Because summer isn't over yet, and there's still more fun to be had.
You’ve already taken the kids to the swimming pool this summer a billion times. To the movies. The indoor playground at the mall. With the start of school still a few weeks away, you’re looking for a few good ideas that will keep the kids – and you – cool and entertained.
We’ve got you covered with four-day trip ideas – and a hot tip at the end about free passes to local museums and other activities – all within an hour(ish) of Denver.
5735 Washington St, Denver
Kammy, Hammond's Candies' Manufacturing Operations Manager twisting giant lollipops, by hand. Photo via Hammond's Candies Facebook page.
Hammond’s Candies will celebrate their 100-year anniversary next year, and the tour of this hometown facility is a step back in time where you can watch candy being pulled, cut, and packaged by hand – just like it has been since the 1920s.
The tour is accessible for strollers, wheelchairs, and walkers and begins with a short video overview of the candy company’s history. From there, a guide will lead you to rooms where you can see various types of candy being made. From candy canes and lollipops to marshmallows and chocolate bars, every day brings a different handmade treat to observe. Conveniently, the tour ends in the Hammond’s gift shop where you can stock up on goodies galore, including their “pigs ‘n taters” chocolate bar, listed as a favorite by Oprah.com.
Tours are free, but it’s a good idea to book in advance through their online calendar.
Oh, and spoiler alert: everyone on the tour gets a sweet treat to enjoy at the end.
6901 S. Peoria St., Centennial
Spinning in the teacups at Lollipop Park. Photo by Jessica Love.
It’s all the fun of a county fair, without the heat. Open Thursdays to Sundays, this indoor amusement park is designed for kids under 10 years old. Purchase an entry wristband for your child(ren) and they can spend as long as they want riding a child-sized Ferris wheel, rotating teacups, spinning swings, a miniature train, carousel, jumping in the bouncy house, and more. All that running around is sure to give you an afternoon break, or at least a quiet ride home. And since adults under 200 pounds can join children on several of the rides, you might need a nap afterward, too.
The park is part of the Family Sports Center complex, so older children can spend the afternoon in the arcade, playing mini-golf, ice skating, crashing in bumper cars, or on the climbing wall. Hit the facility on the right day, and you might even catch the Colorado Avalanche training on the ice.
1 Olympic Plaza, Colorado Springs
The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Complex in Colorado Springs. Photo via U.S. OPTC website.
The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Complex in Colorado Springs is the flagship training center for the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee and the Olympic & Paralympic Training Center programs, according to the organization’s website. It’s the headquarters of USA Swimming and USA Shooting, and hosts athletes training for a range of other sports, from boxing to figure skating, gymnastics, and wrestling.
Tours run every 30 minutes in the summer and last for about an hour. During that time, you’ll get an overview and walking tour of the campus that so many athletes call home and learn about the history of the facility in the Olympic & Paralympic Movements. The facility was renovated in 2016 and now features a Panasonic wall with an interactive touch-screen display that lets visitors track Team USA as they prepare for competitions.
With the 2020 Summer Olympics just around the corner, you might just spot a rising star training for the gold.
4600 Sleepytime Drive, Boulder
Photo via the Celestial Seasonings Facebook page.
“Celestial Seasonings is still all about the same things it was in 1969: Making the highest quality, best tasting tea on the market complete with beautiful artwork and a feel-good message.” -Charlie Baden, Senior Blendmaster
It all started for Celestial Seasonings back in 1969, when founder Mo Siegel handpicked wild herbs from the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and used them to make tea. Fast forward to today: they’re now serving 1.6 billion cups of tea each year, with ingredients sourced from more than 35 countries.
So, no matter whether your cup of tea is usually herbal, black, green, or white, if you join the Celestial Seasonings factory tour, you’ll get a close-up look at how it was blended, packaged, and shipped.
Tours are free, first-come-first-served (unless you have a large group, then call ahead) and last 45 minutes. While you’re there, be sure to stop in the "mint room," a room full of dried mill peppermint and sometimes spearmint, that will wake up your senses. As one employee describes it: "I think what people really like about the mint room is that the menthol cools their skin and numbs their noses. It’s really refreshing!"
Go thirsty, because before or after your tour you can spend time in their tea tour center sampling all 87 of their tea flavors.
One important note: children under five years old are not allowed on the factory portion of the tour.
*Free* Museum & Activity Passes from Your Local Library
If you need more ideas for your list, head to your local library website to look for a link to free passes to local Denver area museums and attractions.
It's #NationalLibraryWeek 📚 and we're here to remind you: we partner with @codepted, @COStateLibrary and the local library systems to bring you the "Check Out State Parks" Program! #CheckOutColorado with a state parks pass and a backpack full of goodies: https://t.co/WNKES3Vekk pic.twitter.com/gEkfWyqI7P— CO Parks & Wildlife (@COParksWildlife) April 8, 2019
The Denver Public Library offers cardholders free entrance to the Denver Trolley, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Denver Firefighter’s Museum, Molly Brown House, behind-the-scenes tours of Denver Performing Arts Complex venues where you can explore costume shops, design studios, and more.
Broomfield Public Library cardholders can access the Experience Pass, which includes entry to most of the previously listed facilities, as well as free entrance to the WOW! Children’s Museum in Lafayette, Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver Zoo, and the Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster.
Jefferson County Public Library offers a cultural pass that gives library cardholders free access to most of the places listed above, as well as to Dinosaur Ridge, the Morrison Natural History Museum, and even a free one-day Colorado State Parks Pass.
Head to your local library website to explore and find even more free summer activities!
What are your plans as we near the end of the summer? Any other fun activities and/or family-friendly day trips in Colorado that we missed on our list? Sound off in the comments below.