With school just around the corner, we all have learning and education on our minds. And with Colorado State University in our midst, Fort Collins is undoubtedly a town centered on education. But well before our little ones are heading off to college, there are plenty of opportunities for them to learn new things, no matter what they’re interested in.
Focused on everything from raptors to flowers and art to science, there are several educational attractions for kids in Fort Collins. And even more importantly, your little ones will have a blast while they learn, as all destinations provide an interactive, hands-on experience to keep them engaged.
Whether your child is interested in science, music, agriculture, zoology, astrology, or history, the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery provides a place to learn, engage and explore. This hands-on history and science museum offers thought-provoking fun for all ages. The 16,000-square-foot main gallery combines hands-on and artifact-based exhibits that cover everything from music to fossils to bicycles. Exploring the Northern Colorado region via its history, science and technology has never been so fun!
Got a budding artist in your family? They’ll love a visit to the Museum of Art! The museum is located directly adjacent to Oak Street Plaza in one of the prettiest historic buildings in downtown Fort Collins. Inside, you’ll find rotating exhibitions exploring everything from masks and funny family portraits to fine art photography and cartoons, all of which will be captivating for the art lover(s) in your family. Admission is just $5 for adults, $4 for students and seniors, $1 for kids ages 7–17, and free for kids 6 and under — making this a fun and affordable family activity!
Colorado State University’s Environmental Learning Center connects both kids and adults with nature by facilitating educational, inclusive and safe experiences in a natural environment that spans more than 200 acres. In addition to offering a self-guided nature trail, ELC special programs are suitable for children as young as kindergarten and offer hands-on fun and education year-round. This is the perfect destination for your little nature lover who may just end up studying at CSU some day!
The Gardens on Spring Creek is an 18-acre botanical garden packed with flora and fauna, plus a tropical Butterfly House home to 300+ North American butterflies. There’s something for everyone here — even kids, who can explore the Children’s Garden. Their first garden open to the public, the Children’s Garden contains a variety of inviting areas with themes of community, gardening and sustainability woven throughout. You’ll find a rock garden, secret gardens and willow huts, a bridge extending over a pond stocked with fish, a green roof shelter, a giant watering can with an active splash waterway, a Dr. Seuss playhouse and sandpit, an interactive discovery zone, raised garden beds, a miniature train garden, an animal footprint path, and more! Plus, the Gardens on Spring Creek has a variety of Youth Programs, which include a variety of fun-filled educational programs and classes for kids of all ages, backgrounds and abilities.
Located in Fort Collins, the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program rescues, rehabilitates and releases injured birds of prey, including eagles, owls, hawks and falcons. While the facility is not open to the public on a regular basis, they offer Behind the Scenes Tours and Open Houses, available by appointment. During the tour, visitors will learn about rehabilitation management of cases and how the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program trains and coordinates their volunteers and staff to provide care for the raptors. Plus, they discuss the various injuries, therapies and issues that the birds need when they arrive at the program.
Stay active while you learn with a stroll along the Heritage Trail in the Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area, which follows 45 miles of the Cache through Fort Collins, Windsor, Greeley and beyond. Along the way, you’ll discover interpretive signs and viewing areas near the river that will help you learn more about the history, the environment, or a nearly forgotten culture. The Heritage Trail Program is the result of a partnership with the Poudre Heritage Alliance and the Downtown Development Authority, who helped fund the project as part of their 5-year investment plan. This update allows kids and adults alike to learn more about the area while spending time in nature!
The Learning Experience knows how important early childhood education is — and they’re doing their part to teach young children during some of the most formative years of their life. The Learning Experience is “dedicated to cultivating creative, compassionate and innovative young minds through [their] proprietary curriculum and enrichment programs that increase learning during six critical stages of early development.” Your little one will learn a variety of subjects, including phonics, sign language, manners and etiquette, philanthropy, foreign language and hands-on technology. Enrichment programs such as yoga, soccer, drama, dance and music are also offered at no additional cost.
If your child is fascinated by history and stories, they will thoroughly enjoy a visit to the Avery House — and so will you! Each Saturday from 11 a.m.–2 p.m. and Sunday from 1–4 p.m., this historic home in Old Town is open for tours. Knowledgeable docents will guide you through the home, sharing the story of the iconic Avery family, who settled in Fort Collins and built this home in the late 1800s. You’ll even see historic costume collection pieces from the family along the way! Tours cost $6 for adults and $3 for children with an accompanying parent or guardian.
Maintained by the City of Fort Collins and located on the grounds of one of our largest community parks, The Farm at Lee Martinez Park is a hands-on family experience. And it has been since 1985! While the farm itself has become a part of Fort Collins history, it also provides insight into our agricultural history, featuring antique farm equipment. Here, kids can interact with animals, ride ponies, play games, attend educational events, and play on the nearby playground.
Experience nature in a whole new way with the city’s Learning Library, which includes resources specifically for kids on subjects like insects, mammals, birds, pioneers, arts and crafts, and guided hikes. Their guided hikes are perfect for enhancing your next adventure through one of the 50+ natural areas in the Fort Collins area, from Bobcat Ridge to Fossil Creek Reservoir.
There’s more to learn about than just animals and flowers! Larimer County Landfill operates the Garbage Garage Education Center, which offers a variety of educational programs and workshops, patio games, story times, and other activities for all ages. Here, you can learn how the landfill works and what gets made from all the stuff we recycle — and perhaps more importantly, just how much trash we create. The center hosts fields trips, workshops and other activities from Tuesday–Friday from 10 a.m.–2 p.m. and by appointment outside those hours.
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