Boulder with Teens: A Perfect Family Day


The best way to experience Boulder with teens is to get into the spirit of this lively Colorado city and get out into the open. Surrounded by 36,000 acres of recreational open space, Boulder has a unique culture which is all about being "green" and living life outside. It's no wonder that teens find this so cool. So forget the car keys on your family vacation. Ride the bus, rent bikes or just don walking shoes and head out, because most things to do in Boulder lie just around the corner.

Here is a guide to the perfect teenager's day, including some of the best family vacation ideas that Boulder has to offer.


First of all, beware of waking your teenage children too early in the morning: if they're like most teens, they'd prefer a wake-up call sometime around noon. Why not make everybody happy by ditching them for the early morning hours and stealing some alone time? The place to go? The Boulder Dushanbe Tea House (1770 13th Street, Boulder, 303-442-4993). This traditional Tajikistani teahouse fits right into Boulder's eclectic atmosphere, with its Persian paintings, herbal scents and infusions with names like "TranquiliTea" and "Jasmine Pearls". It's not a place for teenagers, so you'll want to fit in this part of your family vacation before they're ready to roll.

When they do wake up, head south from downtown and walk along the Boulder Creek Path, which parallels Arapahoe Avenue. Here you'll find seven miles of creek-side meandering with plenty of shady benches along the way. The path is popular with locals, so it's a great spot for people-watching or jogging.

Your teens will be starving by now, so take them to Lucile's (2124 14th Street, Boulder, 303-442-4743), a Creole café with serving sizes that satisfy the hungriest of kids. The prices will keep cash-strapped parents happy (most breakfasts are $10 or less) and there are plenty of options for fussy eaters, including fantastic banana beignets and a melty cheese omelet with spicy andouille sausage. Breakfasts are served with enormous buttermilk biscuits slathered in homemade jam. You'll be glad you did those pre-breakfast miles.

After brunch, it's time to work off the biscuits with some light family-friendly adventure. One of the most fun things to do in Boulder is whitewater tubing, which brings guaranteed giggles and is perfect for cooling off. Expect to be dumped ungracefully at least once. This is really part of the fun. Teens and parents get to laugh together and remember why it's great to be having a family vacation. Boulder's recommended tubing route from Eben G. Fine Park to Broadway takes around 30 minutes at average river levels.

Tubes are available to rent or buy from Whitewater Tube Co. (1717 15th Street, Boulder, 720-379-6055). Don't get sucked into buying the "River Rat" for $20 instead of renting a "Protube" for $13 because, let's face it, tubes don't exactly make good carry-on luggage. Late morning is the ideal time to be on the river since it's hot enough to enjoy the "refreshing" air.


The best family vacation lunch in Boulder is a classic stadium hot dog while shouting in the stands during a Colorado Buffaloes football game at the University of Colorado. Cheering on the Black & Gold, or perhaps the rival team (look out though, Coloradans are passionate fans), and doing "the wave" is great fun for teens. Who can resist getting caught up in the face-painting and flag-waving? Tickets start at around $15 dollars for nose-bleed seats and go up from there.

After the game, it's time to cruise the Pearl Street Mall in downtown Boulder. With teens, you can never go wrong with a good mall, and Pearl Street is one of the best. The family vacation atmosphere and open space make for a safe environment, and the mall is alive with people of all ages. Teens hang out and play music together or talk by the statues in the middle of the mall. There's a good chance your kids will make friends here and end up with henna tattoos or hair ties from one of the many street vendors.

While you're here, grab one of those classic Ben and Jerry's ice cream cones and kick back to watch the street performers entertaining the crowds at 13th and Pearl Streets with their sometimes bizarre and usually hilarious acts.


For dinner, there's no need to leave the mall. Hapa Sushi Grill and Sake Bar (1117 Pearl Street, Boulder, 303-473-4730) has something to please every palette, even if your teenage children don't like raw seafood. The cool Asian-fusion menu offers meat options including Kobe beef Carpaccio and Yakiniku dinner for anybody who wants to skip the sushi.

Beware when visiting with hungry teens, however, as although prices seem reasonable at first, they do add up. The chefs are happy to prepare more and sushi doesn't make great leftovers, so it's best to start easy. The fun of watching a first-timer use chopsticks, along with the live crabs at the sushi bar, makes this family vacation experience memorable.

All there is left to do is head home and replay all of the photos, videos and memories to friends and family. A Boulder vacation with teens is guaranteed to leave smiles on everyone's faces and make the whole family just a little closer.

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