Spring Break Road Trips from Colorado Springs
Spring on the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains is a mixed bag; you never know if you will be buried under a foot of snow or bathed in sunshine. Luckily, Colorado allows you to choose your own adventure as multiple spots make for great road trips, each slightly different from the last. Check out these great road trip destinations all within driving distance from Colorado Springs!
Ski & Soak in Nathrop, CO
Two-hours west of Colorado Springs on Highway 24 lands you at Mount Princeton Hot Springs. This hot springs resort is open to the public either with a day pass or as overnight accommodations. (Lodging ranges from hotel-style lodges to more private cabin rentals.)
The springs at Mount Princeton come out of the ground odorless and at 140 degrees Faherenight and are used to fill a variety of pools on the property. (The Cascading Hot Pools and Relaxation Pools are reserved for adults overnighting, but all other pools are family-friendly.) The creekside hot springs are perhaps our favorite. Small rock pools set in the creek allow the cold creek water to mix with the naturally hot water, making for a perfect and picturesque place for water play. It's easy to keep your distance here as well, as each pool perfectly fits one family.
Forty minutes away is our favorite no-frills family ski hill - Monarch Mountain. While other colorado ski-resorts are overcrowded and intimidating for small and beginner skiers, Monarch is inviting and manageable. We love the two-hour ski school here for our little skiers and find most of the hills manageable with the kids.
Monarch also has an amazing tubing park. Tubing sessions are one hour long and can be booked online. (Riders must be 36" tall.) You are towed up the hill in your tube and then sent back down, with amazing mountain views.
Pop into Elevation Beer Company, open from 11 am - 9 pm, for post-ski food and drinks. There is an outdoor tent that is perfect for enjoying your purchase while letting the kids either play in the snow or sit with you. If you're looking for something more substantial to eat, check out Moonlight Pizza & Brewpub.
Staycation in Divide, Co
Just 30 min up Highway 24 and past Woodland Park, lands you in Divide, Co., the perfect place for a day trip or quick staycation full of outdoor fun.
The Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center is a must-visit. It requires advanced reservations, and there are a variety of tour types. If you have little ones, stick to the one-hour daily tour. You'll learn all about wolves in Colorado and get to meet quite a few. The red foxes playing in the snow completely charmed my kids, who couldn't wait to go back for a visit.
You won't want to miss Paradox Brewing Company. A large fireplace and heaters on the back porch make it a cozy stop, even on the coldest day (they also have indoor seating). The kids can play in the snow on the disc golf course while you enjoy a beer sampler. The kitchen also serves delicious flatbreads and appetizers large enough to share or make a meal.
Just up the road is Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, where kids can earn a Jr. Ranger Badge while learning all about the petrified redwood stumps that were part of prehistoric Colorado. There are trails of varying lengths, and several petrified redwood stumps are visible just behind the visitor's center. Even in the snow, this is a great stop.
Muller State Park is another great stop. If there's enough snow, bring along your sled or tube and hit up one of the three sledding hills at the park. You can also hit the trails on foot or snowshoe for stunning mountain views. There are two groomed cross-country skiing trails available as well. Our favorite activity in the park is geocaching, which is even more fun in the snow! (There is no equipment rental at the park, so you will need to bring your own gear.) The park webpage lists what trails are open - so check before you go.
If you are not sure where to start, the Dragonfly Children's Nature Trail is an easy, wheelchair-accessible 0.5-mile loop around a pond. There are activities and signage along the trail. The School Pond (1.6 miles round trip) trail is another favorite that takes you into a conifer and aspen forest.
While Divide, Co is very manageable as an out and back for the day, there are so many AirBnB's in this area you shouldn't have any trouble finding something you love.
Snowy Adventures in Frisco, CO
If you're looking to fill your break with winter activities that do not involve skiing, this is the trip for you. (Although you could easily hop on any of the ski slopes nearby.)
The Frisco Adventure Park is the heart of this outing. The tubing hill here is incredible! The views are stunning, the run is fast, and a magic carpet whisks you to the top of the hill. Your whole family is guaranteed to have fun. Book your tubing time in advance as they do book up. There is a free sledding hill (bring your own gear) next to the parking lot as well.
The adventure park is also home to the Frisco Nordic Center, where you can rent gear and get lessons for a variety of Nordic adventures. Check out cross-country skiing or snowshoeing as a family - they even have tow-behind sleds to carry the kids.
If you are looking for more adventure, 40 min down the road in Breckenridge, Co is Good Times Adventures. Here you can book snowmobiling or dog sledding for everyone five and up in the National Forest.
Back in Frisco, you will find a wide variety of restaurants and shops lining the main drag. Highside Brewing & BBQ is the perfect spot for families to chill for a bit. (to-go is also available.) The brewery has a relaxed downstairs tasting room serving food and beer. Upstairs you can also get tokens to play games while you enjoy a full cocktail bar, tasting room, and food. There is also outdoor seating!
If you have time to pop into Next Page Books & Nosh, you won't be disappointed by their coffee or amazing book selection. (At the time of writing, masks were required indoors in all of Summit County.)
Small Town Life in Pagosa Springs, Co
If you like the idea of hot springs but want to avoid the rush of a ski town, head southwest to Pagosa Springs. Pagosa Springs is home to the deepest geothermal hot springs in the world! The Springs Resort offers overnight lodging or day passes to soak in the mineral water. They have created a play park of 25 different pools overlooking the river. Across the street, Healing Waters offers a more relaxed take, with two large pools that have been open since the 1950s. You can also enjoy several free springs nestled into the river bed; they are not as picturesque as those at the resorts but are arguably more fun for the kids to play in.
Pagosa Springs has several parks with playgrounds, a river walk, and plenty of cute coffee shops. We love the Pagosa Springs Baking Company for a morning pastry or a pie for a picnic and Root House Coffee for your morning coffee and doughnut. For dinner, the Riff Raff brewery is a big hit with pub fare, fresh brews, and an amazing patio.
If you're looking for a fun hike, head to Ice Cave Ridge. It's a moderately easy hike that is great for families and explores several ice caves.
There is also plenty of nearby activities, from dog-sledding to skiing, tubing, and hiking if you're looking for more adventure. Mesa Verde National Park is an easy two-hour drive if you're looking to extend your trip.
Escape to Santa Fe, NM
There is always the option to flee colorado altogether for a change of scenery, though you may not find a change in the weather. Santa Fe is roughly 5 hours south but at nearly the same elevation as Colorado Springs. Santa Fe is packed with charm and flooded with family-friendly things to do.
The Santa Fe Children's Museum has an amazing indoor water play area that we couldn't pull our kids away from. There is also a great outdoor play area in addition to your typical childrens' museum finds.
The Georgia O'Keefe Museum has a children's activity book you can work through together. It's a small museum and very manageable with kids. If you've never done a Meow Wolf Immersive Art exhibition, there is one here that is worth trying.
The Sante Fe Railroad Park has a great playground and weekly farmer's market on Saturday. There are other weekly events in this incredible and historic space.
Outside of Santa Fe is Bandelier National Monument, the kids can earn a Jr. Ranger badge while they climb into cliff dwellings from around 11,000 years ago. Don't miss the Tsankawi Prehistoric Cites. The trail is cut into the rock, making it super fun for kids.
If the weather is nice, grab a picnic in town and take it to Valles Caldera National Preserve, where you can sit in a 13-mile wide meadow in a former caldera and watch prairie dogs. It's way cooler than it sounds!
Do you have any great road trip destinations you love from Colorado Springs? Let us know below, or tag us in your photos on Instagram @gethappyly!
Looking for more great Colorado content? Check out our Denver highlights blog post or our Dreaming of Travel: Salida, CO one (which has a ton of great adventures like rafting!). We also teamed up with our friends at Campspot and have some great recommendations of their favorite spots in Colorado.
And if you want even more family-friendly activities, be sure to download the happyly app and have locally-curated adventures right at your fingertips!