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Rich Batten
Colorado Department of Human Services
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Maggie Spain
The Bawmann Group
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July 2, 2010

Exploring Colorado: What's New for Colorado Dads and their Children this Summer?

As the days get longer and warmer, Colorado fathers and their children begin searching for new things to do together. Luckily, there are a number of activities available for Colorado families to experience this summer without spending a dime. From hiking to building a fort in the backyard to watching movies under the stars, now’s the time explore the best of what Colorado has to offer.

“Colorado is packed with free things for families to see, do and enjoy throughout the summer,” said Dan Welch, fatherhood and family specialist with the Colorado Department of Human Services. “A limited budget does not have to keep fathers from spending time with their children. It’s often the smallest moments that can have the biggest impact.”

Looking for ideas? Here are just a few summer time activities for Colorado dads and kids to experience together:

Listen to live music. Summer is the season for live outdoor concerts. At community parks or civic centers you can find music to fit everyone’s tastes. Head out to enjoy these music events: City Park’s Summer Jazz Concert Series, Bands on the Bricks on Boulder’s Pearl Street, Steamboat Springs’ Free Summer Concert Series or the Colorado College Concert Series in Colorado Springs.

Explore Colorado’s State and National Parks.
Experience nature and wildlife in any of Colorado’s 42 State Parks or 222 wildlife areas. The National Park Service is offering two remaining weekends of free admission to Colorado parks and monuments this summer. Head out August 14-15 and September 25 to experience this special offer.

Visit a museum on a free day. Just because the kids are on summer vacation doesn’t mean learning has to come to a complete stop. Museums are a great way to expose children to art, history and culture. Many of them offer one free admission date each month. In Denver, you can visit the Children’s Museum, Denver Art Museum and the Wings Over the Rockies Museum. Not to be outdone, Our Journey Museum located in Colorado’s Central Plains, the Colorado Ski Museum/Hall of Fame in Vail and Durango’s Discovery Museum will all offer free admission dates for families this summer.

Take a tour. Indulge your children’s curiosity by treating your family to a free educational tour. In Denver, your options include free tours of the State Capitol, the U.S. Mint, INVESCO Field at Mile High and the Denver Zoo. Visit Boulder’s Celestial Seasonings to learn how tea is made and then hop over to the Boulder Ice Cream Company to watch homemade ice cream being churned. Be sure to stick around for your free scoop!

Watch a movie under the stars. Grab chairs, blankets and your favorite movie snacks and head out just before sunset to watch an outdoor movie. Throughout the summer many communities provide free film events, including Centennial’s Under the Stars and Night at the Movies, Pictures on the Promenade in Colorado Springs and Movies in the Park held Thornton, Westminster, Broomfield, Denver and Edgewater.

Enjoy the sounds, smells and tastes of a farmers market.
Exploring a farmers market is a great way to encourage your children to sample new foods and support local vendors. Many also provide specific activities for children In Golden, families can enjoy a free horse drawn carriage ride at the city’s farmers market. Visit www.coloradofarmersmarket.org to find a market near you.

Hike, bike or stroll.
Explore Colorado’s thousands of trails and parks by foot or bike. Best of all, the majority of trails in the state are free!

Have fun in your own backyard. There’s no need to travel very far, fun is right in your own backyard! Turn the sprinklers on or challenge each other to squirt gun fights. Eat a picnic dinner outside before pitching a tent to sleep underneath the stars. Endless possibilities and fun lay right outside your back door.

In addition to all of the great ideas above, be sure to check out www.coloradodads.com for more free and low-cost activities happening in Colorado this summer. Those who register in the Special Offers section of the website are eligible to receive free tickets to professional and college sporting events, movies and other community activities.

In October 2006, the Colorado Department of Human Services, Colorado Works Division was awarded a $10 million federal grant over five years to strengthen father/child relationships and improve parenting. Colorado is one of two locations nationwide, including Washington, D.C., to receive this federal community access grant. The Responsible Fatherhood Initiative distributes more than $1.1 million in awards to state, community and faith based organizations to assist in providing direct services to fathers and families. Awards of up to $50,000 are distributed per program per fiscal year. For more information on a fatherhood program in your community, please visit www.coloradodads.com.