Why Choose Colorado for your Next Family Vacation?
by Emily Krempholtz
Okay, so we’ll admit that Colorado is no Disney World. But honestly, we think that's a good thing. Think about it: when it comes to how you want to spend your precious PTO days, would you rather be standing in line for an hour to ride Magic Mountain while your kids whine about having to use the bathroom, or standing on top of an actual mountain, spotting elk or moose as you look out at the jaw-dropping beauty of the Rockies?
Yeah, that’s what we thought.
Taking a trip to Colorado means you’ll have virtually every type of activity at your fingertips. Whether you’re looking for a big city experience full of museums, shows, and restaurants, or an adventure-filled trip with world-class activities like hiking, skiing, rock or ice climbing, off-roading, or white water rafting, there is no shortage of things to do here in Colorado, and you might just find it’ll take more than one trip to cross everything off your list.
The Great Outdoors
If you’re an adventurous or active type, you can get up close and personal with nature on a hike or by mountain biking, where you can traverse beautiful terrain and keep an eye out for wildlife. There are four national parks in Colorado, which each show off different aspects of the state’s landscape, from dramatic canyons to rocky peaks to desert like dunes. If you want the outdoor experience but aren’t looking for quite so much physical activity (the high altitude can really get to you…), there are a lot of beautiful scenic drives and historic train rides that will afford you the same amazing views of the mountains and the surrounding areas. Some—like the Pike’s Peak Cog Railway or the Mt. Evans Scenic Byway—will take you to the top of Colorado’s tallest mountains, where you’ll pass through jagged gorges and hilly meadows covered in wildflowers, while others will lead you to rugged Wild-West mining villages and abandoned ghost towns. A lot of these attractions are seasonal, but one of the most exciting things about a trip to Colorado is that our geography is so diverse, it means there’s something for everyone pretty much year-round.
Front Range Fun
While we’re exceedingly proud of our mountains, Colorado vacations don’t necessarily mean spending the entire time in a tent or at a resort. In our capital city of Denver, you’ll find incredible restaurants, breweries, and entertainment. Denver is home to a lot of amazing music venues—like the world-famous Red Rocks Amphitheatre—and it is also the home city for six professional sports teams, including the Denver Broncos, the Colorado Rockies, and the Denver Nuggets. There’s also a wide selection of museums and cultural attractions, like the Denver Botanic Gardens, the Denver Zoo, the Denver Art Museum, the Children’s Museum of Denver, and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, all of which are family-friendly and have exhibits especially for little ones.
Other exciting Front Range destinations include Fort Collins, with its red rock formations and fun and pedestrian-friendly Old Town area. Fort Collins, along with nearby Boulder, is routinely voted one of the happiest cities in America by National Geographic and Gallup. In Boulder, you’ll find the beautiful Flatirons, as well as the hustle and bustle of Pearl Street Mall, and plenty of unique attractions like the Celestial Seasonings Tea factory, Boulder Reservoir, and more. Further South, you’ll find the exciting city of Colorado Springs in the shadow of Pikes Peak, where you can explore the beautiful Garden of the Gods, Cañon City where you can zip line over Royal Gorge or take a train ride at the bottom of this dramatic canyon, and Pueblo, home of the famous Pueblo Chile pepper.
One of the most exciting draws of the Front Range is that there are outdoor opportunities even in the winter. While the ski resorts of Summit County are digging themselves out from the latest dump of snow, there are destinations in the Front Range or the Eastern Plains where you can still take a hike in mild weather or enjoy a round of golf with beautiful mountain views, and plenty of winter days where you can get away with a t-shirt or just a light jacket.
Snow and Sunshine in the High Country
The Rocky Mountains are a huge draw for the majority of people traveling to Colorado. Depending on the season, Colorado’s High Country has an extremely wide variety of things to offer for vacationers.
In the winter, there’s an abundance of snow sports like skiing, snowboarding, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing, as well as more unique options like dog sledding and sleigh rides. Families can spend the day playing in the snow before warming up with a steaming cup of hot cocoa, or taking a dip in the steaming waters of a natural hot spring. Colorado’s ski resorts are some of the best in the world, and most of them offer ski lessons or day care options for kids so everyone can spend the day having fun without compromise. If you plan your visit during the holidays, you’ll find no shortage of family festivities like torchlit parades down the slopes, the Breckenridge Ullr Festival, or adventures to the North Pole to meet the man with the sleigh himself. Plus, there’s nothing quite so regal as the Rockies when they’re draped in a blanket of pristine snow.
But as winter dies down and the weather begins to warm up, the Rockies come alive in a different way. First, there’s those glorious sunny spring days where you can race down the slopes on skis or snowboard in a t-shirt, and all the concerts, competitions, and festivities that come with the close of the season at each of the ski resorts. As temperatures rise and summer arrives, the higher elevation regions of Colorado come alive with wildflowers, and annual events like the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival are certainly something you won’t want to miss. As the snow melts, scenic byways and remote trails open for hikers and mountain bikers. For families with kids, a summer vacation in Colorado could mean attending some of the fun festivals that take place throughout the summer, like the Hot Air Balloon Rodeo in Steamboat Springs, the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, or the Longs Peak Scottish-Irish Highland Festival. Other unique experiences include panning for gold at a real gold mine, riding horses at a dude ranch, feeding giraffes at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo (the highest zoo in America!), taking a scenic train ride through the twists and turns of a mountain pass on the Georgetown Loop Railroad, or riding an alpine coaster and zip lining from death-defying heights at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.
The Wild, Wild Western Slope
Colorado’s Western Slope is known for its red rock scenery, it’s incredible outdoor adventure opportunities, and its agricultural prowess. The region is home to Colorado’s wine country, as well as the home of Palisade Peaches, which are sold throughout the country. The Western Slope has some of the best mountain biking in the country, with rocky slopes and dramatic mesas, as well as some of the most beautiful golf courses imaginable, including Redlands Mesa, which was ranked by Golf Digest as the #1 Public Golf Course in Colorado.
In the city of Grand Junction, you’ll find the Museum of the West, as well as a number of lovely local shops, boutiques, and art galleries in the downtown area. Outdoors enthusiasts can explore Grand Mesa National Park, which is home to the largest flat top mountain on Earth, or Colorado National Monument, which is absolutely stunning right at sunrise.
Nearby, the town of Palisade is known for its delicious peaches, and if you have the opportunity to visit in August, you might just end up falling in love with the Palisade Peach Festival, an annual event full of food, music, and fun. Other annual events on the Western Slope include the Colorado Lavender Festival, the Colorado Mountain Winefest, and the Olathe Sweet Corn Festival. We mentioned the region was known for its food, right?
Fun for the Whole Family
We know it can be hard to find a vacation destination that suits everyone’s needs, especially if your kids are spread across a wider age range or have very different interests. But the wonderful thing about a trip to Colorado is that there’s so much to do, you’ll be able to make everyone happy. From ski resorts to art exhibits, we’ve got it all, and we’re looking forward to sharing it with you and yours on your next vacation.