Favorite Things from our 2018 Family Spring Break Colorado Style!

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Things Families will love to do in Colorado Springs, Colorado

  Colorado is one of the most popular spring break destinations in the US. I headed there most years for spring skiing when I was in college, and we took off this year with our entire family. If you’re planning a Family Spring Break Colorado Extravaganza, our itinerary will inspire you for an amazing trip.

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Favorite Things from our 2018 Family Spring Break Colorado!

This spring, we decided it was finally time to take our kids skiing. Dan and I have always enjoyed skiing together, but the kids have no real mountain experience. They’ve had a couple ski days in the Midwest, but that doesn’t really count, right?

Arriving Union Station Denver for family spring break Colorado

Since Dan’s brother lives in the Rockies, we have a pretty good reason to go, and we had an amazing family spring break Colorado experience. We did more than ski – we also took our kids to Colorado Springs where two of them were born. Here’s how we spent our Spring Break in Colorado.

Our 1 Week Family Spring Break Colorado Itinerary

It’s a 13 hour drive to Denver from Iowa and we’ve done the drive a lot, but rarely with kids. This year, we decided to do something different and took an overnight Amtrak train. I have a post coming soon with a review of the California Zephyr train we took out, but let me just tell you, we LOVED it!

Neither Dan nor I can drive all night, so Amtrak was a great way to get us all there safely and more quickly than if we had to drive ourselves. We would have split the trip into two days which means four days of our spring break would have been spent driving. Taking Amtrak overnight really saved us a LOT of time!

In Denver

We arrived at Union Station in Denver Saturday morning {around 7 am}. The first thing we did was meet up with dear friends for a delicious breakfast at Snooze: an AM Eatery. Turns out, Union Station and vicinity are home to a lot of neat restaurants so we didn’t have to go far at all. The atmosphere at Snooze was really fun, as was seeing friends from the Air Force that we haven’t seen in probably 15 years.

Mazda CX-9 Outside Red Rocks Denver

Then we picked up our ride for the week, a 2018 Mazda CX-9 and headed to Red Rocks Park & Amphitheater. Mazda provided the car in exchange for an honest review, and the gosh honest truth is that we loved that car. It was a little small for our family of six PLUS luggage, but boy does it handle well on crowded interstates and snowy roads.Since we knew the car would be on the small side, we packed a little lighter than we may have otherwise. Always a good thing, because we had less crap to lug around. And if you’re in Denver, you have to stop in a Red Rocks – super fun and beautiful.

Beaujo's Colorado Style Pizza

After Red Rocks, we headed for Glenwood Springs where Dan’s brother lives. Before we got very far, though, we had a Colorado Style Pizza (thick crust served with honey) at BeauJo’s  in Idaho Springs. The pizza was a big hit until we got stuck in stop and go traffic on I-70. Luckily, only one kid puked in the car, and we were able to contain it pretty well until we finally got out of traffic and made it to Jake’s house. There’s always the one!

family skiing at the High Places Chapel at Sunlight Mountain Resort

Glenwood Springs

We spent the next four days in the Glenwood Springs area skiing, touring, and having fun. We skied three days at Sunlight Mountain Resort who provided skiing in exchange for blog coverage – watch for a more detailed review soon, but let me tell you quickly that Sunlight Mountain Resort was the perfect ski resort for our family. It was small enough that we felt comfortable letting the kids ski on their own, it had a great mellow vibe, and wasn’t crowded while we were there.

But don’t just take my word for it. Sunlight Mountain was also named Best Family Ski Package by the National Ski Areas Association in 2017! And they offer plenty of more difficult runs that Dan and I would have enjoyed a lot if the snow had been a bit better. But that’s spring skiing for you! The kids took a two hour lesson right off the bat and got pretty comfortable on the ski slopes. It’s amazing how quickly the little buggers picked up skiing!

Amtrak Station in Glenwood Springs Co

We also enjoyed walking around Glenwood Springs. Did you know you can take Amtrak all the way to Glenwood? Yup, and their station is very pretty. The Glenwood Springs Hot Springs looks really cool. We didn’t visit because we enjoyed a natural hot spring right by Jake’s house for free, but that didn’t stop us from watching the pool for a while. How would you like to be an outdoor lifeguard in the winter??? No thank you.

Glenwood Springs Hot Springs

One restaurant we really enjoyed in Glenwood Springs was Grind Glenwood. They served 100% grass fed locally raised (like right there in Glenwood) beef burgers, lots of fried goodies to accompany, and homemade sauces ! The Medi Burger was delicious – of course, most things with feta win in my book. 🙂

family portrait on a tree stump at Hanging Lake in Glenwood Canyon

Hanging Lake

On our last day in Glenwood Springs, we stopped at Hanging Lake in Glenwood Canyon and hiked up to a very beautiful lake. The hike was only one mile, which doesn’t sound far, but it was very steep and rocky. Parts of it were icy, parts were muddy, and parts were completely snow covered. It’s a good thing we had fabulous snow / hiking boots from KEEN, who provided shoes for our family adventures this year (we’re wearing their boots in the picture above).

  • I’m sporting the Hoodoo III Lace Up
  • Anna’s wearing the Elsa Premium Waterproof 
  • Ben is wearing the beautiful Winterhaven cool boot
  • Cora’s got the Elsa Chelsea
  • Sara has the super cute Big Kid Elsa boots

I saw so many hikers who weren’t prepared with good shoes, people were falling, their fancy tennis shoes were covered in mud. We were so happy with our stable, comfortable, and easy on the eyes KEEN boots. We’ve been big KEEN fans for years!

Collage at Hanging Lake hike in Glenwood Canyon Colorado

The round trip to Hanging Lake took us about three hours and was pretty strenuous. It was totally worth it though. If you go, I highly recommend taking a hiking stick, water bottle, and snacks. Also, pay attention to the signs. Pack out your garbage and stay out of the water. I can’t believe the crap that some people think is ok to leave behind. I always take out extra trash when I’m hiking and I wish other people would too.

My son Ben made a little video of our trip. There’s room for improvement, but I think he’s going to find a job with me. I love the video and am excited to watch his video skills improve. 🙂

garden of the gods colorado springs

Colorado Springs

After our four days in Glenwood Springs, we drove down to Colorado Springs on the fifth day. We arrived in Colorado Springs on Thursday and spent Friday and Saturday touring. We could have spent several more days there as we didn’t even touch the surface of fun things to do in Colorado Springs.

My two oldest kiddos were born in Colorado Springs, Anna and Ben. We moved to Iowa from there in 2006 after Dan separated from Active Duty Air Force and last visited in 2012. We were so excited to head back. It’s crazy how much the area continues to grow. When I was first there in 1993, it was so much smaller than it was when we moved out there again in 2002. And now it’s seems to have doubled in size again.

Colorado is one of the most popular spring break destinations in the US with beautiful weather and spring skiing. But there is more to do than just ski! If you're planning a Family Spring Break Colorado Extravaganza, our itinerary and tips can help!

On Friday, we had a lot of fun at the Cave of the Winds, Manitou Cliff Dwellings, and Garden of the Gods. Many thanks to Visit Pike’s Peak for sending VIP passes to facilitate our tours. The kids loved climbing the Wind Walker Challenge Course at Cave of the Winds and riding the Bat-a-Pult. I was content to take their pictures. 😉

Air Force Academy Chapel and fighter jet

On Saturday, we spent a couple of hours at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo (not long enough) and then the next few hours the Air Force Academy showing the kids where their dear old dad taught and also went to college. After we finished at USAFA, we got back in the Mazda and fought traffic all the way to Denver. We caught overnight Amtrak home again and arrived in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa at 10 am on Easter Sunday.

IvyWild School Colorado Springs

One place Dan and I really enjoyed visiting in Colorado Springs was the IvyWild School which has been turned into a community marketplace. It houses Bristol Brewery, restaurants, bakery, coffee shops, and more. Dan enjoyed Bristol Brewery when we lived in Colorado Springs some time ago and we were thrilled to find out that they have undertaken a big neighborhood revitalization effort in one of the oldest neighborhoods in Colorado Springs. What they’ve done with this old school is pretty amazing and if you’re in Colorado Springs, you need to check it out!

red mazda cx-9 outside union station in Denver

Mazda CX-9

I mentioned above how much we loved the CX-9 and here are a few reasons why.

  • First, it was really comfortable and quiet car. With seats for seven, all six of us AND our luggage for a week was able to fit (with some juggling & impressive tetris sessions).
  • Mazda added lots of sound deadening to the CX-9, and it’s noticeably quiet. The kids were mostly quiet in the car too because we wore them out!
  • We also really appreciated the safety features of the CX-9,  including blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alerts. Gotta keep precious cargo safe, right?
  • Dan’s favorite feature was the radar cruise control which controlled the car effortlessly in stop and go interstate traffic. We drove in some bad conditions at Vail Pass and were very thankful for AWD and Smart City Break Support. 
  • I really loved the heads up speed and navigation display and the heated seats. Not only were front seats heated, but the middle row seats were also heated, which thrilled the three kids who got to sit there.
packing up the mazda cx-9 in Colorado Springs with the front range in the background
  • The only problem for us was lack of space. For day to day use, the CX-9 is amazing. But for longer trips, we’d need a luggage roof rack for sure. Three kids across the middle is just not a long term solution for us. The longest we were in the CX-9 was five hours, and that was plenty for them because they were really squished by all of our luggage. (Certainly not their fault, just their reality).
  • In all, I would love to own a Mazda CX-9. When it’s time to upgrade our current family car, I will look into one for sure. And that’s the truth! It was the perfect car for our Family Spring Break Colorado Style!

Our family Spring Break Colorado Style included so many fun things. From skiing, to hiking, to thrill rides, and zoos, we had the best time in Colorado this year. Have you taken your family to Colorado? What was your favorite part?

If you liked this post on our family spring break Colorado extravaganza, you might like these too:

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Spring Break Europe – Visit Heidelberg!

Colorado is one of the most popular spring break destinations in the US with beautiful weather and spring skiing. But there is more to do than just ski! If you're planning a Family Spring Break Colorado Extravaganza, our itinerary and tips can help!

About Michelle Marine

Michelle Marine is the author of How to Raise Chickens for Meat, a long-time green-living enthusiast, and rural Iowa mom of four. She empowers families to grow and eat seasonal, local foods; to reduce their ecological footprint; and to come together through impactful travel.

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