Colorado Vacations 
Family Travel Colorado 
Your Guide to Visiting Colorado with the Kids
Best Holiday Activities in Colorado:
Downtown Denver's Parade of Lights
Taking the kids to the Parade of Lights this year?

Follow these tips to help keep the kids happy so everyone can enjoy this sparkly winter spectacle!

Photo: Holiday fireworks
at Beaver Creek Village

Winter Lodging Options for your Colorado  Ski Trip with the Kids

From rustic cabins to five star resorts, Colorado offers families a variety of choices for tucking the children in.

See our article about the
Best Hotels for a Colorado Christmas Vacation with the Kids.

Photo: The Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs creates a fairyland of twinkle lights for the winter holidays.

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During the holiday season in Colorado, outdoor ice skating rinks pop up all over the place. Ice skating is just one of many great activities for families during the Christmas season.

Photo Credit: Hotel Telluride

Check out our page on Colorado Christmas Activities for the Kids

Did You Know?

The average  snowfall for the 26 major Colorado ski resorts is 295 inches per year.

Some areas (Loveland, Wolf Creek) recorded an average of 400
inches or more per year.

: Kids ski in a
major snowstorm at Winter Park

10 Tips for Taking Toddlers 
to Denver's Parade of Lights

Photo: Kids and their parents are enchanted by the sparkly floats
at the Parade of Lights in downtown Denver, Colorado

Bouncing on her daddy’s shoulders, a two-year-old laughs into the frosty night. Her eyes flash and dance as she watches the Parade of Lights.


Across the street, a disturbance breaks out. A crying toddler stamps his feet, distress radiating from his flailing arms and legs. Oblivious to the marching band in front of them, the child’s mom takes him into her arms and the family marches, too – back to the car.


How can parents magnify the magic – and avoid misery – at Denver’s Parade of Lights? Here are 10 tips to help make this year’s sparkling pageant the best in memory, especially when little tykes are in tow.


1.   Timing is Everything: Factor in nap-time, dinner, and bedtime when deciding whether to see the parade at 8pm on Friday or 6pm on Saturday. Pick a time when kids will be well rested and well fed – everyone will have a better time.


2.   Plan Your Attack: Strategize your descent into downtown including transportation options, walking distances, and best viewing spots. Take note of closed streets, Light Rail and bus stops, and parking areas. Make a plan B in case your first plan runs into glitches.


3.   Catch a Train: Nothing snarls traffic like 150,000 people gathering in the middle of a city. To ease the congestion, RTD runs extra Light Rail trains, and this may be the quickest and easiest way in and out of downtown. If, however, your child will sleep in the car seat, even when you are creeping along at two miles an hour, then driving may be a better choice for you.


4.   Pack for an Expedition, but Travel Light: Two points: 1) It can get very cold in the Mile High City in December at night, and 2) you’ll probably have to carry all your gear as well as your children several blocks through crowded sidewalks. This is the perfect time for your baby backpack carrier or a day-pack.


Chilly toddlers are cranky toddlers, so don’t forget warm hats, mittens, coats, and pants. Dress your little ones in layers so that you can adjust to differing conditions, and by all means, bring something to insulate little bottoms from cold cement in case you are lucky enough to find a curb to sit on.


Munchkins can watch the parade from wagons or strollers, wrapped in quilts. This is a great option if you come early enough to get a front row seat. However, if you are taking the bus or train, be prepared to fold your stroller up to get it out of the aisle. Kids are not allowed to sit in strollers when buses and trains are in motion.


5.   Come Early or Come Really Early: To avoid spending the evening with a preschooler on Mom or Dad’s shoulders, arrive a good hour before the parade starts. That way, the kids will have a better chance of getting close enough to stand or sit on the sidewalk.


Or miss last minute traffic and crowded trains by making an afternoon of it. Come early and see the decorations on the buildings, check out the toy trains in Union Station, ice skate at Skyline Park, and have an early dinner out. Then amble over in good time to find your spot to watch the show.


6.   Happy Tummies: A good solid meal gives everyone energy to cheer on balloons, bands, and floats. Several downtown restaurants are kid friendly, with high chairs, booster seats, and diaper decks in the restrooms. A few take reservations; most have waiting lists. Plan enough time ahead for busy kitchens to serve you and for the walk back to the parade route.


Or pack some sandwiches and cut up veggies and have a picnic. You can eat dinner and save a curbside seat at the same time. Bring extra clothes and blankets to stay warm.


In any case, a snack of cookies or hot cider from a Thermos is always welcome during the parade.


7.   Going Potty: Of course, remind kids to go before they go. But if they are still in diapers or potty learning, things get trickier. Scope out options on the way to your parade-watching place, so if nature calls right now, you can get where you need to be in a hurry. Public restrooms are available at the RTD Civic Center Station, the Market Street Station, Union Station, and the Denver Pavilions. The Tabor Center has newly renovated men’s and women’s rooms with diaper decks. Port-a-potties will also be available in the Civic Center Park, across from the City & County Building.


8.   Staying Found: Parents’ top priority will be keeping track of their kids in the crowds. This is where baby backpack carriers, strollers, and a set of broad shoulders come in handy. Tell your kids that if they do become separated, they should hug a lamppost or a parking meter until you come get them. Lost kids should ask lots of grown-ups to get police officers to come help them at the lamppost. Police officers and parade marshals with radios will be on every corner, so parents can also notify an officer who will put out an immediate alert and work to coordinate your reunion.


9.   Colorado Midland Railway: Toy trains and the holidays are like hands in mittens, and Denver has the granddaddy of them all. The largest O-scale model railway layout in the world fills a room in the basement of Union Station. Known as the Colorado Midland Railway, the miniature trains are open for viewing by the public on Saturday from 2 to 4pm.


10.       Skyline Park Ice Skating Rink: Want to burn off a little energy while you wait for the parade to start? Visit the skating rink in the Skyline Park, on Arapahoe Street at the 16th Street Mall. Youngsters under the age of 6 skate free, but skate rental is $3 a pair.


From the first clop-clop of horses’ hooves as the Denver Police Mounted Patrol opens the procession, until Santa ho-ho’s his way down the street at the end, Denver’s Parade of Lights is an enchanting experience. Especially for families who are well prepared.

pages on winter fun:

Articles about Christmas fun in Colorado:

Articles about family skiing in Colorado:
Reviews of different ski areas in Colorado: 

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