Explore Colorado: 4 must-do road trip stops with kids


explore coloradoEveryone is going to California for summer vacation, but last summer, two of us drove the other way with our kids in tow for two very different family vacations:

  1. Kira road tripped from Arizona to Colorado with stops between to make it to the YMCA Rockies with her kids, husband and parents for a three-generation family road trip
  2. Amy flew into Denver where her family rented a car and did a full road trip around the state and then flew home. She shared a few of the individual stops last summer (Rocky Mountain National Park and the Gaylord Rockies), but never the full itinerary with all the little gems they found along the way.

If you haven’t road tripped with kids, be sure to bookmark our 10 tips for making it enjoyable for everyone with this guide from a mom of four.

Anyways, here’s four must-do stops in Colorado when traveling with kids!



Our road trip itinerary

First things first: here’s the order we explored the state in: We flew into Denver and went straight to the Gaylord Rockies (literally 10 minutes from the airport). After a few nights there, we hopped in our rental car and headed to Grand Lake, Colorado. We stayed lakeside in a one bedroom suite (maybe 50 steps to the docks) for under $200 a night. After two nights there, we spent a night in Breckenridge before finishing the trip in Colorado Springs for three nights.

  1. Lazy River at Gaylord Rockies

Being from Arizona, I feel like it’s hard to impress us with water parks and resort pools because we’re lucky to have so many gems in our home state, but the Gaylord Rockies really delivers a unique experience!

Indoor and outdoor water slides are just the beginning. There’s a larger-than-life lazy river (spoiler alert mama, your hair will get wet on the lazy river), a splash pad with a light show, a zero-depth entry for tots and more.

  1. Colorado’s largest lake

Grand Lake, Colorado, is a small mountain town (it looks like the backdrop of Virgin River!) and is six miles from the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park.

It’s a tiny town with big water activities (fishing, boating, stand up paddle boarding, literally anything on the water you want to do), but better than anything else: it’s so freaking affordable!

We were floored to score lakeside lodging (with a kitchen!) for under $200. We picnicked lakeside for lunch everyday just steps from our room, and it was breathtakingly beautiful.

  1. North Pole Colorado Santa’s Workshop

This was the best road trip gem we stumbled upon! It’s a classic Christmas themed amusement park with vintage rides, summer Santa sightings and holiday treats. If your family loves the holidays and amusement parks, this is a must do!

There were rides timid enough for young toddlers (and even a lot are infant friendly), and even a few adult-only rides for thrill seekers. There are more than two dozen rides, plus tons to see, shop and eats to sample to fill a day with both kids and grandparents in tow.

It’s open seasonally (with summer/fall and winter seasons), so check their website before planning your trip.

It was pretty affordable, too, ranging from $25-45 with options for family members who want to ride versus spectate, and depending on the seasonality.

  1. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

I’ll start by saying, I’m not a big zoo person. I typically feel like I’ve seen the Phoenix Zoo enough to last me a lifetime (as we are in our second year of membership). This zoo, near Colorado Springs, is something unparallel to what we have here in Phoenix.

  • We fed giraffes! (YES! Like, straight out of our hands)!
  • We saw a bald eagle up close!
  • We fed budgies with popsicle seed sticks!
  • We walked a sky bridge alongside the African elephants!

I went into this day feeling like I was taking on for the team, going for the kids, but left just as pumped as my toddler was!

What are some other can’t-miss Colorado stops for families visiting this summer? We’d love to hear more in the comments on social media!


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