Uncovering History of the Mystic San Luis Valley
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 Mom and Dad. Supplement your trip with trivia, educational videos and games — or just hop in the car and go!
Explore the Mystic San Luis Valley on this epic road trip. Along the way, you'll drive along scenic byways, pop into museums, visit a state park and animal refuge and spot a ton of sand too. Traverse through Walsenburg, La Veta, Fort Garland, Alamosa, Monte Vista, Del Norte, Lake City and Creede.
Opened in 1962, Colorado’s first state park offers stunning views of Spanish Peaks, Greenhorn Mountain and Pikes Peak. With two lakes, three hiking trails and many varieties of plants, Lathrop State Park is a must-visit.
Hiking at Lathrop State Park is a way to connect to a place, hone observation skills and get some energy out! Get Activity.
Interested in an outdoor treasure hunt? Before heading out of Lathrop State Park, try your hand at geocaching. Get Activity.
Hop on the road and head 20 minutes south to La Veta.
Colorado's Highway of Legends Scenic and Historic Byway is the perfect detour for those exploring southern Colorado. Along this stretch of two-lane highway, you can view unusual volcanic formations radiating outward from the Spanish Peaks, drive over Cuchara Pass on the mountains' shoulder and view the glorious Cuchara Valley, a hidden wonderland.
Make a stop in La Veta at the beginning of your drive and become an architectural detective. Get Activity.
A staple in the Cuchara Valley, Dog Bar & Grill was named one of the "Top 12 Best Outdoor Patios in Colorado" by The Denver Post. This dog-themed restaurant is the perfect stop to stretch your feet after your travels on the Highway of Legends and includes a kid's menu for those with puppy-sized appetites.
Tucked in the eastern slopes of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Cuchara is a charming mountain village with a million-star review. Spend your night gazing at the formations in the sky at the Cuchara Mountain Park — and keep your eyes peeled, you might catch a shooting star!
Stop by Charlie’s Market after a night under the stars to grab a sweet treat at this old-fashioned soda fountain located in a grocery store.
After a long day’s adventure, spend some time telling stories by the fire. If you book a suite, you’ll be able to tuck your kids into their bedroom while you get to relax in your own space down the hallway. When you awake, the day's first activity is only a two-minute walk away.
Head south out of La Veta for about 45 minutes to your next destination.
Built in 1858 to protect early settlers from Indigenous raids during the Indian Wars, this 19th-century treasure highlights adobe structures, the Black Buffalo Soldiers of the Ninth Cavalry and some interesting Civil War history. Be prepared to be transported back in time through the exhibits of women and children as well as military life at Fort Garland.
Explore the life of a Buffalo Soldier at Fort Garland Museum. Get Activity.
Los Caminos Antiguos byway traverses the cradle of the San Luis Valley. You'll see historic bits of the state and spot a valley rich in culture, agriculture and vistas. The Hispano influence is evident in the churches and people.
As you travel along the Los Caminos Antiguos byway, try to match the Spanish words to the English translation. Get Activity.
Head to the top of a hill where Shrine of the Stations of the Cross, a historic church, is located.
Stretch your legs at Blanca Vista Park. The mile Crestone Trail is accessible from the wildlife viewing area and features a grand view of the mighty Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range.
Visit the Colorado Farm Brewery to "tap" off your night at the nation’s only farm-to-glass brewery. They offer a variety of styles made with the estate’s very own ingredients. The kiddos can enjoy a farm tour while enjoying a delicious root beer as well.
If the children need to keep up with their online courses, the Dunes Inn offers free fiber internet to all guests. This gives the little ones time to catch up on homework and parents time to catch up with friends and family.
With a rotating gallery by local artists, this coffee shop is the perfect place to get the creative juices flowing for the day’s adventure. Several menu items are brewed strong enough to power parents throughout the day.
Alamosa, the largest town in the San Luis Valley, is considered the Gateway to the sand dunes. Said to be named after cottonwood trees along the Rio Grande, Alamosa has a college, museum and many nearby attractions.
Here’s your chance! After a visit to the Alamosa Welcome Center create a poster or brochure to encourage people to visit the Mystic San Luis Valley. Get Activity.
Word on the street is that this pizza parlor rivals most New York City slices and is tike-approved too. Make sure to grab a seat upstairs, which has ample space for kids to be kids.
With exhibits on the lives of Indigenous, Hispanic and Japanese American peoples as well as information on early railroading and early mercantile stores, this museum is a must-see.
Explore how modern-day shopping compares to the past at the San Luis Valley Museum and Cultural Center. Get Activity.
Test your memory about your travels from the first three days. Get Trivia.
Enjoy American classics in this vintage-style diner, where kids can enjoy a root beer float. But, make sure they save room for dessert! We hear their funnel fries and fried ice cream are top-notch!
The best part about a night at the lodge is the view of the sand dunes from your private patio. Keep your eyes peeled for hummingbirds, as they tend to frequent the property.
Take a dip at the Sand Dunes Swimming Pool located in Hooper.
Located at the entrance of the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, this is a one-stop-shop where you can cross multiple trips off of your list. Enjoy a delicious breakfast and then head over to the rentals shop to grab a sandboard for the day’s adventure.
A sandbox of epic proportions, the entire dune field encompasses 30 square miles. The tallest dune even towers 750-feet high. The kid in every visitor loves to sled down the sand year-round.
Ever wonder how the sand dunes were formed? Visit the Visitors Center to find out. Get Activity.
Drop off your rentals and stay for lunch! The restaurant’s menu offers everything from burgers to tacos, but be sure to take a slice of pie for the road.
Wade through ice-cold water and maneuver over slippery rocks to see these hidden falls. If you want to keep your shoes dry, balance on the log bridge overhead to capture the perfect photo of this roaring water feature.
Stop by this local favorite for dinner and be sure to snag a booth for ultimate comfort for you and the fam. This is another spot that excels at dessert, so save some room for a warm cinnamon roll.
This refuge is a bird watcher's paradise due to the arid climate of the San Luis Valley. Lush wetlands provide a year-round habitat for various birds, coyotes and deer. In March and September, 20,000 migrating Sandhill Cranes use the refuge as a stopping point.
After a visit to the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge, practice your new vocabulary by seeing how many words you can unscramble. Get Activity.
Head over to this mom and pop-style hotel that doubles as a drive-in theater! If it has been a long day in the car, you can see the big screen from the comfort of your room. Pro-Tip: Call ahead to request a room with direct views of the screen and pop by the concession stand before you head up to your room.
See what you can recall from your adventures today. Get Trivia.
Time to fuel up for your last day of activities! This local favorite boasts hometown service and a dedicated kid's menu. Don't miss the hash brown casserole.
Filled with hands-on activities to delight kids of all ages, the Rio Grande County Museum will take you on a journey. Learn about Indigenous Peoples, mountain men, settlers and agricultural workers on the way.
Explore how music was an important part of life in the valley at the Rio Grande County Museum. Get Activity.
Kids will enjoy learning about stoping, blacksmithing, mucking, blasting and assaying, all while underground in the cool heart of the mountain. Retired miners lead tours, and the more than twenty exhibits bring mining alive.
Expand your vocabulary while exploring the many displays at the Creede Underground Mining Museum. Get Activity.
A few questions to help you remember mining terms and your time in Creede. Get Trivia.
Tommyknocker's has spacious outdoor seating areas — perfect for getting your kid’s energy out before the night comes to a close. The deck also has spectacular views of the mountains and is a great place to catch the sunset.
Located between Lake City and Creede, the falls are a short 900-foot hike.
The cabins have room for the entire family, and kids will have a bedroom all to their own — perfect for getting a good night’s rest before you head back home. Be sure to spend some quality time on the porch, enjoying the fresh mountain air and reminiscing on the family's favorite moments during their "learn-cation."