Saturday, July 6, 2013

Colorado Summer Staycation/Bucket List

We're a family of four. Two little ones and two adults. We have crossed over the line in flights, where there are no more "free" lap children in our homes. If you've never flown this means, that each seat we buy will cost us at least $300(+) to go some where. (There are no discounts for children.)

Like a lot of other families, we're sticking close to home. 

We live in Colorado and there is so much to do here! Even as an adult that has lived here for over ten years, I still haven't even scratched the surface of exploring our state and all it has to offer! 

This summer I kind of had a "bucket list" of things to do and experience with the kids. I even have a few "wish list" ideas I'd love to experience with my husband. I have girls weekend ideas also.

A few of these are pretty simple, and some of them just need a little bit more logistical planning. But, none the less, if you're thinking of coming to Colorado, and aren't sure where to go or start, look at a few of my ideas for what to do while you're here!

There are always the same big ideas that come to mind when you think of Colorado vacation-white water rafting, zoos, aquariums, mountains, fishing and camping.

Here are ones that I'd love to do with the kids:

Fishing. (I know, easy isn't it?)

Take a train ride. There are a few different places in the state that you can accomplish this. You can always get a ticket on AmTrack, or you can do a fun mountain ride all over Colorado using one of these amazing railroad companies: Leadville Colorado & Southern Railroad, Royal Gorge Route Railroad, Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, and Georgetown Loop Railroad.

We are so lucky to have so many unique locations for railroad rides! Even in the fall and winter months, a few of these trains provide amazing views and one even does a "Polar Express" ride! (When the kids are a few years older, we'll take them on that Polar Express Excursion. That movie/book is one of their favorites!)

Mountain Tram rides with a possible cave tour. We've never taken our kids up on top of the mountains. We've driven around them and looked at all the fall foliage, but we've never experienced a gondola/tram ride with them.

We have several that are very close to us, and one that offers a cool cave tour as well! Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is a really, REALLY cool place to check out. Take a tram ride up to the top and check out the amazing cave tour that promises stalactites and stalagmites galore! Plus, no matter what time of year it is, it's always a consistent temperature of 52 degrees, year round!

They also have an assortment of thrill rides that include an Alpine Coaster (that you can ride with your three year old!), and the Cliffhanger Roller Coaster, which happens to be the highest elevation roller coaster in North America!

Visit the Zoo and Aquarium! The kids loved this last year. So did I, actually. But, this year, we've vowed to NOT go over the Fourth of July, when it's 100 degrees out. The animals don't really do anything when it is that hot out and neither do humans. While we visited Denver Zoo last year, this year we are hoping to check out The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, in Colorado Springs. We have heard so many wonderful things about this zoo, and it's only $2 to feed the giraffes! (I LOVE giraffes, so I will definitely be spending the extra $2 to partake in this awesome experience!)

We only have one aquarium here in Colorado and our experience with it last year wasn't great, we visited the Downtown Denver Aquarium. But that was mostly because again, it was over Fourth of July, it was unbelievably packed and someone should have told us NOT to bring in our double jogging stroller. The kids couldn't move in and out between the people and, honestly, neither could we. So, we pushed through all the exhibits so quickly because we couldn't see that we didn't really enjoy it.

This year, I'm planning for a different day and time, and NO stroller! 

Bowling. Yea, that one seems a little weird doesn't it? But, I live in the desert. It can easily be 100 degrees here in the afternoon, and 90 degrees by nine o'clock in the morning. With little shade, and it highly advised that between 11 a.m and 4 p.m. we avoid a lot of direct sun for significant period of times.

Bowling is an indoor activity that still requires you to do some actions, and honestly, I loved doing this as a child! I also loved roller skating as a child, and we have a new roller skating rink that is opening up here that I am super excited to try out for date night!! Who else remembers skate-dancing in the 80's????

That for right now pretty much sums up my "kids" to do list. I also have a "parents" one as well.

While we are off doing a lot of these things for us and the kids to enjoy, we also try to plan for things for us as well.

What are some of those things on that list? We LOVE watching Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Last year, as we planned our trip to Denver, we also looked up a few of these Triple D visited restaurants. You can check it out by state, so if you're road tripping any where, you can plan your breakfast, lunch and dinner stops accordingly. 

While our youngest had just turned 1, we still wanted it to be fun for all of us. My husband and I honestly had a wonderful time doing this!! The kids were happy with whatever they had, but we got a chance to experience some food that was really fun and funky at times! I think that was probably the best part of our vacation last year, for him. He enjoyed himself so much that this year, he actually talks about going to a few new places to try out their famous specials.

Pro Baja Truck Rental. Ok, this is definitely more for my husband, but I just wanted to show you how extremely diverse Colorado was. Down at Gateway Canyons Resort, they offer a one of a kind Baja Truck Rental experience that can only be found in the likes of other places like California, or Las Vegas. This is a one of a kind experience that is sure to bring a smile to every man's face. (as long as he enjoys this type of high thrill activity!)

Spa Day. Yea, mom is usually really pretty easy! A fun, relaxing spa day with an outdoor massage, facial and total pampering (followed by lunch and long deserved, non disturbed nap) with a friend or three would be the perfect way to help celebrate a day of vacation/staycation!

This list could literally go on forever and ever, depending on the towns you pick to visit and additional things you choose to add on to it. The biggest thing to remember when it comes to summer vacation/staycations to allow extra time for everything and try not to pack it full. Sometimes the best part of the adventure is just enjoying the moments you find yourself in. Even when you don't stick to the schedule.

Life is about enjoying the time you have with the people you're given. Not about how much stuff you squeeze in. Some of my favorite memories with people I love, happened with the weirdest, unplanned, accidents/incidents. Like taking a bus and getting lost in a different part of town. Finding yourself at a restaurant that was closed and searching for something fun and better instead. Finding yourself in a different part of the world, because you allowed yourself just to have fun and go with it. Trust God, he knows how to have a GREAT time on a family vacation!!

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Romans 15:13 ESV

I'd love to hear some of your summer Colorado favorites for families!

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  1. If you're in Denver, the Colorado history museum is really interactive for kids of all ages. Ouray hot springs is open to kids all year but in the winter it is really nice to have something different to do outside. And once they're older, the ski resorts let you rent mountain bikes and ride down (easy for beginners too), Mesa Verde in the Fall or Spring is practically empty and a lot more pleasant than summer. Those are just a few more ideas but I love your list. Thank you!

  2. Tara-The Children's Museum in Denver is supposed to be really awesome as well! It's right across the street from the Aquarium and we flipped a coin last year for what we were going to do, and we chose the aquarium! (Thank goodness, because the littlest one slept the whole time!)

    Also, tubbing up there in the ski resorts is really fun to do in the winter too! Just gotta wait until they are a little older (and taller!) but it's going to be sooooo much fun!

    Thanks for all your additions!


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