If you have ever planned a vacation with kids, you may have been so overwhelmed you opted to leave them behind. Or worse, you ended up cutting your trip short because the trip proved to be too difficult. Let me offer a little sage advice: book your lodging and transportation ahead of time! Spontaneity works when you’re a childless couple comfortable pulling a tent out because you couldn’t book a hotel. After you have kids, you’re going to want to be sure you secured lodging because you and your kids will be much happier with a bed, a shower, and, of course, a pool!
If you just nodded along with that, then you’ll probably agree that your best defense against a melt-down or boredom is to keep them busy! Luckily for you, Durango is jam-packed with family activities year-round! Here’s a list of ideas for any age, any season.
For the Younger Kids (Five and Under)
1: Purgatory – Summertime
We have something you may have never heard of – an alpine slide! From Late August through mid-October, you can take a fun ½ mile ride down a mountain track. The best part is, you control the speed! Parents will enjoy this just as much as kids. Kids ages 3-5 ride free with an adult!
2: Purgatory – Wintertime
Up at Purgatory, the summertime activities are a blast, but they don’t hold a candle to what you can do in the winter. Named “Best Ski Spot” by TripAdvisor, you will have trouble finding time to rest while you are here. Kids as young as three can ride or ski with an instructor and go tubing (with an adult) on Purgatory’s Snow Coaster. If you child is younger than three or just not interested in skiing, Purgatory offers on-site child care services through age 4 that includes outdoor snow play!
Click here for lessons, ski school, or our Purgatory Resort page to find out more about what you can do, year-round, at Purgatory!
3: Main Avenue Trolley
These bright red buses run through downtown every 20 minutes. There is something fascinating to a young child about hopping on a red bus! Plus, the fare is a mere 50 cents per ride and free for kids! Why not enjoy a relaxing ride while you hop from place to place? The buses operate year-round. Click here for route information.
The Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad offers rides through some of the most scenic high-elevation mountain scapes that you’ll ever see. Your kids will love the experience of riding a train, as will you! Younger kids will go nuts for the many themed rides the train has throughout the year.
In October, the train runs the Pumpkin Patch Express. There are plenty of activities to enjoy including costume contests, live reindeer, pumpkin carving, wagon rides, mazes to the pumpkin patch, and much more.
Starting in early November, you can catch a Polar Express-themed ride. You’ll want to pack comfy pajamas and blankets as this train ride takes place in the evenings. You read along the popular Polar Express book, drink deliciously sweet hot cocoa, sing songs from the movie AND you get to ride past Santa’s Workshop – all decked out with lights and elves. Who knows…maybe Santa will give the gift of Christmas spirit? These train tickets do sell out quickly so plan ahead and know that this is a magical train experience not to be missed!
5: Durango Railroad Museum
Trains, Planes, and Tractors…oh, my! Your child will enjoy this FREE museum filled with historical railroading, transporting, and mining items. As well as a working train model that chugs its way along a fantastic miniature world.
6: Short Hikes
If you are okay slipping on a baby carrier or backpack to tote around your little one, there’s not much you can’t hike here! Equipped with lots of snacks and water, you can strap on your baby and take them with you! Here’s a list of the best hikes in Durango for kids: https://www.durango.org/blog/post/kid-friendly-hikes
For the Older Kids (Six and Older!)
7: Purgatory: Summertime
In the summer, Purgatory transforms into the ultimate playground. For the older kids that are not interested in the alpine slide (unlikely), there is a vast variety of other activities that they can enjoy. They can try the zip line, scenic chair lift rides, summer tubing, airbag jump, rope courses, climbing wall, mini golf…and much, much more!
Whether you child enjoys snowboarding or skiing, Purgatory is an awesome place to ride! If your child doesn’t know how to ride, don’t fret. There are lessons for every level and every age.
Once again, the train appeals to all ages but the real fun begins when you throw in adventures like horseback riding and zip lining!
Once you child can hike on their own, taking the whole family for a hike becomes a bit less complicated. Hikes are a great way to have your child expend some energy while getting a great workout in yourself. Durango is home to some of the most incredible hikes in the country. Take a look at these 5 hikes with the best Durango views.
For the older kids, rafting can be a thrilling way to view Durango in a different light. The rafting instructors are versed in the history of Durango and its monuments. Combine that with the know-how on navigating the river safely and its makes for a much better experience! Enjoy a half-day, full day, or just of few hours of rafting.
Bonus: For All Ages
12: Durango Community Recreation Center
This center is great for those snowy, cold, or rainy days that you do not want to be outside. This recreation center has a lap pool, lazy river, water slide, rock-climbing wall, basketball, volleyball and racquetball courts!
13: City Parks
This is a great summer activity that the whole family can enjoy. Durango is the city with a plethora of city parks to choose from. There are over 30+ parks in the Durango area – perfect for picnics, a quick game of flag football (Go, Broncos!), or even walking your dog. Check out the official city park’s website for park guidelines, photos, and useful information here.
With a bike trailer, baby carrier, or stroller, kids of all ages can enjoy this trail. The River Trail has over seven miles of river views and picnic spots making it the perfect family hang out. There are even several parks along the way. The Animas River Trail connects the very north side of Durango to areas as far south as Home Depot – so rent a bike and be on your way to enjoying all that you can see while you hear the great Animas River right next to you.
15: Winter Activities
Durango is loaded with winter activities! That’s why so many families never leave (including us!). Enjoy inner tubing down snow-covered banks, snowshoeing, sleigh riding, dog sledding, ice skating, cross-country skiing, and more. Durango is truly a playground for adults and kids alike. Make the experience that much richer by taking your kids with you the next time you visit. If you need help arranging any of your travel, our consultants are standing by at 800-828-4228.