Kid-friendly activities to enjoy in a Colorado Springs family vacation

Colorado’s diverse landscapes, trails, and parks provide a ton of fun things to do for a family vacation in Colorado Springs. You can explore the trails in Garden of the Gods, admire the rocky formations and quarries at Red Rock Canyon, and climb the stairs to view the beautiful drop of Seven Falls. You'll also find plenty of opportunities for indoor family fun in Colorado Springs, with historic and cultural museums, attractions, and gaming. Colorado Springs is also home to some fantastic family restaurants, offering everything from local cuisine and diverse flavors to farm-fresh ingredients and old-fashioned sweet treats.

1. Explore history at Garden of the Gods Nature Center

Engaging Colorado Springs kids' activities can be found at Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center. Inside, you’ll find museum exhibits on the park’s cultural history, geology, and ecology, including interactive exhibits that offer hands-on learning. Be sure to catch the kid-friendly Geo-Trekker Theater movie while you’re there. Free guided walking tours at Garden of the Gods can be taken from the visitors center, or you can explore the park’s family-friendly hiking trails on a self-tour. Other tours of the park include Jeep, trolley, and Segway tours. Kids can also join the park’s Junior Ranger program via an interactive workbook.

2. Feed giraffes at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

On the side of Cheyenne Mountain, you’ll find one of the best kid-friendly things to do in Colorado Springs, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. This mountainside conservation center houses over 700 animals and offers tons of experiences to get close to unique wildlife. Bring a little cash so you can participate in animal feeding experiences with giraffes, elephants, and rhinos. Take the Mountaineer Sky Ride, an open-air chairlift providing panoramic views of the zoo, and ride the historic vintage carousel built in 1925. A kid-favorite at the zoo is The Loft, offering hands-on experiences in caring for the zoo’s exotic animals.

3. Hike scenic trails in Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon is a beautiful place for outdoor family fun in Colorado Springs, with lots of open space for kids who need to run around and burn off some energy. You’ll have a variety of scenic walking and biking trails to choose from, with views of massive red-rock formations and quarries, a glassy lake, and wild meadows. Some of the easy, family-friendly trails include the Quarry via Red Rock Canyon Trail and the Contemplative Trail to Sand Canyon Loop. Even in winter, the park is a great place to hike, as the rock formations are beautifully topped with snow.

4. Learn about military history

Family vacations in Colorado Springs often include a visit to one of the military installations in the area to learn about history. The National Museum of World War II Aviation focuses on the unique role that aviation played during World War II, with memorabilia, exhibits, and restored aircraft. At the United States Air Force Academy, you can learn about the life of a cadet and stop in at Cadet Chapel to view its incredible architecture. Also in the area are the 4th Infantry Museum at Fort Carson and the Peterson Air & Space Museum, though visitors need to obtain a base pass in advance.

5. Explore the grounds and halls of Glen Eyrie Castle

Glen Eyrie Castle is a historic English Tudor-style castle tucked into the rolling foothills north of Garden of the Gods Park. You can enjoy tea in the garden or café, take a guided tour and learn about the castle’s rich cultural history, and take a peek at the bookstore for souvenirs. Scenic walking trails wind around the property, offering beautiful views of the castle and surrounding areas. You can even book a stay in one of the castle guest rooms, each uniquely furnished with a mix of period pieces and modern comforts.

6. Visit the Starsmore Nature Center at North Cheyenne Cañon Park

North Cheyenne Cañon Park is a beautifully forested canyon that sits over 1,000-feet deep amid ancient granite rock formations. Start your visit to North Cheyenne Cañon Park at the Starsmore Nature Visitor’s Center, where you can grab a free map, check out the dioramas and hands-on exhibits, and sign the kids up for the park’s Junior Ranger program. The Mount Cutler hiking trail is family friendly at 2.29-miles with moderate difficulty, and it includes views of the canyon, forest, rock formations, and waterfalls. Keep an eye out for some of the area’s diverse wildlife, including mule deer and birds.

7. See The Broadmoor Seven Falls

One of the most unforgettable things to do on a family vacation in Colorado Springs is visiting The Broadmoor Seven Falls, a series of 7 waterfalls dropping 181 feet. You can check out Seven Falls from 2 viewpoints. The first is by climbing 224 stairs to reach the viewing platform at the top of the falls, a challenging but worthwhile climb. The second, Eagle’s Nest viewpoint, can be reached via elevator, providing an especially beautiful view of the falls illuminated at night. There are additional scenic hiking trails on-site, as well as dining options.

8. Visit Santa at North Pole, Colorado – Santa’s Workshop

If your family loves the Christmas season, then a great kid’s activity in Colorado Springs is to go visit Santa’s house. North Pole, Colorado – Santa’s Workshop is a vintage Christmas playland that's home to Santa’s workshop and house, nostalgic rides, quaint village shops, attractions, and shows. You can go visit Santa at home and bring him a letter, and then stop by the North Pole Post Office to send themed letters to family and friends. This vintage park is open seasonally from May to December and is typically fun for kids 12 and under.

9. See dinosaur bones at the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center

The Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center is a great spot for family fun in Colorado Springs, housing over 12,000-square feet of dinosaur displays. Exhibits are especially kid-friendly, with engaging guided tours, interactive displays, a play area, and even a working fossil lab that kids can observe. Fossil exhibits primarily focus on the Late Cretaceous period in North America, including dinosaurs and pterosaurs, plus marine reptiles and fish. The Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center is on the smaller side and tickets are reasonably priced, so this is a good activity to occupy kids for a couple of hours.

10. Play games and win prizes at Manitou Springs Penny Arcade

Visiting Manitou Springs Penny Arcade is like stepping back into the nostalgic fairgrounds and lively arcades from childhood, complete with twinkling-lights, game music, and the undeniable scents of funnel cake and cotton candy. After a day of hiking and sightseeing, evening games at the arcade can be a great family thing to do together in Colorado Springs. Five rooms offer a range of inexpensive vintage and modern games, from pinball and skeeball to racing games, pool tables, boxing machines, and DDR, among many others. There’s also fair food, some small rides, and a ticket system to win prizes.

11. See insects up close at the May Natural History Museum

One unique Colorado Springs kids’ activity is visiting the May Natural History Museum, one of the largest private insect collections in the world. Even if you don’t like bugs, this collection is interesting enough to check out, with 7,000 perfectly preserved specimens. Exhibits range from collections of vibrant butterflies and delicate moths to giant tropical insects, spiders, scorpions, and beetles. Since the collection of insects is preserved, not alive, you have the unusual opportunity to study creepy-crawlies and beautiful wings up close. You might even be less squeamish about insects after visiting.

12. Take a train ride at Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad

If your Colorado Springs family vacation is during the summer season, you can take a scenic train tour on the Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad. You’ll board the train cars inside a historic train depot and ride behind a 15-ton steam engine locomotive. A 45-minute guided tour will take you past historic mines and gold-rush sites and along Echo Valley before returning to Cripple Creek. This site is near other family-friendly attractions and cultural points of interest that you can visit, including the Old Homestead House Museum and the Outlaws and Lawmen Jail Museum.

13. Saddle up and head on over to the Wild West Ghost Town Museum

The Wild West Ghost Town Museum is a kid-friendly thing to do year-round in Colorado Springs. You can explore an indoor Wild West town of preserved historic buildings and artifacts from Colorado’s gold rush and learn how this period in history shaped the state. Get involved in hands-on activities like panning for gold, churning butter, a Wild West shooting gallery, and antique arcade games. There’s also a short historical film to watch and a souvenir gift shop with Western-themed goodies and gear.

14. Explore ancient Manitou Cliff Dwellings

The Manitou Cliff Dwellings are a group of historic Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings west of Colorado Springs that give a fascinating glimpse into prehistoric Native American life. These ancient cliff dwellings were relocated to their current site in 1907. You can go inside the cliff dwellings and explore each of their unique features, as well as learn about the Anasazi culture in 2 on-site museums. Museum exhibits include artifacts like pottery, weapons, jewelry, and burial ritual items. The gift shop houses an excellent selection of handmade Native American jewelry, pottery, and crafts.

15. Family restaurants in Colorado Springs

There are tons of family restaurants in Colorado Springs. For breakfast and brunch fare, try Urban Egg A Daytime Eatery for upscale, locally sourced dishes or Amy’s Donuts for an insane number of handmade, creative donut flavors. Lunch and dinner spots include Pizzeria Rustica for authentic woodfired pizza and Italian food or Rudy’s Country Store and BBQ for some Southern comfort food. For a more unique experience, check out Pub Dog for pet-friendly dining or Flying W Ranch Chuckwagon’s dinner and Western show. Josh & John’s Naturally has you covered for dessert with old-fashioned ice cream and handmade cones.