Lookout Mountain
Lookout Mountain, Photo by Jeffrey Beall, via Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0

Spring Break Staycations for Denver Residents

All you have to do is look at the guidebooks: Colorado is overflowing with great vacation destinations for every occasion, every age, every interest and every time of year. And with spring break rapidly approaching, families are considering their options.

Of course, there are the ski resorts, which will be booming due to this season’s fantastic snowfall, and spring skiing is legendary here. Many Coloradans, however, would prefer staying close to home during this peak holiday time, enjoying Denver spring break staycations instead.

But… if you’re looking for something to do that doesn’t involve hitting the slopes, is it possible to enjoy a Denver spring break staycation without sacrificing the spirit of fun and adventure?

The answer is a resounding yes. Colorado is more than an outstanding vacation destination. It’s an unparalleled “staycation” state, as well. What can you find within an hour’s drive of metro Denver? As it turns out, a whole lot.

In the Big City

To start, you may not want to leave the Denver metro area at all. The number of options with special spring-break programs might surprise you. A few to check out:

The Denver Art Museum
The Denver Art Museum offers themed breaks for kids during spring break. Photo by Butterbean, via Flickr, CC BY 2.0
  • The Denver Museum of Nature & Science offers activities for kids with its two weeks of Spring Break Science Camps, which include IMAX and Planetarium shows.
  • The Denver Botanic Gardens also have a spring break camp for kids called Green Thumbs that’s filled with garden explorations, games, activities, cooking and plants to take home.
  • The Denver Art Museum offers themed breaks that allow kiddos to make art in the galleries, work alongside artists and check out Family Backpacks from the Family Activity Cart. Kids ages 18 and under receive free general admission.
  • Then, there’s History Colorado, which has Spring Break Workshops. This year, the three workshops’ themes are miniature dioramas, astronauts and American Girl.
  • And finally, don’t miss the Downtown Aquarium. The facility has a list of helpful tips for those planning a spring break visit.

Warm, sunny days can happen during spring break, so you also might want to consider packing a picnic and spending the day in one of the city’s glorious parks, including Washington, City or Sloan’s Lake.

Boulder and The Foothills

Chautauqua Park
Chautauqua Park Photo by Waifer X, via Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Another great option is to drive the 30 miles to Boulder to stroll its famous Pearl Street mall, take a free tour at the Celestial Seasonings tea factory or perhaps go for a hike in Chautauqua Park.

If you’re in downtown Boulder, take the time to sample high tea at the remarkable Boulder Dushanbe Tea House, which was built in Boulder’s sister city of Dushanbe, Tajikistan, disassembled and shipped as a gift to Boulder, where it was reassembled.

Or, if you’re out at Chautauqua, at the base of the Flatirons, don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy a meal at the 1898 Chautauqua Dining Hall.

Golden. Then, there’s the city of Golden, with its myriad shops and restaurants — and convenient proximity to outdoor playgrounds like Golden Gate Canyon State Park, Eldorado Canyon State Park and Lookout Mountain Nature Center & Preserve.

At Lookout Mountain, you also can visit the stunning 1917 Boettcher Mansion and the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave, which will be a hit with Wild West fans of all ages.

Argo Gold Mine & Mill
Argo Gold Mine & Mill, Photo by Michelllaurence, via Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Idaho Springs. If you’re willing to head west on Interstate 70, more adventures lie 33 miles from Denver in Idaho Springs and 46 miles from the city in Georgetown. In Idaho Springs, families can tour the historic Argo Gold Mine & Mill and play in the mineral hot springs pool at Indian Hot Springs. Children ages 5 and under get free admission at the springs!

Georgetown. Not only is Georgetown home to the famous Georgetown Loop Railroad, a must-do for history buffs and train lovers of all ages, it’s just 13 miles east of Loveland Ski Area, in case you want to hit the slopes. The 75-year-old Loveland isn’t a resort area, so it tends to be a beloved locals’ haunt — and it’s both cheaper and easier to access from Denver than the tony, west-of-the-Divide resorts.

There’s more to do within a stone’s throw of Denver, and we haven’t even touched the myriad highlights in the Colorado Springs area, which is roughly two hours south of Colorado’s capital. But, this should get you started, and you can work on a new bucket list for spring 2015. The great thing about Colorado, other than the mild spring weather and abundant sunshine, is that you never run out of options. There’s always more.

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