12 Things To Do With Family in Boulder, Colorado

Last Updated on February 20, 2024 by Emily Johnson


Boulder is a vibrant city at the foothills of the majestic Rocky Mountains in northern Colorado. Known as one of the most livable cities in America, Boulder offers stunning natural scenery with easy access to mountain adventures and urban culture.

From hiking trails with scenic views to educational museums, hands-on science centers, and farm experiences, Boulder has no shortage of fun things for families to do together.

With its mild climate, vibrant food scene, active lifestyle, and friendly community, Boulder is a delightful city for family vacations and daily life. Only 25 miles northwest of Denver, Boulder makes for an easy and enjoyable day trip or weekend getaway.

The lively Pearl Street pedestrian mall offers excellent shopping, dining, and street performances. Just outside of town, the Flatirons rock formations and the rolling green foothills will tempt you to get hiking, biking, climbing, or trail running. Read on for the 12 best things to do with family in Boulder, Colorado.

Explore Hands-On Science at CU Science Discovery


The University of Colorado Science Discovery center at the Boulder campus brings science to life through interactive exhibits and demonstrations across physics, space science, earth science, math, biology and more. With a mission to excite kids about STEM topics, this small but engaging museum is perfect for curious young minds from elementary through high school.

Highlights at CU Science Discovery include the gravity well where kids can adjust “gravity” and watch its effects on pendulums, the 20-foot whale skeleton replica hanging overhead, modeled oil reservoir tanks to simulate extraction techniques, and the biology lab full of microscopes. Outside, visit the innovative sustainable “Solar Home” designed by CU students. Beyond the indoor/outdoor exhibits, the museum hosts after-school programs, summer camps, overnights and birthday parties with science activities.

Hike the Family-Friendly Trails in Chautauqua Park


At the base of the Flatirons cliffs, Chautauqua Park encompasses a historic summer retreat community founded in the late 1800s that now contains plenty of recreational opportunities enveloped by nature. The park has several relatively flat and short hiking trails perfect for families, many of which connect for longer adventures.

For young kids, choose the McClintock Nature Loop or the Flatirons Loop through meadows and ponds. The scenic Mesa Trail offers superb views of the iconic Flatirons formations while skirting the mountains at an easy grade. For mini-explorer’s ages 8 and up, continue to the Bluebell Baird and Flatirons vista for a total 2-mile round trip.

Pack a picnic or pick up food to-go in the Chautauqua Dining Hall. There is no playground, but kids appreciate the scenic backdrop for using their imaginations while parents enjoy the laidback mountain culture in this community hub inside the park.

Learn at the Hands-On Boulder Children’s Museum


The Boulder Children’s Museum focuses on early childhood education for kids aged 10 months through elementary school. Hands-on exhibits aim to build foundational skills across science, math, geography, language, art, and music. Parents can take advantage of the museum’s child development resources to better nurture their little one’s growth at home too.

At this intimate children’s museum, kids can exercise their bodies and minds while having fun. Interactive areas like Pretend Play boast a fire truck and market. The Building Zone provides blocks of all sizes for freeform creations. Sand Works features pulleys, funnels, and tubes for sensory play. In Music and Motion, kids can experiment with instruments and dance to different beats. Art Studio supplies all the materials for open-ended art projects while Budding Artists spotlights a specific process to replicate. Sensory elements like bubbles, textures, puzzles and games fill out the experience.

Tour a Working Farm


What could be more fun for kids than baby goats, pigs, chickens, cows, and sheep? Several farms around Boulder open their gates for public visitors to meet and learn about their resident farm animals while touring the barns, gardens, orchards, and facilities.

At the family-owned and operated Longmont Dairy Farm northeast of Boulder, visitors can pet cows, goats, donkeys, and chickens while learning about dairy operations first-hand. Spring babies are especially cute and demonstrations take place every Saturday. Enjoy U-pick fruits from their orchard May through October.

Out west from downtown Boulder, explore the vegetable fields, vineyards, orchards, and farm animals at Aspen Moon Farm. This organic operation has special events like “Golden Goat Yoga” and community work days. Kids will love feeding the goats and chickens by hand.

For a fully immersive farm stay, book a Farm Camp overnight or weekend at the historic Jon Talbott’s CSA Farm south of Boulder. Sign up your family for morning and evening animal chore rotations, wagon rides through the pastures, garden harvesting, and farm-fresh meals.

Tour the Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory

See how one of America’s favorite herbal tea brands makes over 1.2 billion tea bags annually on a complimentary tour of the Celestial Seasonings factory and headquarters. Watch the manufacturing process from start to finish, learn about the ingredients and healthy properties of teas, inhale the minty aromas inside the walls, and sample over 80 varieties of tea inside the inviting Tea Shoppe.

The main 45-minute walking tour gives a behind-the-scenes look at how raw ingredients from around the world become bagged tea boxes ready to ship. Listen to celestial-themed folk songs written and performed by original founders Mo and Jay on the factory floor. Outside afterwards, pose for photos in front of the ornate Sleepytime tea bed or giant Red Zinger sculpture. Celestial Seasonings cares about quality, sustainability and spreading goodness through tea.

Picnic by Boulder Creek


Running right through downtown Boulder, lush Boulder Creek provides pockets of nature with smooth rock beds perfect for wading in the gentle rapids. In Central Park or along the municipal paths east or west of Broadway, spy ducks and blue herons hunting for lunch while your family enjoys eating al fresco creekside at a picnic table or grassy patch in the shade.

Let the kids splash their feet in the cool mountain-fed waters of Boulder Creek or search for crawdads and small fish in the shallow areas. Listen for white noise water sounds to dampen the small city bustle nearby. Lay back and watch white puffy clouds drift across the vibrant blue Colorado sky. Fly a kite or frisbee in the open park spaces nearby. Boulder Creek offers easy natural recreation for simple fun on a family outing.

Explore the University of Colorado Campus

Spanning 600 acres at the base of Boulder’s western “Hill” neighborhoods, the main campus of CU Boulder offers plenty of family-friendly attractions for a few hours or full day of exploration. The university welcomes visitors to roam the open grounds dotted with historic sandstone buildings and sprawling green lawns.

Start your self-guided tour at the University Memorial Center, known as The UMC, the student activity hub. Step inside the UMC to grab snacks, lunch or coffee and let the kids play on the lawn out front. Venture across campus to see Folsom Field, home to Colorado’s beloved Buffs football team and the live buffalo mascot named Ralphie. Don’t miss the picturesque Mary Rippon Outdoor Theater, an amphitheater built in 1909 surrounded by mature cottonwood trees with performances in summer months. Let kids splash around in shallow Benson Earth Sciences Fountain with Colorado’s geology illustrated underneath. Located on East Campus, the Fiske Planetarium hosts entertaining astronomy shows explaining the galaxies for starry-eyed little space explorers.

The Boulder Naked Ladies – Paint Mines Interpretive Park


A 20-minute drive from Boulder leads to this unique park protecting rare rock formations with spikes that resemble ladies without clothing, thus earning the park’s quirky nickname. The designated trails wind past red and yellowish sandstone formations, canyon walls, caves, and hoodoos formed by erosion over thousands of years. Kids especially get a kick out of searching for the Naked Lady rock formations scattered about the area while learning how the unusual geological features came to exist.

In addition to the visually stunning geology, wildlife like mule deer, red fox, owls, falcons, and eagles inhabit the park. Pack a picnic lunch to eat amid the scenic surroundings. Try to time your hike at Paint Mines for a golden hour visit at sunset when the rocks glow with rich warm hues. Note the park sits at a high plains elevation of 6,880 feet so wear layers for changeable weather and bring plenty of water.

Catch a Show at the Children’s Theater & Puppet Showplace


Magical stories spring to life on stage at the Children’s Theater & Puppet Showplace in north Boulder near Longs Peak. As part of their mainstage series, kid-oriented plays and musicals run on weekends, casting both children and adults for their family-friendly productions like The Secret Garden and The Snow Queen. Aspiring young thespians can get hands-on drama experience too by signing up for a Creative Dramatics class focusing on acting fundamentals with stage play.

In addition to regular theater shows, special performances happen monthly in their puppet theater room. Watch handcrafted marionettes, stick puppets, glove puppets, and rod puppets sing and dance during interactive puppet shows for preschoolers through elementary ages. Kids in the audience even get called up to try controlling some puppets themselves. Year-round classes allow budding puppeteers to build DIY puppets and create their own puppet play.

Skate the Boulder Reservoir

When the winter chill sets in, Boulder Reservoir freezes over for a magical opportunity to ice skate with a stunning natural backdrop. Daily conditions permitting, the frozen “rez” opens to the public for skating, hockey, and even ice fishing. Locals flock to the northern section donning their own skates to enjoy this special seasonal pastime.

Budding skaters and hockey players can sign up for lessons through Rocky Mountain Skating Academy to help hone their skills on the outdoor ice rink safely separated from general skating lanes. Windscreens help block gusts while you loop about a mile around the long ovular reservoir. Warm up with hot drinks and snacks inside the reservoir building nearby. Gaze westward to see snow-dusted Flatirons turning pink at sunset for an incredibly scenic Colorado winter wonderland.

Pedal or Tube on Boulder Creek


In the heat of the Colorado summer, Boulder Creek provides water recreation through the heart of downtown Boulder and outlying areas. Rent inner tubes, rafts or paddleboards from local outfitters like Whitewater Tube or Centennial Beach to float Boulder Creek’s gentle rapids from parks in town or the popular tubing put-in spot near Eben G Fine Park. Kids ages 8 and older typically enjoy an easy-going float while parents can relax right alongside just downstream.

At nearby Scott Carpenter Park and Harlow Platts Community Park, pay-to-use pump tracks offer loops, rollers and berms for kids to ride bikes, scooters or skateboards catered to beginner and intermediate skills. Pack a picnic and your own bike gear to make a day of gravity-powered fun along the bike paths connecting Boulder Creek parks.

Explore Pearl Street Mall


At the heart of downtown Boulder, Pearl Street Mall serves as the spirited hub for shopping, dining, galleries, boutiques, street performances, historic buildings and city events. The vibrant pedestrian street contains four blocks of businesses, artists, performers, locals, cuisines from all corners of the globe plus some quirky characters that give Boulder its eclectic mountain culture.

Let the kids pose with the frozen wooly mammoth sculpture, dance to tunes from a live band or watch break-dancers spinning atop mats. Pop into whimsical toy stores filled with games, gadgets and crafts. Pick up homemade fudge or salt water taffy for a sweet treat. In December, Pearl Street sparkles even brighter for the annual holiday lighting ceremony, tree lighting, and festive traditions bringing families together all season long.

Conclusion


With foothills adventures, hands-on museums, university culture, historic parks, performing arts, and urban attractions, Boulder offers the best of Colorado for family vacations. The city balances convenience and modern amenities with easy nature access and a friendly community of outdoorsy spirit.

From toddlers to teens, Boulder caters to kids’ interests and parents’ relaxation with this list of top things for families to do. Enjoy making special memories while exploring all that delightful Boulder has to offer.

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