Not to Miss Summer List 7

Three half-day summer adventures the whole family will love that take virtually no planning

If you’re like me, you want to get out and explore Colorado this summer, but you are limited by a few small details. Your little ones can’t sit still in the car for a drive to Telluride, and you’re not so great at planning anything two months in advance. But you need to get out of the house or you might all go crazy. These factors have forced us to get creative and check out some of the more local spots that don’t require multiple potty-breaks.

First on the list, Morrison.

Start with Dinosaur Ridge, which offers some indoor and outdoor exhibits including hands-on interactive stations as well as a guided shuttle tours (or walk the ridge trail for free from the visitors’ center with older children). Dinosaur Ridge trail, a 1.5 mile trail, offers fossil sites and scenic overlooks. Check out where the world’s first Stegosaurus was discovered along this trail. Kids will love Backyard Bones, a simulated dinosaur dig that teaches kids how to search for fossils. What you might not know: There’s a summer camp with June through August weekly sessions.

The next stop in Morrison is Tiny Town and Railroad, where your little ones can enjoy exploring kid-sized buildings and riding a 1:16 scale steam train. Pack a picnic and enjoy the playground to extend your visit. With a 100-year-old history, Tiny Town offers a unique experience for the family at very reasonable prices. If you have older kids, you can end the weekend at Red Rocks and enjoy Film on the Rocks (included in the lineup this summer are classics like “The Sandlot” and “Star Wars”), with each film preceded by live music and a comedian. While you’re in the neighborhood, grab some lunch in adorable downtown Morrison.

Our second half-day trip is up to Nederland, located just 17 miles west of Boulder.

We stop to fuel up with breakfast burritos, donut holes made right in front of you and iced coffee from The Train Cars Coffee and Yogurt Company. Kids will love exploring three different train cars that were built more than a century ago. Right next door is the Carousel of Happiness, a restored 1910 Looff Carousel where you and the kids can choose from 56 hand-carved animals to ride. Let the kids burn off some energy on the playground equipment and explore the children’s pond at Chipeta Park, a short walk away, before driving back down the canyon.

Our final half-day trip takes us to Longmont to explore the Longmont Museum and Cultural Center.

Kids will gain an understanding of 14,000 years of local human history with this permanent exhibit and explore hands-on children’s exhibits. Special exhibits change frequently, so check the schedule online. Next on the agenda is Golden Ponds Park and Nature Area. Parents will enjoy the views of Longs Peak and the Front Range while the kids explore four ponds on 96 acres of land and 2.6 miles of trails from the trailhead. This a perfect spot to watch wildlife, take in the breathtaking views and enjoy mellow hikes with the kids. Finish the day off with Oskar Blues, because sometimes as a parent you need to give yourself a high-five and practice a little self-care, which includes a beer and a burger from this local hotspot. But don’t worry, kids will love the expansive backyard patio on a summer afternoon as you sit back and enjoy a little family bonding in this fun and lively atmosphere. As the day comes to a close, you can sleep soundly knowing you’ve made some long-lasting family memories with minimal-to-no planning and not breaking the bank. Job well done mom and dad, job well done.