Colorado Style Kid Fun!


Central Plains Journey

What: Free admission to 10 historical attractions
Where: Colorado Central Plains
When: Memorial Day through Labor Day (check website for exact dates)

Yes, we have ten — count them — ten unique and interesting museums, parks, rides, and more in eastern Colorado. All free during the summer months. Here’s the secret to free admission: simply download the free “Train Ticket” from Our Journey website, and you’re on your way to a lot of free and fun entertainment.

Here are just a few of the places you’ll discover on your journey to the eastern part of our state:

What: World’s Wonder View Tower
Where: Genoa (east of Limon)
When: Daily, 9 AM to 5 PM

They just don’t make ’em like this anymore. In 1926, P.T. Barnum, C.W. Gregory, and Myrtle Le Bow decided what the eastern plains of Colorado needed was a tower. A tower that would let you see 6 states from the top. A tower that was confirmed, in 1934, to be the highest point between Denver and New York City. A tower that, over the years, has become the focal point of a building that houses such wonders as a museum with two-headed calves, eight-legged pigs, and other surprises.

For those whose interests are a bit less freakish, how about the rock collection with rocks from every state and from all over the world? How about a 75,000 year old Mammoth skeleton? A collection of 20,000 Indian arrowheads? Antique guns? A monument built of petrified coal? We could go on, but words just don’t do this place justice.


What: Kit Carson County Carousel
Where: Burlington
When: Daily, 1 – 8 PM, Memorial Day to Labor Day

This historical Carousel ride was only the 6th one built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company, and is the only surviving menagerie carousel from that manufacturer. “Menagerie?” you ask. Yes — instead of a merry-go-round consisting of nothing but horses, this magnificent carousel includes zebras, donkeys, and even a lion!

The carousel and its equally wonderful Wurlitzer Monster Military Band Organ both resided at Elitch Gardens in Denver for a time, but moved to Kit Carson County in 1928. Unlike the fate of so many other historical carousels, this one still boasts its original paintings on both the carousel animals and the decorative paintings.

Come enjoy a 20 minute tour and — here’s the best part — a ride on this beauty!

What: Grampa Jerry’s Clown Museum
Where: Arriba (east of Limon)
When: Daily, 10 AM – 6 PM, Memorial Day to Labor Day

Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Clowns, but were afraid to ask! Here you’ll find a multitude of all things Clown.

Clown music boxes, clown whisky decanters, clown coffee cups, clown tea sets, clown drawings by children, a glow-in-the-dark stick-on clown tatoo, a necktie clown, and even a hairball clown. You’ll discover over 3,000 clown-like things at Grampa Jerry’s.

My childhood TV buddy, Bozo the Clown from Denver’s Channel 2 back in the 50’s, even visited the Clown Museum at one time. Now, why doesn’t that surprise me.

Your kids will also enjoy playing on the playground equipment outside the small building.


The 10 free attractions are:
Lincoln County’s Hedlund House Museum – Hugo, CO
Limon Heritage Museum & Railroad Park – Limon, CO
World’s Wonder View Tower – Genoa, CO
Grampa Jerry’s Clown Museum – Arriba, CO
Flagler Hospital Museum & Hal Borland Room – Flagler, CO
Second Central School Museum – Flagler, CO
Kit Carson County Carousel – Burlington, CO
Old Town – Burlington, CO
Kit Carson Museum – Kit Carson, CO
Cheyenne County Museum – Cheyenne Wells, CO

For more information on these attractions, contact:
Prairie Development Corp.
Box 202
Stratton CO 80836

(800) 825-0208



Pioneers Museum (Colorado Springs)

What:  Pioneers Museum 
Where: Colorado Springs
When: Tues – Sat, 10 – 5; Sundays (May – October), 1 – 5

As you enter this fabulous museum, you are greeted by a statue of Katharine Lee Bates, who was inspired by a trip to the top of Pikes Peak to write the famous words, “O beautiful for spacious skies, For amber waves of grain, For purple mountain majesties Above the fruited plain!” Go ahead and sing the rest of the song; we can wait.

Hop on the “birdcage” elevator to go to the 3rd floor, where you’ll find many of the permanent displays. A portion of Helen Hunt Jackson’s house here in Colorado Springs has been restored here. This 19th century author is remembered for her work as an activist for Native American rights, and for her close friendship with Emily Dickenson.

You’ll also find a room devoted to Indians of the Pikes Peak region, items from the late 19th Century and early 20th Century, and a beautifully-preserved Main Courtroom – appropriate, since the museum is housed in the old El Paso County Courthouse building, built in 1903.

Our favorite exhibit is the Medical Heritage room. Colorado Springs and nearby Manitou Springs were promoted as health meccas. Manitou’s mineral waters were touted as cures for maladies including alcoholism, gout, cancer, and obesity. Colorado Springs was advertised as being one of the healthiest places in the world (especially for those suffering from tuberculosis), because “the atmosphere is absolutely aseptic and free from all germ life,” according to a Secretary of the Chamber of Commerce who was promoting the area years ago. The exhibit includes some fascinating (albeit slightly frightening) displays of early medical and dental equipment. One room has shelves overflowing with boxes and cans of liniments, medicated pads, lotions, extracts, and the like. A hypochondriac’s delight!


Other floors include exhibits of antique clothing, children’s toys, quilts, Van Briggle Pottery, Native art, textiles, and changing exhibits.

For more information, contact:
Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum
215 S Tejon Street
Colorado Springs, CO 80903

(719) 385-5990

Additional directions:
Drive to Colorado Springs on I-25

Take Exit 141 (Cimarron Street), and drive east 0.6 miles to Tejon Street.

Turn left on Tejon Street, and drive 2 blocks north to Vermijo Avenue.

Turn right on Vermijo Avenue. The museum is on your left, in the beautifully restored old El Paso County Courthouse building.

Free parking is available along Vermijo starting one block past the museum. Metered parking and a parking garage are also available close to the museum.


Olympic Training Center (Colorado Springs)

What: U. S. Olympic Training Center tour
Where: Colorado Springs
When: Guided Tours – hourly Monday-Saturday
Visitor Center open 7 days a week

Experience the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat as you view a short film showing scenes from past Olympic games that is guaranteed to stir your emotions. The movie is followed by a 45 minute walking tour of selected Olympic complex areas. Life-size figures with narrative panels adorn the Irwin Belk Olympic Pathway and provide information about Olympic and Pan American Sports.

During the tour, you will have the opportunity to view athlete training facilities including the Sport Center Gymnasiums where athletes train for gymnastics, volleyball and basketball, as well as boxing. The tour also visits the recently refurbished weightlifting facility where you’re likely to see athletes who look like they are right out of some of those ads for exercise equipment you see on TV.

The USA Shooting Center is particularly interesting. Here athletes are training to control their bodies to allow them to shoot between heartbeats!

The Aquatics Center contains a pool with a capacity of 1 million gallons of water! The pool is equipped with a multitude of cameras which allow the coaches to view each individual swimmer or groups of swimmers. Along one side of the pool is a tow rope which is used to pull swimmers along in the water at the rate they would need to be swimming to be in gold medal form. For most of us that would be like lying flat on the water while being pulled along by a speedboat.

Allow some time after you complete your tour to visit the Olympic Hall of Fame Rotunda, enjoy the memorabilia, and patronize the U.S. Olympic Shop all of which are located in the main Visitor Center.

After completing this tour you’ll be promising yourself to start working out and lose a few pounds so you can get yourself back into Olympic shape!

Most of the tour is conducted out-of-doors so dress accordingly.

Be sure to call the Center or check on the web for tour hours, which vary depending on the time of year. Tours are not conducted on Sunday although the Visitor Center is open for your enjoyment.

For more information, contact:
United States Olympic Training Center
One Olympic Plaza
Colorado Springs, CO 80909-5760

(888) 659-8687 or (719) 866-4618

Additional directions:
Drive to Colorado Springs on I-25

Take Exit 143 (Uintah Street), and drive east 2.0 miles to the “T” intersection at Union Blvd

Turn right on Union Blvd, and continue 0.7 miles south to Boulder Street, passing the Olympic Complex on your right.

Turn right on Boulder Street, then turn right again into the visitor parking lot.

Music and Blossom Festival (Cañon City)

What: Cañon City Music and Blossom Festival

Where: Cañon City
When: Weekend in early May

Strike up the band! Hey, let’s strike up dozens of bands!

While the “blossom” part of this festival seems to be dependent on whether a few local fruit trees are doing well this spring (vestiges of a time when there were many orchards in this area), there can be no doubt that the “music” portion of the weekend is in full bloom. Schools from across the state and even a number of schools from other states send marching bands, concert bands, jazz bands, and orchestras to perform and compete at this musical weekend.

The most popular event is the parade on Saturday afternoon down the main street of Cañon City. Marching bands of all shapes, sizes, and ages perform. Uniforms range from kids in jeans and identical t-shirts to elaborately costumed musicians led by majorettes and followed by flag teams, all in coordinated colors and cadence.  Interspersed among the bands are antique cars, soldiers, Shriners, clowns, funny cars, and other visual delights. Bring a lawn chair, or sit on the curb to enjoy this spectacle.

Other events include indoor performances by the bands and orchestras as they compete in their various musical divisions. Food booths and a craft fair are scattered around the parade area. On Sunday, there are other entertainers on stage near the center of town. There are even some rodeo events and a fly-in at Fremont County Airport scheduled to coordinate with the festival.

For more information, contact:
Cañon City Music & Blossom Festival Corporation
PO Box 1914
Cañon City, CO 81215-1914

719-275-7234 (festival information)
800-876-7922 (Chamber of Commerce) 

Great Fruitcake Toss (Manitou Springs)

What: Great Fruitcake Toss

Where: Manitou Springs
When: First Saturday in January

At last, the answer to that age-old question: How do I get rid of this *$&*@#! fruitcake?

People in Manitou Springs have found the answer. Throw it as far as you can, by any means that you can, and hope it’s never found again. You can come watch this amazing event for free (however, contestants pay a small fee or donate a can of non-perishable food to enter the events).

To be fair, separate prizes are given to numerous special tossing divisions. That is, athletes choosing to toss their fruitcakes by hand are not competing directly with those who use a catapult, giant slingshot, or spud gun (or is that a fruitcake gun?). The audience needs to be ever-vigilant for those fruitcakes that end up being tossed straight up in the air by contestants whose timing on the catapult isn’t quite perfect. You know you’re having a bad day when you get hit in the head with a frozen fruitcake falling from hundreds of feet above you.

Several local Inns offer Fruitcake Toss specials, including a heavy-duty cake to use in the event, and advance coaching on the art of fruitcake tossing.

The day also includes Catch The Fruitcake where teams compete to see how many they can catch from their devices that launch them into the sky (Hand Tossing not allowed with the Catch Competition), and an Accuracy Competition in which teams compete to try to hit targets out in the field.

Heads up!

For more information, contact:
Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce
354 Manitou Avenue
Manitou Springs, CO 80829

800-642-2567 or (719) 685-5089

Additional directions:
Exit US 24 and turn west into Manitou Springs on Manitou Avenue.

The event is held in Manitou Springs Memorial Park, located in the 500 block of Manitou Avenue (on your right as you drive west).

Garden of the Gods (Colorado Springs)

What: Garden of the Gods Park, Visitor Center, Trading Post 
Where: Colorado Springs
Park hours:
 Summer 5:00 AM – 11:00 PM; Winter 5:00 AM – 9:00 PM
    Visitor Center hours: Summer 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM; Winter 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM;
closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Days
    Trading Post hours: Summer 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM; Winter 9:00 AM – 5:30 PM; open all year

Drive, hike, mountain bike, or horseback ride among spectacular red rock formations and all-around, jaw-dropping natural beauty. Technical rock climbers, who must first register at the Visitor Center to obtain a permit to climb, scale the towering cliffs of sandstone. Garden of the Gods Park is home to rock formations with intriguing names such as Giant Footprints, Kissing Camels, Siamese Twins, Three Graces, and Tower of Babel.

Legend has it that two surveyors came upon this natural wonder. One commented that it would be a “capital place for a beer garden.” His partner, Rufus Cable, having a greater appreciation for the uniqueness of the landscape, was taken aback. “Beer garden? Why, it is a place for the Gods to assemble. We will call it the Garden of the Gods!”



The Visitor & Nature Center is worth a stop, with interesting exhibits, complimentary park maps, and even a free sample of fudge. The cafeteria offers a wonderful view of the region, with majestic Pikes Peak as a backdrop. Ask for a schedule of the free Nature Talks held on the terrace of the building, and free guided Nature Walks.

If all this free stuff has you itching to buy something, or if you just like to browse, be sure to head over to Garden of the Gods Trading Post toward the southwest end of the park. This adobe-style building has been expanded numerous times, and now houses the largest Trading Post in Colorado.

The range of merchandise boggles the mind. You’ll find the odd little five-and-dime sort of trinkets that the kids always seem to crave, as well as t-shirts galore. However, you’ll also discover a wonderful collection of Navajo rugs, sand painting, Pueblo pottery, gorgeous southwestern-style jewelry, and other beautiful items in the Art Gallery.

On the other hand, perhaps you’d be interested in a mounted jackalope trophy? Ask for another free taste of fudge at the Trading Post’s café before you head off into the park again for a picnic.

Check out both websites for coupons offering discounts on food and merchandise, as well as discounts for a 12-minute movie offered at the Visitor Center.

For more information, contact:
Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center
30th Street & Gateway Road
Colorado Springs, CO 80904
(719) 634-6666

Garden of the Gods Trading Post
324 Beckers Lane
Manitou Springs, CO 80829
(800) 874-4515 or (719) 685-9045

Additional directions:
Drive to Colorado Springs on I-25

If you are heading south, take Exit 146 (Garden of the Gods Road)
Drive West 2.3 miles on to 30th Street
Turn left onto 30th Street, and follow it 1.3 miles to the Visitor Center, which will be on your left.

If you are heading north on I-25, take Exit 141 (US 24 / Cimarron) toward Manitou Springs and Pikes Peak

Drive West 2.5 miles on US 24 to 31st Street
Turn right at 31st Street, and follow it 0.6 miles to Fontanero, where you will turn right
Follow Fontanero 1 block to 30th Street, and turn left on 30th Street
Continue north on 30th Street 1.2 miles to the Visitor Center, which will be on your right.


Chile & Frijoles Festival (Pueblo)

What: Chile & Frijoles Festival

Where: Downtown Pueblo – 1st and Union
When: 3rd Weekend after Labor Day in September
Friday, 3:00 PM –11:00 PM
Saturday, 10:00 AM – 11:00 PM
Sunday, 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM

2011 Update:  We’ve learned that the Festival will be charging a small fee (admission $2; kids 12 and under-free) starting this year. Since this was one of the first items we listed on this site, we’ll keep this page online so people know about the change.

Ahhh, the incredible aroma of roasting chilies turning over hot flames! Sample a variety of salsas made by local farmers as you admire colorful Ristras – chilies tied on a string. Unfortunately, the displays of frijoles – that’s “beans” in case you didn’t know – aren’t quite as exciting to the nose and eyes. Not to worry! Kids can participate in The Art of the Bean, where they compete in age groups for the best sculpture constructed completely using beans (and mostly Pinto beans at that). Or check out the Great Bean Spit Off. Both bean-spitting accuracy and power will be judged. If the kids are still looking for something to do after all that excitement, send them over to the Piñata breaking area where they can let off a little steam.

Both commercial and non-commercial competitions are held for best Red Chili, Green Chili, and salsa recipes. The “Holy Frijoles” Cooking contest features cooked beans (again, Pintos must be the predominant ingredient). The public can help judge the Best Bean Dip in Pueblo by stopping at participating shops along Union Avenue for a sample and to place their votes. We suggest you try to schedule sampling the bean dips before you participate in the Jalapeño Eating contest.

If you’ve had your fill of chile and frijoles for a while, check out the farmer’s market, the fine art show, live entertainment, and our favorite, the “Salsa & Cerveza” Brew Fest. Sorry, the brews aren’t free. 

Finally, for you car-buffs out there, the Festival often includes one or more car shows to participate, so watch for Corvettes or other cool cars at the festival.


For more information, contact:
Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce


Arkansas Valley Fair (Rocky Ford)

What: Arkansas Valley Fair
Where: Rocky Ford
When: 5 days in mid- to late-August

If you’ve been in Colorado in August, you know “Rocky Ford” is synonymous with the best cantaloupe in the world! Good news: Rocky Ford watermelon is also fantastic. Even better news: The Arkansas Valley Fair, featuring Watermelon Day, has been growing strong since 1878 (yes, we really meant to say 1878, not 1978!!!)


Come enjoy several days of fun, food, and entertainment featuring contests, parades, music, crafts, and (of course) Watermelon. While there are a few special events that require paid tickets, most of the fair events are free. Your kids of any age will have a blast, especially on Kid’s Day. The whole family will delight in the Watermelon madness, including a watermelon seed spitting contest and the dreaded open watermelon pile (on Watermelon Day). Plus, if you love a parade, be sure to show up on Parade Day!

Mmmm-mmmm. This is going to be delicious!

For more information, contact:
Arkansas Valley Fair
P.O. Box 188
Rocky Ford, CO 81067
(719) 254-7723