According to a nationwide poll by The Nature Conservancy, only about 10 percent of kids age 13 to 18 spend time outdoors every day. One of the reasons? No natural areas near their homes.
Fortunately, Colorado Springs doesn't have this problem. With hiking and biking trails, urban farms, and skate parks, it couldn't be much easier to get kids out and about in the fresh air. Research shows that getting them outside and moving means both improved physical and mental health—for them and other family members who go along, too.
And there's no better time for savoring the outdoors than summer, when school is out and the possibilities for fun in the Great Outdoors are as boundless as your imagination. Here, five family-friendly adventures in Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region this summer.
1. Get your urban farming on.
Perhaps you've visited the Pikes Peak Community Foundation-run Venetucci Farm around Halloween to pick out a pumpkin from the historical patch. But the 190-acre urban farm offers plenty more for families year-round. Take a self-guided tour around the property Tuesday through Saturday (9 am to 1 pm) to meet the chickens, goats, pigs, and other animals raised here. See vegetables growing in the fields, then purchase some from the farm stand (open Saturday, 9 am to 1 pm) to take home for dinner. Sign up for a class to learn to make goat cheese or how to ID native plants as a family, or enroll your kids in one of the farm's summer programs.
Another nearby option is the adjacent and affiliated Pinello Ranch, which offers guided birding hikes and bird-banding demos. Pinello and Venetucci sit along a migration corridor, and nearly 200 species, from grebes to egrets to falcons and flycatchers, have been spotted on site.
2. Ride under the stars.
If your kids love to ride their bikes as much as you do, why not sign up as a family for the Trails and Open Space Coalition's annual fundraiser, Starlight Spectacular? Now in its 21st year, the event, scheduled for June 20 this year, kicks off (and ends) at the Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center. Pick one of two street routes, either 14 or 22 miles, which include two music- and snack-filled rest stops. Costume up, illuminate your bikes, and enter to win one of the evening's contests. Register before June 7 for early-bird rates, then earn big-time cool points for letting the kids stay up way past their bedtime for the 10:30 pm start.
3. Shred on a skateboard.
The Springs has a handful of options when it comes to skateboarding, but one of them, Memorial Skate Park , is the only park in the nation that's both public and features professional-quality facilities in every aspect of skateboarding (street, super park, bowl, and vert). Pretty much any day that's not raining or snowing (which we do realize have been limited lately), you can head over to the park and watch local professional skateboarders shred. And if the kids catch the boarding bug, sign them (and yourself) up for "progression session" lessons through local nonprofit Sk8-Strong .
4. Gawk at hoodoos and fossils.
The region's dramatic geological formations mean more than the mountains, and you can get a taste for the spectacular spectrum of them at Paint Mines Interpretive Park. Hike four miles of trails that feature spires, hoodoos, and unusual rock colors unlike any other in the area. South of the Springs, at the Florrissant Fossil Beds National Monument, wander the one-mile Petrified Forest Loop to check out some of the largest-by-diameter petrified redwood stumps in the world, get a close-up look at insect, leaf, cone and fish fossils in the visitor center, and visit the grounds of the 1878 Hornbek Homestead.
5. Banish boredom at a visitor or nature center.
When the inevitable "I'm bored!" pops up, make a trek to one of the many kid-friendly visitor or nature centers in Colorado Springs. Each one offers maps for hiking in the area and a variety of free or low-cost age-specific guided hikes, nature programs, camps, and more, some for kids as young as age 2. Learn about a turtle's life at Fountain Creek Nature Center and animal babies at Bear Creek Nature Center . Kids ages 8-12 can join the Junior Ranger program at Starsmore Discovery Center or Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center and earn a badge of knowledge after a few hours of fun activities.