5 Family-Friendly Day Trips Around Denver, Colorado

Living in Denver, there's no reason to leave on a jet plane when it's time for a family getaway. Planning a day trip out of Denver is an excellent option for those who need to know precisely when they'll be back again.

So, for everyone not on John Denver's rockstar schedule of old, this list caters to residents of the downtown Denver metropolitan area for close-to-home day trips fit for the whole family.  Denver is the capital city of Colorado and the central city of Coloradan culture. As such, the site offers a little bit of everything.

We're talking scenic mountaintop views, red rock formations (especially at Red Rocks Park), and hot springs. We're talking train rides through Georgetown and other old gold rush mining towns. We're talking outdoor spaces like the Flatirons or front range national forests. If you like bustling cities or tiny mountain towns like Black Hawk, the Denver area is perfect for you.

Families from the Mile High City don't have to travel too far to feel like they've strayed from their regular routine and into an enjoyable family outing.

Before the journey, travelers should consider the following list regarding the best day trips for families.

Day Trips from Denver

1.   Golden, CO

For residents of Denver, the nearby town of Golden can be accessed in a short, 30-minute drive. Often visitors will take inflatable tubes down the rapids of Clear Creek after renting equipment from Adventure West Tube Rental. What's more, this town is home to Golden Gate Canyon State Park. This Park is the perfect arena for hiking, mountain biking, nature observation, fishing, camping, hunting, rock climbing, and more. The Golden city area offers historical sites like Lookout Mountain and the Buffalo Bill Museum. Furthermore, there is no shortage of food and drink options in town—the most popular being the Coors Brewery tour.

2.   Echo Mountain Ski Area

The ski area at Echo Mountain is the closest, most affordable, and most family-friendly option for skiing, snowboarding, and tubing near Denver. This park's focus is on beginners and families who want to do snow sports-filled day trips out of Denver. While many parks focus on terrain for experienced riders, this small park has a little bit of everything (including a cozy lodge with WIFI). Looking for more riding options? Other nearby mountains include ski resorts like Loveland Ski Area, Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, and Keystone Ski Area. During the warm months, these places make for great hiking trails.

What's more, Mount Evans is in this vicinity and well worth the trip for families who would like to summit the 14,000-foot mountain, observe the wildlife, etc. The Mount Evans Scenic Byway is the highest paved road—at 4,000 feet, the view is gorgeous. It can be easily accessed for a scenic drive with any vehicle. In many of these areas, mountain goats and bighorn sheep roam free so keep the cameras ready!

3.   Rocky Mountain National Park

Sitting just over an hour away, this national park is one of the most apparent stops for folks in Denver. As a result, Rocky Mountain National Park welcomes more than four million visitors each year. The best question to ask is, What can't you do at Rocky Mountain National Park? There are 415 square miles of mountain views and a natural playground for visitors looking to make the trip. Inside the park, visitors should look for Trail Ridge Road and Longs Peak. The Rocky Mountain National Park trip is perfect for families looking to hike, bike, camp, and take in the natural beauty of the great outdoors. Otherwise, this area is also near Estes Park. This small mountain town is often visited because it houses The Stanley Hotel, aka the inspiration for The Shining.

4.   The Greater Colorado Springs Area

The town of Colorado Springs might be the most diverse area for tourists—besides Denver, of course. For families looking to adventure out of the Mile High City, Colorado Springs has a little taste of it all. There is a bustling downtown area with great dining options, consistent events, and more. Just outside of town, there are beautiful attractions like Pike's Peak, Cave of the Winds, the Garden of the Gods, and more. Just about an hour and a half south of Denver, the outdoor activities on offer here make this place the perfect day trip for the whole family.

5.   Eastern Plains, Colorado


Many travelers in Denver don't often think to go East for a day trip. However, the Eastern Plains offer different views than do the sites to the North, West, or South. The Wild Animal Sanctuary is one option that will excite the entire family. This preserve is located just outside the small town of Keenesburg, CO, where the facility saves species like lions, tigers, bears, wolves, and other animals. Another nearby destination for travelers is known as the Paint Mines Interpretive Park.

This Park is situated just outside the town of Calhan and showcases 750 acres of breathtaking rock formations, vibrant natural colors, and history dating back 9,000 years.

When traveling to these close-by destinations, any family from the Denver metro area is liable to have the best day with their loved ones. Looking for more ideas to showcase the best of North America? Traveling families should also look into cities like Evergreen, Boulder, Idaho Springs, Manitou Springs, Fort Collins, Aspen, Breckenridge, and Vail. Enjoy the USA!

Any family-friendly road trip ideas of your own? Share your adventure at our Wide Open Roads Facebook!

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