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35 Awesome Reasons to be a Kid


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1. Asking Why
The Fiske Planetarium at CU is celebrating the year of astronomy with Astronomy Day beginning at noon on April 11. Free festivities include a tour of Hubble Space Telescope images in 3-D, a showing of the movie October Sky and rocket launches—every participant gets their own balloon rocket kit. Fiske offers several planetarium shows geared specifically for kids with regular showings. Daytime shows cost only $5 for adults, $3 for kids and include a free visit to the science museum in the lobby. 2414 Regent Dr. in Boulder. Recorded show information at 303.492.5001 or fiske.colorado.edu.

2. Dungeons & Dragons
Parents and media alike have been hard on fans of this game, but as far as we’re concerned, this is a great way for kids to spend their time. D&D is almost like writing your own novel, with just as many possibilities. Players use math skills to add up modifiers and statistics; they read dense rule books with lore about fantastic worlds; they draw characters and maps. Parents concerned about witchcraft (or the ranks of über geekery) can relax; it’s just a game. There are much worse things they could be doing. Open gaming is available at Karliquin, 3330 Arapahoe Ave. in Boulder, and Stonebridge Games in Longmont, 449 Main St. See karliquin.com or stonebridgegames.com.

3. Playgrounds
There are any number of parks and playgrounds around the North Metro area, but indoor playgrounds like Jungle Quest are the ultimate adventure for wanna-be Spidermen and Laura Crofts. Explorers 5–12 can zoom on zip lines, buzz over Burma bridges, swerve on swings and ratchet up rock walls at Jungle Quest. Littler explorers will love open play at Kangaroo Kingdom. And who doesn’t love trampolines and bounce houses like those at Jump Street and B&C BounceTown? Visit each facility’s website for cost, hours and safety information. thorton.junglequest.net, thekangarookingdom.com, jump-street.e-shopmall.com, bncbouncetown.com.

4. Strawberries
Nothing puts a smile on a child’s face like fresh strawberries. Let your brood pick their own at Berry Patch Farms. Strawberry season generally runs from mid-July to mid-October. You can also pick organic basil, carrots, cherries, currants or raspberries (see the website). Admission is free, and you only pay for what you pick. Open Tuesday–Saturday 8am–6pm, June–September. 10am–4pm in October. Wednesday and Saturday from 10am–4pm in November. 13785 Potomac St. in Brighton, 303.659.5050 or berrypatchfarms.com

5. Laughing ’til Your Belly Hurts
Most comedy clubs are too rough for pre-teens, but Madcap Theater prides itself in performing material that is appropriate for all audiences. This summer, Madcap will also offer daytime shows for kids 4–8, as well as Magic Camp for ages 6–12. Family-friendly improv happens every Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7pm Shows are $18 for adults and $15 for children 15 and under. 10679 Westminster Blvd. in Westminster, 303.460.3854 or madcapimprov.com.

6. Eating for FREE
There are a lot of things they can’t do, but there is at least one privilege granted to the under 12 set: the sacrosanct rite of pre-passage, “Kids eat free.” North Metro restaurants offering great deals for kids include (call ahead to confirm that the offer is still valid):

IHOP, Islands, Davinci’s Italian, Chick-Fil-A , Beef O’Brady’s, Perkins, Connor O’Neill’s, The Black-Eyed Pea, Cinzzetti’s Italian Market Restaurant, Texas Roadhouse… and more!

7. Building Things…
With a seemingly limitless supply of blocks, pipes, bricks, cranks and gears, kids visiting the Little Builders exhibit at the Longmont Museum and Cultural Center will be able to build just about anything they can imagine—all while learning about size, weight, shape, balance, gravity, cause and effect, motion and stability. 400 Quail Rd. in Longmont. 303.651.8374 or ci.longmont.co.us/museum.

8. …And Smashing Stuff
You don’t exactly have to twist an arm to get kids to destroy things. That’s why every year, Broomfield Recycling Center gives kids a chance to destroy post-Halloween jack-o-lanterns to be mixed with leaves to fertilize farm fields instead of clogging up landfills. Be green while working out those destructive impulses. 225 Commerce St. in Broomfield. 303.404.2839 or broomfield.org.

9. Going to the Fair
Living in Colorado, summer is chock full of some of the greatest festivals and fairs in the country! Take the tykes to the Erie Town Fair in May (erieco.gov) for hot air balloons, street vendors, music and fireworks. The Lafayette Peach Festival in August is a sweet taste of what summer in Colorado is all about (discoverlafayette.com). Let the beat of the community move you at Rhythm on the River in Longmont on July 10–11 (ci.longmont.co.us/rotr/). And, of course, the Boulder Creek Festival marks the unofficial beginning of summer Memorial Day Weekend with the Great Rubber Duck Race (bceproductions.com/boulder-creek-festival).

10. CANDY!
There is nothing like a kid in a candy store, and Powell’s Sweet Shoppe in Boulder is a classic. Don’t be surprised if you experience a time warp when you find that one candy that takes you back to when you were a kid. Monday–Saturday 10am–9pm and Sunday 10am–6pm 1200 Pearl St. in Boulder, 303.413.3060 and powellsss.com.

11. Slumber Parties
Every kid knows that slumber parties aren’t really about sleep. Take your kids to the Downtown Aquarium for a Wild Dreams Overnight and they can sleep (or not) among the sharks and rays ($49.95 per person; adult chaperones are required). 700 Water St. in Denver, 303.561.4450 or aquariumrestaurants.com. If you prefer to take the night off, the Denver Zoo’s Bunk with the Beasts program offers periodic kids-only sleepovers for 7 to 12-year-olds. The admission charge of $60 covers supervision (instructor to child ratio is 1 to 8), zoo-themed activities, pizza dinner, evening snack and breakfast. 2300 Steele St. (on 23rd Ave. between Colorado Blvd. and York St. in Denver) 303.376.4894 or denverzoo.org.

12. Fun in the Sun
Sure, Water World has the obligatory lazy rivers, speed slides, water forts and wave pools, each of which is a blast in its own right. But what makes it unique are theme rides beyond compare. Dollar-for-dollar, Water World may be one of Colorado’s best values for summer entertainment. May 29–Aug. 23 and select weekends through September (weather permitting). 88th Ave. and Pecos St. in Federal Heights. waterworldcolorado.com

13. Watching (Free) Movies
Throughout the summer, area movie theaters including Regal, Kerasotes and AMC offer free flicks for kids, usually on a weekday morning. Check your local theater listings for times and films. Taking advantage of the beauty of a Colorado summer night, several cities also offer free films outside throughout the warm months. Bring a blanket, bug spray and your kids to watch a classic under the stars. Check boulderoutdoorcinema.com, longmontfilm.org and downtowndenver.com/Events/MileHighMovies.htm for schedules and shows.

14. Cartoons and Comics
All kids love cartoons and comics, but the Japanese versions, known as anime and manga, are the latest big thing. Kids who catch the bug early have a genre that grows with them, because these stories are meant to transcend age. For a great introduction, area libraries house anime and manga collections for all ages—a vital resource for the family budget. The Erie Public Library even hosts a manga book club—call 720.685.5200. Check the calendar at your local library for more anime and manga events.

15. Playing in the Rain
Colorado weather is always exciting and can be just a little bit scary. Parents can take the fear out of the big booms with a little help from the University Corporation of Atmospheric Research (UCAR). Their website, eo.ucar.edu/kids, has plenty of fun experiments on oceans and the weather. They’ve even collaborated with the space scientists for windows.ucar.edu, which provides fun facts about space and climate. If you want to get the kids away from the computer for a while, they also have hands-on exhibits in actual reality. Free. Monday–Friday, 8am–5pm; weekends and holidays, 9am–4pm. 1850 Table Mesa Dr. in Boulder, 303.497.1174.

16. Dancing Gorillas
Casa Bonita has become such a Denver icon that it was satirized on South Park. With food only a kid could love, purchasing a meal is the price of admission to the carnival-like atmosphere with cliff divers, wild west shootouts and—what else?—dancing gorillas. The smile on your child’s face will almost be worth the heartburn. 11am–9:30pm, Sunday–Thursday, 11am–10pm Friday–Saturday, 6715 W. Colfax. 303.232.5115 or casabonitadenver.com.

17. Radio Disney
Kids’ music sure has come a long way since the days of “On Top of Spaghetti,” and Radio Disney deserves a lot of the credit. Your tweens won’t want to miss the limited engagement of Jonas Brothers, the 3-D Concert Experience, in theaters through at least March 14 (last year’s engagement of the Hannah Montana Best of Both Worlds concert film was extended due to popular demand). Listen to Radio Disney on AM 1690 or at radio.disney.go.com.

18. Creepy Crawlies
Don’t let the name fool you; Westminster’s Butterfly Pavilion is not all sugar and spice. It is also an “Insect Center” full of enough fascinating creepy crawlies to keep the slugs, snails and puppy dog tails happy, too. Everyone loves the Pavilion’s signature rain forest, which teems with butterflies of every shape, size and color imaginable. Regular admission is $7.95 for adults and $4.95 for children 12 and under. Kids 2 and under are free. 9am–5pm daily. Butterfly Pavilion, 6252 West 104th Ave. in Westminster, 303.469.5441 or 720.974.1862 for general summer camp information, butterflies.org.

19. X-treme Sports
Get your kids off the couch and let them experience what it would be like to be on one of their favorite reality shows. Founded by American Gladiator Champion Kyler Storm, X-Treme Challenge Gladiator Fusion Arena fosters teamwork, athletics, confidence and thinking outside the box with unique and challenging games and equipment. With classes for kids age 2 and up, physical fitness has never been so fun. 9499B N. Washington St. in Thornton, 303.255.2221 or xtremechallengearena.com.

20. Kids’ Nite Out
We never understood why they called it “Kids’ Nite Out;” being able drop the 8- to 13-year-olds off for three-and-a-half precious hours on a Friday or Saturday night sure sounded like “Parents’ Nite Off” to us. Then we heard about activities like the human slingshot. Weekly themes and activities like dancing, swimming and rock climbing mean that the kids will be begging for more. 7–10:30pm at many metro area recreation centers. Program information and event schedules available at kidsniteout.org.

21. Down on the Farm
Kids are drawn to tales of the Old West like sing-alongs to a camp fire. Give them a taste of farm life at Ya Ya Farm & Orchard in Longmont, offering hayrides year-round as well as apple picking by reservation. Apple cider, donuts, farm market, farm animals, educational tours and field trips in fall. 303.485.5585 or yayafarmandorchard.com. Make dreams of Black Beauty come true with riding lessons or a summer camp at Plane View Farm in Erie starting at $40/hour. 303.828.4824 or planeviewfarm.com. And the Fall Festival at Anderson Farms is legendary, with Colorado’s oldest corn maze, pumpkins, goats and more farm fun. 303.828.5210 or andersonfarms.com.

22. Purple Mountains’ Majesty
It wouldn’t be right for a kid to spend every day of her childhood looking up at the mountains that inspired America the Beautiful without learning how to appreciate them from a different perspective. The Colorado Mountain Club offers a five-day Intro to Rock Climbing course several times throughout the summer, teaching youth ages 11–16 the basics of rock climbing for $265. Nature-loving kids ages 7–9 can learn to prepare for the outdoors and go on a short nature hike to practice their new skills at one of CMC’s Mountain Discovery Days ($35). CMC’s three-day Meet the Mountains class ($144) gives 8–10-year-olds the chance to try rock climbing, learn to use a compass, create a naturalist notebook and more. A variety of indoor rock climbing instructional opportunities are also available year-round for children ages 6 and up. 710 10th St. in Golden, 303.279.3030 or cmc.org.

23. Blowing Bubbles
All it takes to entertain the little ones on a fine Colorado day is to break out a 99-cent bottle of bubbles. If your kids are a bit older, it may be time to introduce them to a whole new way of blowing bubbles. OceanFirstDivers of Boulder offers 8- and 9-year-olds the chance to become “Bubblemakers” by diving with a PADI-certified scuba instructor. Kids as young as 5 can learn Supplied Air Snorkeling for Youth (SASY). Kids can participate in exciting pool-based AquaMissions as part of the PADI Seal Team. Open-water scuba lessons are available for children 10 and up. 3015 Bluff St. in Boulder, 303.444.7234 and oceanfirstdivers.com.

24. Harry Potter
The magical world of Harry Potter inspired kids (and adults) to read, but now that the world knows Harry’s fate, it’s time to ask your local children’s librarian for recommendations on other books a true Gryffindor (or Ravenclaw, or Hufflepuff…) might enjoy. You can also check out the blogs Bookshelves of Doom (bookshelvesofdoom.com) and The Spiral Notebook (thespiralnotebook.com) for more recommendations. As a reward for all that reading, you could bring Hogwarts to life by treating your young witch or wizard to a Wizard Academy party hosted by Fairy Tale Fantasies. Recommended for ages 6–10, the festivities might include a Sorcerer’s Stone treasure hunt, tea with Hogwarts catering (think cockroach clusters and butter beer) or an appearance by a real-life wizard who will teach potions class. 303.594.7435 or fairy-tale-fantasies.com.

25. Saying Ahhhhhh..
Starting on April 4 when the Denver Museum of Nature & Science unveils its state-of-the-art 10,000-square-foot Expedition Health Gallery, kids can explore the world of health and medicine without fear of getting a dreaded shot. Visitors will be issued a “Peak Pass” that allows them to record their own anatomy, and health data. At the Biology Base Camp, your kids will don lab coats, gloves and goggles to test their own hypotheses. The exhibit also features a Tykes Peak area providing dramatic play for kids under age five. The Denver Museum of Nature & Science is open from 9am–5pm every day except Christmas. General admission to the museum is $11 for adults and $6 for kids ages 3–18. 2001 Colorado Blvd. in Denver, 303.322.7009 or dmns.org.

26. Playing Pretend
Pretending to be someone else is something we adults can relate to, but we don’t take as much joy in it. Channel that youthful desire to play pretend and sign them up for an acting class. Rocky Mountain Theater provides classes, camps and a chance to do full-scale productions of popular children’s shows. 5311 Western Ave., Suite D, Boulder, 303.245.8150. If your little star would rather watch the performance than be in it, check out the area’s kid-centric theater groups, including Jesters Theater Company (jestertheater.com), Rocky Mountain Theater for Kids (theaterforkids.net) and the Peanut Butter Players (peanutbutterplayers.com).

27. Dinosaurs
Giant, meat-eating monsters seem like something out of a fantasy storybook, except they really existed. No wonder children love them so much. Every natural history museum has to have a few life-size models or skeletons to draw the kids in, and the Denver Museum of Nature & Science (dmns.org) is no exception. For something different, the University of Colorado Museum specializes in the Tertiary Period, which is when we entered the age of mammals. ($3, $1 for children and seniors, CU Boulder Campus, 9am–5pm Mon.–Fri., 9am–4pm Sat., 10am–4pm Sun. 303.492.6892.)

28. Playing Catch with Fido
Is there a better way for a kid to enjoy a beautiful Colorado day than to play catch with the dog? Lafayette boasts a first-rate dog park where Fido can run and play off-leash. The Great Bark is located at 597 N. 119th St. (just north of Baseline Rd). Louisville also has its own new off-leash dog park at 955 Bella Vista Dr. Both parks prohibit unsupervised children and require owners to clean up after their pets.

29. Learning to Drive
OK, so maybe they’re not ready to sit behind the wheel of the family car, but most kids jump at the chance to drive. Put them behind the wheel of a King Scorpion go-kart at Boondocks and watch them race around the 1,100-foot-long, 30-foot-wide track of hair-pin turns. Drivers must be at least 60 inches tall, passengers, at least 40 inches tall. I-25 and 120th Ave. in Northglenn. 720.977.8000 or boondocks.info

30. Fire Trucks
YS knows a three-year-old who wants to be a fire truck when he grows up. Even a fairy godmother can’t make that happen, but Rocky Mountain Fire provides plenty of opportunities for kids (and grown-ups) to get up close and personal with their fleet. Serving the communities of Superior, Marshall and much of rural Boulder County, Rocky Mountain Fire will arrange for a station tour, birthday party or ride along. Rocky Mountain Fire in Superior, 303.494.3735 or rockymountainfire.org

31. Live a Fairy Tale
Whether your kid is into knights and dragons or elves and princesses, he or she can step into a living fairy tale at the Colorado Renaissance Festival. Open rain or shine 10am–6:30pm on weekends July 13–Aug. 2, Renfest boasts three daily jousts and other irresistible entertainment. Don’t miss the royal procession held at 1pm. $17.95 for adults and $8 for children ages 5–12. Kids under 5 are free. 650 W. Perry Park Ave. in Larkspur. coloradorenaissance.com.

32. Dressing Up
So your daughter wants to be a princess. LolliLocks, a full-service kid’s salon with locations in Boulder and Superior, can be her fairy godmother. With a LolliPrincess party package ($225 for up to six people) your daughter can transform herself into her favorite princess. The package also includes a hairstyle, finger and toenail painting, a princess accessory craft project, a group photo of your princess and her royal court and, of course, a tea party. 2525 Arapahoe Ave. in Boulder, 303.442.5654. 406 Center Dr. in Superior. 303.494.2424. lollilocks.com

33. A Sense of Wonder
Lafayette’s WOW! Children’s Museum is full of educational and dramatic play exhibits designed to enhance the sense of wonder in children ages 1–11. Regular exhibits include art displays, crafts, music, dance, theater, wind energy, air and gravity, dinosaurs, pirate ship and lighthouse, trains and more. $7 for children 15 months to 11 years. Adults and infants 14 months and younger are free. 110 N. Harrison Ave. in Lafayette. 303.604.2424 or wowmuseum.com.

34. Coloring Outside the Lines
Creations Art Space offers facilitated painting sessions where children can paint spontaneously and freely within the spirit of play. Creations provides a roll of wide paper, a large pallet of pre-mixed, washable and non-toxic paints and high-quality brushes in a well-lit workspace. The walls are completely covered with paint overflow from previous projects, so there is no need to worry about making a mess. Drop-in sessions for children 3 and up (or younger with a parent’s help) cost $15. Wednesday 1–2pm and Thursday, 11am–noon. Craft classes and summer day camps are also available. 2540 Iris Ave. in Boulder, 303.709.6884 or creationsartspace.com.

35. Summer!
They say youth is wasted on the young, but wouldn’t you spend three months playing video games and watching cartoons if you could? And what would summer be without summer camp? Our camp listings issue is one of our most popular of the year for a reason!

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Lacy is an award-winning food writer and blogger. She lives in Westminster with her family. Google

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