With pristine Rocky Mountain views and a bustling cultural scene, Fort Collins has more than enough outdoor and indoor things to do with your preschooler. Even if your little snow bunny is pleading for a chilly winter-weather adventure, keep in mind that this Colorado city averages roughly 300 days of sunshine each year, making it perfect for outings of all kinds.
1. Summer Outdoor Activities
Although most of the country thinks of Colorado as a snow-covered state where skiing goes on year round, Fort Collins has just as much of a warm and sunny summer as most of the country (July temperature highs average 86 degrees). This means that preschoolers in Fort Collins can enjoy sun-soaked summer adventures in the warm weather. Budding biologists can get in touch with the furry and feathered at the Farm at Lee Martinez Park (600 North Sherwood, Fort Collins, Colorado, 970-221-6665) where they can even go on a real pony ride. If your preschooler can't get enough of his toy train sets, take him on a mini-version of the real thing with a ride on the City Park Train. After a hot day at the farm or on the train, chill out at the City Park Pool (1599 City Park Drive, Fort Collins, Colorado, 970-416-5169) with its pint-sized play structure and lazy river.
2. Winter Outdoor Activities
With the picturesque Rocky Mountains as your backdrop, taking the kiddies outside for some wintertime action isn't such a bad idea. When the Blue Heron Lake freezes, from November through February, you can take your little one skating outside at Fort Fun (fortfun.biz). If you're not ready to buy your growing preschooler her own skates, rent them there (just remember to bring her own helmet). If you are looking for a more family-fun-time trip, try out the Beaver Meadows Stables' (beavermeadowsstables.com) horse-drawn winter sleigh rides. Snuggle up with your preschooler and enjoy the 20- to 30-minute Hot Chocolate and Cookies Ride. Take a look around the scenic meadows and valleys and then stop for a warm-up treat (and craft project) at the Homestead Cabin.
The small-sized scientist in your family will get a kick out of the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery (fcmod.org) and its 16,000 square feet of gallery space that features hands-on learning such as the light, air motion and color activities in the Schatz Family Exploration Zone. If your little learner is more of an agriculture lover, the Bee Family Centennial Farm Museum (beefamilyfarm.com) gives your child the chance to grind corn for real chickens, play at the "farm station" and even gather eggs from the chicken house. Mini-Monets can take a tour (with mom and dad) at the Fort Collins Museum of Art (ftcma.org).
4. Indoor Play
There is plenty to do outdoors in Fort Collins, but sometimes you just need an indoor activity. An indoor play space provides your little one with opportunity to get her energy out without running rabid around your house. The Cool Beans Playhouse and Cafe (coolbeansplayhouse.com) has custom play structures, soft blocks, a pretend-play area, a tree house and a healthy cafe for after-play treats. If inflatables are more your preschooler's thing, try Pump It Up's (pumpitupparty.com) Pop-In Playtimes. With morning and late afternoon-evening times, your preschooler can bounce, slide, jump and more.