With amazing mountain trails, ghost towns, hands-on museum exhibits and interactive art spaces, river rafting and some of the country's best family-friendly skiing and cycling, traveling families are spoiled for options in Colorado. The endless blue skies, fresh air, archaeological ruins and wild country do wonders to detach kids from their tablets, cell phones and iPods.

Best Regions for Kids

  • Front Range

Museums and amusement parks are the main kid-friendly attractions in the Front Range. Numerous city parks and day-trips to the mountains make for fun family outings.

  • Central Colorado

Ski resorts bring family fun year-round in Central Colorado – from snowboarding and outdoor adventure parks to bike trails and white-water rafting.

  • Northern Colorado

It's all about the great outdoors in Northern Colorado – moose and elk herds at Rocky Mountain National Park and T rex bones at Dinosaur National Monument. There's a great ski school at Steamboat, too.

  • Southwest Colorado

Explore cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde National Park and take the whole fam mountain biking in Fruita.

  • Southeast Colorado

A mix of city and outdoors options makes the Southeast an easy go-to for family travel: camp at the Great Sand Dunes National Park, feed giraffes at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo or stroll through the Garden of the Gods.

Colorado for Kids

In Colorado’s main cities, junior travelers should head for the many hands-on science museums, playgrounds, theme parks and family-fun centers, as well as the main attraction of wide-open spaces.

Denver, despite being the state capital, sets the tone as a truly outdoorsy city, with miles of cycling and walking trails, riverside parks and gardens and outdoor events and theme parks. Beyond the capital there are historic railroads to ride, canyons and peaks to climb and old Western towns to explore.

Most national and state parks have some kid-oriented exhibits, trails and programs. Join organized wildlife-spotting tours in the parks and reserves, or hook a trout in a tumbling mountain river. Tubing and rafting on some of these rivers is as exhilarating for kids as it is for parents, and camping and hiking opportunities abound.

The family-friendly icon is used in our listings to denote places that cater to families.

Children’s Highlights

Festivals & Events

Indoor Options

Dude Ranches

Kid-friendly hikes

Burly mountains (and altitude!) can be a challenge to little legs. Families with smaller children might want to stick to hikes under 3 miles. Some of our favorites:

Planning

Perhaps the most difficult part of a family trip is avoiding the temptation to squeeze in too much. Distances are deceptive, and any single corner of Colorado could easily fill a two-week family vacation.

Choose a few primary destinations and connect them with a flexible driving plan with potential stops. Book rooms at the major destinations and make advance reservations for horseback rides, rafting trips, scenic train rides and educational programs or camps (particularly in peak season), but allow time between bookings to follow your fancy.

Don't forget about the small mountain towns. Their festivals, rodeos and state fairs can be excellent family entertainment.

For all-round information and advice, check out Lonely Planet’s Travel with Children.

Discounts for Kids

Child concessions often apply for tours, admission fees and transportation, with discounts as high as 50% off the adult rate. The definition of 'child' ranges from under 12 to under 16 years. Most sights also give free admission to children under two.

Resources

  • Colorado Parent (www.coloradoparent.com)
  • Family Travel Colorado (www.familytravelcolorado.com)
  • Mile High Mamas (www.milehighmamas.com)

What to Pack

Temperatures can vary widely throughout the day, especially in the mountains. Remember to bring layers and a warm hat, even in the summer.

Infant- and toddler-specific items like disposable diapers (nappies), wipes and formula are easy to come by, even in the smallest of towns. Prices tend to be lower in bigger towns, though; if you're driving, consider stocking up in the first city you hit.