Just because the weather turns cold and that white stuff starts falling from the sky doesn’t mean you should park your kid in front of the television. Boulder County has a plethora of activities that are perfect for children during the winter months.
From snow sports to local recreation center programs, there are lots of opportunities to get the kids out of the house and moving their bodies, whether it’s after school or on the weekends. And some are cheap, if not free.
So turn off those video games and get out of the house to experience some of the amazing stuff that the little ones can do in the winter right here in Boulder County. Here are some of the highlights:
Play in the snow: The first choice, of course, is to take the kids up to Eldora, whether they prefer one plank or two. Children 5 and under are only $8 for the whole day, and lessons are available for ages 4 and up (www.eldora.com). Aside from skiing and snowboarding, there are a host of snow-related activities that sometimes go overlooked, like snowshoeing and sledding. Don’t forget making snow forts, snowmen and snow angels in the backyard. Followed by hot chocolate, of course.
Head to a rec center: The county’s recreation centers and YMCA of Boulder Valley (www. ymcabv.org) offer programs for kids when the playing fields are covered with snow and ice. In addition to mainstream indoor sports like swimming, basketball and volleyball, there are kids’ programs in a variety of other areas, including science, ballet, music and art. Even jumping rope.
Paint a pot: From Color Me Mine in Boulder (www.boulder.colormemine.com) to Crackpots in Longmont (www.ecrackpots.com), let your young ones exercise their artistic side by painting their own piece of pottery.
Check out a museum: You’ve got your traditional museums, like the Boulder History Museum at 1206 Euclid Ave. (boulderhistory.org), and then you’ve got a kid-centered one like the WOW! Children’s Museum in Lafayette (www.wowmuseum. com), which has really cool, hands-on stuff for children of all ages. There are also museums at our local university, like the Heritage Center (cuheritage.org) at the top of Old Main and the CU Museum of Natural History (cumuseum.colorado.edu). And don’t forget the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (www.bmoca.org) at 1750 13th St.
Go ice skating: There are several options for skating in the county, and we recommend the outdoor ones. There’s just something about being bundled up and inhaling that clear, crisp, cold air. And several of these rinks offer skate rental. In addition to the rink in downtown Boulder at One Boulder Plaza (www.bouldericerink.com), there is the Longmont Ice Pavilion at Roosevelt Park (www.ci.longmont.co. us/REC/ICERINK) and WinterSkate in downtown Louisville at the Steinbaugh Pavilion (www.bceproductions. com/winterskate). In addition, Nederland’s tennis court complex is converted into an Olympicsize ice rink in the winter (www.nedrink.com).
Visit a climbing gym: There are several to choose from, especially in Boulder, or you could swing by one of the local rec centers that have climbing walls. Kids love to climb, and you don’t really need much gear, since most of these places will provide harnesses and climbing shoes if you need them. Two places to check out locally for lessons are The Spot Bouldering Gym (www.thespotgym.com) and Boulder Rock Club (www.totalclimbing.com).
Let ’em bounce: Longmont has a place called B&C Bounce Town, at 1821 Lefthand Circle, where you can let your children get all of that excess energy out by running and jumping through inflatable castles, slides and mazes. And you can just chill on a comfy couch nearby with your iPhone. (www. bncbouncers.com)
Take them to the library: I know, I know, this is pretty old school, but, yes, they still have those places where people go to read and check out books. And the county’s libraries have great kids sections for all ages. There are also story hours where adults read stories aloud, reviving the magic of those days gone by when families gathered together to hear bards tell tall tales and spin yarns. This is a good opportunity to remind your children that life is not just about video games and iPods and TV.
Go bowling: Talk about old school. Longmont and Lafayette still have bowling alleys, and in Boulder you can bowl at The Connection in the University Memorial Center on the CU campus. Centennial Lanes in Longmont is at 110 E. Ninth Ave. (www.centennial- lanes.com), and Lafayette has the Coal Creek Bowling Center at 550 W. South Boulder Rd. (www. coalcreekbowling.com).
Check out the fun center: The Gateway Park Fun Center (www.gatewayfunpark.com) in north Boulder, off of Hwy. 36, is now open yearround, and there are indoor activities if the weather is harsh. This is one of those ultimate playgrounds for kids and adults alike. The center features go-karts, miniature golf, batting cages, a human maze, an arcade, inline hockey and a driving range.
Finally, if you want to stray outside of Boulder County, there is a whole world of winter-suited wonder for youngsters in and on the way to Denver, from the Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster (www.butterfies. org) to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (www.dmns.org) and the Denver Zoo, with its special winter Zoolights displays (www.denverzoo. org).