Family of four taking a horseback riding lesson at Rocky Mountain National Park in the summer. (Photo: Lana G. / Shutterstock).

Hiking Chautauqua Trail in Boulder. (Photo: Page Light Studios / Shutterstock).

Family day trips in and around Boulder County and Northern Colorado

With spring around the corner and the promise of nicer days, now is the time to start planning for fun family day trips in Boulder and Northern Colorado. Check out our list of day trips around Northern Colorado that are perfect for the whole family. Fun required.

Colorado Model Railroad Museum
“Where a Miniature World of Wonder Awaits.” Take the family to the Colorado Model Railroad Museum in Greeley, and take in the 5,500 square foot operating model railroad that took more than five years and 280,000 volunteer hours to complete. Guests can walk through a real 1919 Colorado and Southern Caboose. Visitors can also view the Lionel Trains Collection. The best part of the museum is that everything is up close and personal, so even though it’s small, you won’t miss any of the details.

Visit the Colorado Model Railroad Museum at 680 10th Street in Greeley. For more information, visit

Chautauqua Trail
Little legs can handle this family-friendly trail that is a 1.2-mile out-and-back path that takes you straight through the Chautauqua Meadow and ends with sweeping views of the Flatirons. If you’re with older kids, feel free to venture further along one of the many other paths that branch off from the trail throughout the Chautauqua area.

Don’t forget when embarking on a hike with children, even a short one, to bring water and snacks and dress in layers. Don’t forget water for Fido, either.

Parking for the Chautauqua Trailhead is at 900 Baseline in Boulder. For more information, visit

Butterfly Pavilion
Famously known for its resident, Rosie the Tarantula, the Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster will give children a different perspective on invertebrates. Visit exhibits like Water’s Edge, where visitors can explore the diversity of underwater invertebrates. Visit Colorado’s Backyard, the newest interactive exhibit that connects guests to the Colorado ecosystem that surrounds them. Wings of the Tropics allows you to walk among free-flying butterflies in a tropical setting.

See Rosie the Tarantula in the Crawl-A-See-Em, where Rosie and other arthropods are available for observation in their native habitats. Feeling brave? Rosie loves to be held.

Visit the Butterfly Pavilion at 6252 W. 104th Ave. in Westminster. For information, visit

Estes Park
Get out and explore some of the beauty Colorado offers with a day trip to Estes Park. Nestled in a mountain valley, Estes Park offers shopping in its historic downtown. Keep kids entertained by popping into one of the many ice cream, candy or taffy shops along the way. Stroll along the Cache la Poudre River. Feeling a little more adventurous than a stroll through the shops? Try a trail ride or white water rafting in the scenic mountains.

Try the Open Air Adventure Park in Estes Park, with elements like rope bridges, aerial tightropes, swinging log steps, and moving platforms. The only caveat, kids must be five years old and participants must be between 40 and 250 pounds.

Visit the Open Air Adventure Park at 490 Prospect Village Drive. For more information, visit

For more information and to plan your trip to Estes Park, visit

Rocky Mountain National Park
While you’re in Estes Park access entry to the Rocky Mountain National Park and spend the day exploring Colorado’s own National Park. Be prepared for drastic weather changes throughout your day trip, which can be part of the fun, but only if you’re prepared with layers. Whether hiking some of the more than 300 miles of hiking trails, horseback riding or driving the mountain roads, you’re likely to view wildlife.

Before you visit, check, for information about road and trail closures, park entry fees and passes.

Most importantly, wherever you go, enjoy your day with your family!

By Darian Armer