If you plan on spending a few days in Boulder with your 5-year-old, you can do what I did and call your sister who lives in Boulder for an itinerary, or you can keep reading because I did all that work for you. We’ve put together the perfect 3-day Boulder itinerary with kids.
Picnic and Tubing at Eben G Fine Park
One way we like to save money is to stop at a grocery store on our first day of any trip and pick up a few easy meals. PB&J, some veggies/hummus, fresh fruit, and trail mix is a good starter pack. Just be sure to bring your collapsible cooler and save the beers because the code enforcement at Eben G Fine park is no joke. Scheduling a picnic is also great because it allows you to spend more time outdoors. Eben G Fine park has restroom facilities, a playground, a few picnic tables, and of course some mild rapids for tubing.
Tubing into Boulder from the park is a rite of passage for locals. Adults can make it an all-day event rafting from the park down into the city, but with your child, this is probably not a great idea. An exciting alternative is to drop into one of the pools at Eben G Fine Park. You can elect to simply swim in the pool or rent a tube and sneak in a rapid or two. There are a few outfitters for tube rental, but one option is Whitewater Tubing & Recreation.
The tubing experience can range anywhere from being like a lazy river to a wild ride depending on the water levels so be sure to check ahead of time. If you’re unsure where to look, just call Whitewater Tubing and ask.
Red Rocks, no, not those Red Rocks
To work off that lunch and dry off a bit, head up to Settlers Landing Red Rocks Park (not to be confused with Red Rocks Concert Venue). There are a few very easy trails with an excellent reward at the end. Kids will have fun scrambling up the boulder (see what I did there) and the crowd won’t be as intense as some of the more popular locations.
After you’ve worked up an appetite, head to one of the many breweries in Boulder. Our favorite was Sanitas. McDevitt Tacos has a truck outside and if you’re nice, the chef can customize a quesadilla if your kids are being especially picky. The outdoor area has an amazing space of picnic tables next to a small grass field and railroad tracks. If you are lucky, they may even have a cool event going on. They’ve been known to do things like lucha libre.
Mt. Evans via Idaho Springs
Mount Evans scenic byway, just 60 miles south-west of Boulder snakes through nearly 9,000 feet of elevation gain. The best thing to do is get up early and beat the crowd, and the storms, to the summit. I recommend skipping breakfast in Boulder, then stop off and grab a turnover or strudel from Edelweiss Pastry Shop in Idaho Springs.
The drive up the mountain is just as amazing as the summit itself, with stunning views throughout the journey. We stopped off several times for mini hikes in wildflowers, a beautiful glacial lake at Summit Lake Park, and then, of course, to get a close-up view of the mountain goats.
Once again, we packed a picnic lunch here. There’s no need to get trapped into overspending and why waste quality outdoors time?
Red Rocks, yes those Red Rocks
On your way back into town, the adult crowd will enjoy a quick stop at Red Rocks Amphitheater. If you get there early enough, you should be able to walk around. There are a few short hiking trails around, and locals even use the stairs for a workout. The restrooms are conveniently located near the tiny museum and gift shop, which is a nice break after a long drive to Mt. Evans.
Southern Sun Brewery
It’s hard to go wrong simply searching Yelp and searching for highly rated breweries in Colorado, but on Day 2, we tapped into Southern Sun Brewery. They have a kid-friendly menu and great beers.
Eldorado Canyon and Eldorado Springs Swimming Pool
Day 3 of our 3-day Boulder itinerary with kids begins with an easy hike at Eldorado Canyon. An easy and flat walk for the little legs on your final day will take you to gorgeous views. The towering sandstone cliffs are often the perfect photography target. The rock climbers look like tiny little specks of humanity high above and make for great conversation. It is best to visit Eldorado during the week though, because it occasionally reaches capacity on weekends, making for a frustrating stiff-arm upon arrival. Once you’re in, this is your last great opportunity to pack a picnic and enjoy a day outside.
After that depending on the time of year, take a dip in the Eldorado Springs Swimming Pool. A local favorite, this “artisanal spring water” pool isn’t like other hot springs, because the water is not naturally hot. Mineral water is pumped and continuously circulated from deep below for a refreshing end to a long weekend.
When you get back to town, take finally take that stroll down Pearl Street. Enjoy the brick-paved roads, the kite shop, and be sure to make an appearance at Rocket Fizz for a nostalgic taste of the candy you ate as a child. One of the best moments of my trip was giving my son Pop Rocks for the first time. He couldn’t figure out what was happening to his mouth, he made the vomit face, then he asked for more. Once you’ve spoiled your kid’s appetite, there are plenty of foodie-friendly options abound. You can plan in advance, or just walk around and peer in what looks good.
One place we did not get to visit was the DinoRidge dinosaur park. This place came highly recommended and is located right next to Red Rocks Amphitheater. We simply spent too much time on free hiking adventures to squeeze it into our itinerary, but 100% plan on taking a visit the next time we are in Boulder. Imagine seeing actual dinosaur footprints with your kids!
We left Boulder with pleasantly tired legs and sleepy eyes after a lot of hiking and outdoor adventuring. For more general tips on visiting Boulder check out our other post. Let us know your experience, and where should we head next?!