Family-Friendly Fun in Boulder, CO

Family-friendly things to do in Boulder

Boulder is continuously ranked as a best place to live in America. Additionally, it is the fittest city with the lowest obesity rates in the country. The one thing keeping people away is the steep housing market with the average home price at $1 million, arguably due to high demand and little to no new development.

Boulder is known for its active people, microbreweries, start-up companies, progressive views, and of course, its beautiful scenery right at the base of the foothills. The culture fosters a genuine focus on work/life balance. In nearly every job interview I’ve had or been a part of, a key question is, “What do you do for fun?”  

Boulder’s ridiculously fit people, wealth, and idealistic views can extreme, even intimidating enough to discourage people from pursuing their outdoor adventures here. However, there are plenty of family-friendly activities for children and adults alike. You certainly don’t have to be a professional rock climber or ultra-marathoner to enjoy Boulder-although, there are plenty. Most people are very friendly with an all-inclusive attitude. Just leave your Make America Great Again hat at home, and all will be fine.   

I would also argue that summer is the best time of year in Colorado. Of course, Colorado is known for its skiing which is fun too, but summertime is idyllic. The weather is just about perfect. There’s no humidity, hardly any bugs, little to no rain, warm days, and cool nights. Plus you can experience the outdoors without knowing how to ski and without all the winter gear. 

After living in the area for 14 years, I’ve adopted this place as my home. I feel fortunate to raise my kids here, and I want them to soak up everything this area has to offer. These are a few of my favorite spots to experience in Boulder with my kids in the summertime.

Pearl Street

Pearl Street is one of Boulder’s most well-known attractions with its unique shops, restaurants, views, and interesting people. This is always a fun family outing. Sometimes when we have no plans, we just come here to take a stroll and see where the day takes us.

I love taking the kids to the Boulder Book Store, and the Rocket Fizz candy store. Peppercorn always has free coffee samples, in addition to great home-goods. There are play areas throughout for the little ones. We usually don’t leave without a stop for ice-cream or gelato at Gelato Boy, Ben and Jerry’s or Lindsay’s Boulder Deli. The parents like to grab a beer at Mountain Sun Pub, Oskar Blues and West Flanders Brewing Company.

If you go at a busy time, the street performers will also keep you entertained. There is the guy that knows where every zip code is located in the U.S., the guy that folds himself in a small box, a fire thrower, musicians, and many other entertaining performers.  

Boulder Reservoir

Kid-friendly things to do in Boulder, CO
We rented a Pontoon boat on Boulder Reservoir with some friends.

Being from Florida, I love spending time on the water. The Boulder Reservoir has a sandy beach which sort of makes me feel like I’m at the ocean. Families can have a beach day right here in Boulder! Lay out some towels, bring the sand toys, and relax by the water. Rent a pontoon boat, SUP or kayak for a fun day. If you would like to host a gathering or just have a reserved area, picnic tables are available for rent with a designated sand volleyball court. Plan on an entrance fee of $7 for adults and $4 for kids.

Boulder County Farmer’s Market

The Boulder County Farmer’s Market is now open for the season. It’s held every Wednesday and Saturday until the fall. Local farmers have their produce for sale. Other merchants include bakeries, wineries, distilleries, arts and crafts, butchers and more! Plenty of food trucks are available so you won’t go hungry. Stay for live music which is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekly.

Boulder Creek

Kid-friendly things to do in Boulder, CO
Enjoying a fun family day on Boulder Creek

Boulder Creek has so many options for everyone! There is a paved path for a walk or bike ride. The Eben G. Fine Park contains a playground and a large grassy area for picnics and playtime. The Boulder Canyon Trail is along Boulder Creek for a hike.

And tubing! Rent tubes from one of these locations found here. Be prepared for cold water. The strength of the creek depends on the snow runoff and can sometimes be too dangerous. But in times when it is safe, it’s tons of fun. I would only recommend this for strong swimmers as the creek is just too unpredictable.

Valmont Bike Park

Things to do in Boulder
Views from Valmont Bike Park

This is one of our go to spots as a family. With 42 acres of trails, the VBP offers trails of varying difficulty. They even have a paved tot track as well as a tot pump track for little ones. When the younger kids get tired of riding, there is a playground onsite. This trail map shows everything the park has to offer with the greens being less difficult, blues being more difficult, and the orange represents the terrain park. I’ve seen everything from toddlers on Striders to people doing crazy tricks.  

Pavilions can be rented for birthday parties or events. There are restrooms and vending machines, but no concessions. If you are visiting from out of town, there are no rentals available at the bike park, but check in with any local bike shop. Rain and snow cause the park to close, so be sure to check out their Facebook page or Twitter after a storm.  

Biking itself is a very “Boulder activity”. So bring the whole family, bike, and picnic with gorgeous views of the Flatirons.

Chautauqua

Family things to do in Boulder, CO
Newborn hiking at Chautauqua in 2016

Speaking of the Flatirons, the scenery doesn’t get better than Chautauqua. Weddings and family photo-shoots are common sites for obvious reasons. Most people think of this as a great hiking spot, and it is, but it has so much more. An open field makes a great play area and picnic spot for kids. The Auditorium and Community House feature films, concerts and theater productions. Stay for happy hour or dinner at the Dining Hall, and even stay overnight in the lodge or one of the 58 cottages.

And of course the hiking is some of the best. My favorite and the most popular is the Royal Arch Trail. It’s moderately difficult with some steep climbs and three miles out and back. If that’s too much for your kiddos there are plenty of others to try.

As you can imagine, the popularity of Chautauqua brings lots of crowds and it’s difficult to find parking. Be sure to plan extra time to stay and enjoy.

Sunflower Farm

Sunflower Farm circa 2015

Longmont is in Boulder County where Sunflower Farm is located, so I’m including it, because everyone should check it out. From May until December, guests can visit to see and feed the farm animals like the goats, sheep, and llamas. Wondering about, are chickens, turkeys, and peacocks. Various play areas include a sand box and a John Deere Tractor.

Beyond the public visiting hours, the farm hosts summer camps, a preschool, and a school-age farm program. Of course, birthday parties can be held here as well. During public hours, be sure to book a reservation due to capacity restraints. Also, no food is served, but you can bring in your own lunch for a farm picnic.

All in all, Boulder, CO is a pretty great place to explore the outdoors whether you are a professional athlete, Joe Schmoe, or a child. Now the tough decision is where to go first? Let’s get outside and enjoy this beautiful place that I am lucky enough to call home.

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