Summers can be challenging for parents, grandparents and babysitters trying to keep youngsters entertained. And it can get expensive, if you only take advantage of the commercial venues available.
Summer in Colorado also offers endless outdoor opportunities and many of them are FREE. Or at least not too expensive.
The play’s the thing. Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region have more parks per capita than almost any other metro area in the nation. Pick a different playground each week for different play equipment. Get out of your neighborhood and explore places like Monument Valley Park downtown, or head up to Fox Run Park in Black Forest. They’re all FREE and each one has its unique setting and experience. Pack a picnic, too!
Take a hike. Besides getting some good exercise, taking a hike with kids can offer a multitude of learning moments. Get a field guide to wildflowers and plants, or rocks, or whatever they might find interesting, and make a game out of identifying them. Use professional guides at places like Garden of the Gods, where there are FREE guided hikes daily. Visit one of our local state parks (such as Cheyenne Mountain or Mueller) for more of a wilderness hike – admission is just $7 for a whole car-full of hikers.
Explore nature: And speaking of nature, El Paso County has two nature centers — Bear Creek and Fouptain — that offer almost daily programs for kids. From identifying butterflies to learning about bears, the programs are varied and interesting. They charge a few bucks but it’s well worth it. Or just stop at the visitors center, look at the displays, and hike on your own. Staff is always helpful when suggesting routes for your group.
Ride a bike. If the kids in your charge already have bikes, this is a no-brainer. Colorado Spring s had many miles of marked bike lanes. Ride your bike to an ice cream shop and get a treat for your efforts. For more information on where to ride, CLICK HERE.
Get all wet. Put on their swimsuits (or not) and take them to America the Beautiful park, where they can wade after playing on the nearby playground. It’s FREE, as is the Uncle Wilbur fountain in Acacia Park downtown. Or even take them over to the Cinemark theater on Powers, where jets of water shoot up and give kids a cooling treat on a hot day. Admission to Prospect Lake and to the city’s outdoor pools also is reasonable. Check that out at Splash and Swim.
Check out the library. Local libraries and branches have almost continuous programs for kids of all ages, and they’re all FREE. Storytimes, learning experiences, guest speakers and more will keep kids from toddlers to teens entertained while keeping cool on a hot day. Then check out some books, DVDs or CDs to take home for more entertainment. Your library card also is FREE. And don’t be limited to your local branch. See the full schedule on the library’s website.
Attractions on the cheap: The Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum is always FREE. They do family events monthly. Also check to see what exhibits they currently have that might interest kids. Some local attractions have FREE days. The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, the American Numismatic Association’s Money Museum and others have days when they charge no admission fee. The days may change, so check them individually to see when you can take advantage of this bargain. And don’t forget the Penrose Heritage Museum at The Broadmoor. If the kids aren’t interested in old carriages and cars, they probably will be fascinated by the race cars from the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. It’s always FREE.
Catch a movie. Several local theaters are offering dollar movie specials for kids this summer – or see what’s playing at the Picture Show at the Citadel Crossing theater. Also, there are some FREE outdoor movies coming up, so check in with this site (www.pikespeakonthecheap.com) for those events as they happen.
You’ll also find other FREE events for kids and families as the summer progresses. Subscribe for FREE.