Colorado is justly famous as one of America’s great vacation spots, and not just for grownups. Moms and dads looking for an epic family vacation in the United States will find ample opportunity amid the snow-capped mountain peaks and forest trails that crisscross the Centennial State.
What makes a great family vacation spot? Fun activities appropriate for all ages—including the parents. Here are our picks for the nine best family vacation spots in Colorado.
Family Vacation Places In Colorado
Still known by some locals as its 19th-century name “Defiance, Colorado,” Glenwood Springs earned its name from its defining feature—geothermal hot springs, revered as medicinal since this corner of the Roaring Fork Valley was occupied by the Ute tribe of Native Americans.
Today, the hot springs make a thrilling day trip for the whole family. You don’t have to hike to Yampah or Iron Mountain—the hot springs are corralled into pools throughout Glenwood Springs.
The other star attraction of Glenwood Springs is Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, an amusement park geared to all ages.
In addition to spelunking an extensive natural cavern system that gives the park its name, the park features kiddie rides as well as adrenaline fuel—the Cliffhanger roller coaster, as well as the Giant Canyon Swing, which swings visitors out over a cliff edge with the Colorado River 1,300 feet below.
The Wildflower Capital of Colorado is one of the most beautiful destinations in the state, a good time for all ages. In the summer, the hiking trails are festooned with nearly every color of the rainbow, perfect for education and appreciation.
In the winter, well-manicured ski resorts offer training and slope runs for all ages, as well as Nordic skiing. Sometimes referred to as “the Last Great Colorado Ski Town,” Crested Butte features some of the most unspoiled backcountry ski territory in the world.
For families that want a break from skiing, there’s the Trailhead Children’s Museum, a 2,800-square-foot facility featuring an Art Bar, Exploration Station, and Kids Create station.
Aspen is world-famous for its opulent ski resorts and world-class amenities. Indeed, this winter wonderland is great for skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels, including children and complete beginners.
Less well-known among Aspen’s amenities are its opportunities for education. In the neighboring, aptly-named town of Snowmass exhibits a wealth of prehistoric ice age fossils, from wooly mammoth tusks to invertebrate remains dating back as far as 145 thousand years.
For adults and children who are artistically inclined, the Aspen Art Museum offers rotating exhibits, many of them geared toward the museum’s commitment to environmental advocacy and a zero-carbon footprint.
Mesa Verde National Park
For people who don’t have the budget for Aspen, Mesa Verde National Park in the southwestern corner of the state offers priceless opportunities to explore, learn, and rough it. Children can enroll in the Junior Rangers program to get hands-on with the natural and archaeological riches around them.
The indigenous Pueblo left behind over 600 cliff dwellings—whole villages of stone houses and apartments built under the shelter of cliff overhangs.
Like something out of a fantasy novel, these dwellings are time capsules for centuries’ worth of indigenous culture and habitation, testaments to human ingenuity and the ability to adapt to beautiful, even harsh terrain.
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Colorado is known for its winter attractions—especially skiing and snowboarding—but what to do in the summer, when the kids have vacation? For family fun in the summer, it’s hard to beat Beaver Creek, Colorado.
Just to the west of Vail and far less crowded, Beaver Creek comes alive in the summer with gondola rides, bungee trampolines, mini golf, and fishing in Flood’s Pond. Nearby Beaver Lake is perfect for a hike or bike ride.
One of the most developed, opulent resort towns in Colorado, Vail was built with vacationers in mind and has something for everyone. This isn’t where you go to “rough it.” It’s where you go to enjoy world-class amenities, new construction crafted to resemble a Disneyland version of a Swiss ski chalet. It’s where you go to shop, dine, and ski in style.
It’s also a great place to vacation with the whole family. Ski amenities cater to all ages and skill levels. The fun doesn’t stop at the slopes either, not even for kids. There’s Imagination Station, a “Thought Flow” creative play space designed to stimulate cognition. Kids particularly love the VR station, a glimpse into the future of interactive tech.
Vail’s signature outdoor park, Adventure Ridge, features non-skiing outdoor activities like scenic gondola rides and the Forest Flier roller coaster through the treetops 3,400 feet down the mountain.
The popular resort town of Breckenridge is an outdoor wonderland, and not just in the winter when powder covers some of the world’s best ski slopes nearby. In the summer, Epic Discovery comes alive, an adventure park featuring ziplines, coasters, obstacle courses, and outdoor activities suitable for all ages.
The adorable town of Breckenridge is perfect to get lost and explore, with long walks past boutique stores and restaurants. In the winter, kids can attend ski camp, leaving mom and dad to their own devices for a leisurely day of shopping or enjoying the great outdoors.
If you want to skip the resorts and national parks, Colorado Springs, a city just 90 minutes south of Denver, has an embarrassment of riches for families. There’s Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, home to over 750 animals including over 30 endangered species. Not far away, Pike’s Peak is one of the great hikes in the country.
Cave of the Winds and Garden of the Gods feature otherworldly rock formations to explore. Nearby in quaint Canon Royal Gorge Bridge & Park features breathless adventure rides that traverse the yawning, eponymous gorge.
Any list of family-friendly vacation destinations in Colorado is incomplete without Estes Park, the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. Rocky Mountain is spectacular any season you go, whether it’s for hiking in the summer or snowshoeing in the winter.
Estes Park also tempts vacationing families with activities like horseback riding, ziplining, and youth activities at the YMCA.