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Indoor Fun in Boulder, Colorado

by Rachel Daly
indoor fun in boulder co

The coldest part of the year is here, and the kids are restless! Boulder is known for its amazing outdoor activities for families in the warmer seasons, but it also offers some great indoor activities that families can enjoy when the air is too cold for comfort.

#1 CU Museum of Natural History

indoor fun in boulder co

Photo Courtesy University of Colorado Museum of Natural History

The University of Colorado’s Museum of Natural History earned the #1 spot by being fun, educational, interactive AND parent-friendly! The museum offers kid-inspired exhibits (right now — TreeSpace) and a cute gift shop on the main level. In the lower level, kids will have a great time in the interactive play and learning area, the Discovery Corner. Right outside the play area parents can enjoy a nice, FREE cup of coffee or tea in the museum’s BioLounge with comfortable seats and inviting atmosphere. Family-friendly bathrooms are located upstairs. While there are beautiful staircases in this beautiful, old building, there is also a centrally-located elevator making the museum handicapped and stroller-friendly. Admission is free, donations are accepted. The gift shop offers a fun array of science-inspired items. The UMC is right next door if you get a hankering for a Starbucks or somethings to eat. The museum is open Monday – Friday 9-5, Saturday 9-4 and Sunday 10-4. Paid parking is located South of the museum. Closed on University holidays.

#2 NCAR (National Center for Atmospheric Research)

Photo Courtesy of UCAR

NCAR‘s Visitor Center is an excellent spot to take the kids on a cold winter’s day. Here, they can learn about weather and climate with interactive displays. Kids can play with clouds and even create their own tornado! Other exhibits include Sun-Earth Connections, Layers of the Atmosphere, Climate Discovery and more. Guided tours are available from 12-1 on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays, or you can opt to move through the exhibits on your own. The visitor center is open on weekdays from 8-5 and weekends from 9-4. NCAR offers a cafeteria that is open weekdays (except holidays) for breakfast, 8:00 am – 9:30 am and lunch, 11:30 – 1:30 pm (Cafeteria accepts only cash). Admission is always FREE to the public! Parking is free.

#3 Boulder Public Library (Main Library)

indoor fun in boulder co

Photo All Things Boulder

Boulder offers five public libraries in different areas around town, but my favorite for families is the Main Library location on Arapahoe Avenue in Central Boulder. I’m focusing on this location for it’s fun Children’s Area as well as the Seeds Library Cafe, a full-service coffee shop right inside the library! The children’s area is glass-enclosed, allowing kids to make some noise without disturbing other patrons and offers a vast collection of books as well as  hands-on activities, a story time meeting area, and kid-sized computer desks and seating. The area has its own private bathrooms for kids & caregivers. The Library is open Monday – Thursday 9am-8pm, Friday & Saturday 10-6 and Sunday 12-6. Monday – Friday the parking for the first 90 minutes is free, additional time can be purchased for $1.25/hr. Saturdays and Sundays parking is always free. Parents will enjoy the Seeds Library Cafe, located on the bridge overlooking Boulder Creek between the main library and the arts & media area. The cafe is operated by the Boulder County Farmers’ Markets and offers not only coffee and espresso drinks but breakfast and lunch as well. The cafe is open Monday-Thursday from 9-5, Friday & Saturday 10-5 and Sunday 12-5.

#4 Color Me Mine

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Photo Courtesy Color Me Mine Boulder

At Color Me Mine, kids and adults will have a blast painting their very own ceramic piece! The art space is warm and cozy, and even has a free tea & coffee station. Pick your ceramic piece (they have everything from mugs and plates to piggy banks and figurines), pick your paint and start creating. As an added bonus, painting at Color Me Mine means you don’t have to clean up — the staff will handle all that for you. In fact, once you are done painting, your piece will be glazed and fired for you, all you have to do is pick it up a week later. Color Me Mine is open Monday – Thursday 11 AM – 8 PM and Friday – Sunday 10 AM – 8 PM. Studio fees are $10/adults, $6/kids plus the cost of your ceramic item.

#5 Boulder Rec Centers

boulder with toddlers

Photo Courtesy North Boulder Rec Center

Boulder has three recreation centers located in different parts of the city, and each has its own unique amenities. Each of the rec centers have a pool, but the North Boulder Rec Center and East Boulder Rec Center have kid-friendly features like water slides and warmer water temperatures. To find out more about each of these rec centers, click here.

#6 Museum of Boulder

things to do in Boulder in January

Photo Courtesy Museum of Boulder

The Museum of Boulder is another fun, family friendly option for a cold day in Boulder. The museum has multiple exhibits, including a Boulder Experience gallery, a travelling exhibit (currently Living with Wolves and Dinosaurs: Land of Fire and Ice), and art exhibits. The museum also features the Google Garage: and interactive area with activities that will inspire creativity and curiosity. The museum is open Weekdays 9 AM – 5 PM (Closed on Tuesdays), and Weekends from 10 AM – 5 PM. Admission is $10/adults, $8/seniors & youth, Kids under 2 are FREE.

#7 Play Time

indoor fun in boulder

Photo Courtesy Play Time

Just a short drive out of Boulder, Play Time in Lafayette is the perfect spot for littles (0 – 5 years old) to get the wiggles out on a frigid day. Located in the Sports Performance Center, kids can build, climb, run, jump and be creative on the field while parents take a break. Open Mondays and Wednesdays 9 AM – 12 AM from October – April. Admission $8/Kids 1-5, $6/Siblings, $3/Kids 8 Months – 1 year, Under 8 Months FREE. Parents are and gaurdians are always free.

#8 Carousel of Happiness

Things to do in Boulder in October

Photo Courtesy Carousel of Happiness

Head up the hills to nearby Nederland to visit the Carousel of Happiness, a magical menagerie featuring 56 whimsical, hand-carved animals on a restored 1910 Looff carousel! Fun for all ages, this lovely carousel turns to the music of a 1913 Wurlitzer band organ. Witness the 100-year old gears churn by watching from the upper observation window. The carousel is open Thursday – Monday from 11 AM – 6 PM. Wheelchair ramp available. Rides are just $1!

#9 Paul Derda Rec Center’s Kid Zone

indoor play in boulder co

Photo Courtesy Paul Derda Recreation Center

A perfect escape for kids on a cold day, the Paul Derda Rec Center in Broomfield offers an indoor play space for kids from 0 – 7 years old. The space includes a toddler/crawler area, large play structure with slide and sitting area for parents. Drop-in rates Resident/NonResident: $5/$7.75 Adults, $3.50/6.25 Kids 4+, Kids under 4 are FREE.

#10 Longmont Museum and Cultural Center

The Longmont Museum and Cultural Center is a community and cultural hub for the city, featuring changing exhibits in history, art and science. The long-term exhibit, Front Range Rising, is an award-winning look at the history and culture of this region from 14,000 years ago to today. The museum also  The Museum holds regular hands-on education programs for all ages, as well as events like indoor and outdoor concerts and performances, film series and lectures. The museum is open Monday – Saturday from 9 AM – 5 PM and Sunday from 1 PM – 5 PM.

About Rachel Daly

I am Rachel, Boulder writer, mother and animal lover. It is my passion to explore Boulder and to share what I've learned with you! My husband, Jeremiah Daly, is a local Realtor and neighborhood expert. We live in the Boulder foothills with our two young daughters.

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