Exploring Colorado’s Big Cities with Kids
Known as the Centennial state, Colorado is drawing more and more people to its vibrant cities and Rocky Mountains. If you’re heading to Colorado with kids, there’s so much the state has to offer, from beautiful parks to handcrafted breweries to the accessibility of the outdoors. People seem to care deeply about quality of life rather than its trivialities. There are plenty of amazing open spaces, parks and playgrounds to explore. We were drawn here to check out a few of Colorado’s best cities to see if it was a potential for us to live and lay down our roots. With housing prices still cheaper than California and a fantastic culture, Colorado is top of mind. We would ideally desire an area where there was great people and culture, a booming job market for tech, accessible to the mountains, cool vibes downtown, and had potential for growth.
Lay of the Land:
Denver is the hub of the state, and the Mile High city. While it is a busy downtown, there are some fantastic areas just outside downtown that have a slightly more relaxed pace. One of which is the Highland district, just Northwest of downtown. This area had a cool mix of older brick houses and new restaurant co-ops, which seemed ripe for growth. Further outside Denver, we wanted to check out Golden, which is a much smaller and isolated town 30min to the Southwest. We also wanted to visit Boulder, which is 45min Northwest, as well as the smaller towns in between like Louisville and Lafayette. There’s so much growth and industry in the Denver and Boulder areas, so there seems to be some good potential. Last but not least on our Colorado city tour, Fort Collins is about 1 hour directly to the North. This is the 4th largest city in Colorado and has a lot going for it, including a nationally recognized breweries. I acknowledge that there are many other great towns in Colorado, but we wanted to venture to the most interesting and realistic cities that we have been hearing about.
Our trip was in part to get to know the various towns that we could consider moving to, but also to give our kid some new experiences and areas to explore. While I’ve listed some of our first-hand experiences, I have also included some of the best playgrounds in the area, voted by parents, to explore with your kids.
Parks: When traveling to Colorado with kids that are young, it’s inevitable that you end up going to a few parks and playgrounds along the way. This is actually a really cool way to get to know the local community and take a breather from being on-the-go. Colorado has no shortage of parks. We loved the Louisville Community Park at the South end of Main street. They are great for kids of all ages with sandboxes, swings, climbing boulders, and they even have community movie nights projected here during the summers too. One of the favorite playgrounds among kids and adults alike is Peter Pan park in Westminster. It has everything to take you into Never Never Land, including pirate ships, climbable trees and logs, clock towers, and a slide going down a rock mountain. I also must mention Belleview Park in Englewood, which is South of Denver. This park comes complete with a full playground, miniature train, petting zoo, and a creek running through it all.
Markets: The Highland district in Denver has a great modern food market known as Avanti Food & Beverage. They have multiple artisan food vendors under one roof as well as a couple bars and plenty of room to eat and run around. Places like these are becoming more popular, and for good reason. They give you a plethora of food choices, and with kids, it doesn’t constrain them to sitting a table for the whole meal.
The Lafayette Collectibles and Flea Market is one not to miss. We actually just stumbled upon this, but were definitely glad we did. They have a huge assortment of random wares and collectibles from an array of different vendors, all under one roof. You can find almost anything here and it’s a lot of fun to peruse around. Our toddler was more than occupied running around with us and checking out the different tools, instruments, clothes, and other novelties.
Breweries: These are actually a pretty nice place to take your kids and enjoy craft beer simultaneously. I’m all about killing 2 birds with one stone. Avery Brewing Co outside Boulder and New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins were both particularly great for kids. Avery Brewing is a popular brewery and restaurant with amazing gastronomy. You can also take a tour of the brewery, or just take your child (and your beer) to the balcony that oversees their production and shipping floor. It’s a cool process. New Belgium in Fort Collins has a slightly different feel in that they don’t serve any food, but they have a nice outdoors area with a fire pit and a Rolle Bolle game court. Never heard of it? You’ll have to visit to give it a try. You can also take a short self-tour that tells the story of the red Fat Tire bike and more.
Strolling & Exploring: Pearl Street in downtown Boulder is one of the coolest pedestrian-only streets ever. You’ll find plenty of great shops and things to explore. There are giant statues of rabbits and beavers to play on, live musicians and street performers, and all around great atmosphere. Be sure to check out Snooze, which is a breakfast joint worth the trip itself.
Fort Collins also has a fantastic and lively downtown. Here you’ll find plenty of pedestrian-only walkways, live music playing, wonderful restaurant smells, and little nick-nacks throughout for your child to check out.
In most of the towns we visited, there were ample playgrounds and things to explore, making a great adventure to Colorado with kids. With the outdoors scene so prevalent in many towns, it’s not uncommon to see rock climbing walls at playgrounds. There are also some great downtowns with pedestrian-only streets, which is great for our little one to be free from the stroller and explore on his own. Between the street musicians filling the air on Pearl Street and the assorted musical instruments and art sprinkled around Fort Collins downtown, a child’s imagination and possibility is virtually limitless.
Colorado is a fantastic state full of down-to-earth and passionate people. The state has lots to offer with the Rockies being so close and plenty of industry and things to do. After touring some of their cities, Golden is much smaller and seemed to have potential in my mind, but after visiting, the population and job market seemed too limited. On the way to Boulder, one of my favorites was Louisville, since it had a small town feel with close proximity to Denver and other amenities. Boulder is awesome, outdoorsy, albeit pricey. It’s a college town with a great craft brew scene and plenty of tech companies. Fort Collins exceeded my expectations as being a hip metropolitan with plenty of great shopping, eating and strolling. Overall, I can see why Colorado-ians try to keep it a secret.
We’ll definitely be back.
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