Top 10 Colorado Summer Vacation Bucket List Ideas for Families

Take your family on the perfect Colorado summer vacation – explore our top 10 bucket list things to do in Colorado with your kids.

Summertime is in full swing, and families are setting up their plans for their family vacations. For most, when you are making plans for a summer vacation, the typical location includes destinations somewhere on a beach.

Let’s be honest, for most people you can’t think about a summer trip without seeing yourself on a beach with a towel, umbrellas and plenty of water for swimming.

But did you ever think about a spot away from the beach? What about a Colorado summer vacation trip for some outdoor recreation? 

Recently, our family took a family vacation to Colorado, and I would recommend this to all families or even just a couple’s retreat.

Colorado is one of the best places to visit during the summer, with an array of outdoor activities and breathtaking sights.

Here are 10 unforgettable things to do so you can enjoy your best Colorado summer vacation:

Rocky Mountain National Park

If you’re a nature enthusiast, you won’t want to miss visiting Rocky Mountain National Park with its endless scenic hiking trails.

With over 300 miles of hiking trails, scenic drives, and beautiful lakes, it’s no wonder that this park is one of the most popular attractions in Colorado. You can explore the park on your own or with a guided tour and you will need to buy tickets in advance.

Don’t forget to bring your camera as you’ll be surrounded by stunning views while on your amazing hikes.

bear lake at Rocky Mountain National Park visit on our Colorado Summer Vacation

We spent some time exploring Sprague Lake and Bear Lake which offered some great views of nature and even some snow during the month of June.

This trip offered plenty of opportunities to see many of local wildlife which included elk, mule deer, wild turkey and moose.

A secret to share while traveling in the park or in Colorado…if you see several cars pulled to the side of the road, there is a good chance they are looking at some moose.

Elk on side of road during our Colorado Summer Vacation

After a day exploring the Rockies, we enjoyed walking down Elk Horn Avenue in the small town of Estes Park. Get ready to shop and dine like a local!

Estes Park is great Colorado town that has tons of souvenir shops and great restaurants serving up a variety of fare for families to enjoy.

visiting Estes Park after some hikes in the Rockies

Go White Water Rafting

Do you love a good adventure? Try whitewater rafting in Colorado. The state has many rivers that are perfect for rafting, including the famous Arkansas River.

There are different levels of rapids that cater to all skill levels, so don’t worry if you’re a beginner.

white water rafting in Colorado summer vacation

Summer time temperatures can be in the 90’s and a whitewater rafting trip is a great way to stay cool during your Colorado summer vacation.

Plan on spending the day on these trips but the views and adventure will be well worth the time. If you’re not wanting to spend the whole day on a whitewater trip but you still want to enjoy a water activity then check out local areas where you can enjoy water activities like tubing.

We visited a section of the Golden River in the town of Golden where you can just park and tube downstream, get out and run back upstream and get back in for as long as you want.

For those who are asking why does the town of Golden sound familiar, it’s the home of the Coors Brewing Company.

Golden town sign

Relax at the Hot Springs

After a day of exploring, why not relax at one of Colorado’s many natural hot springs? The state has over 30 hot springs, each with its unique features and benefits.

Some hot springs are free, while others require a fee. Regardless of which one you choose; you’ll leave feeling rejuvenated and refreshed.

Glenwood Hot Springs Pool which is the world’s largest hot springs pool. It was great fun for all ages and it offered several ways to have some relaxing fun. The pool includes two waterslides, a lazy river, diving board and an adult-only area.

Hot Sulphur Springs and Great Pagosa Springs are two other options during your Colorado summer vacation trip.

hot springs in Colorado

Visiting a hot spring in June may not initially sound refreshing, but the cool mornings and evenings provide a pleasant contrast to the heat. Additionally, the rivers remain chilly, making for a refreshing and rejuvenating dip.

Explore a “14er”: Pikes Peak

When in Colorado, you may hear the phrase “14ers” and for those really adventurous groups, this may be an activity you want to check out. The term 14ers refers to the mountain where the peak reaches an elevation higher than 14,000 feet.

One of the most iconic and challenging 14ers in the Rocky Mountains is Pikes Peak. You can drive to the summit or take the famous Pikes Peak Cog Railway.

Once you arrive at the top, you’ll be greeted with panoramic views of the surrounding peaks and valleys. It’s a sight you won’t ever forget.

Another great peak to visit is Mount Evans. Mount Evans Peak can be found at the end of the highest paved road in North America located near Idaho Springs, a quaint mountain town.

Mt. Evan Peak with mountain goat during our Colorado summer vacation

Besides the breathtaking views, visitors are typically welcomed by mountain goats that roaming the area and sometimes bighorn sheep.

The road runs almost 50 miles so expect this trip to run a few hours depending on frequency of stops along this scenic drive.

Hike the Garden of the Gods

The Garden of the Gods is a public park that’s located in Colorado Springs. It’s known for its towering sandstone rock formations that are millions of years old. The park offers many hiking trails, guided tours, and picnic areas.

Garden of the Gods

The park offers many ways to tour this area including the use of jeep or trolleys, segway’s and bikes. You also have the opportunity to some rock climbing.

Enjoy Water Sports at Lake Dillon

Lake Dillon, one of Colorado’s many mountain lakes, is a reservoir that’s located in Summit County, Colorado. This lake is a popular destination for water sports such as kayaking, paddle boarding, and fishing.

You can also hike around the lake and enjoy the stunning scenery. The lake is also a great spot for boating, swimming, and enjoying a sunset cruise.

Riding the Georgetown Loop Railroad

The Georgetown Loop Railroad is located about 25 miles away from Lake Dillon in one of many of Colorado’s great mountain towns called Georgetown. This attraction is perfect for the whole family will enjoy during your Colorado summer vacation.

courtesy photo of Georgetown Loop Railroad

The train takes you a few miles around the mountains with some spectacular views of streams and the mountains. They also offer you the opportunity to do some gold mining if you are looking to extend this visit and to perhaps increase your chances of hitting the big jackpot.

The train ride was a highlight moment for our youngest son, it was his 9th birthday and we surprised him with this excursion. He was in total awe the entire day!

Train ride on the Georgetown Loop train on our Colorado summer vacation

Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde National Park is located in the southwestern corner of Colorado. It’s known for its well-preserved cliff dwellings that were built by the Ancestral Pueblo people.

You can take a guided tour or explore the park on your own. Some other attractions at this park include stargazing, camping, or attend a cultural dance or demonstration by members of the Pueblo tribes.

mesa verde national park

Dinosaur Ridge Park

Take a trip back in history and discover some of the remains of our prehistoric inhabitants at this park just west of Denver in the town of Morrison. Dinosaur Ridge Park is home of the world’s first Stegosaurus discovery.

dinosaur ridge park trail

The park showcases more than 250 dinosaur tracks and dozens of bones and other fossils. Activities include 1.5-mile tour with either a volunteer guide or Geologist and Morrison’s Natural History Museum.

Explore the Great Sand Dunes National Park

The Great Sand Dunes National Park is located in southern Colorado and is home to the tallest sand dunes in North America. You can explore the dunes on foot or rent a sandboard and slide down the dunes.

Great Sand Dunes National Park

The park offers other activities for the family like fishing, horseback riding, mountain biking, swimming at Medano Creek, hiking, and plenty of photography opportunities. It’s a unique experience that you won’t find anywhere else.

Your Perfect Colorado Summer Vacation Awaits

Colorado is known for having plenty of sunshine, especially during the summer months. With over 300 days of sunshine, you and the family will have plenty of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors on your Colorado summer vacation.

our Colorado Summer vacation trip to the Rockies

Colorado is a summer vacation destination that shouldn’t be missed. Whether you’re looking for adventure or relaxation, there’s something for everyone in this beautiful state.

From whitewater rafting, miles of trails to explore, hot springs, and the world-renowned Garden of the Gods, a Colorado summer vacation will be one you won’t soon forget.

So, grab your family and get ready to have a great time while you explore all that Colorado has to offer. Check out our printable camping checklist for fun family camping. Enjoy!

pin this for later
pinterest graphic for Colorado Summer Vacation

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.