The Spirit of the Pioneering Plains

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Get ready to take the kiddos' learning to new heights with Colo-Road Trips Educational Itineraries, trips crafted with plenty of hands-on learning, educational adventures and, of course, stops for ice cream. Each was designed with kids from kindergarten to 5th grade in mind, but the activities, outings and accommodations will be enjoyed by children of all ages — yes, that’s you, moms and dads. Supplement your trip with trivia, educational videos and games — or just hop in the car and go!
 
Discover the pioneering spirit that still defines this region of Colorado. Marvel at all the sites on the Pony Express trail, explore the many carved living sculptures in the area, hop on a carousel created in 1905, and learn the calls of native birds and wildlife found in the Pioneering Plains region.
 
Grab Your Supplies
Pencils Up!

While all that is truly needed is your kids' sense of adventure, a notebook, a writing utensil and plenty of colored pencils will come in handy.

Day
1
Activity
Welcome to Julesburg: Colorado Welcome Center

Start your trip off with a stop at the Colorado Welcome Center. Friendly staff will help you explore everything the region has to offer.

Educational Activity
All the Places You Will Go!

Get a taste of what this area has to offer by studying the Julesburg Welcome Center’s wall-sized illustrated map of Colorado. Get activity.

Extra Credit
Pony Express Trail

Can you imagine a time with no email or texting, and “snail mail” delivered on horseback? Take a step back in time and explore the Pony Express Trail at the Julesburg Welcome Center. You’ll be fascinated by this unique piece of history and how dramatically things have changed! Get extra credit activity.

Lunch
D&J Cafe

Everyone is treated like a friend at D&J Cafe! Try their daily home-cooked special or a delicious burger. Be sure to save room for the Sawdust Pie — it’s like pecan pie with a tasty twist.

Itinerary Tip
Hit the Road

For a change in scenery, check out the South Platte River Trail, Colorado’s shortest byway, which is packed with history. 

Itinerary Tip
Head to Sterling

A short but scenic 50-mile drive southeast will land you in Sterling.

Activity
Overland Trail Museum: Overland Trail BINGO

The kiddos will enjoy exploring the Overland Trail Museum grounds and imagining life in the pioneer days as they wander through the historic buildings. Learn about how pioneers came to settle in this area, and relive the travels of gold seekers headed west in search of fortune.

Educational Activity
Overland Trail BINGO

Explorers, trappers, gold seekers and early pioneers traveled through this area during the great western migration and gold rush. See if you can locate interesting artifacts at the Overland Trail Museum with this BINGO activity. Get activity.

Dinner
Parts & Labor Brewing

Soak in the cool showroom vibe at this century-old former Cadillac dealership turned brewery. The menu is a mix of kid-friendly options — have napkins ready for the gooey, grilled PBJ! — and sophisticated entrees for the gourmets in the group. Get cozy playing board games on the comfy couches, or bask in the sun on the outdoor patio.

Activity
Simkins Parlour

Pop into Simkins Parlour for ice cream, shakes, malts, floats, sundaes and locally roasted coffee. Grab a cone or an iced latte and enjoy a stroll around Sterling’s historic town square.

Itinerary Tip
Souvenir Stop

Want to bring home a few souvenirs for a teacher or loved one? Pick up a unique gift box at High Plains Spice Company. This small business fills their gift boxes to the brim with hand-mixed seasonings and specialty foods.

Lodging
Best Western Sundowner

Check into the Best Western Sundowner and check out the Overland Trail for a scenic nature walk. Take a dip in the indoor pool, then settle in for the night in one of the large family suites with room for the whole crew.

Day
2
Breakfast
J & L Cafe

The kiddos will love the cereal-topped French Toast; and with choices like the five-egg omelet or the kitchen-sink burrito, it’s a sure bet you won’t leave hungry.

Activity
Storytelling: Bradford Rhea Sculptures

Sculptor Bradford Rhea has carved cottonwoods into fanciful creatures and inspiring characters giving Sterling the name the “City of Living Trees.”

Educational Activity
Storytelling

Many people tell stories using words, but artists often tell a story with their art. You can help tell the artist’s story at the Bradford Rhea sculptures in Sterling. Get activity.

Lunch
The Grill at River City

Relax, refuel and plan your afternoon adventures on the sunny patio at The Grill at River City. Little ones can choose from tried-and-true favorites like corn dogs and spaghetti, or expand their taste buds with creative options like mac-and-cheese wedges, sliders and steak tips. Plenty of salads, sandwiches, burgers and more fit the bill for bigger kids and grownups.

Trivia
Explore Sterling

How much do you remember about Sterling and the work of Bradford Rhea? Get trivia.

Activity
Birding and Wildlife Viewing at North Sterling State Park — Shoreline Trail

You’re bound to spot wildlife on a hike along the Shoreline Trail. Keep your eyes peeled for owls, eagles, deer, porcupines, badgers, bobcats and even turkeys! Stop in the visitor’s center for family activities.

Itinerary Tip
Downloadable Family Fun

Download North Sterling State Park's family activities from the Colorado Parks & Wildlife website ahead of time, so you can dive right into the fun.

Sustainability Activity
Care for Colorado

Be sure to give wildlife plenty of room and follow the Care for Colorado Principles while you’re in the park. After your hike, relax and cool off at the swim beach, then hit the road to Fort Morgan. 

Dinner
Mav Kitchen & Tap House

Kids are sure to plow through delicious dinner options like burgers, grilled cheese, pizza and more to get to the molten chocolate s’mores for dessert. The grownups will have a hard time choosing from the extensive and sophisticated — not to mention delicious — menu.

Activity
Diverse Delight: Fort Morgan Museum

Dive into the area’s diverse history at the Fort Morgan Museum, where you’ll explore exhibits on everything from Native American artifacts to a famed local musician, Glenn Miller.

Educational Activity
Celebrating Diversity

Search for interesting artifacts from prehistoric times to present day at Fort Morgan Museum, and discover what makes Fort Morgan’s history so diverse. Get activity.

Itinerary Tip
Fun in the Sun

Visit Jackson Lake State Park to visit one of our many landlocked “beaches,” and enjoy hours of fun and watersports. This water-filled getaway is just a short 30-minute drive from Fort Morgan.

Lodging
Hampton Inn Fort Morgan

Find everything you need at this hotel in the heart of Fort Morgan. You’ll be close to the Sherman Street National Historic District for extra exploring before or after dinner. Stock up on kid-friendly snacks and other necessities from the lobby pantry before hitting the hay for the night.

Day
3
Breakfast
Home Plate

This baseball-themed restaurant hits a home run for breakfast, with American and authentic Mexican favorites like huevos rancheros, chilaquiles and even a kid-sized breakfast burrito.

Itinerary Tip
Limon's Up Next

Drive due south for about 83 miles to reach Limon.

Activity
Plains Poetry: Limon Heritage Museum & Railroad Park

After exploring early pioneer life, railroad history and more at the Limon Heritage Museum & Railroad Park, venture out to the gardens where you’ll find colorful flowers, statues and even a butterfly garden. Smile for a family photo under one of two beautiful arbors.

Educational Activity
Plains Poetry

As you’ve driven through most of the region you’ve probably seen windmills spread throughout the plains. Some are running strong, while others still stand but do not function. Why are they an important part of the West’s history? Find out this and more at the Limon Heritage Museum & Railroad Park. Get activity.

Itinerary Tip
Keep an Eye Out for Wildlife

Grab your binoculars and hit the trail at the Limon Wetlands. You’re likely to spot a wide variety of local and migrating birds, as well as mule deer, muskrats and other wildlife at this oasis on the plains. Afterward, a straight shot east takes you from Limon to Stratton, where you'll stop for lunch before continuing east to Burlington. 

Lunch
Handi’s

Super popular with families traveling along I-70, the kids’ menu at Handi’s offers corn dogs, burgers and chicken tenders, plus ice-cream cones, shakes and sundaes. There are plenty of delicious options for the grownups, too. Service is quick so you can get back on the road!

Activity
Now & Then: Old Town Museum

Children and adults will love the hands-on history exhibits and special events at the Old Town Museum, where you can tour 6.5 acres and 21 restored buildings loaded with interesting and authentic artifacts.

Educational Activity
Now & Then

What did a doctor’s office look like long ago? How about a school or general store? How have these changed or stayed the same through the years? Answer these and other questions at the Old Town Museum. Get activity.

Extra Credit
Kit Carson Carousel & Museum

Get creative as you experience the magnificent 1905 Toboggan Carousel at Kit Carson County Carousel & Museum. Use your imagination to design your own carousel critter. Get extra credit activity.

Dinner
The Dish Room

Spread out on the outdoor patio with a firepit and challenge each other to a friendly game of corn hole. If you’re dining indoors, multiple TVs provide ample entertainment for fidgety diners. The kid-friendly menu will please the most discerning appetites.

Itinerary Tip
Make a Splash

Chill out at the splash park and playground at Parmer Park in Burlington.

Activity
Old Town Emporium

Learn about local artisans and shop for hand-crafted souvenirs and gifts at the Old Town Emporium. Treat the kids to a hand-dipped ice-cream cone at the authentic Old Town Soda Fountain, then board the Old Town Express for an old-fashioned horse-drawn carriage ride. You can even catch a live gunfight at the saloon on Saturdays during the summer!

Lodging
Fairfield Inn & Suites Burlington

Stay close to the Old Town Museum and Kit Carson County Carousel at the Fairfield Inn and Suites. The spacious rooms have family-friendly amenities such as mini-fridges and microwaves, and kids and adults alike can blow off steam at the indoor pool and fitness center.