FlyCOU Blog

Six Family-Friendly Winter Activities in Colorado

Woman in Ski helmet and googles on Ski slope

It’s no secret that Colorado is one of the top vacation destinations for families during the winter. It may snow quite a bit, but the high altitude, low humidity and large amount of sunny days (300 a year!) make for the perfect weather for outdoor winter activities. Between the mountains and the snow, there are endless opportunities to have some family fun.

  1. Skiing at Keystone Resort

When you think winter activities in Colorado, the first thing that comes to mind is probably skiing. With 27 ski areas and more than 40,000 acres of skiable terrain, it’s the place to go if you want to hit the slopes. For a fun family vacation, Keystone is the place to go. If you book a two-night stay at the resort, kids that are 12 and under ski for free! That’s a sweet deal.

Opens Nov. 10.

1.5 hours outside of Denver – get there on the Colorado Mountain Express.


  1. Tubing at Copper Mountain

Not big into skiing? No problem! Colorado offers a wide variety of other winter activities, and Copper Mountain is the best place to go tubing. Hop on an inflated tube and whiz down the side of the mountain. Tubing is fun for all ages (as long as you’re 3 feet tall), and is sure to provide some laughs for the rest of the trip!

Open Dec. 15 – April 6.

1.5 hours outside of Denver – get there on the Colorado Mountain Express.

Snowshoeing at Frisco Nordic Center

  1.  Snowshoeing at Frisco Nordic Center

Hiking enthusiasts can still take in the beauty of the trails during the winter too. Snowshoeing is a great activity, and the Frisco Nordic Center has a bunch of different trails for people with all different levels of experience. There aren’t many things that are more beautiful than hiking through the snowy mountains of Colorado, and kids under 6 get to snowshoe for free!

            Opens Nov. 18.

            1.5 hours outside of Denver – get there on the West Line of the Bustang.

  1.  Snowmobiling in Winter Park

With 5 different snowmobiling trails, Winter Park is the place for both beginners and advanced riders. They also offer family tours, with a guide that teaches you how to ride, takes you to the best spots, and has kid-sized snowmobiles to ride!

            Opens Nov. 23.

            1.5 hours outside of Denver – get there on the Winter Park Express Train.

  1. Sledding at Ruby Hill Park

The best hills for sledding in Denver are at Ruby Hill Park. Not only is it super fun for the sledders, but it also has one of the best views overlooking downtown Denver. The best part is that the park is free for everyone to come enjoy the slopes!

            Opens in January.

  1. Snow fun in Denver

When the snow starts falling, there’s nothing better than a good, old-fashioned snowman. Denver is the perfect place to play in the snow. From snow angels to a snowball fight, you’ll find it in Colorado. Plus, there are a bunch of little cafes around to grab a hot chocolate when you need a break from the cold!

Dad and son snow sledding

With all of these activities, your family won’t be able to wait until they get to spend another winter in Colorado!

14 Things You Probably Don’t Know About Denver

From the outside, Denver may seem like just another big city that happens to be by some mountains. But, it turns out that Denver has quite the history and a bunch of interesting facts you probably didn’t know about.

Here we go –Denver is one mile above sea level

  1. Denver is home to the 10th largest downtown area in the United States.
  2. At just over 26 miles long, Colfax Avenue, one of the main streets in downtown Denver, is the longest continuous street in the country.
  3. Denver is one of the sunniest states in the US, as they average 300 sunny days a year.
  4. Louis Ballast, owner of the Humpty Dumpty Barrel Drive-In, invented the cheeseburger in 1935. Thank you Louis!
  5. Denver loves food, as the first Chipotle Mexican Grill, Noodles & Co and Smashburger were all opened there.
  6. The city sits one mile above sea level, making golf balls, baseballs and footballs all fly 10% farther than normal. It also means that alcohol hits you about twice as fast. For real.
  7. A city had never turned down hosting the Olympics until Denver did in 1976, and a city hasn’t since.
  8. The first male cheerleader for the Denver Broncos was none other than Robin Williams, when he dressed up in the sparkly uniform and cheered for a game as a stunt for his TV show, Mork & Mindy. Nanu-Nanu!
  9. Over 200 named mountain peaks are visible from the city of Denver.
  10. Denver is home to over 14,000 acres of mountain parks and 2,500 acres of natural areas.Colorado State Capital Building
  11. The state capitol building’s dome is plated with real 24K gold.
  12. The Denver International Airport is the largest in the country in terms of land area. In fact, four of the other largest airports in the country (Heartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, O’Hare International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport) could all actually fit inside.
  13. The Denver Mint is the single largest producer of coins in the entire world, as they produce over 40 million a day.  A coin that was made there often has a D on the front.
  14. Denver’s current mayor, Michael Hancock, was a Broncos mascot when he was 17.


Denver is the best jumping off point to…

Denver International Airport

Denver International Airport


Denver can be a fun city to hang out in, but it doesn’t have to be your final destination.  After a layover in Denver (which can be a destination itself), there are plenty of places to fly off to.






Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge



San Francisco, the city we have to thank for fortune cookies, bendy straws, jeans and Irish coffee, is also one of the top 50 most visited cities in the world. Stop by one the Wonders of the Modern World, the Golden Gate Bridge, which is the longest suspension bridge in the world. A trip to San Francisco wouldn’t be complete without visiting and taking a tour of Alcatraz, a prison that was deemed impossible to escape. Rumor has it that while Al Capone was held there, he played banjo in a prison band called The Rock Islanders.  San Francisco is also home to the only National Historical Monument that can move, its famous cable cars.  Take a ride in one, and stop by Chinatown, the largest Chinese community outside of Asia.  Although San Francisco isn’t really known for its beaches, it does have Baker Beach, which some say is the most beautiful in all of California.



Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier



Los Angeles, thankfully shortened from the orginial name of “El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora Riena de los Angeles sobre el Rio Pociuncula,” is home to over 90 stage theaters and 300 museums. There is never a shortage of things to do while in LA, but a few of the highlights include Universal Studios and Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.  Rodeo Drive, right in the heart of Beverly Hills, has some of the best and most luxurious shopping in the world. Los Angeles also has a wide variety of museums, including the California Science Center and Griffith Observatory. If you’re wanting to hang out by the water, check out Venice Beach or the Santa Monica Pier. And, of course, you can’t miss one of LA’s biggest attractions, Disneyland, nicknamed “The Happiest Place on Earth.”




Sea World in San Diego California

Sea World in San Diego California



San Diego, best known for its naval bases and role in aviation development, is a popular tourist destination.  One of the largest collections of sea vessels in the nation is held at the Maritime Museum of San Diego. The first baby panda born in the Western Hemisphere since 1990, Hua Mei, was born in the San Diego Zoo, where you can visit her and the cafe that is named after her.  See the aquatic animals and SeaWorld, where you can watch the orcas play all day.  Go for a hike that ends up on cliffs overlooking the ocean at Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, or skip the hike and just go for a swim at La Jolla Beach.



International Balloon Fiesta

International Balloon Fiesta


Albuquerque, nicknamed “The Land of Enchantment,” is actually the Hot Air Balloon Capital of the World, so going for a ride is a must-do while you’re there.  If you’re in town during the first week of October, stop by the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, the largest balloon festival in the world. Albuquerque is a city rich in Native American history and crafts, so check out the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center or the Turquoise Museum. Beautiful, natural geography is also a huge plus, so hike through the Rio Grande Nature Center State Park or ride in the longest tram in the world up to the top of the Sandia Peak.



Downtown Seattle Washington

Downtown Seattle Washington



Seattle, the birthplace of America’s favorite coffee, Starbucks, makes for a great vacation spot. Check out the Pike Place Market, one of the country’s largest farmers’ and fish markets and the location of the original Starbucks. Another must-see in Seattle is the Space Needle.  The building, built for the World’s Fair in 1962, was originally sketched out on a napkin by the architect.  Seattle is also home to the Museum of Pop Culture, which has exhibits on music, film and video games, as well as a very large sculpture made out of guitars.  Seattle is also the city for dog lovers, as there are 140 thousand living within city limits (which is a lot, considering there are only 93 thousand children).



Portland Oregon

Portland Oregon



Portland, home to the world’s largest continual chocolate waterfall, is known for being an innovative and creative city.  While you’re there, stop by the Pearl District, which is the perfect destination for great food, shopping, and arts and culture. The Pittock Mansion, once belonging to one of Portland’s most prestigious families, is open for tours and has a great view of the city. If you were a fan of the game Oregon Trail growing up, check out the Oregon Historical Society Museum, which has exhibits all about the history of the area.


The Essential Packing Guide for a Hike in Colorado

Mountain view spring

Colorado is consistently ranked the fittest state in the nation. Being active is just part of the lifestyle, which makes sense since Colorado is covered with trails to hike and mountains to climb. Even if you don’t know if you’ll end up having time, a good hike is all about being prepared, so it’s important to make sure you’ve packed everything that you need.

skis in the snow

  • Backpack (which could even double as your suitcase, if you’re doing a weekend trip) with plenty of water and snacks, like granola bars or trail mix
  • Hiking boots with ankle support
  • Snowshoes can be used all year long, but spring is the best time to go snowshoeing
  • Thick socks
  • Rain jacket or a windbreaker
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen and bug spray
  • Camera
  • Inhaler because of the altitude, it may be harder to breathe

Depending on what time of year you’re taking your hike, you may need a few different things.

skiers walking on a snow trail


  • Snow pants that are thick and warm
  • Winter coat
  • Hat, gloves and a scarf

hiker walking on a trail through the mountains


  • Pants that are lightweight and breathable
  • Long-sleeve shirts that are lightweight and wind-resistant
  • Hat and gloves

Hiker looking over a cliff at the mountains


  • Shorts
  • Short sleeve shirts that are lightweight and moisture-wicking

Being prepared doesn’t just mean knowing what to pack.  You also have to know what to avoid.

  • Anything cotton
  • Rain ponchos
  • Jeans or heavy pants
  • Sandals
  • Everyday ankle socks

And, of course, no hike would be complete without an actual place to hike. There are hundreds of trails to choose from, but a few can be found in Rocky Mountain National Park outside of Denver.


  • Mills Lake: a 5.3 mile hike alongside the lake and surrounded by the beautiful view of the mountains.  A little ways up, you’ll hit Alberta Falls, a 30 foot waterfall and one of the park’s most popular features.


  • Bear Lake Loop: a half mile trail that takes you up 9,475 feet in the air, overlooking a beautiful lake and mountain view.


Denver- The Completely Activity Guide

Once your direct flight touches down in Denver, you’ll quickly realize why it’s an increasingly popular vacation destination with plenty of local food, places to shop and things to do. While visiting the “Mile High City,” you might make a note to visit the 13th step of the capitol building where the sea level is 5,280 feet, thus the nickname. Denver is one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S. and Colorado is consistently ranked in the top five happiest states in America. The mountain views, professional athletic teams, variety of museums and theme parks make Denver a fun vacation. However, you will find a touch of home with Denver’s similarities to mid-Missouri such as expansive parks systems, great music scenes and an assortment of craft beer offerings. Beginning Aug. 1, 2017 you can take the short direct flight from Columbia Regional Airport in Columbia, Mo. to the mountains and adventure in Denver.


Cityscape of Denver Colorado. Clear skies in the afternoon.Union Station with a construction Crane in the background

Downtown: Denver’s downtown area (the 10th largest in the country) is the perfect mixture between hip and historic. Restaurants, bars, boutiques and shops are sprinkled in among buildings from the Gold Rush era.  In the middle of downtown Denver, there’s the 16th Street Mall, a mile long shopping district packed with delicious places to eat and unique places to shop.  The free shuttle can take you all around downtown to places like the historic Larimer Square (filled with art, shops and eats) or LoDo (28 blocks of restaurants, bars and pubs).



Ice cream coneAwooden bowl of fried dumplings with soy sauce.A restaurant table with brunch meals and appetizers on it and two cocktails.

Food: Denver is the city for every inner foodie. Restaurants from all over town are regularly featured on the Food Network, and Denver ranked third on Zagat’s “26 Hottest Food Cities of 2016.” The city is known for innovation when it comes to food.  The cheeseburger was invented by Louis Ballast at his drive-in restaurant, and the first Chipotle ever was opened up right next to the University of Denver.  Elvis even took his private jet from Graceland to Denver just for a Fool’s Gold Loaf sandwich from the Colorado Mine Company. There are lots of eats and plenty of sweet treats, from Vesta Dipping Grill all the way to Little Man Ice Cream.


Denver Art Museum entrance.

Museums: From history buffs to scientists and art lovers to sports fanatics, Denver has a museum for everyone.  Denver is also home to one of the six U.S. Mints in the country, which provides a free guided tour and is the single largest producer of coins in the world, making over 40 million per day. The Denver Museum of Nature & Science features an IMAX theater and an astronomy demonstration that make it a fun trip for people of all ages. The Denver Art Museum is home to work from all over the world and includes a photography exhibition of the 19th century American West. The National Ballpark Museum is located in LoDo and displays unique memorabilia from ballparks all over the country.



view of blue mountains with pine trees and cloudy skyDenver Zoo entrance

Nature: Denver is one of the sunniest cities in the country, enjoying around 300 days of sunshine per year.  This makes Denver one of the best places to experience the joys of nature.  There are three botanical gardens around town, which have sculptures, flowers, a little bit of wildlife and were one of the filming locations of Woody Allen’s “Sleeper.”  The Denver Aquarium is home to over 500 species of sea life and features an interactive touch tank.  The Denver Zoo houses a variety of animals in the Primate Panorama, Tropical Discovery, Predator Ridge and many more.  Denver also has the largest city park system in the nation.  With 14,000 acres of mountain parks and 2,500 acres of natural areas, a day trip to somewhere like the Rocky Mountain National Park (National Geographic Best Trips in the World 2014) will offer great hiking and an even better view.



Mile High Stadium in Denver, ColoradoCoors Field in Denver, Colorado

Sports: With eight professional teams, Denver is a sports fan’s haven. The Colorado Rockies play baseball at Coors Field, which is located at the highest elevation in the MLB. One of the best ballparks in the nation to see a home run is Coors Field.  Because of its high elevation and dry air, the balls fly much farther than when hit in other stadiums.  Sports Authority Field at Mile High is the home field for both the Denver Broncos and the Denver Outlaws.  Catch a football or lacrosse game at the field where three out of the four longest field goals in NFL history took place. There are plenty of games going on at the Pepsi Center, where the Colorado Avalanche play hockey, the Colorado Mammoth play lacrosse, and the Denver Nuggets play basketball. Watch a soccer game at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, home of the Colorado Rapids, or a rugby game at CIBER Field, home of the Denver Stampede.



Red Rocks AmphitheaterThe Bluebird Theater in Downtown Denver 

Music: A trip to Denver wouldn’t be complete without a trip out to see the Red Rocks.  Rolling Stone’s Best Amphitheater is literally surrounded by giant red rocks, which will give you a concert experience like no other.  When there isn’t an event going on, the Red Rocks are free to visit and take a tour around.  Denver’s music scene is continually growing from small music clubs all over town to cultural theaters like the Bluebird Theater or the Gothic Theater.  Music’s The Fray, OneRepublic, The Lumineers and Tennis are all Denver natives.



 Denver Beer Co. signA flight of beer samples on a wooden tableA rack of bourbon barrels aging or souring beer

Breweries: The “Napa Valley of Beer” is the perfect nickname because Denver brews more beer than any other city in the nation, with over 80 different beers brewed daily. The Denver Beer Trail will take you on a tour of 27 different breweries in town, including Blue Moon Brewing Co, Denver Beer Co and Spangalang Brewery.  Although not on the Trail, Denver is also home to Coors Brewery, which offers free tours to people of all ages.  The Great American Beer Festival, which holds that Guinness World Record for most beers on tap, takes place in Denver every October. Be careful while drinking though because the extra altitude makes the alcohol hit you a little quicker than it usually would!



Farris Wheel

Theme Parks: Thrill-seekers visiting Denver will be happy to hear that there are two huge theme and water parks in the city. Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Parks is 70 acres of rides, pools and games. The Star Flyer is the newest ride, which reaches 17 stories high and spins at 50 miles per hour.  The XLR8R is the world’s highest free fall swing that drops the bravest of people from 150 feet in the air, and the Mind Eraser is the fastest suspension coaster which propels faster than 50 miles per hour. Water World is also located in Denver, and spans over 64 acres of land, making it one of America’s largest water parks.  Whether you’re visiting to unwind or find adventure, Water World has something for everyone. From one of the longest lazy rivers to the Zoomerang, which is a four story high waterslide, people of all ages can enjoy this park.


If you’re looking to enjoy a nice getaway, family vacation, trip with friends or a solo adventure in beautiful Denver, book your direct flight from COU today. Visit for more information about flights.


Your Favorite Team is Playing in Denver

Only 10 cities in the US have all five professional sports teams, and Denver is one of them. With all of the stadiums in a central location, Denver is the perfect place to catch a baseball, football, basketball, hockey or soccer game.

Coors Field in Denver, Colorado

Baseball: The Colorado Rockies play at Coors Field, which is just two blocks down from Union Station in downtown Denver. The field sits at the highest elevation in the MLB, and because of that altitude, balls fly farther and players hit more home runs. Along with that, Coors Field has a Blue Moon microbrewery and restaurant inside of it. Hang out, have a beer and catch a ball when the Cardinals, Royals or Cubs are playing.

Mile High Stadium in Denver, Colorado

Football: Mile High Stadium is home to the Denver Broncos, located right along Interstate 25 with its own light rail station. The Colorado altitude affects the balls there too, as three of the four longest field goals in NFL history have been kicked in that stadium.  Rumor has it that a KC jersey belonging to former Chief and Bronco, Neil Smith, is buried under the 50-yard line. The stadium has sold out every football game since 2001, so if you’re planning on going to see the Chiefs or the Bears play, you better get your tickets quick.  

Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. Crowd cheers as basketball player dunks.

Basketball: The Denver Nuggets play at Pepsi Center, right next to Speer Boulevard in downtown Denver.  The team and center are both owned by Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, the business of Columbia local, Stan Kroenke. Go out and catch a game when the Bulls are playing.

Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. Hockey players on the ice.

Hockey: The Pepsi Center is also home to the Colorado Avalanche, another team owned by Kroenke.  Grab tickets to enjoy a good hockey game, and see the Blues and the Blackhawks take on the Avalanche.

Dick's Sporting Goods Park with rainbow

Soccer: The Colorado Rapids play their games at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, about 30 minutes outside of Denver in Commerce City, CO.  The team and park are also owned by Kroenke, who has a lot of holdings in the Denver area. Don’t miss Sporting KC play.

How To Pack

Traveling: the most exciting time of the year, when you get to go to new places and try new things.

Packing: the most dreadful time of the year, when you have to try to stuff all your belongings into a little bag to do said traveling.  

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Well, unless you know how to pack like a pro.


Step 1: Pick the perfect bag.

First things first, you need the right bag. If it’s a weekend trip, you probably only need a small carry-on bag. But if it’s a week long trip, that small carry-on probably won’t cut it.


Step 2: Check the weather.

Being prepared for what you might experience while you’re traveling can tell you what you absolutely must pack and what you can leave at home.


Step 3: Decide what to pack.

There are a few easy ways to make sure you have enough room for everything you’ll need. It’s smart to invest in the travel size bottles of the toiletries you already use. Smaller bottles are space-savers. Try to wear the same outfit on the plane there and back to save yourself two days worth of clothes. Pack double the amount of shirts as pants, because you should be able to wear each pair of jeans twice. Stay within the same color family, so that you can easily mix and match. Pack one pair of sandals, one pair of sneakers, and one pair of nice evening or formal shoes. Pick a few versatile accessories that can work with a variety of outfits. And lastly, don’t forget the undergarments. Always pack the same number as days you’re going to be gone, if not a few extra.


Step 4: Gather everything.

Take everything you plan on taking out of your closet, drawers and bathroom, and lay it out around the outside of your suitcase.  Take a look at everything you plan on taking and make sure that every single thing has a minimum 80 percent chance of being used.


Step 5: Fold everything up.

One of the most debated questions in the packing world is rolling vs. folding.  Rolling your clothes instead of folding them is usually a smart way to save space, but it definitely causes more wrinkles.  Roll wrinkle resistant fabrics like denim, cotton or wool.  However, if you’re still nervous about that, try the filing system.  Fold your clothes however you normally fold them, but when it comes time to pack, instead of laying them horizontally, place them vertically back-to-back.  This allows you to fit a few more items in but still gives you the same wrinkle-free results as the traditional folding method.  Also, try to stuff as many pairs of socks and underwear into your shoes as possible to save even more space.  If you’re bringing any necklaces, cut a piece of a straw and slide it onto the chain to keep it from tangling.  Stick earrings through a piece of plastic wrap to keep the pairs together.  Place all of your pieces of jewelry in a bag to keep it all together, and pack it with your toiletries.


Step 6: Pack!

  • Pack the awkward things first.  Shoes, blowdryers, extra purses or anything that’s big, bulky or awkwardly shaped.  Put these on the bottom and shape them along the edges of the suitcase.
  • Lay the heaviest items, like your jeans, sweaters or hoodies, down next. Some of these can fit in the nooks and crannies between the things in your first layer.
  • Put in anything that’s fragile next.  Here it will be in the center of your suitcase, giving it the most protection possible.
  • Pack the lighter items, like t-shirts, extra undergarments or pajamas, on top of those items.
  • Cram any extra socks, underwear, jewelry or other small items into the sides or gaps between your clothes.
  • If you’re packing in a carry-on, it is smart to put your toiletries in an outside pocket so they can be easily accessed in the security line.  If you’re checking your bag, either put your toiletries on top of your t-shirts or slide them down into the gaps between your stacks of clothes.  
  • Snake your belts around the inside perimeter of your suitcase.
  • If you’re going on a vacation where you’ll probably buy a lot of souvenirs, it might be smart to include an empty carry-on bag to put them all in for the plane ride home.  Make sure it’s a thin bag, and it should lay nicely across the top of all your things.


Step 7: Pack your carry-on.

If during step one, you opted just for a small carry-on bag, go ahead and skip straight to step eight.  If not, stay with me.  You’re almost done!  So, the fact of the matter is that as much as airlines try not to misplace luggage, it happens.  And when it happens, it’s much better to be prepared for it.  Consider your carry-on an emergency kit. Pack the essentials that you absolutely can’t live without, plus some things for in-flight entertainment.


Step 8: Enjoy your trip.

Last but not least, don’t forget to have an amazing time!

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