a Challenge
The Kids Obstacle Challenge in Castle Rock on July 7 and 8 gives kids ages five to 16 a chance to push the limits with 12 to 15 obstacles over one and a half to two miles, and a lot of mud. Parents can run alongside their child for free. Philip S. Miller Park, Castle Rock.
For more summer challenges, kids ages six to 14 in teams of two can sign up for the Kids Adventure Games in Vail, August 8-12, or participate in public elements of the GoPro Mountain Games, June 7-10, in Vail.
Bunk with the Beasts
An African safari for the whole family may be way out of the budget, but a campout at the Denver Zoo gives families at taste of adventure with up-close animal encounters, a campout dinner, and private after-hours tours. Summer Bunk with the Beasts programs also take the sleepover outside with special safari tents under the stars. Denver Zoo, 2300 Steele St., Denver.
Get Your Om On
It’s easy for kids to turn into sofa sloths during the summer months. Use the time to instill healthy living habits, instead. Try one of the kids yoga classes in interesting places around town. Rainforest Yoga runs each Wednesday in the Butterfly Pavilion, and Yoga with the Sharks is offered various Saturdays at Downtown Aquarium.
Lunch with a Llama
Take a dream hike in Vail with a couple gentle camelids. Learn more about your llama companions and hike an easy to moderate trail together. Leave your big backpack at home, the llamas will carry lunch. Paragon Guides Take a Llama to Lunch starts at $415 for first two adults, $89 for each additional person, children 12 and under are half price and children five and under are free (after first two adults).
Whether you pack up the gear and head to the mountains or just set up a tent and fire pit in the backyard, sleeping outside and roasting s’mores on a Colorado summer night disconnects kids from the screens and connects them with nature. June 23 marks the Great American Campout day. Share your Campie (camping+selfie) with other campers using the hastags #campie and #greatamericancampout.
Cheer for Their Band
Sing along with Colorado-raised, Grammy-award winning Okee Dokee Brothers at a mountaintop concert in Keystone on July 1. In addition to the concert, Kidtopia Stars and Guitars, June 29 to July 4, offers free daily activities, fireworks, a chance to meet rescue dogs, mountaintop yoga, and a Wild West Night.
Go Ahead and Jump
We admit it, we’ve dreamed of a bounce house sturdy enough for the whole family to jump on together. JUMP (bring us together) is a large-scale inflatable floor that is part of the Happy City Denver: Art for the People citywide art intervention covering Denver this June. Happy City Denver consists of events, art installations, and discussions aimed at nurturing happiness and community wellness. JUMP will be on 17th St. between Wynkoop and Wazee on June 23 and 24. Smiley-face bubble clouds called Happy Clouds will also be launched around the Denver metro area throughout June. Various dates and locations.
Visit the Farm
City kids rarely get a chance to see where their food comes from. Take the family on a field trip to the farm for a chance to pick your own produce or learn more about animal husbandry. Forty-acre Berry Patch Farms in Brighton has been inviting families to pick their own berries or purchase farm fresh veggies since 1994. For a glimpse of dairy life, Mountain Flower Goat Dairy in Boulder offers special visiting hours with a chance to pet the goats, tour the farm, and watch goat milking demonstrations. Berry Patch Farms, 13785 Potomac St., Brighton. Check website for you-pick schedule and other events. Mountain Flower Goat Dairy, 3240 Broadway, Boulder; visiting hours every Saturday, June 2-30, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., and July 7, August 4, and September 1, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Explore the Adventure Forest
Mark the calendar for a trek across a kid- and adult-friendly 500-foot long aerial adventure course opening in the Joy Park at Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus in late summer. The new Adventure Forest structure encourages kids to become adventurers with a variety of challenges including a willow nest, glass bridge, rope swing, log bridge, and two 70-foot slides to bring them back to earth.
Drive In to the Movies
While free movies in the park have largely overtaken the drive-in movie tradition of the past, the Denver Mart Drive In still gives families a chance to experience a double feature under the stars, the old way. The 2018 season opens with a double feature of Solo: A Star Wars Story and Avengers: Infinity War over Memorial Day weekend. Bring the stadium chairs or do it the ‘70s way and spread a blanket on the hood of the car and pile on. Denver Mart Drive In, 451 E. 58th Ave., Denver.
Attend Broncos Training Camp
Get familiar with the new Broncos players and watch the team practice during the Broncos Training Camp, which usually starts late July or early August. Grab an early lunch from the rotating schedule of food trucks and score a place in line for autographs after practice. Full 2018 schedule details will be posted on the Broncos website around late June. UCHealth Training Center, Englewood.
10 Cool Summer Deals for Colorado Kids
Getting maximum fun for minimum cost is always on our summer bucket list. Check out these summer deals to keep things lively without breaking the bank.
- My Denver Card gives Denver residents ages five to 18 free access to recreation centers, pools, and attractions.
- Kids Bowl Free program entitles kids to two free games of bowling at participating locations every day of the summer. Age requirements vary by location. Register at kidsbowlfree.com.
- Kids for Free – General admission for the Denver Art Museum is free every day for kids 18 and under.
- Check Out State Parks – Check out a Colorado State Park pass and adventure backpack at a participating library for a week of free access to state parks.
- Harkins Summer Movie Fun – Purchase a season ticket for $5 and kids can watch a different family movie each week for 10 weeks at Harkins Arvada 14 or Northfield 18 Theatres.
- Alamo Drafthouse Kids Camp – Choose your price at Kids Camp, $1, $3, or $5 for tickets to watch favorite family movies throughout the summer, Monday-Friday at 11 a.m. All ticket sales are donated to a local charity.
- Check out Passes at Libraries – Explore popular local attractions and museums for free using passes available through Arapahoe Libraries, Aurora Public Libraries, Denver Public Libraries, Douglas County Libraries, Jefferson County Libraries, and Westminster Libraries.
- Ten Buck Tuesdays & Thursdays at Jumpstreet – Jump for two hours for $10 on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
- Kids Free Summer 2018 – Kids 15 and under who visit the History Colorado Center wearing a baseball jersey receive free admission Memorial Day through Labor Day (with a paying adult).
- Storytime – Almost every day of the week, find a free storytime at libraries and bookstores around town. Museums like Colorado Railroad Museum and History Colorado both host monthly storytimes with a craft or playtime, included with admission.
Must-See Exhibits and Events
Revisit tried-and-true museums and theaters around town to see what’s new for the summer.
- Mindbender Mansion at Denver Museum of Nature & Science.
- Play Ball: A Celebration of America’s Game and LEGOrado at History Colorado.
- Pixelated: Sculpture by Mike Whiting at Denver Botanic Gardens.
- La Musidora at Denver Art Museum.
- School of Rock: The Musical on stage at Buell Theatre through June 10.
24 Things Every Colorado Kid Should Do This Summer
We’ve included some quintessential summer-in-Colorado ideas on a handy chart for you to print and hang on the fridge. As your family marks thing off the list, we’d love to see your photos. Share them with us on Instagram using the hashtag #CPSummer.
Summer on the Big Screen
Summer and movies go hand in hand. There is more to experience on the big screen than just the summer blockbusters. Mark these summer events on the calendar.
- Movie at the Symphony: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in Concert – Watch the full feature film as the Colorado Symphony performs the entire score live, July 20-22. Boettcher Concert Hall, Denver. coloradosymphony.org
- The Goonies Film on the Rocks – Introduce the kids to one of your childhood favorites with a showing of The Goonies at Red Rocks Amphitheatre on August 7. Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Morrison. redrocksonline.com/fotr
- Pandas 3D – Escape the summer heat and watch as panda cub Qian Qian takes her first steps into her life outside of the Chengdu Panda Base in China. IMAX Theatre, Denver Museum of Nature & Science. dmns.org
The food scene in Denver is one of the kid-friendliest around. Add these summer eats to your family’s bucket list.