Best Family-Friendly Things To Do In Colorado In The Summer


Colorado boasts over 300 days of sunshine per year, making it an ideal destination for summer adventures. From the towering peaks of the Rocky Mountains to the rushing rivers and pristine lakes, Colorado’s diverse landscapes offer a unique experience for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.


  • Embrace the diverse landscapes, from mountains to rivers, that make summer in Colorado a unique experience.
  • Discover a variety of activities, from hiking in national parks to attending music festivals.
  • Understand the importance of planning and safety while exploring the outdoors in Colorado.

Outdoor Activities

Hiking and Backpacking

  • Explore the top trails in Rocky Mountain National Park, such as the scenic Bear Lake Trail or the challenging Longs Peak.
  • Discover hidden gems in San Juan National Forest, like the stunning Ice Lakes Basin or the remote Chicago Basin.
  • Safety tips for hiking in Colorado's summer weather: bring plenty of water, wear sunscreen, and be prepared for afternoon thunderstorms.

Water Sports

  • Whitewater rafting on the Arkansas River, with rapids ranging from mild to wild.
  • Stand-up paddleboarding on Grand Lake, Colorado's largest natural lake.
  • Best spots for fly fishing in Colorado include the Gold Medal waters of the Fryingpan River and the scenic Gunnison River.

Biking Trails

  • Mountain biking in Fruita, known for its world-class singletrack trails like the 18 Road Trails.
  • Road biking routes with scenic views, such as the Mount Blue Sky Scenic Byway (formerly Mount Evans) or the Peak to Peak Highway.
  • Family-friendly biking trails, like the Glenwood Canyon Recreation Trail or the Cherry Creek Trail in Denver.

Cultural Experiences

Music and Arts Festivals

  • Telluride Bluegrass Festival: A must-visit for music lovers, featuring top bluegrass artists in a stunning mountain setting.
  • Aspen Music Festival: This festival combines classical music with stunning scenery, attracting world-renowned musicians.
  • Denver's Street Art: Exploring the city's vibrant murals, particularly in the RiNo Art District.

Historical Sites and Museums

  • Mesa Verde National Park: Learn more about Colorado's rich history with a journey into ancient Pueblo culture, with well-preserved cliff dwellings and archaeological sites.
  • The Colorado Railroad Museum: A treat for history buffs, showcasing the state's rich railroad heritage.
  • The Mining History of Leadville, once a booming silver mining town, is now a National Historic Landmark District.

Family-Friendly Activities

Amusement Parks and Attractions

  • Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park: Offers thrilling rides and water slides in Denver.
  • Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park: Features cave tours, alpine coasters, and a mountaintop roller coaster.
  • Cheyenne Mountain Zoo: A unique mountain zoo experience in Colorado Springs with a focus on conservation and education.

Educational Experiences

  • Denver Museum of Nature & Science: With interactive exhibits on dinosaurs, space, and more.
  • Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center: In Colorado Springs, offering guided walks and educational programs.
  • Dinosaur Ridge: A prehistoric adventure near Morrison, with dinosaur tracks and fossil exhibits.
  • Butterfly Pavilion: Located in Westminster, it's the first independent insect zoo in North America.
  • Denver Art Museum: A large collection of art and artifacts from around the world, located in the Civic Center of Denver.

Adventure Sports

Rock Climbing and Bouldering

  • Eldorado Canyon State Park: A climber's paradise with over 500 technical rock climbing routes.
  • Garden of the Gods: This attraction features iconic formations for climbers of all levels, set against a stunning backdrop of Pikes Peak.
  • Climbing safety and beginner tips: Take a class or hire a guide, always climb with a partner, and check weather conditions.

Paragliding and Skydiving

  • Experience the thrill of paragliding in Boulder, soaring above the Flatirons and the city below.
  • Skydiving in Longmont: A bird's eye view of the Rockies, with tandem jumps available for first-timers.
  • Tips for first-time paragliders and skydivers: Choose a reputable operator, listen carefully to safety instructions, and don't forget to breathe and enjoy the view.

Relaxation and Wellness

Hot Springs and Spas

  • The healing waters of Glenwood Springs: Home to the world's largest hot springs pool and part of the beautiful Roaring Fork Valley.
  • Dunton Hot Springs: A luxurious retreat in a restored ghost town with natural hot springs and spa treatments.
  • Tips for visiting Colorado's hot springs: Bring a swimsuit and towel, stay hydrated, and take breaks to cool off.

Yoga and Meditation Retreats

  • Mountain-based yoga retreats for rejuvenation, like the Shambhala Mountain Center in Red Feather Lakes.
  • Meditation retreats in nature's serenity, such as the Crestone Mountain Zen Center in the San Luis Valley.
  • The benefits of combining outdoor activities with wellness practices include reduced stress, improved focus, and a deeper connection to nature.

Culinary Experiences

Farm-to-Table Dining

  • Visit the best farm-to-table restaurants in Boulder, such as Black Cat and Bramble & Hare.
  • Visiting local farmers' markets, such as the Boulder Farmers Market or the Aspen Saturday Market.
  • Learn more about the importance of sustainable eating in Colorado, supporting local farmers, and reducing food miles.

Craft Breweries and Wineries

  • Colorado's craft beer scene includes notable breweries like New Belgium in Fort Collins and Odell Brewing in Denver.
  • Wine tasting in the Colorado Wine Country, particularly in the Grand Valley AVA near Grand Junction.
  • Pairing outdoor adventures with local brews and wines, like a post-hike pint or a scenic vineyard picnic.


What is the best time to visit Colorado in the summer?

The best time to visit Colorado in the summer depends on your preferences. June through August are the warmest months, perfect for water activities and festivals. However, these months can also be crowded. For fewer crowds and cooler temperatures, consider visiting in late May or early September.

Are there any free activities to do in Colorado during the summer?

Yes, there are many free activities in Colorado during the summer. These include hiking in national forests, visiting state parks (some offer free admission days), attending free concerts and festivals, and exploring public art and historic districts in cities like Denver and Colorado Springs.

How can I stay safe while exploring the outdoors in Colorado?

To stay safe while exploring Colorado outdoors, always check weather conditions before heading out, bring plenty of water and snacks, wear appropriate clothing and footwear, apply sunscreen, and let someone know your plans. When hiking, stick to marked trails and be aware of your surroundings, especially wildlife.

What are the must-visit national parks in Colorado during the summer?

The must-visit national parks in Colorado during the summer are Rocky Mountain National Park, Mesa Verde National Park, Great Sand Dunes National Park, and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Each offers unique landscapes, activities, and cultural experiences.

Can you recommend any off-the-beaten-path destinations in Colorado for the summer?

Some off-the-beaten-path destinations in Colorado for the summer include the San Juan Mountains (home to charming towns like Ouray and Silverton), the Flat Tops Wilderness Area (known for its pristine lakes and hiking trails), and the North Park region (a hidden gem for wildlife viewing and stargazing).

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About the author

Simone Weisman

My deep appreciation for nature and active living strongly aligns with the vibrant outdoor culture of Colorado. My enjoyment of yoga, hiking, and exploring scenic trails provides me with a unique perspective that I bring to This personal passion enriches my ability to connect with and inspire our audience, whether they’re local residents or visitors seeking to explore all that Colorado has to offer.