If you feel like you’ve been there, done that with day trips to Boulder, try driving the extra half-hour up Boulder Canyon to the charming mountain town of Nederland. These stops—all within walking distance of one another—make for a fun couple of hours with the whole family.
Carousel of Happiness
Celebrating five years in Nederland this year, the Carousel of Happiness boasts 36 colorful, hand-carved animals to ride. And because each go-round is only $1 and free for nine months and under, there’s no need to pick just one. From the mid-1980s, Nederland resident Scott Harrison spent 26 years carving the animals. The carousel’s volunteers are well versed in the creation’s rich history, so ask away. Upstairs, find an observation window (perfect for a game of “I Spy”) and an antique puppet theater. The gift shop’s beautiful glycee prints of the carousel’s animals are perfect for playroom framing. And on Saturday, July 25—National Carousel Day—the carousel will have special events from noon to 5 p.m., including face painting, a bubble station, $1 games with prizes, homemade ice cream, and kid-friendly entertainment.
Visit: 20 Lakeview Drive, Nederland; 303-258-3457; Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. carouselofhappiness.org
Wild Bear Mountain Ecology Center
Finally, a “museum” kids can enjoy. Open since 2010, Wild Bear is the only nonprofit nature center in Boulder County. Enjoy a quick 15- or 20-minute jaunt through the modest space—which features snakes, turtles, fossils, and animal furs—and a cute gift shop. The center is an offshoot of its nonprofit, which provides affordable year-round science and nature camps for kids, and workshops for adults. Bonus: Ask volunteers about trails at the nearby Mud Lake, which the center worked to revitalize and preserve.
Visit: 20 Lakeview Drive, Unit 107, Nederland; 303-258-0495; Open daily from noon to 5:30 in the summer, and Monday to Saturday, noon to 5:30 in fall and winter; wildbear.org
The Train Cars Coffee and Yogurt
After these activities, head across the parking lot to the cluster of three historic train cars, where you can order your little one The Thomas (a grilled cheese with pesto) named after everyone’s favorite troublemaking train. The extensive menu also includes locally roasted coffee (sip there or take beans home; about $12 for a one-pound bag), smothered tamales, chili and soups, espresso shakes, frozen yogurt and lemonade, bagels, and more. For dessert, don’t miss the house-made mini donuts.
Visit: 101 S. Peak to Peak Highway; 303-258-2455; 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily; facebook.com/thetraincars