- Written by Kim Sharpe Kim Sharpe
Five ways to keep your fun local
Will your family be sticking around for spring break? If so, it doesn't mean you’re stuck with nothing to do. There are so many ways to have fun right in our own backyard. After all, many families' vacation destination is northern Colorado because of all it has to offer.
1 . Get back to nature
One of NoCo’s biggest attractions is the great outdoors. Rivers and recreation trails run through it. The mountains are a stone’s throw away. If a wild outdoor adventure is what you’re seeking, explore the following websites to learn about hiking trails, open spaces and parks where you can play.
Fort Collins Parks: www.fcgov.com/parks/
Loveland Parks & Recreation: www.cityofloveland.org/departments/parks-recreation
Greeley Parks: www.greeleygov.com/activities/parks/parks
Larimer County’s Parks and Open Lands: www.larimer.org/naturalresources/
Speaking of parks, Rocky Mountain National Park (www.rockymountainnationalpark.com) is just up the road in Estes. And Lumpy Ridge, a world-renowned rock-climbing Mecca known for its majestic granite slabs, has miles of hiking trails. A popular route leads to Gem Lake on a trail that's often free from snow during the winter and early spring months.
If you plan a trip to Estes Park, know that U.S. Highway 34 through the Big Thompson Canyon is closed for construction, so you'll have to go up U.S. Highway 36 through Lyons. www.trails.com/tcatalog_trail.aspx?trailid=HGR314-004
2. Dude up
If you've ever wanted to see what ranch life is all about, book a stay or a day at Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch (www.sylvandale.com) just west of Loveland (but not affected by the US 34 road closure). They offer hiking, horseback riding, dining and much more.
3. Winter wonderland
For maximum winter fun, try lift-served inner tubing at Beaver Meadows Resort Ranch (www.beavermeadows.com) in Red Feather Lakes. You can also tie on some skates or x-c skis and enjoy the beautiful mountain scenery. When you’re finished, cozy up by a the fire and sip a hot chocolate.
4. Step back in time
Cowboys and Indians. Pioneers and the Old West. To learn how this part of The West was built, you can visit several history museums.
In Greeley, the Freight Station Museum, Centennial Village at Island Grove, the Greeley Museum and the Meeker Home Museum will transport you back to a simpler time. Find details about hours of operation and entrance fees online at www.greeleymuseums.com.
Greeley’s Missile Site Park takes visitors into the Cold War Era of national defense. It is a former nuclear warhead site constructed in 1961. Call 970-400-2020 or go online to www.weldgov.com/departments/buildings_and_grounds/missile_site_park/ for information about free guided tours.
The Fort Collins Museum of Discovery (www.fcmod.org) has many exhibits, hands-on activities and interactive displays where you'll learn about the history of the city and region. While you're at it, visit The Avery House (www.poudrelandmarks.com), built by one of Fort Collins founders, and the The Museo de las Tres Colonias (www.museodelastrescolonias.org), which honors the city's Hispanic sugar beet workers.
The Estes Park Museum (www.colorado.gov/townofestespark/museum) features an award-winning display, “Tracks in Time,” that tells the story of the Estes Valley from the Ice Age through present age.
You also can learn about NoCo's rural heritage by visiting The Little Thompson Valley Pioneer Museum and the McCarty-Fickel Home; both are located in Berthoud (www.berthoudhistoricalsociety.org).
5. Get cultural
Northern Colorado offers a variety of ways for people to enjoy world-class cultural events. Several venues attract performers, musicians, entertainers and artists from all over the world, plus those who make their home here.
The Union Colony Civic Center ( www.ucstars.com ) in Greeley hosts some of the best professional cultural events in the area. The Lincoln Center in Fort Collins (www.lctix.com) also attracts big-name talent and shows.
Loveland’s Rialto Theater ( www.rialtotheatercenter.org ) opened in 1920 as a silent-film theater. Today, the Rialto’s historic charm makes it one of northern Colorado’s premier performing arts venue.
The City of Loveland also is known for its visual art collections. The Loveland Museum/Gallery hosts exhibits from around the globe. It also holds art classes for kids and adults on a year-round basis. Class and registration information is available at www.cityofloveland.org or by calling 970-962-2410.
In Fort Collins, art connoisseurs and inquiring minds alike will enjoy the exhibits at the Fort Collins Museum of Contemporary Art (www.moafc.org) and the Global Village Museum of Arts and Cultures (www.globalvillagemuseum.org).
Your family also may enjoy touring around our culture-rich communities to view various sculptures and other artistic attractions, such as the Benson Sculpture Garden in Loveland. Find information about art in public places in Fort Collins, Greeley and Loveland, at:
Fort Collins – www.fcgov.com/artspublic/
Greeley – www.greeleygov.com
Loveland – www.cityofloveland.org
5. Move it
Another way to have fun here at home is to get moving. Walk, run and bike on the miles of recreation trails that wind through our communities. Most of the trails are cleared of snow, so if spring break ushers in a spring storm, you’re still good to go! (See the websites list in No. 1 for information about recreation trails.)
You also can swim, splash and play at any one of our area’s indoor pools; they're heated to comfortable temperatures all year round. If taking a dip whets your appetite for fun, learn more online or make a quick phone call to a pool near you.
Enjoy your stay!
Community pools and rec centers
Estes Park Community Center/Pool – www.evrpd.com, 970-586-8189
Northside Aztlan Community Center, www.fcgov.com/recreation/north-aztlan.php, 970-221-6655
Edora Pool Ice Center, www.fcgov.com/recreation/epic.php, 970-221-6683
Mulberry Pool, www.fcgov.com/recreation/mulberrypool.php, 970-221-6657
Greeley Recreation Center, www.greeleyrec.com, 970-350-9400
Greeley’s Family Fun Plex, www.greeleyrec.com, 970-350-9400
Chilson Recreation Center, www.cityofloveland.org/departments/parks-recreation/chilson-recreation-centeror 970-962-2383