Almost Fearless

Family-Friendly Colorado: Brews, Zoos and Food

Colorado’s many amenities include hip cities, a thriving craft beer scene, and impressive views of sandstone formations and jagged mountain peaks. Parents don’t have to miss out on trying the local brews as many places have family-friendly atmospheres reminiscent of European beer gardens and pubs. Low-alcohol beers and taster sizes are also often an option, so it’s not hard to enjoy a local beverage on a family outing.

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Check out these family-friendly spots in the Centennial State that offer local craft beers in addition to the main attraction.

Peruse the Zoos

It's not about where you go but who you go with. #zooday

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Get ready for #coloradobeer spam! #denverzoo #dzwildscience #greatdivide #greatdividebrewing #titanipa #ipa

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Colorado zoos provide the chance to see a variety of rare animals and to sample a unique assortment of Colorado beers. The Denver Zoo has snack carts, offering draft beer from brewers like Denver’s Great Divide, scattered amongst the exhibits where visitors can feed giraffes and watch tapirs. The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs houses a collection of animal exhibits built into the side of a mountain. The zoo began as a private collection of exotic animals housed at the owner’s ranch and The Broadmoor Hotel. When a highway was built on the face of Cheyenne Mountain, the animals were transferred to the mountain as a way to promote use of the road. Now visitors can wander with the wallabies that roam free in the Australia Walkabout section in the summer, and then stop at one of the lunch spots for craft beer and spectacular panoramic views of Colorado Springs and the trees and lakes surrounding the city.

 

Visit a Food Hall

No complaints here.

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Let's explore this World! #lovedenver #lovecolorado

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Love is #whatunitesus 💕 @kelseymontagueart

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Several versions of food halls — stylish food courts with shared seating and trendy food options from local eateries — have recently opened in Colorado. These spaces can be appealing destinations for family dining – kids with selective pallets have plenty of choices and the higher noise level can be welcoming to parents with small kids.  The Denver Central Market is housed in a bustling historic brick building with vendor offerings that include wood-fired pizza, locally sourced charcuterie, gourmet chocolates, and seasonal cocktails and beers. The Rayback Collective in Boulder is a food truck park with spectacular views of the Rocky Mountains. Their indoor/outdoor setting has live music, lawn games, and a rotating selection of beers and ciders on tap from popular local brewers like Upslope and Avery.

 

Go to the Source

#newbelgiumbrewery #fortcollins #colorado #beertour #babyviktordavid #wienerdog #dachshund #

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With hundreds of breweries to choose from in Colorado, you’re likely to find a local one in most cities and towns. Many tasting rooms also have board games and food trucks to keep the kids content. For a larger-scale brewery experience, visit New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, where older kids may enjoy seeing the beer production area and sliding down the spiral slide, all part of the popular (and free) 90-minute tour. Colorado is also home to the highest craft brewery in the United States — Periodic Brewing in Leadville, which sits at 10,156 ft. elevation. The thinner air also means the alcohol can have a stronger effect on drinkers, so opting for a lower ABV (Alcohol By Volume) option and drinking plenty of water can help.

 

Attend a Festival

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You can enjoy the abundance of sunny days in Colorado by visiting one of the many festivals the state hosts in the summer and fall. Outdoor festivals often have activities and music to keep kids entertained, and parents can enjoy local seasonal beers al fresco. Visit city websites, like this one for Denver, for lists of upcoming events in the area. In the fall, Oktoberfest celebrations can be a good option for family-friendly music and food. Denver’s festival takes place downtown in Larimer Square in September each year, and mountain festivals include one located in Vail, which has a family zone with kid-friendly crafts like making pretzel necklaces, and another in Breckenridge, which has a family play area with a free bounce house.

 

Visit a Brewpub

Just a couple guys in search of cold beer and wild women.

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Brewpubs are family-friendly restaurants where parents can try unique beers on tap and some offer craft soda that kids can enjoy. On the front range, Mountain Sun Pubs & Breweries has locations in Boulder, Longmont, and Denver that have kids’ menus and a rotating beer selection ranging from Belgians to IPAs. In the mountains, Glenwood Canyon Brewing in Glenwood Springs is a great place to grab food after a visit to the scenic hot springs pool. The kids’ menu has a good selection and entrées are served on souvenir frisbees you can take home. Breckenridge Brewery also has restaurant locations in the picturesque mountain town of Breckenridge; the company additionally runs a farm house and beer garden location in Littleton (south of Denver), both of which offer diverse options for the whole family.

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Julie Vick

Julie Vick is a writer and parent living in Colorado. Her work has appeared in Parents magazine, Paste, the Washington Post, and McSweeney's Internet Tendency.

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