Colorado is for kids. From massive snow forts to skiing with Santa Claus to outdoor adventures specifically designed for youngsters, there are plenty of ways to entertain your little ones on a winter vacation in the Rocky Mountains.
Here are six of our favorite, fun winter activities for kids in Colorado.
The highlight of many winter vacations in Colorado is hitting the slopes, and kids can ski for free at Keystone Resort.
Keystone is well known for its awesome Kids Ski Free program, featuring free events every day and free lift tickets for kids, even over the holidays and weekends. Book two or more nights’ stay through Keystone Resort and kids 12 and younger can hit the slopes at no cost. Every day, all season long, with no blackout dates or other restrictions. As a bonus: Keystone often offers discounted lodging rates in family-friendly hotels; ask about the current specials.
What’s better than a day on the powder? A day on the powder with Santa Claus himself, of course. On Christmas Eve, nonetheless.
In the past, Monarch Mountain, about 20 miles west of Salida, has invited Santa to ski its mountain on Christmas Eve from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The jolly ol’ man hops on his skis and even a snowboard (turns out, he's pretty versatile in the winter sports) and poses for pics with the kids. That is, if they can catch him, as he tears up the snow for one last celebration of the season, before he has to get to work delivering toys.
For kids who don’t want to ski, there’s plenty of outdoor action in Keystone’s new Kidtopia Spectacular.
Every day, find different free activities to entertain your kids, such as nightly fireworks, a torchlight ski parade, free snow tubing, fireside photos with Santa Claus, special food events, a music celebration and more. Kids can also meet Santa at the movies, see him in parades, and dine with him during a special family brunch.
Arguably the biggest highlight in the past, however, has been the (self-proclaimed) world’s largest snow fort, aptly named Fort Snow. Kids can explore this massive snow mansion through slides, mazes, and tunnels. Check out the fort daily during lift hours throughout the season.
Afterward, make sure you don’t miss Keystone’s Chocolate Village, handcrafted out of more than 5,000 pounds of chocolate. You will not believe the functioning chocolate gondola. There’s even a chocolate Christmas tree and a waterfall.
Kids get après, too, in Telluride, which features a Kids Happy Hour for visitors ages 5 through 12. No, not that kind of happy hour; instead of discounted cocktails, at this happy hour, there are games and souvenirs. After a day on the slopes, kids can enjoy crafts (make snowflakes and candles or write stories and poems), while Mom and Dad enjoy one last kid-free run.
The happy hour staff will even pick up the kids, so you can keep cruising without needing to break.
Maybe it should be called parents’ happy hour, too.
Enjoy a Kids Night Out
Many ski resorts offer special child care services for kids, while their parents ski or unwind.
Purgatory offers a fun childcare option called The Den, an indoor, on-site center with interactive activities for kids 2 months to 10 years old. The Den also brings kids outside for play and activities. During the day, kids may learn about winter preparation, get cross-country ski lessons, and more.
Certain evenings, parents can bring their kids to Kids Night Out, which includes dinner, arts, and crafts, movies, snacks, and games. While kids get their own kind of party on, parents can explore the town and enjoy a quiet dinner, or not, depending on how Mom and Dad roll.
Hide Away at Critterland
This is a getaway for the smallest visitors. Copper Mountain’s Critterland is an interactive play area where youngsters can explore the snow in a private, fenced-off area at the base of Tubing Hill. Here, kids will find a handful of snow characters, a tubing carousel (imagine a classic carousel, but instead of horses, with inner tubes), a snow den with tunnels and a mini tubing hill that’s much more approachable for tinier tubers. The fun features have equally as fun names, like the Bearilla Snow Den and the Critter Crooked House.