A kitschy, granola town in the shadows of the foothills, Boulder, Colorado is a great entrée into the Rocky Mountains. Whether here to escape the big city, on the way to epic camping, or enjoying a long weekend after dropping the older kids off at the University of Colorado, we’ve got a perfect 3 day itinerary with the kiddos.
Picnic and Tubing at Eben G Fine Park
Eben G Fine park is a great place to either enjoy a lazy picnic and cool off in Boulder Creek either on a hot day or after a sweaty hike.
In addition to being a great way to save money, packing a lunch is essential to maximizing time outdoors near Boulder. Stop at any King Sooper, or if you’re feeling extra crunchy, have at it at Whole Foods. PB&J, some veggies/hummus, fresh fruit, and trail mix is a good starter pack. Just be sure to bring your collapsible cooler and hold the beers because the code enforcement at Eben G Fine park is no joke. 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.
The tubing experience can range anywhere from a lazy river to a wild ride depending on the water levels so be sure to check ahead of time. The water flow is measured in Cubic Feet per Second (sfs) and current conditions can be found on the Mile High Flood District website. A safe flow is 100-200cfs.
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 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. Wake up early and beat the crowd, and the storms, to the summit. For a special treat, skip breakfast in Boulder and grab a turnover or strudel from Edelweiss Pastry Shop in Idaho Springs along the route.
The drive up the mountain is just as amazing as the summit itself, with stunning views throughout the journey. We stopped off several times to get a closer look at wildflowers, a beautiful glacial lake at Summit Lake Park, and to get a close-up view of the mountain goats.
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 Yelp searching for highly rated breweries in Colorado, but to save you the trouble, tap 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 with the kiddos. 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.
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 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 age old favorites like pop rocks, lolly pops, and moon pies. 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.
Other nearby kid friendly attractions:
This place came highly recommended and is located right next to Red Rocks Amphitheater. Imagine seeing actual dinosaur footprints with your kids!
The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) is a real educational gem in Boulder. The facility provides state of the art resources to universities “including supercomputers, research aircraft, sophisticated computer models.”
Check out our article on the best family friendly hikes near Boulder.
Plan to leave 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.