The My City with kids! guest post series features moms around the world sharing more about their hometown and this guest post by local blogging mom, Dalya, who writes as Sweet Little Journey, will go a long way to help you planning a visit to Boulder, Colorado.
Dalya has been living in Boulder County for the past 3 years with her husband and two kids, now aged 1 and 3.
They found themselves moving her after they took a week-long trip there a few years ago and instantly fell in love with this gorgeous mountain town.
There are stunning vistas from every point, perfect weather almost year-round, and incredibly friendly people all around. There’s a strong sense of community and a very deeply rooted pay-it-forward mentality. It is also one of the most child-friendly towns around!
There’s no shortage of things to do in Boulder and surrounding areas. Read on below to discover some of Dalya’s favourite places to see and things to do in Boulder.
Boulder is a fairly walkable and bikeable town, so if you’re staying within city limits you probably won’t be needing a car too much!
Most of the restaurants and attractions are off of Pearl Street – a vibrant pedestrian-only walkway full of buskers, art galleries, splash pads and sculptures. If you do end up visiting by car, there is plenty of parking near Pearl Street and the best part is that it’s free on the weekends! Just search for parking in Google Maps and pick the closest one to your destination. Our personal favorite is the one right at St. Julian hotel.
Best outdoor things to do in Boulder with kids
One of the most popular things to do and the reason people flock to this beautiful mountain town year-round is for the plethora of hiking and biking trails. Chautauqua park is a local favorite, and a starting point for lots of various hikes. This is where you would start if you wanted to hike up to one of the flatirons, or if you just wanted to take in the view from the meadow at the bottom. There are often free concerts by local bands, such as Jeff and Paige who perform at the meadow for kids and adults alike.
Davidson Mesa Open Space is a hidden gem just 10 minutes outside of Boulder. This is one of our favorite places to go watch the sun set behind the mountains, with a magnificent view of Boulder just below.
This is one of those hikes you could brag about if you complete. It’s a challenging climb up to the top, but the view at the end is entirely worth it! Our three year old daughter was able to climb all the way up to the top on her own, but was pretty exhausted after and slept on dad’s shoulder the whole way down. Keep in mind that if you’re coming from sea-level, any hike in Boulder will seem much more difficult than you would expect. Boulder is located at 5300’ above sea-level and has lower levels of oxygen at this elevation than a city at sea-level.
Boulder Creek Path
Boulder Creek runs right through the city of Boulder and is a popular hangout spot. In the summer you will see people tubing, swimming or just splashing in the cool water. In the fall this is a great place to see some of the leaf foliage. The path is paved so you could take a leisurely walk with a stroller and it is easily accessible from Pearl Street Mall.
Boulder Farmers Market
This is the largest farmers market in Colorado and it has become somewhat of a weekly ritual for locals. There’s always a wide selection of locally grown organic produce, meats, herbs, cheese, eggs, flowers and more. This farmers market runs on Saturdays and Wednesday. Saturdays feature an outdoor food court, freshly brewed coffee, baked goods and often live music to enhance your experience! The Wednesday edition features a beer and wine garden for some post-work unwinding.
Best indoor activities to do in Boulder with kids
I truly believe that Colorado’s best kept secret is its perfect weather year round. Since it’s so dry here, winters are mild and summers never get too hot. The snow evaporates fairly quickly and doesn’t stay on the ground for very long. This means that even during the colder months there are plenty of activities to enjoy outdoors.
In the odd chance that it does end up raining during your stay, here are some of our favorite indoor activities with kids
We’ve had numerous birthday parties as well as regular visits to The Bounce Place. Imagine bouncy castles, obstacle courses, balls, cars and slides. This is child heaven! General admission is only 12$ and is valid for the full day.
ABC Kid’s Climbing Gym
When Boulder residents are not hitting the trails, they can be found at one of the various indoor climbing gyms. This particular gym is fully set up for kids of all ages eager to learn to climb! There are climbing routes with slides, ziplines and obstacle courses. You can also sign up for a rock-climbing class if your schedule permits!
National Center for Atmospheric Research
Aside from being strategically placed in an extremely photogenic location with a stunning mountain backdrop, the National Center for Atmospheric Research is a fantastic place to spend a rainy (or sunny!) day. There are exhibits on climate change, tornado simulators, interactive lighting displays and lots of fun experiments for the kids! There are free tours offered year-round and all ages are welcome. This is also a starting point for several hikes that run along the mountain with views of Boulder.
If you’re just looking for a relaxed atmosphere where parents can grab a drink and kids can run around in a contained space, this is the spot for you. Rayback Collective is an event space that has 30 taps on deck, delicious food trucks and most importantly – lots of room and games for kids to lose some steam! It also regularly hosts local talent and has a large patio and fire pit for when the weather is nice!
Where to eat with kids in Boulder
Nearly every restaurant in Boulder is family friendly and will be more than happy to accommodate families with kids large and small.
Some of our favorites are
This is a Boulder staple of delicious everyday food. The menu is centered around mediterranean food, and they feature a diverse menu of tapas, paellas, pizzas and seafood. There is ample patio seating, a kids menu, highchairs and they even hand out their own homemade playdough to your kids while you wait!
This is our favorite Sushi joint in Boulder, to the point where they know our regular order by now. The fish is always fresh, kids are welcome, high chairs available, outdoor seating right on Pearl Street Mall and lots of delicious Japanese menu items to choose from.
I have a weakness for Thai food, and this place does not disappoint! They have all the favorite Thai staples on their menu and the food is fresh and delicious. Make sure to try the peanut curry!
If you’re not looking for a sit down place, Shawarma King has some of the best take-out shawarma we’ve had in the area. Aside from it being delicious, it is located right on Pearl Street Mall. Just pick out your falafel, gyro or shawarma pita, find a bench and enjoy one of the frequent Pearl Street buskers perform!
Dushanbe Tea House
For something more unique and very Boulder-esque, visit this architecturally magnificent tea house. This Persian teahouse was a gift from Dushanbe, Tajikistan to Boulder city as a symbol of peace. It was shipped in pieces from Dushanbe and re-assembled by a group of 40 Tajik artisans in Boulder. Now it is a place to meet up for some chai and mediterranean snacks.
Sweet Cow is a local chain providing Boulder’s favorite ice cream and gelato! It’s one of our kids favorite treats after a meal, or just as an outing when going out in Boulder.
Where to stay with kids in Boulder
If you’re looking for vacation rentals like Airbnb and VRBO, I would highly recommend finding a place close to Pearl Street Mall, since that is where all the restaurants and entertainment is. Mapleton Hill and Newlands are nice, quiet neighborhoods that are just north of Pearl Street Mall. Anything south of Pearl Street Mall is mostly University housing and residences, so unless you’re looking to stay in a frat house, I would probably recommend staying North of Pearl Street Mall.
If you’re interested in hotels in Boulder, St Julian is a fairly upscale, locally owned hotel in a wonderful location. You could also try Chautauqua Cottages, located right at Chautauqua Park.
You could also look at Louisville, Lafayette or Superior, all extremely family friendly towns that are just 10 minutes outside of Boulder. There might be cheaper accomodation there, but you will need to drive into Boulder if you decide to stay in one of these locations.
About the Author
Dalya is the creator, writer and photographer behind www.sweetlittlejourney.com. She admits to dragging her husband and two kids around the world with her so that she can take cute photos of them in some pretty remote places! They currently call Colorado home and absolutely love everything that it has to offer especially the mountains and nature and they like to get out hiking as much as possible. Thankfully Boulder makes that easy with all of its hiking trails and mountains in every direction!