Traveling with a family can be challenging and expensive, but in Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins, and Colorado Springs you can spend time and not money to make memories that last a lifetime.

Denver

The Denver Public Library not only has books to loan, but art on display and various programs featuring music and crafts. The Central Library is the largest public library between Chicago and Los Angeles. Throughout the year, anyone is welcome to travel up to the 7th floor to see the Western art collection on display in the Western History and Genealogy department. Or, go to the Vida Ellison gallery on the 5th floor where contemporary art exhibits are rotated frequently and a deck off the gallery offers views of Civic Center Park below, the Capitol dome, and the city skyline.

Don’t just look—tour the Colorado State Capitol Building on a weekday. You and your kids will learn everything there is to know about the history of the state—from rocks to people. The dome might be open too so if you have no fear of heights, it’s worth the walk up and look at the Rocky Mountains. Whether or not you can tour, be sure to go to the “mile high step” outside where surveyors have confirmed the spot where the city reaches 5,280 feet above sea level.

Denver's Capitol Building. Photo © Wasin Pummarin/123rf.

Denver’s Capitol Building. Photo © Wasin Pummarin/123rf.

Colorado Springs

You don’t even have to get out of your car (though I highly recommend that you do) to see Garden of the Gods. These striking red rocks jutting up out of the foothills will delight all ages. You can hike, climb, or ride through this area (depending on weather). If your kids have Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series, this is a must-see for your family. Note that there are hours to visit the park, and you will benefit from being there when the Visitor Center is open so you can use the facilities, and get snacks and souvenirs.

Boulder

Hiking might be the best free activity in the state of Colorado! While there are many places to choose from, pick one of the easy trails that begin at Chautauqua Park. There’s a ranger station where you can get tips on conditions for hiking before you set out. On the east side of the park you’ll find a playground for little ones. You’ll be at the base of some of the iconic flatirons you see as you drive into this hip college town. Depending on the trail and time of year, you will cross over a meadow, a babbling brook, and capture a breathtaking view.

Fort Collins

Old Town Fort Collins. Photo by Tim O'Hara, courtesy of Fort Collins Business Association.

Old Town Fort Collins. Photo by Tim O’Hara, courtesy of Fort Collins Business Association.

Who loves Disneyland? (My hand just went up.) Old Town Fort Collins, a historic downtown filled with restaurants and shops, was the inspiration for Disneyland’s Main Street USA. Sample cheese, chocolate, and other goodies as you check out the shops. You’ll see public art throughout your stroll too. Just a block off of Old Town, you’ll find Library Park with historic log cabins on display and learn more about the area.

Free Family Activities in CO