Summer Fun Tips for Colorado Fathers and Their Children
June 29, 2009 - Many factors, from extended work hours to household chores, can keep fathers from spending quality time with their children. However, a strained budget should never be a factor. During the summer, there are a number of free activities perfect for fathers and their children to spend time together without spending a dime. No matter if you and your family enjoy music, sports, art, movies or the great outdoors, there is guaranteed to be a free event or activity that meets your interests each and every day this summer.
Sometimes as fathers we are not aware of the incredible amount of fun, free opportunities that Colorado has to offer, said Rich Batten, fatherhood and family specialist with the Colorado Department of Human Services. Taking your kids to a professional baseball game or out to eat at a restaurant are wonderful activities, but there is always a cost involved. However, with the free activities taking place in our State throughout the summer, there is always something to do and never an excuse not to do it.
The following are some suggested free activities for Colorado dads and their kids to take part in during the summer months:
Visit a museum on a free day. Museums are a fantastic way to expose children to history, culture and art, yet they often charge hefty admission prices. Luckily, most museums have one free day a month. The Denver Art Museum, Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Denver Zoo, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center and Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art are just a few of the many Colorado museums offering free admission throughout the summer.
Take a factory tour. Ever wonder how candy, candles or money are produced? Chances are your kids have. Why not go to a working factory and get an up close and personal understanding of how everyday things are made? In Denver, Hammond's Candy and the United States Mint offer free tours throughout the week. Other available tours include the Colorado Coffee Merchants and Van Briggle Art Pottery in Colorado Springs, the Celestial Seasonings tea factory in Boulder and Echobana Candles in Golden.
The couch is not the only place to watch a movie. Kids love movies, but they also love being outside. Why not combine the two and take advantage of the many free movie events happening this summer. Bring your blanket, some lawn chairs and snacks to watch family friendly films shown under the stars. Many Denver neighborhoods offer these free movie events, including Glendale's Summer Movie Madness, Denver Parks and Recreation's Movies in the Park, Littleton's Aspen Grove Family Film Festival and outdoor movies at Confluence Park. In Colorado Springs there are movie nights at America the Beautiful Park, Boulder has the Boulder Outdoor Cinema and in Grand Junction movies are shown at Glade Park. For fathers and kids unable to make it at night, participating Regal, United Artist and Edwards Cinemas show free children's movies on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. Call ahead to see which Colorado theaters are currently participating.
Go see, and hear, live music. Kids love to move around and there is no better place for them to shake, rattle and roll than at a free, family friendly outdoor concert. Most Colorado communities offer live concerts at parks or civic centers that feature a wide variety of musical acts to meet every family's taste or preference. Denver's City Park has jazz concerts each Sunday, Colorado Springs hosts the Gettin Down Downtown Summer Concert Series at America the Beautiful Park and in Boulder you can find the Twenty Ninth Street Live concert series.
Hit the trail. If it is one thing Colorado is known for, it is the miles and miles of on-and off-road hiking and biking trails that go up, down and around cities, mountains and lakes. The best part is that the majority of the trails are free to use. If you and your kids like to ride bikes, head out onto Denver's 850 miles of paved paths or the 350 miles of paved trails around Colorado Springs. Fort Collins and Boulder are also known for their urban paths while Grand Junction and towns throughout the Western Slope and Front Range are known for the mountain trails. If you would rather walk or hike, these trails are also a great way to get outside with your kids to exercise, have fun and see Colorado from an entirely different perspective than by car.
Get off the beaten path. Don't be limited by the paved and marked trails. There are plenty of other options around the State loaded with adventure. The U.S. Government owns more than 15 million acres in Colorado, all of it open to the public, and much of it free to use. Just a short drive from any city or town in the State, these wilderness areas offer any type of outdoor activity imaginable. Special for this summer, the National Park Service is offering two remaining weekends of free admission to eight different Colorado parks and monuments. This offer is good July 18-19 and August 15-16.
In addition to all of the great ideas above, be sure to check out www.coloradodads.com for more free and low cost activities happening this summer. Those who register in the Special Offers section are eligible to receive free tickets to sporting events, movies and other activities.
In October 2006, the Colorado Department of Human Services, Colorado Works Division was awarded a $10 million federal grant over five years to strengthen father/child relationships and improve parenting. Colorado is one of two locations nationwide, including Washington, D.C., to receive this federal community access grant. The Responsible Fatherhood Initiative distributes more than $1.1 million in community awards to state, community and faith based organizations to assist in providing direct services to fathers and families. Awards of up to $50,000 are distributed per program per fiscal year. For more information on a fatherhood program in your community, please visit www.coloradodads.com .
by Maggie Spain