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Tuesday 26 March 2024

Spring Break in Colorado: Outdoor Fun

Spring Break is here!

In true Colorado form, the week off school got off to a snowy start, but the sun is back out and the rest of the week is calling for outdoor adventures!

I've already shared my favorite indoor adventures for Spring Break (you can find the post here) so today I will be sharing all of my favorite outdoor adventures for Colorado families and visitors.

You'll find zoos, gardens, historical sites, hiking trails, sand dunes, street art, engineering marvels, playgrounds, and lots of red rocks!

Read on for more...

Garden of the Gods
Garden of the Gods is definitely one of the most popular tourist destinations in Colorado, and for good reason! Located south of Denver near Colorado Springs, this park is home to amazing red rock structures that jut abruptly out of the earth as if they have been suddenly pushed upward. The red rock looks stunning contrasted against the lush green vegetation of the area making it an extremely photogenic area. Garden of the Gods has nice and wide paved hiking trails that are suitable for hikers of all skill levels. 

Garden of the Gods is located at 1805 N 30th Street, Colorado Springs.

For more information visit https://gardenofgods.com/

You can see our visit to Garden of the Gods here:

Colorado Railroad Museum
Not all museums are indoors! Once of my favorite places to take the kids is the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden. This interactive museum is spread over a 15 acre railyard and is home to a wealth of trains, carriages and train related equipment from all through Colorado's history. Steam train rides are available at certain times of the year as well as themed events including the Polar Express during the holidays.

Colorado Railroad Museum is located at 17155 W 44th Avenue, Golden.

For more information visit https://coloradorailroadmuseum.org/

You can see our visit to Colorado Railroad Museum here:

Dinosaur Ridge
If you've got dinosaur loving kids (or adults) in your family, Dinosaur Ridge in Morrison is a must visit. This historic site is part museum and part geological park. You'll find a Visitor Center and Discovery Center with indoor exhibitions, hands on experiences including dig sites, plenty of handy information, and a gift store. The main attraction of Dinosaur Ridge, however, is outside. The site features walking trails that take visitors to multiple dinosaur track sites, with one site alone featuring 250 dinosaur tracks. The paved trails also showcase various fossils including the site of the first stegosaurus fossil discovery. Visitors are able to take part in guided tours or walk the trails on their own. The fossil sites are pretty well marked so we went with the self guided tour when we visited.  

Dinosaur Ridge is located at 16831 W Alameda Parkway, Morrison.

For more information visit https://dinoridge.org/

Denver Zoo
Denver Zoo is centrally located in Denver's City Park alongside Denver Museum of Nature & Science, lakes, pavilions, playgrounds and picnic spots. It's a great place for a day out for the whole family with so much to see and do. Denver Zoo is home to a wealth of animals including elephants, rhinos, zebras, lions, flamingoes, tigers, grizzly bears, Przewalski's horse, giraffes, Rocky Mountain big horned sheep and so much more. Hands on experiences are available in the Stingray Cove touch pools and behind the scenes tours of the onsite animal hospital are available. 

Denver Zoo is located at 2300 Steele Street, Denver.

For more information visit https://denverzoo.org/

Denver Botanic Gardens
Denver Botanic Gardens is one of my favorite places in the city. This tranquil garden in the heart of the city is filled with plants from all around the world, ponds, greenhouses, restaurants, sculptures, and so much more. It's a lovely place to spend a few hours exploring.

For visitors with young children a visit to the Botanic Gardens wouldn't be complete without a stop at the rooftop Mordecai Children's Garden which is located on the adjacent parking garage building. Entry to Mordecai Children's Garden is included with admission to the Botanic Gardens. 

Denver Botanic Gardens is located at 1007 York Street, Denver. 

For more information visit https://www.botanicgardens.org/

You can see our visit to Denver Botanic Garden here:

Chautauqua Park Bears
Boulder's Chautauqua Park is over run with bears! But don't worry, these bears are friendly. They're also very colorful!
The annual Art in the Park event features fifteen bear sculptures dotted around the park. Each bear has been painted by a different artist, and although they all start off with the same blank "canvas" they couldn't be more different from each other. The bears will be on display through April 16th.

For more information about Chautauqua Park's Bears visit https://www.chautauqua.com/art-in-the-park-2023-2024/

You can see our visit to check out the bears here:   

Manitou Cliff Dwellings
This one is for the history buffs! If you're keen to see how some indigenous Coloradans lived prior to European settlement, then look no further than Manitou Cliff Dwellings. This fascinating site is home to an authentic Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwelling dating back 800 to 1000 years. Visitors are able to enter the 40 room cliff dwellings and it's a really fascinating experience for young and old. An onsite museum housed in a Pueblo building features informative dioramas as well as artifacts including pottery, weapons and tools. 

Manitou Cliff Dwellings is located at 10 Cliff Dwellings Road, Manitou Springs. 

For more information visit https://www.cliffdwellingsmuseum.com/ 

You can see our visit to Manitou Cliff Dwellings here: 

Junkyard Social Club
Junkyard Social Club in Boulder is a playground like no other. With indoor and outdoor play spaces,  it's a great destination for any time of year, but what really sets it apart from other playgrounds is the fact that the play structures are built from repurposed junk. An old school bus and Volkswagen Beetle have become play equipment. Reclaimed timber, scrap metal, old sports equipment, sinks and bike parts come together to form playhouses and climbing structures. Old tires are used as versatile toys that can be stacked, climbed on and rolled. It's a hands on place for kids that don't mind getting their hands dirty. Junkyard Social Club also caters towards parents with a full cafĂ© and bar, and plenty of indoor and outdoor seating.

Junkyard Social Club is located at 2525 Frontier Avenue, Unit A, Boulder.

For more information visit https://junkyardsocialclub.org/ 

You can see our visit to Junkyard Social Club here:

Twin Silo Park
Fort Collins in Northern Colorado is home to one of the coolest playgrounds we've ever visited. Named after the two old silos that have been repurposed to house slides and climbing structures, Twin Silo Park features 54 acres of fun, the highlight of which is the aforementioned playground. Along with the towering silos, the playground features climbing structures, rope bridges, and plenty of things to swing, spin and slide on. The park is also home to BMX trails, picnic spaces, a dog park, and plenty of space to run around and play.

Twin Silo Park is located at 5552 - 5564 Ziegler Road, Fort Collins. 

Street Art
If you've been following for a while you'll know that I'm a huge fan of street art. Many Colorado cities and towns have such a vibrant street art scene with annual festivals and a ton of amazing murals all around town. While you can find street art almost anywhere in Denver and Boulder there are certain areas that are hot spots. Denver's RiNo neighborhood is known as a major art destination with plenty of galleries to visit, but there is just as much art to be found on the local walls. East Colfax Avenue in Aurora is also a great spot for exploring street art. Boulder is also home to a wealth of street art. Organized tours are available, but I like to just explore neighborhoods and see what we find.

You can see some of Colorado's street art at the posts below:

You can also find plenty of Colorado street art on my Instagram. Make sure to follow the hashtag #littlehiccupslovesstreetart to see lots more.

If you look closely below you just might recognize the cover model on the Aurora Guide!

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
Perched on Cheyenne Mountain at a height of 6714ft, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is officially the highest elevation zoo in the entire USA. About an hour south of Denver in Colorado Springs, this zoo is definitely worth a visit. We finally made it there for the first time over Spring Break last week and it did not disappoint. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is home to many animals but is best known for its African Rift Valley exhibition where visitors can feed giraffes, elephants and rhinos. Visitors can ride the chairlift style Mountaineer Skyride for views over the zoo.   

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is located at 4250 Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Road, Colorado Springs.

For more information visit https://www.cmzoo.org/ 

Wild Animal Sanctuary
Lions and tigers and bears - oh my! 
All three of these animals call the Wild Animal Sanctuary home along with wolves and various big cats. All of the animals at Wild Animal Sanctuary have been rescued from from private owners and abusive situations. Think Tiger King. In fact, many of the animals featured on Tiger King now call the Wild Animal Sanctuary home. Unlike a regular zoo, this sanctuary is a large open space where the animals are free to roam. Visitors can view the animals from above via a 1.5 mile long walkway that spans across numerous habitats.

The Wild Animal Sanctuary is located at 2999 County Road 53, Keenesburg.

For more information visit https://www.wildanimalsanctuary.org/

Royal Gorge Bridge & Park
This one is an outdoor adventure for those of us who aren't all about hiking. Royal Gorge Bridge is located about two and a half hour south of Denver by Canon City, and is the highest suspension bridge in the country. As well as taking a walk across the bridge and admiring the views, visitors can ride an aerial gondola and zipline, play in a fantastic wooden playground, ride a carousel, and explore a museum. It was pretty windy when we visited so many of the activities were closed, but it was still fun to cross the bridge and the kids enjoyed the playground. 

For more information about Royal Gorge Suspension Bridge & Park visit https://royalgorgebridge.com/

You can see our visit to Royal Gorge Suspension Bridge here: 

Pikes Peak Cog Railway
Feel like climbing a 14er this Spring Break, but don't want to actually do any climbing? 
Pikes Peak Cog Railway is for you! The highest cog railway, and only one of three in the country, this scenic railway takes visitors from the depot is Manitou Springs to the summit of Pikes Peak. The views from the summit are stunning and so to are those along the journey. Keep your eye out for wildlife along the way. We spotted marmots, big horned sheep and even a couple of bears!

For more information about Pikes Peak Cog Railway visit https://www.cograilway.com/

You can see our trip on Pikes Peak Cog Railway here:

Rocky Mountain National Park
If you're visiting Colorado, there's a good chance that Rocky Mountain National Park is at the top of your list of places to explore. It's regularly listed as one of the most popular national parks in the country, and with good reason. Located about an hour and a half's drive from Denver, Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most easily accessible national parks. But it's not just its location that makes it popular. With plenty of hiking options for all skill levels, scenic drives, turquoise mountain lakes, plentiful wildlife, and views like the one below it's easy to see why Rocky Mountain National Park is a popular destination.

For more information about Rocky Mountain National Park visit https://www.nps.gov/romo/index.htm 

Eldorado Canyon State Park
Eldorado State Park is just a short drive from Boulder and is a great place to hike along shaded trails while marveling at towering rock formations. It's a pretty popular park given its proximity to Boulder, so you can expect it to be be a little busy on weekends, but it's worth a visit. There are hiking trails for all levels of experience and shaded picnic spots along South Boulder Creek. On a hot day the creek is a great spot to cool off with a little paddling in the cold water, but boating and tubing is not allowed.

Eldorado Canyon State Park is located at 9 Kneale Road, Eldorado Springs.

Red Rocks Amphitheater
Another popular site with towering red rocks is Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison. This natural amphitheater is home to one of Colorado's most famous music venues, but even if you're not visiting for a concert or performance, it's definitely worth a look. On site you'll find hiking trails, a restaurant, the Colorado Music Hall of Fame, and the Red Rocks Hall of Fame. Red Rocks Amphitheater is just a short drive from Dinosaur Ridge so combining a visit to both makes for a great day out.

Red Rocks Amphitheater is located at 18300 W Alameda Parkway, Morrison. 

You can learn more about Red Rocks Amphitheater at https://www.redrocksonline.com/

Red Rock Canyon Open Space
Not to be confused with Red Rocks Amphitheater, Red Rock Canyon Open Space is another popular spot for hiking among towering red rocks. This large park is a short drive from Manitou Cliff Dwellings so it's a great place to visit for a hike before or after visiting the cliff dwellings. You'll find plenty of easy hiking trails and stunning views over the area.

Red Rock Canyon Open Space is located at 3550 W High Street, Colorado Springs.

For more information about Red Rock Canyon Open Space visit https://redrockcanyonopenspace.org/

Great Sand Dunes National Park
This one is a little bit of a drive from Denver (about a four hour drive south), but it's definitely worth a visit for an experience like no other - presuming you get good weather, that is! This national park is home to the tallest sand dunes in the country. Not only that, but they're giant sand dunes set against a backdrop of snowy mountains. Definitely not something you see everyday. Visiting during Spring means you might be lucky enough to experience the creek at the base of the sand dunes flowing. We were lucky enough to see it, but unfortunately we were also met with below freezing temperatures and merciless wind, so our visit was fairly brief. If you do get good weather for your visit, the sand dunes are a great spot for hiking, sand boarding and just general sand dune fun. The park is open 24 hours which means it's a great spot for photographers to capture starry skies, sunrises and sunsets.

For more information about Great Sand Dunes National Park visit https://www.nps.gov/grsa/index.htm

Check out this post on Instagram to see what the kids thought of the weather we were met with during out visit! https://www.instagram.com/p/CV4ShUcrjUK/

Are you spending Spring Break in Colorado this year?

For more Colorado adventures check out these posts:

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