Top 10 Family Activities in Denver

UrbanSitter logoWhether you’re a Colorado native or planning your next family vacation, here are UrbanSitter‘s Top 10 ideas for fun family-friendly activities.

In no particular order….

1. Cherry Creek District. There’s the Cherry Creek Center, of course, which is an enclosed mall that’s certain to please even the pickiest of shoppers. But there’s also the Cherry Creek North shopping district — a 16 city-block area with more than 320 galleries, boutiques, restaurants and salons/spas. In the summer, enjoy Films on Fillmore (an outdoor film fest) and in the winter, don’t miss the Cherry Creek North Ice Rink.

2. Clyfford Still Museum. Clyfford Still is considered one of the most significant abstract American painters of the twentieth century. The museum, which opened to grand fanfare in 2011, is a new way to discover this important artist whose works were completely sealed by his estate until the museum opened. Take the kids and watch them marvel in the world of abstract art.

3. Beer Triangle. Well, maybe this one isn’t so much for the kids. But hey, why not get a sitter and take a tour of the Coors brewery, the largest single brewery in the world, as well as six dozen other award-winning brewpubs and microbreweries in the area.

4. B-cycle program. Denver is home to one of the most innovative, green bike-sharing programs in the world. Once you pay B-cycle’s modest membership fee, you can hop on a red bike at any one of the dozens of bike stations around the city, and take an unlimited number of rides — to lunch, the library, anywhere! So get the family outside for the day, all while getting some exercise and helping the environment to boot.

5. The Broadmoor Hotel and Resort. Actually in Colorado Springs (about a 45 min. drive from Denver), the Broadmoor sits on 3,000 acres of land in the shadow of Cheyenne Mountain. It’s a majestic, five-star resort that hails back to the days of old. The children will no doubt enjoy the two swimming pools, tennis courts, and plenty of long hallways, elevators, and corners to explore. Make sure you also make time for golf and dinner at one of the esteemed restaurants on the property.

6. Four Mile Historic Park. Denver may be totally modern city, but it still maintains some of its Wild West roots! Four Mile Historic Park is a 12-acre oasis just a stone’s throw from the Cherry Creek district. Home to Denver’s oldest standing structure, pioneer exhibits and the Four Mile House which was once a wayside inn and stage stop, kids are sure to love the park. And you’ll love the bonus history lesson!

7. Elitch Gardens. This one’s for the kids. Downtown Denver’s theme park has everything you’d want and more — roller coasters, junk food, games and rides. There’s truly something for everyone — even you!

8. Larimer Square. Located in the Mile High City’s oldest and most historic block, Larimer Square is a sight to see. Many of the building and structures still reflect the history of the city, and there is much to do and see…not to mention, EAT. Why not stop into Oteria Marco after shopping and sightseeing and indulge in the housemaid burrata and egg-topped carbonara pizza?

9. Coors Field. You’ll find the Rockies’ baseball stadium in the lower downtown area of Denver and what a sight it is to behold. Newly built in 1999, the park offers many new and updated amenities, gourmet food aplenty, and a spectacular view of the Rocky Mountains. Try to catch a game during the season and treat the kids to a fantastic day at the ballpark.

10. REI Flagship Store. In the market for new outdoor gear or clothes? This is the place. But it’s also the place for adventure! With an indoor climbing pinnacle and bike track, your kids will be in heaven. There’s also a Starbucks so you can refuel when you need it — and you probably will!

Don’t overlook Denver, whether you’re a Colorado native or planning your next family vacation. It’s a great city for all ages!

Are you looking for a babysitter in Denver or Boulder? Try UrbanSitter now!

Top Ten Tahoe Date Ideas

lake tahoeWhen you find yourself on a family trip to Tahoe, after a few days, your “vacation mom” self is not quite the laid-back, relaxed, happy self you’d like to be. Sometimes you just need a break.

Book a sitter and try our Top 10 Tahoe Date Ideas for a much-needed hiatus.

10. Hula-Mud Pie at Sunnyside. Who can resist this precipice of deliciousness: cocoa cookie crust, macadamia nut ice cream, fudge topping, with whipped cream on the very peak. Go for dinner or just pop in for dessert — Sunnyside is beautiful, whatever the season. In summer, sit outside and enjoy an amazing sunset. In winter, the cozy dining room makes for a very romantic dinner for two.

9. For something different, book a daytime date. Get sandwiches at PDQ in Homewood (6890 West Lake Blvd.) and take them up to the summit of Eagle Falls. PDQ sandwiches have a sort of cult-like following, so the line can be long, but it’s worth it! And, the Eagle Falls hike is not strenuous, but offers enough incline to get your heart racing before you settle in to enjoy the view and eat lunch. Park at highway 89 across from Emerald Bay.

8. Your date doesn’t have to be complicated. Head to Fanny Bridge at the crux of Hwy. 89 in Tahoe City. How did it get its name? I’ll let you decide as you hang over the side to check out all the big fish and rushing water. Then, get a table at The Bridgetender (65 West Lake Blvd.) and enjoy one of Tahoe’s best burgers while taking in great apres-ski /rafting people watching.

7. Historic Truckee can be the perfect afternoon escape. Go early enough to peruse the quaint shops and old-town sights. Then, stay for dinner and a drink at Pianeta Restaurant, a stellar Italian restaurant that offers delectable food and a great wine list.

6. It might be obvious, but the Gondola at Heavenly is still one of Tahoe’s gems. Going without the kids can feel like a true escape. Start at the base, where you can shop in Heavenly Village and grab a coffee or lunch before getting on the gondola. Revel in the pure quiet as you climb up and up and take in the view. You can get out half-way up to take photos, and once you get to the very top, enjoy a moment of serenity when you realize just why that long drive to Tahoe is worth it. It’s truly breathtaking.

5. Pretend you’re in college again and head to Chambers Landing Bar and Grill for some punch and people watching. This one definitely works better in Summer, but you can’t beat the throngs of beach bodies, budding romances, and children’s cries of joy when they catch a crab or two with a homemade pole and bait.

4. For some real fun, go someplace where you’re guaranteed not to see anybody under 21 — a casino. The Hyatt Regency in Incline Village  has a great restaurant, the Lone Eagle Grill, where you can dine and enjoy the lake view before heading in to give your luck a try. The casino is actually pretty classy if you can handle the wafts of cigarette smoke and desperation. Craps or slots, you’re guaranteed to leave with at least a good story, if not a windfall.

3. If you’re the active type, rent bicycles at one of the many rental shops dotted along the lake (Olympic, Tahoe Bike & Ski, etc.) and head out for an adventure. You can ride around the whole lake — most likely a 4-6 hour ride for most non-pros. Or, keep it local and ride along West Lake Blvd. or South Shore. Be sure to end with a hearty lunch or picnic in order to connect and bond over your awesome physical achievement.

2. Dinner at Christy Hill is some of Tahoe’s finest. Located in Tahoe City, Christy Hill is a small restaurant (note: make reservations), which makes for a very customized, romantic experience. Recently written up by The New York Times and Bon Appetit, it’s sure to meet (or exceed) your standards. And a traditional date can sometimes be the best kind.

1. How about this for a change-up? Tell your sitter to take the children OUT of the house or hotel room and take advantage of being home alone. A sitter can easily haul everybody down to the beach and grab an early dinner at West Side Pizza or Rosie’s. Don’t forget to give her a specific time to be home. Meanwhile, you and your hubby can have a cocktail, enjoy each other’s company while cooking, or even take a walk or watch a movie. There are real joys in being somewhere familiar without the interruption of the kids’ demands.

Top 10 Tips: Visiting Sonoma with the Kids

Wine country vacation WITH the kids? Yes, it can be done! Here are UrbanSitter’s top 10 travel tips for visiting California’s beautiful Sonoma Valley with the family.

1. On the way into town, visit Traintown with the kids. Located one mile south of the Plaza in Sonoma, Traintown features a quarter-scale railroad. Each train ride lasts 20 minutes and makes a stop in Lakeview, a miniature town with petting zoo.

2. Check into The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn, a luxurious yet kid-friendly hotel with large rooms and mini suites, kid menus, and an outdoor swimming pool. Or, try the moderately priced Best Western Sonoma Valley Inn, which also has a pool and cribs by request.

3. Hire a babysitter for the afternoon and head out to taste fabulous wines at tucked away vineyards: Gundlach Bundschu and Bartholomew Park.

4. Then, indulge in an early dinner at The Girl and the Fig near the Sonoma Square. Taste from an award-winning wine list, seasonal local menu, and relax outdoors on the patio.

5. Pack lots of snacks and equally fun beverages for the kids to enjoy (juice boxes). If you run out, the historic Dry Creek General Store is a fun place to stock up.

6. If bringing the kids along to a winery, choose a kid-friendly location with lots of activities. At Francis Ford Coppola Winery, kids can check out the movie memorabilia, play bocce ball, or even swim at the pool.

7. Sneak in a little education. That’s right, wine country is a wonderful place for kids to learn about farming. Just take them for a ride on the Benziger Family Winery’s vineyard tractor-powered tram to learn about what it means to be green.

8. Grab a set of shatterproof recyclable wine glasses to ward off potential accidents and spills at your picnic.

9. Go on a safari! Believe it or not, wine country is also home to an African safari park called Safari West with roaming cheetahs, zebras, giraffes and more! You and the kids can observe safely from your open-hatch 4×4.

10. Head outdoors for a hike at Shiloh Ranch Park just off of 101. The easy, 3.7-mile loop trail is flat and not very crowded, plus there are picnic areas, restrooms and parking.

Did we mention UrbanSitter is now in Sonoma and Napa?  It’s easier than ever to find & book a sitter you trust — even for a vacation in wine country!