Your Summer Break from A to Z

July 18, 2018

ART MUSEUM. Thanks to a local grant, the Denver Art Museum is free every day for kids 18 and under through 2020. Visit the Just for Fun Family Center in the lower level of the North Building to play games, build with blocks, read a book, or create your own masterpiece. The museum also has Family Backpacks and Art Tubes available on the first floor of the Hamilton Building, each with a different activity for your child.

BORROW A BACKPACK. Check Out Colorado State Parks is a somewhat new program meant to encourage Coloradans to visit our State Park. Libraries are offer "Check Out State Parks" passes with an activity backpack containing binoculars, brochures, and other educational materials.

COOL OFF AT A SPRAYGROUND. Our Top Pools, Waterparks, Beaches, & Spraygrounds Guide lists six local parks that have splash pads running from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

DANCE LIKE NO ONE'S WATCHING. No matter where you live in Douglas County, I'll bet there's a free summer concert near you! See the complete lineup in our Ultimate Summer Fun Guide.

ENJOY A PICNIC ON THE STAGE AT RED ROCKS. Did you know you can picnic and play on the very stage where thousands of iconic musicians have performed? Before or after, run the stairs or take a kid-friendly hike around the park. Just be sure to visit before you go to make sure there isn't an event that evening. You can still go and enjoy the park if there is, but you may not be able to get onto the stage if the crew is already setting up.

FAMILY-FRIENDLY FESTIVALS TAKE PLACE ALL SUMMER. Our Summer Festivals Around Colorado article includes more than 60, both near and far, and most have free admission!

GEOCACHING IS FUN FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY. Do you and your child love the outdoors, exploring new places, and looking for interesting things? Then you should try geocaching! It's a treasure hunt right in your own neighborhood! All you need to get started is a GPS-enabled device, coordinates for a geocache, and a sense of adventure.

HIKING TOGETHER CREATES AWESOME MEMORIES. Colorado is one of the most beautiful places in the world ... get a new perspective on a day hike. Check out these Kid-Friendly Hikes at Colorado's State Parks. And don't forget the 13 Essentials for a Day Hike with Your Kids.

INVITE THE NEIGHBORS. Put your heads together and create a fun neighborhood scavenger hunt or hide some gold coins in the neighborhood and the first kids to find them will win a prize!

JIGSAW PUZZLES FOR AGES 5 TO 105. We recently discovered an unopened puzzle in our house and spent a day putting it together with my 91-year-old grandmother. But you don't have to devote a day ... set up a card table in the corner of your family room. The kids would find just a piece or two at a time before heading outside to play.

KICK BACK AND STARGAZE OR CLOUD WATCH. With no need to get up early for school, you can stay up late. Download a free astronomy app to help you find and learn the constellations, or make up your own. When you have a lazy afternoon, lie down in the backyard with your kids and see what you can find as the clouds roll in (as they do nearly every afternoon).

LEND A HAND TO THE DCSD SCHOOL SUPPLY DRIVE. Support the Back 2 School Supply Drive for Douglas County Children by donating supplies or funds, or helping with packing up and delivery of items. Volunteering together is a great way for families to bond while giving back to the community they love.

MINDBENDER MANSION WILL STRETCH YOUR BRAIN. Opening Friday, July 20th at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Mindbender Mansion is full of puzzles, brainteasers, and interactive challenges that will put minds of all ages to the test. Think outside the box as you manipulate a tilt table, keep up with a conveyer belt, and try out disco hopscotch spelling.

NATURE CENTERS CAN MAKE KIDS HEALTHIER. Studies show that children who regularly spend time outside play more creatively, have lower stress levels, develop stronger immune systems, and have greater respect for themselves, for others, and for the environment. We've got 6 Front Range Nature Centers you'll want to visit with your kids this summer.

OPPOSITE DAY WILL MIX THINGS UP A BIT. Eat dinner for breakfast and breakfast for dinner. Say yes for no and no for yes. Spend the day being silly and feeling a little confused.

PAMPER YOURSELF. No room in the budget for a spa day? Give yourself a facial, make your hair extra shiny, and smooth your skin with a DIY Spa using items you probably already have in your kitchen.

QUIET TIME IS IMPORTANT. It's no secret that kids who read during the summer months fare better on fall reading tests than kids who don't. A great way to keep them reading is to participate in a Summer Reading Program! Plus you can earn free books and other surprises ... even cash!

ROCK CLIMBING ON CASTLE ROCK. In less than a mile and a half, you can reach the base of The Rock and enjoy panoramic views of Pikes Peak and the Front Range. Although the trail is rated "difficult" because of steep and uneven terrain, we've been climbing it with our boys since they were in preschool. Just stay slow and steady, and you should make it to the top!

S'MORES, ANYONE? National S'mores Day is August 10 but we don't think you should wait till then! All you need are graham crackers or cookies, chocolate candy, marshmallows, sticks, and a campfire. No fire? No problem! We've got 10 No-Campfire S'mores Ideas for you, so you can enjoy this delicious combination of gooey yumminess any day this summer!

TOUR A FACTORY. Celestial Seasonings in Boulder, Hammond's Candies in Denver, and Patsy's Candies in Colorado Springs all offer free factory tours. Get a behind-the-scenes look and free taste or two!

UNLEASH YOUR INNER RACHAEL RAY. Summer is the perfect time to try a new food or a new recipe. Visit a local Farmers' Market or the produce section of your grocery store and choose something exotic, then search online for a recipe.

VISIT THE ANIMALS. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, voted 4th Best Zoo in the nation in USA Today's 10Best Readers' Choice, and Denver Zoo are open year round!

WATCH KRISPY KREME DOUGHNUTS® BEING MADE. And then enjoy a FREE glazed doughnut if the "Hot Now" sign is on. Visit for address and store hours.

XPLORE A NEW PARK. Check out The Best Playgrounds & Parks in Douglas County & Beyond and go beyond your neighborhood.

YOGA, PILATES, AND OTHER FITNESS ACTIVITIES. It doesn't matter if you think "down dog" is what you say to your family pet when he's begging at the dinner table or you have mastered the full lotus. Free yoga in the park is available this summer for kids, families, and adults! Just grab your water bottle, sunscreen, and yoga mat or beach towel, and head to the one that works for you.

ZZZZ! You should be exhausted by now ... time for a nap! In a hammock or under a tree with my kids are my favorite summer snoozing spots.