18 Feb
2015
Posted in: travel
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Free Family Activities in Denver Area

Landscape at Red Rocks Park in Denver

It was evident for weeks that my family needed to regroup. Three basketball teams and one cheer team with practices and games had the drivers in this house worn down. I was tired of an hour here or there of time with all six of us. I’m greedy about family time. We knew our school district had a four-day weekend in February, and we decided to leave the to-do list at home for a mini-retreat.

We spent a few days in Denver, Colorado last weekend. Shopping isn’t a favorite past-time for any of us, unless you count the LEGO store or IKEA. I knew the weather would turn colder and snowy while we were visiting. Most of our weekend would be spent indoors, and there are several free family activities in the Denver area to enjoy.

Landscape at Red Rocks Park in Denver

I was determined to do some hiking before the inclement weather. In college I had attended a concert at Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre but had never hiked the trails around the park. The rest of the family has only seen Red Rocks from afar. We bundled into coats and hats to explore a few miles of trails and climb a whole lot of stairs. The area is beautiful. Even with snow starting to fall the park was busy. There were fitness aficionados running stairs, taking part in a class on stage and using the seats for squats. I felt lazy leisurely hiking and taking in the sights.

Pouring tea at Celestial Seasonings

The rest of the weekend revolved around food and drink. There was a lot of discussion about where we should eat. The drink of choice this trip was tea. We drove to Boulder, Colorado for a free tour at Celestial Seasonings. We’d been to Celestial Seasonings a few years ago, but you have to be five years old to participate in the tour. This was the first time all six of us had the full experience. I drink quite a bit of tea, especially in the cold weather months. Tours start every 30 minutes so we enjoyed sampling a variety of teas before the start of our tour. The kids enjoyed it even more once they found the milk and honey to add to their cups.

Boy drinking tea at Celestial Seasonings

The Boulder facility is the only Celestial Seasonings factory in the world. After a short video, the tour takes you into the factory. We were there on a Sunday, so the machines weren’t in operation. The highlight of the tour is the mint room. It’s just what it sounds like: a giant room filled with different mint leaves in containers. The smell is strong and will clear out your sinuses. It may even make your eyes water. The end of the tour takes you to the gift shop where you can purchase everything tea-related. We came home with quite a few boxes and tins of tea.

Candy display at Hammond's Candies

Our last stop on our way home was Hammond’s Candies for another free tour which run every 30 minutes. We walked through the candy store prior to taking the tour. We told the kids they could each choose one thing to purchase after the tour. If we would have known in advance each of us would receive a free heart-shaped lollipop for taking the tour, I may have had more specific directions for what could be purchased. Simply walking through the rows of candy made our kids giddy. That saying, “like a kid in a candy store,” we lived it this weekend. Nothing makes kids proclaim their parents as the “best ever” than a bag full of sweets.

Girl holding heart-shaped lollipops made at Hammond's

Several of our kids now want to make candy at Hammond’s when they grow up. I don’t think they were paying attention to how much work making candy from scratch entails. I was impressed watching the employees pulling and shaping candy into sugary hard ribbons and lollipops. There’s some upper body strength in candy making. Some of the equipment still used dates back to the late 1800s. I don’t want to know the amount of sugar we watched cook in large copper pots.

We arrived home more relaxed than a few days ago and rejuvenated after days of family time. We still weren’t ready to tackle another week. The countdown to summer vacation starts today: 106 days.

 

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