As a mom, occupational therapist and Boulder native, I am frequently asked the question… “What activities do you like to do with your kids in Boulder?” I know we all have our favorite spots, but I thought I would share some more places and ideas from both a mom’s perspective, but also an OT’s perspective!
When I think of activities for my children, I look for activities and environments that will provide their bodies and brains with the information that they need to foster skills, provide them with the sensory input their bodies crave, and most of all activities that are fun!
Here is my most recent list and thoughts on why I love the activity/location, and a fun map you can access to navigate the recommendations.
Hike or Nature Walk
- My favorite hikes in the area are Sanitas Valley/Dakota Ridge, Chautauqua’s Enchanted Mesa, South Mesa trails, and Bobo Link Trail. Hiking provides children with the sounds, smells, visual processing, and heavy work. A great activity for all the senses!
- Nature walk at Coot Lake (just east of the Boulder Reservoir) and Sawhill Ponds. Nature hikes are a great way for all the senses to be involved. We usually bring a small fishing net and bucket to gather the small shells in the streams.
- NCAR: Take a short hike followed by experiential exhibits in the NCAR lobby. NCAR is the best of outdoorsy with the climbing and hiking, exploring all a child’s senses. There is a little creek on the lower path as well. The NCAR lobby is a great way for hands-on learning of weather (for children approx. 3 years and older).
Playing in the Creek
I love water play, especially combined with hiking and nature. The child is provided with tactile, heavy work, visual, auditory and a bunch of fun! Children are able to engage at their own level.
Check out the lower NCAR trail, Bobo Link Trail, Boulder Creek, and the LaVern Johnson Park in Lyons.
Best Parks to Play
Honestly, Boulder has many amazing parks to choose from. These parks have both wonderful, engaging play equipment as well as the option of water play.
LaVern Johnson Park . . . . definitely worth the drive! The Boulder Public library park, Waneka Park in Lafayette (I love that you can walk around the lake).
- WOW! Museum. I would recommend going when the museum first opens or during lunch/nap time when it is quieter. Wow! Museum offers hands on sensory experiences ranging from digging in the sand, pulling one’s self up a pulley chair, ball ramps, dress-up, wind room, etc. It is also a great opportunity for children to work and play together.
- CU Museums: CU Heritage museum and CU Museum of Natural History. Although these museums are on the smaller side, they generally offer hands-on children’s exhibits ranging from playing with legos
Farms and Animals
- Sunflower Farm. Sunflower Farm has everything! You can touch/feed the animals, ride a horse or zoom down the zip line. Spend the day immersed in a fun, sensory-rich environment!
- Mountain Flower Goat Dairy (on Saturdays in the spring/summer). A fun environment for all children. Walk through the iris gardens, smell the flowers and feed the goats! Consider walking down the path to Children’s Peace Garden and see how food is grown!
Other Activities Around Boulder
- Boulder Bike Park (biking for all ages and levels)
- Xtreme Altitude – Toddler open play
- North Boulder Rec Center gymnastics open-play
- ABC climbing open gym
- Trampoline Facilities: Got Air (Longmont), Jump Zones or other trampoline places that have toddler time
- Tumble Room at Boulder JCC
- Swimming: North Boulder Rec Center or the YMCA in Lafayette
- Water Parks: Broomfield Bay Aquatic Park
- Ice Skating (in the winter I love the Boulder ice skating next to the Tea House) or in the summer check out CU ice rink or Superior’s Sport Stable.
- Shredders Indoor Ski
Hope these give you some fun spring and summer ideas for your kiddos!