When the tops of the trees start to turn green, you know that a season of non-stop activities has arrived in the Pikes Peak region. Spring and Summer are electric with excitement not just because the weather is spectacular, but because there is so much to do. If someone is bored during the summer it’s only because one has not opened their front door!
From Farmer’s Markets, concerts, races, festivals, and other local attractions, to plenty of family-friendly events there are hundreds of options. The hardest part is choosing which ones to put on your calendar.
Below are my picks for the top family-friendly activities for this summer. May you and your family have a memorable and spectacular Summer season, full of adventure, laughter, and exploration!
MEADOWGRASS MUSIC FEST – MAY 26 – 28
I recently discovered the Meadowgrass Music Fest, currently in its 9th year. Hosted by Rocky Mountain Highway and located at the La Foret Conference and Retreat Center in Black Forest. It is a family-friendly giant camping trip among chummy folks (though you don’t have to camp to enjoy the festivities) all while being entertained by a lineup of over 20+ national, regional, and local musicians.
Presenting a diverse selection of emerging talent from across the nation, it’s destined to be a time of fabulous fun and amazing music! A few of the artists playing this year include Joan Osborne, The Accidentals, Gipsy Moon, Woodshed Red to name a few.
For the kids, there is ample room to run and play. Providing extra entertainment, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoomobile will be on hand along with bubbles, face painting, Domeball, and the Pikes Peak Library District. Oh…and there’s also a swimming pool!
PICNIC AND PLANES – MAY 24
I love how every May, many residents in the city peer out their windows in anticipation of a glimpse of the Thunderbirds. Time seems to stop for a moment as cars pull over to the side of the road and squint as they scan the skies. Employees of nearby businesses leave their desks, vying for the best vantage point from outside their buildings or windows. The whole city turns their sights to the skies as the Thunderbirds strut their acrobatic stunts above. It’s the same every year and it never gets old.
The Air Force Academy graduation is nearly an official holiday for the city and folks start early picking out the best spots to park and stake their claim for optimal views. It’s so popular that the
It’s so popular that the Western Museum of Mining (which happens to have a premium vantage point) ,opens their grounds for families to come, set up a picnic, and relish the lovely grounds while enjoying perfect views of the planes. Sounds like a lovely day for a family picnic and a show!
Cost: $5 per car (so pack ’em in!). Visit their website for more info.
PADDLEFEST, BUENA VISTA (MAY 26-29) *top pick*
Whohoo!! Get your ADVENTURE on and kick off the summer with a party on the water. Whether you are a beginner or looking to be challenged and learn new skills, take a drive up to Buena Vista and plan a day – or the weekend! – at the river. There’s Kid’s Paddle, Group Paddles, SUP Yoga, River Surfing, and even a Kayak Rodeo! All skill levels and ages are represented. Calm lakes for folks just starting out and the kiddos. Like something a little more fast-paced and challenging? Tackle the rapids if you have more experience or sign up for one of the many advanced clinics. Prefer to watch? Plenty of room to hang out at the “Beach”, listen to live music, enjoy the abundance of games and activities for kids, and shopping in the cutest town you’ve seen!
Some events are free while other workshops have a cost. For all events, descriptions, and fees, visit their site here.
GARDEN OF THE GODS GATEWAY ADVENTURE SERIES (ongoing)
Garden of the Gods was rated one of the best parks to visit in the nation!
Luckily, the Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center off of 30th street is home to all things GOG and offers guided tours, special talks, and weekly walks and runs for the whole family. The Visitor Center features an HD video on the history and formation of the Garden, as well as shops and hands-on exhibits. It is also the location of the Visitor Information desk. Here you can find a list of daily activities and special talks.
Every day presents something new! Learn about the wildlife, rent a Segway, participate in races, walks, biking events, attend a Bat Walk and numerous other options.
Most of the action gets started after May 26. Call 719-634-6666 for more information or visit their website here.
JAZZ IN THE GARDEN (JUNE 2 – AUG 25)
Grab your folding chairs, blankets, and baskets of goodies to escape into a world free of stress among the beautiful gardens and stone walls of the St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, located in downtown Colorado Springs.
Perfect for those of us who enjoy a relaxing evening listening to good music. Concerts are on Friday nights and are FREE to the public. Kids are welcome and encouraged to attend!
To view the entire lineup for this summer, click here.
WESTERN STREET BREAKFAST (JUNE 21)
It doesn’t get more Colorado than this.
A tribute to the history and heritage of the Pikes Peak territory. Wipe away those tired eyes with fresh flapjacks, coffee, juice, and eggs. (Any little ones under the age of 5 eat free). The Pikes Peak Range Riders saddle up and ride out by 8 am so you’ll want to arrive early! Kids get to dress up, listen to fun cowboy music, watch the mesmerizing dancing of the Native Americans, and participate in the games.
The breakfast is served by, and benefits, our soldiers at Ft. Carson. So put on your cowboy hats, celebrate our heritage AND support our military.
Cost: $5 per person for breakfast. Details here.
GOLD MINE TOURS (May 25 – Sept 10)
Pikes Peak or Bust! It’s true….there is gold “in thar’ hills”. An important aspect of our history is the rush for gold deep in the rocks of Pikes Peak and it’s neighboring hills. They still produce large quantities of gold to this day. It’s worth your time to take the family out to see how early miners used to extract gold and how they do it today. Both are very interesting!
The Molly Kathleen Mine is a fascinating tour 1000′ into the heart of the mountain. Ride the cages the miners used to access the tunnels. See the tools they used, and walk through the very same muddy tunnels they did over 100 years ago. It’s one of our family favorites!
Then head up to Victor for a tour of the mines and marvel at the massive machines that do the work of today.
ROCK LEDGE RANCH (April – September)
Rock Ledge Ranch is truly a hidden gem in our region.
Literally step back to another era in meticulously cultivated grounds among a restored historic ranch. Enjoy the peace of the duck pond and the trickling creek that keeps the fields green and lush. Visit the old orchards, smell the cooking of fresh biscuits or apple sauce coming from one of the homesteads. Tour the homes to see how the early settlers lived. Beautiful homes, kept in their original state. See the ranch animals grazing. Imagine yourself living in a time when you had to cultivate and farm these lands under the watchful eye of Pikes Peak.
The ranch is terrific for hands-on learning by educators dressed in period attire. In addition to learning about our city’s founders, the venue celebrates and honors Native American tribes, the very first settlers, by hosting a yearly Powwow in the Fall. These lands originally belonged tho these first nations, and this particular area near the red rock formations of Garden of the Gods was special and sacred to them.
[via Facebook:] The Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site is an educational, non-profit living history farm and museum, which depicts life in the Pikes Peak region in four time periods: American Indian area in 1775; 1860’s Galloway Homestead; 1880’s Chambers Home and Ranch; 1907 Edwardian Country Estate.
It is fascinating and interesting for all ages. Watch as they sheer sheep, see how a real blacksmith works with iron, celebrate an Old-Fashioned 4th of July, watch a vintage baseball game and so much more.
Visit their Facebook page for a list of all their Summer activities.
I’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg on the many activities available for your family. Don’t forget to check out the local museums as well! For more information on events and what all there is to do in the area, visit www.PeakRadar.com and www.VisitCOS.com
Here’s to an amazing Summer of fun!