Day trips offer all the fun of a family vacation, without the hassle of long drives, hectic flights, and the stress of packing suitcases for everyone. The area surrounding Thornton features an abundance of amazing day trip opportunities, so you can easily plan an adventure that fits with your family’s needs and interests. From outdoor adventures in stunning parks to museums, cities, and more, there’s really something for everyone just a short drive from home.

Not sure where to plan your next day trip? Crème de la Crème of Lone Tree has you covered. We put together this list of some of our favorite short trips from Thornton to get you inspired for a family outing.

Rocky Mountain National Park

A creek runs through Rocky Mountain National Park, just a short day trip from Thornton, Colorado

green grass field near lake under white clouds and blue sky” used with permission via Unsplash by sradams57

Rocky Mountain National Park draws in visitors from across the globe thanks to its breathtaking scenery and natural wonders, and Thornton residents only need to drive for just over an hour to experience it. In other words, if you’re searching for a great day trip candidate, you’ll want to have this national park near the top of your list. The park promises to impress thanks to 415 square miles complete with pristine mountainous terrain and 300 miles of hiking trails.

With stunning scenery throughout the year, there’s never a bad time to make a day trip to Rocky Mountain National Park. If your family is into active adventure, you can make use of the ample opportunities for hiking and biking. Prefer a more laid-back outing? Just indulge in the mountain views during a drive via Bear Lake Corridor. You can go fishing or just relax while appreciating nature.

Longs Peak offers one highlight of the park. The mountain is known for challenging climbing routes and unparalleled beauty. You’ll find more than 100 other peaks in the park towering 11,000 feet or higher as well. The Trail Ridge Road delivers amazing views from 12,000 feet up, so you might put that on your itinerary, too. Just keep in mind that weather can get extreme that high up, so the Trail Ridge Road and some other offerings aren’t accessible during colder months.

You’ll need to reserve your entry online in advance for the park’s timed entry system. Prices vary depending on the type of pass you choose, with a few different day passes and annual passes available.


Boulder sits only about a half hour’s drive from Thornton, making it another ideal choice for a day trip with the family. You’ll find an activity to suit just about any mood in this nearby city. If you’re looking for more fun in the great outdoors, just head to the Flatirons. The mountain peaks shaped like old steam irons make an amazing backdrop to any day out and about. Or, pay a visit to Chautauqua Park for a fun hiking opportunity.

When you’re in the mood for city-based activities, Boulder also has you covered. Downtown Boulder is chock full of breweries, restaurants, and shops, so it’s the perfect place to go for a stroll with loved ones.

Mount Evans Scenic Byway

You don’t even have to leave your car to enjoy a fun family day trip. Just plug the Mount Evans Scenic Byway into your GPS and head off for a laid-back adventure, all from your vehicle. The highest paved road in North America is easily accessible from Thornton, so if you’re looking for a fun motor excursion, this is the way to go.

The mountain itself is one of a few mountains rising above 14,000 feet in the state, so you can just imagine the amazing views you’re in for here. The Mount Evans Scenic Byway takes just 28 miles to climb 7,000 feet, getting you to an altitude of 14,130 feet. You can get out of your car to enjoy the viewing platform and take a short hike to the peak if you want. Mountain goats and bighorn sheep are sure to delight the kiddos along the way.

Colorado Springs

Colorado’s second-largest city is also an easy day trip from Thornton. Colorado Springs features an abundance of cultural and artsy institutions for an enriching outing kids and adults alike are sure to love. If your kids are into sports, you’ll make their day with a tour of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Center. Of course, you’ll find activities out in nature here too. This is Colorado, after all! In Colorado Springs, the looping drive up to Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods, a stunning city park, are major highlights.

The Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum offers free admission if you’re seeking out a museum experience, while the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is a surefire favorite for the kids. Animals like giraffes, elephants, penguins, and more will make a day trip to Colorado Springs one to remember. You’ll have to purchase advance tickets, with prices ranging depending on the day and time you choose for your visit.

Buffalo Herd Overlook

Speaking of animal lovers, if that describes your kids, you need to make some time for a day trip to Buffalo Herd Overlook. This site offers a quick day trip possibility, too. You just need to head west from Denver on I-70, then follow the sign for the “Buffalo Herd Overlook.”

Sometimes you can even see some of these majestic animals right from the road. Other times, the trip involves a hike in Genesee Park in search of the bison. You’ll find a covered observation deck where you can watch for roaming herds. You’re not guaranteed to see the herd every time you make the trip, but it’s so close that you can easily plan this trip more than once. There you have it! Crème de la Crème of Lone Tree just gave you five amazing day trips you can take from our city. This area of Colorado truly has something to meet any need. Do you have another city or attraction close to home that we didn’t include on this list? If your family has a go-to activity we skipped, let us know your recommendation so we can add it.