Colorado Family Road Trip
Updated: Nov 21, 2021
In June, our little family of 4 took a road trip from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to Summit County, Colorado! (Dillon/Silverthorne/Frisco area). We left on a Tuesday after work, and got home on the following Sunday evening. During this road trip, it was important to me that we didn't just focus on the destination (Colorado), but that we took the time to stop at fun and quirky places along the way.
We had limited time and a strict budget of $1900 to spend (which included paying for our 2 German Shorthairs to be kenneled while we were gone). A huge part of our money saving came from the fact that I purchased groceries that we would eat for breakfast and lunch, only eating out at dinner. And even with that, we ended up making dinner at the condo one night as well. This was a huge savings that I always try to do as I have such a hard time spending large amounts of money on food when I'd rather spend it on fun!
Something to keep in mind, I am not one to jam pack our days with events. I typically pick one big event each day, and then have a list of small low-key things we can do as time permits. Trying to do all the things at every moment of every day just leads to burnout and that is no fun for anyone.
For the first leg of our trip we wanted to drive approximately halfway to stay the night before continuing the next day. That put us in Kearney, Nebraska, on Tuesday night. It was a quick overnight stay and then we were on our way. Here is a map of our entire road trip:
Fort Cody Trading Post. This is a cute gift shop that also includes an indoor animated mini Wild West show that happens every half hour and an outdoor old fashioned village to explore! It happened to be raining and muddy the day we went, but we did spend some time looking at all of the fun souvenirs and the mini Wild West setup. We spent about 30 minutes here total and then were on our way...
Red Rocks Amphitheater. We had arrived just as they were getting it set up for a concert that evening so we only got to spend about 15 minutes before we were all asked to leave the area. That was kind of a bummer as I wanted to spend more time exploring this area with the kids. But we decided to get back on the road for the final couple of hours to Dillon, Colorado; the place we would call home for the next few nights.
Dillon Reservoir. When we arrived in Dillon, Colorado, we were just a tad early to check into our AirBnB so we headed over to the Dillon Reservoir to hike along the shoreline. We ended up finding a park, that was fun even for my 14 year old, and spent some time playing on the different park equipment! The play structures were so different from anything we have back at home.
Dinner at Peppino's Pizza & Subs. This place came highly recommended with every thing I would read, so I knew we had to try it out. So we made our way over to Frisco, after checking into the Airbnb. And the food did not disappoint. After dinner we spent the rest of the evening wandering the cute streets and shops of Frisco.
Copper Mountain Adventure Park. We arrived right when it opened at 10am so that we could get the most out of the activity pass. We purchased 2 of the 2-for-1 passes. Our pass included access to a ninja obstacle course, zip line, bumper boats, bungee trampoline, go karts (which we didn't get to ride due to rain), chair lift ride, rock climbing wall, and the longest Rocky Mountain coaster in America! Tip: If you ride the coaster WITH your child, you get to do it twice - once with your ticket and once with theirs! WIN!
We spent most of our day here until it started to rain. Which I learned happens quite often in Colorado. But it usually doesn't last too long.
Fly Fishing the Blue River. We can't go all the way to Colorado and NOT go fishing, so of course we both got fly fishing licenses for the day. We brought our rods from home but did purchase some flies locally. Our kids even got to try it for their first time! I absolutely loved teaching them! And our daughter caught on really quickly and may just be hooked! No fish were caught, but we didn't even care.
Epic Discovery at Breckenridge Ski Resort. We parked down at the base of the mountain near downtown Breck for a small fee ($10 I think) and then we rode the gondola for free up to the ski resort! This adventure park was a bit more expensive than Copper Mountain, so we decided to only purchase the 3-ride pass which gave us access to any combination of 3 rides. Which I am definitely glad we did, because if it rains, many of the rides get shutdown and I had read many reviews prior to the trip that said people got rained out. I didn't want to pay $400 (total) to get rained out, so instead we paid $200 (total) for our 3-ride pass for the 4 of us. We opted to ride the alpine slide twice, and the coaster once. The lines at both adventure parks were never very long which made it so much more fun! There are other rides you can do, but we felt many of them were more geared towards little kids instead of teenagers. But we LOVED the alpine slide and it wasn't near as scary as I had envisioned it to be.
Downtown Breckenridge. After our 3 rides were over, we took the gondola back down to the parking lot and walked over to downtown Breckenridge. We strolled along the streets, looked in many of the cute shops, got some ice cream, strolled over and showed the kids where Brian and I got engaged. Breck holds a special place in our heart and we will always keep coming back here.
On this day we were supposed to head to Rocky Mountain National Park, however we woke up to snow and after some research realized it was going to be snowy and drizzly in RMNP, so we decided to change plans and head towards Denver instead! Not ideal, as I really wanted to do some hiking, but I knew it would be miserable with the kids in that weather, so it was best that we changed course.
We started our day with breakfast at a local cafe in Dillon, Colorado. Brian LOVES to go out for breakfast on vacation, and since we had eaten all other breakfasts at the condo, we thought we would treat ourselves on the last fully vacation day.
Denver Broncos Stadium Tour. This tour was an in-depth behind the scenes look at all the places within the stadium that most people will never get to see. It was definitely worth it, and now makes me want to do other stadium tours across the country! We learned the history of the new and old stadiums. We saw the press rooms, the super expensive suites, locker rooms, and so much more. The kids even really enjoyed the tour which is always a win in my book!
Old Town Fort Collins. After leaving the stadium tour, we decided to head towards our stay for the night in Fort Collins. After checking into our hotel, we headed to Old Town which is a cute part of town with so many shops, restaurants, bars, etc. The parking was a bit nuts, but the food we had at Austin's American Grill was so good! Highly recommend.
The next morning we woke up and headed for home. We had a 9 hour drive ahead of us, so we were in for a long day. The only stop I wanted to make sure we did this day was at Carhenge - a quirky sculpture that replicates Stonehenge in England, but with cars! I knew we would be driving right by it, so I thought it could be fun for the kids to see. After a quick drive by, we were back on the road with our next stop being home!
Overall, this trip turned out just perfect. After months of planning, I just really wanted everyone to have fun and I think we definitely succeeded at that. I will say that one thing I didn't realize is how chilly it is in Colorado in June! I don't know why I thought it would be hot like back home in South Dakota. But that threw us for a bit of a loop. Thankfully we all had hoodies along, but at times I even wished I had my coat!
Have you ever been to Colorado in the summer? What are your favorite things to do?