Summer is in full swing! With the warmer, longer days, often comes a kid or two on summer break who claims “I’m bored” the second they’re not entertained. But not anymore!
Keep your little ones happy and active this summer with these family-friendly activities and destinations in Fort Collins. We’ve included a mix of laid-back activities, like eating ice cream and watching a movie at the drive-in, to more action-packed outdoor adventures, like whitewater rafting and playing on a playground. No matter your kids’ speed or interests, there’s something for them on this list!
Fort Fun boasts more than 10 attractions, 70 games and an on-site restaurant so guests can play all day long! During the summer, the fun gets even better with bumper boats and paddle boats on Blue Heron Lake, alongside other outdoor attractions like mini-golf, go-karts and the iconic giant slide.
Holiday Twin Drive-In was originally built in the late 1960s and is one of Colorado’s last remaining drive-in movie theaters. From mid-spring through the first weekend in September, everyone is invited to watch new movies, old-school style. Their team operates two screens and each one plays two movies; after Memorial Day weekend, you can even catch those movies every night of the week! Check out their calendar of upcoming movies to see what kid-friendly options are on the horizon.
Did someone say LEGO® festival?! That’s right — Fort Collins’ third annual LEGO® Creation Festival is returning to Old Town Square on July 17 for a fun-filled day for LEGO® lovers of all ages. Children, adults and families are encouraged to come and show off their skills for a chance to receive prizes for 1st and 2nd place in all categories. There is no cost to participate but registration is required before June 16!
Kids and trolleys go hand in hand. Thankfully, we have one of our very own right here in Fort Collins — and it recently turned 100 years old! Birney Car 21 travels for 3 miles along Mountain Avenue between City Park and Howes Street in Downtown Fort Collins. This is a great way to experience local history and take a unique tour of our city — at a very low cost, too! Tickets are just $2 for adults, $1 for seniors and children, and free for kids under 3.
One of the best ways to tire out the kids is by letting them run and play at a playground. Thankfully, Fort Collins is dotted with a number of exceptional playgrounds with features that will keep them entertained and active for hours. A few of the best include Twin Silo Park, Inspiration Playground at Spring Canyon Park, and Fossil Creek Park, but you can read about them all here. These parks in Fort Collins contain a variety of unique features for your family to explore, from extra-tall slides tucked inside silos to splash pads and petting zoos to children’s gardens. And of course, you’ll find your standard playground must-haves, including slides, swings, ropes, teeter-totters and more.
Maintained by the City of Fort Collins and located on the grounds of one of our largest community parks, The Farm at Lee Martinez Park is a hands-on family experience. And it has been since 1985! While the farm itself has become a part of Fort Collins history, it also provides insight into our agricultural history, featuring antique farm equipment. Here, kids can interact with animals, ride ponies, play games, attend events, and play on the nearby playground!
This summer, we are extra appreciative of the amenities and attractions we had previously taken for granted — like City Park Pool. This Memorial Day weekend, the pool opened for the first time since August 2019. We can now take advantage of this miniature water park in our midst, which features two exciting water slides, a lazy river, and a massive pool.
On a hot summer day, escape to the air-conditioned 16,000-square-foot Fort Collins Museum of Discovery for thought-provoking fun and learning for all ages. The Fort Collins Museum of Discovery is a hands-on history and science museum. The 16,000-square-foot main gallery combines hands-on and artifact-based exhibits that cover everything from music to fossils to bicycles.
CSU’s Environmental Learning Center connects both kids and adults with nature by facilitating educational, inclusive and safe experiences in a natural environment that spans more than 200 acres. In addition to offering a self-guided nature trail, ELC special programs are suitable for children as young as kindergarten and offer hands-on fun and education year-round. Little ones are especially excited about the wooden bridge that leads to the two soft-surface loop trails, which travel through cottonwood forests, grasslands, and along the Poudre River. Keep an eye out for the wild turkeys that have taken up residence at ELC!
Horsetooth Reservoir and Horsetooth Mountain Open Space offer some of the best recreation in the state just minutes from the heart of Fort Collins. On the reservoir, you can fish, swim at the public beach, and boat with your own or a rented craft through Inlet Bay Marina. The surrounding lands also offer bouldering, hiking, biking and even overnight camping. No matter what your little outdoor adventurer likes to do, they can probably do it at Horsetooth Reservoir!
The Gardens on Spring Creek Children’s Garden is an oasis for children to play — and learn! Their first garden open to the public, the Children’s Garden contains a variety of inviting areas with themes of community, gardening and sustainability woven throughout. You’ll find a rock garden, secret gardens and willow huts, a bridge extending over a pond stocked with fish, a green roof shelter, a giant watering can with an active splash waterway, a Dr. Seuss playhouse and sandpit, an interactive discovery zone, raised garden beds, a miniature train garden, an animal footprint path, and more!
A family hike is a fun — and free — way to spend a summer afternoon! And if your family likes hiking, you live in the ideal part of the country. There are several kid-friendly hiking trails near Fort Collins, including Pineridge Natural Area, which has 7 miles of soft-surface trail, including a 1.8-mile loop around Dixon Reservoir. Kids will easily be entertained at the water’s edge, where they can skip rocks and see the ducks and geese. Plus, you’re just steps from Horsetooth Reservoir for further exploration — or a refreshing dip in the water.
Summer camp is a beloved tradition for many kids — and an excellent break for busy parents! Thankfully, there are many in-person camps returning for summer 2021, plus a few virtual options as well. Around FoCo is maintaining and updating this extensive list of summer camps in the Fort Collins area, covering a range of topics from the athletic to the artistic and academic. Your little campers may just learn a new skill — and a have a blast doing it!
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! On a hot summer day, there’s nothing like a sweet, ice–cold cup or cone of ice cream. And here in Fort Collins, there are several ice creameries worth visiting, including Old Town Churn, part of Denver’s Little Man Ice Cream family. Step up to this 26-foot-tall ice cream churn in The Exchange to order Little Man’s famous handmade flavors, plus a few flavors exclusive to Old Town Churn. Let the kids pick their ice cream, then explore The Exchange and its many kid-friendly destinations, including Chick’nCone, Board and Brush, and FoCo DoCo.
You may have seen the many colorful pianos dotting the streets of Fort Collins — and wondered what they are for. Pianos About Town is a collaboration between the Bohemian Foundation, the Downtown Development Authority and the City of Fort Collins Art in Public Places Program. At 20 different locations in the summer and six locations during the winter, the whimsical pianos are painted by local artists and invite those passing by to make and listen to music together. Go on a self-guided tour of the pianos with the kids, admiring the stunning artwork by local artists!
Stay cool and get an adrenaline rush by going on an exciting whitewater rafting adventure with Mountain Whitewater! Their Poudre Splash Half-Day adventure is the ideal trip for families, as it is a bit shorter and milder than the rest. It features fantastic class II, III and IV rapids accompanied by great scenery and wildlife. You’ll have a professional guide to help you and your family navigate this continuous section of whitewater! Meeting times are 7:45 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
What kid-approved activities are at the top of your family’s list? Let us know in the comments below!