Picture this: It is the ideal family weekend road trip. A drive through the majestic Rocky Mountains, long enough to feel like a true getaway, but not long enough to test the toddler’s patience. You’re pleased to discover a family-friendly hotel, beautiful scenery, and attractions that appeal to kids and adults alike. Everyone is happy and content, and you feel blessed to live in this beautiful state with your fabulous family. What could possibly go wrong?
Oh, that’s right! You have kids!
Now picture this: That same weekend getaway is off to such a great start. Then… the toddler gets a stomach bug. She’s whiney and in pain, can no longer swim in the hotel pool without risk of hazardous waste contamination, and you realize you didn’t pack enough diapers and clothing for such a scenario. Such is life when traveling with children.
And, such was our life on a recent family road trip to Glenwood Springs. Fortunately, her illness was short lived and we were still able to enjoy our little vacation. We obviously had to make some adjustments to our plans, but that’s just par for the course. Overall, the below itinerary is an excellent option for a weekend trip from northern Colorado. In fact, my teenager has already requested that we do the exact same trip again soon. Same hotel, same activities, even the same restaurants. Minus the stomach bug, of course…
Glenwood Springs is approximately three and a half hours from Fort Collins, depending on weather and traffic. The journey along I-70 takes you through some beautiful places, including the Vail Valley and Glenwood Canyon. Of course, if you would prefer not to drive, there is a train from Denver!
After a great deal of online research and recommendations from friends, we settled on The Hotel Glenwood Springs. This is an excellent option for families, since it boasts an indoor pool with slides and a waterfall, including a shallow area for toddlers.
The hotel is adjacent to the gondola ride to The Glenwood Adventure Park, so convenience is another perk. Continental breakfast is provided and board games are available in the lobby. Although the accommodations were basic and the bath towels were horrendous, the room was clean and comfortable. The hotel is near the interstate, but we did not find noise to be a problem. Although the hotel is located in town, it would not be the ideal location for those wanting to walk to shops and restaurants.
- The historic Hotel Denver is across the street from the train station, so train travelers would find this to be a convenient option. There are plenty of shops and restaurants in walking distance.
- If you’re all about the hot springs and you have money to burn, you may want to consider the Glenwood Hot Springs Lodge.
- The Hotel Colorado offers an elegant and historic experience. This might be a good bet for a weekend away without the kids!
As we were stuck at the hotel with a sick toddler, the teen spent an enormous amount of time in the hotel pool. She did the water slide so much that she developed a slide burn on her back. Of course, The Glenwood Hot Springs is a popular destination for swimming as well.
Once the toddler was on the mend, we walked out the door of our hotel, climbed into a gondola, and enjoyed the ride to the mountain-top Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. The park boasts several thrill rides, including an alpine coaster, roller coaster, giant canyon swing, and a zip ride. Other attractions include a cave tour, 4D Motion Theater, climbing wall, maze, laser tag, and sand play area. Many of the rides are seasonal, so plan accordingly.
Should you decide to venture out of Glenwood Springs to explore the surrounding areas, you won’t be disappointed. Having grown up nearby, I was anxious to drive the family to my home town of Carbondale. I bored them senseless with drives by my old house, school, and hangouts.
We continued our drive and ended up in Redstone, a quaint little mountain village. Although there is not much of a town, you may find a funky little shop or art gallery open. We enjoyed the quirky offerings at Tiffany of Redstone and dropped a chunk of change on a few unnecessary, yet wonderfully interesting, items. Also of interest is The Redstone Castle, which offers tours once a day in the summer, and on weekends in the winter. Those interested in the history of the area may want to stop at the recently restored Redstone Coke Ovens.
- Glenwood Canyon: The 16-mile canyon provides opportunities for hiking, rafting, and more. A bike trail along the Colorado River is perfect for a family ride, stroll, or skate.
- Hiking: If you want to hike with hordes of people, try Hanging Lake. There’s a reason it’s such a popular spot – it’s stunningly beautiful! History buffs may prefer the short but steep hike to Doc Holliday’s grave in Linwood Cemetery. Plenty of other hiking options are available for those seeking a more remote and quiet trek.
- Skiing: Glenwood Springs is home to Sunlight Mountain Resort, a relatively affordable ski destination.
Despite the illness that threw a wrench into some of our plans, Glenwood Springs was one of the best short getaways we’ve enjoyed as a family. It will likely stay near the top of our list, and the entire family gives it a hearty and sincere recommendation!
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