Nobody usually thinks about family vacation plans as a bone of contention, but it can happen. Obviously, whichever “ex-” won’t be on the trip needs to know your itinerary, contact info (other than your cell, for emergencies) and what you’re planning — they may have legitimate objections. While you’re thinking on that, here are some places to discuss for this year or next:


Arts in the Open, Morrison

Chautauqua Park hosts a real art-meets-nature experience. Arts in the Open redefines “outdoor theater” combining unconventional plays with an easy 2-mile hike. The actors go with the hikers, presenting fairy tales, Shakespeare, literary classics, even science fiction. Recommended for ages 5 and above, the program lasts about two hours.


Denver Mint, Denver

Who doesn’t like money? If you’ve ever wondered how coins are made, and even if you haven’t, the Denver Mint offers six free, 45-minute guided tours each day. You’ll hear about the Mint’s history and see how coins are made — the whole process from original drawings to sculptures to the real coins. (Sorry, no free samples!) Recommended for ages 7 and above, tickets are first come, first served for that day only.


Great Sand Dunes National Park, Alamosa

Try your hand at sandboarding and sledding down the tallest dunes in North America. The 30-square miles of dunes include five standing over 700 feet tall! Recommended for ages 3 years and above, the creek at the bottom of the dunes (which flows from April through June) offers wading, skim boarding, sand castle building and sand sculpting. Rent a campsite and you can treat yourself to stargazing all night long.


Georgetown Loop Railroad, Georgetown

Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean the children should stop learning. Experience history with a scenic train ride just 45 miles from Denver. Take the 3-mile locomotive adventure to Silver Plume; see spectacular Rocky Mountains vistas; feel like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid might be lurking just around the next bend; step back in time visiting the Lebanon and Everett Mine. Recommended for ages 3 to 10 — and those who just want to feel that young again.


Mesa Verde National Park, Durango

Children love to climb and explore, so let them climb into the lives of Colorado’s Native Nations. The Park is home to 5,000 archeological sites of the Pueblo people. Dating back over 700 years, your kids can take a real walk-n-climb history lesson on Native life and culture while exploring actual cliff dwellings. Recommended for ages 4 and above, kids up to 12 can take part in the Junior Ranger program.


Pick a Pixel!

Some areas have limited WiFi and some venues restrict photos, but your ex- can almost be part of the experience if you share real-time video and photos of your escapades!

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