Ouray, Colorado is known as the Switzerland of America. It’s a quaint mountain town that sits between two steep mountains, where you can enjoy views and beauty at any angle. Besides relishing in its beauty, there are plenty of fun things to do in Ouray Colorado with kids or any company you have along for the ride!
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We recently visited and stayed in Ouray and had an amazing time. We were able to do a lot while there, and yet there were still a few things we really wanted to do and didn’t have time for. All the things are listed below (things we did and things we didn’t get to.) It will make the perfect list for next time we visit, and hopefully will help you plan your trip with easy, fun things to do in Ouray with kids.
Here are a few of the kid-friendly, AKA easy things to do in Ouray. Whether you hit some hot springs, take a hike, or get behind a waterfall, put a few on your list and enjoy one of the most beautiful places.
The Best things to do in Ouray with Kids:
Stop at the Visitor Center in Ouray
I’ve recently grown a love for visitor centers. You can find out so much about the area and fun things to do that are perfect for your group.
Sometimes, you also get some local tips!
The Visitor Center in Ouray is located at the northern-most part of town right next to the town hot springs. There’s a decent dirt parking lot.
Then, go in and chat with the really friendly staff. They were able to fill us with info and suggestions. There are also so many brochures and maps about activities in the area.
They even had cookies set out while we were there. That’s not guaranteed, of course, but we (the kids) thought it was a nice surprise at the Ouray Visitor Center.
Check Out a Waterfall
There are a few really awesome waterfalls in Ouray that are easy to see with kids.
Box Canyon Waterfall requires an entrance fee, but is so worth going right up to the waterfall that falls within the rock walls of the canyon. You can also go onto a high bridge that stretches between the canyon walls.
I would say this is easily one of the most fun things to do in Ouray with kids since you can get so close and get to walk on a metal walkway inside the canyon!
Lower Cascade Falls is a short hike up to the bottom of a waterfall. It’s right in the downtown area down a side street at Cascade Falls Park.
And lastly, Bear Creek Falls can be seen right off the road just south of downtown Ouray.
Beside those, always keep your eyes open for little waterfalls coming down the mountain. We were able to spot 3 from our rental!
Visit a Mine in Ouray
95 Gold Mountain Trail
Visiting a mine is one of the most fun things to do in Ouray with kids. You’ll get entertainment and history all in one!
In the 1800’s, Ouray was home to several mining towns. The big draw was the silver and gold in the area, as well as ore.
The Bachelor Syracuse Mine tour is the most popular mining tour in Ouray. First, take a tour that takes you 1,500 feet into a gold mine.
Learn about miners that used to work here and what it was like. The Bachelor Syracuse mine was a mine that struck it rich in the late 1800’s. The mining town, now known as Dexter Creek, had a school, post office, a d even a local band that played.
Then, try your hand at panning for gold (and other types of metal).
Tours available during warmer months (May through September). If you visit on a summer weekend, you can eat in the cafe on site for breakfast.
505 Main St
Yes, many people think it’s fun just to visit a bookstore. But what makes this one unique is that it’s located at the bottom of the historic Beaumont Hotel.
You’ll find typical selection of popular fiction and bestsellers. You’ll also find books about the local history of Ouray, geology, mountaineering, and of course a great children’s section of books.
If you are needing some entertainment in your rental/hotel, you can also find puzzles at the Ouray Bookshop.
Coming from Denver? Check out the best Routes from Denver to Ouray
Ouray Hiking Trails
There are lots of great hikes in Ouray, but here are a few hikes that are great to do with kids.
This is the best hike in Ouray with kids. It’s easy to get to, and pretty easy to do. After just a short amount of time hiking, you’ll come across large, smooth rock on the ground by the river.
The rock has large areas filled with water, creating these “baby bathtubs.” They are fun for kids to splash in on a hot day!
The trail is only about .5 miles, making it nice and easy, and yet very scenic! Once you get to the bridge, that is the end of the Baby Bathtubs Trail and it continues on to the Perimeter Trail.
This hike is great even for little kids, so put it at the top of the list of one of the things to do in Ouray with your kids.
How to get to Baby Bathtubs in Ouray: Head south out of the downtown area. Turn onto Amphitheater Campground Road. The trailhead is almost immediately across from the wooden bridge. You can park on either side of the bridge in designated parking pullouts.
Perimeter Trail in Ouray
The Perimeter Trail is one of the more popular hikes in Ouray. As the name says, the trail goes around the perimeter of Ouray. It is a longer hike at 6 miles, so if you are hiking in Ouray with kids, this may be better for older kids.
BUT, this trail will take you to everything you want to see in Ouray! It goes by Box Canyon, Cascade Falls, Baby Bathtubs, along the river, and more. And you will be gifted so many great views of Ouray.
How to Get to the Perimeter Trail in Ouray: Since the trail makes a complete circle all the way around, there are a few places you could jump onto the trail. Many people begin and end their journey on Oak Street or at Cascade Falls park.
Take a Stroll on the River
Begin near Visitor Center
The River Walk Loop is less of a hike and more of a walk. But the scenery is gorgeous as you walk along the Uncompahgre River that runs down the west side of Ouray.
The River Walk Loop goes along both sides of the river. It’s 2.2 miles total to make the easy loop. Take the stroll at your own pace, resting on benches along the way to enjoy the river, and reading the signs to learn about the area.
How to get to River Walk Loop: You can access the trail near the Visitor Center. Park there, and then head north in front of the building. Walk along the log fence along the main road and watch for the gap in the fence. You’ll see a small sign for the trail here.
Soak in the Hot Springs
1220 Main Street
Ahh, one of the most fun things to do in Ouray with kids! At least, this was my kids’ favorite thing to do. And I enjoyed swimming in something nice and warm!
There are a few hot springs in Ouray to choose from. But hwen visiting Ouray with kids, I definitely recommend the largest of them all: The Ouray Hot Springs righ tin town.
These hot springs have several different pools, including an activity pool, a shallow pool,, and adults only (hotter) pool, and even some waterslides. It’s the perfect way to spend a few hours in Ouray.
Wright Opera House
The Wright Opera House on Main Street has been around over 130 years in Ouray. It still hosts plenty of entertaining events, like live music, movies, theater, and trivia.
Every year, the Opera House hosts a tradition in Ouray: a Melodrama. These are always great, easy, and fun experiences for all, including families. They usually happen in July, so check the schedule.
And if you aren’t there for the melodrama, you can still enjoy one of the other events at the Wright Opera House.
Ouray is a great place to go climbing. But with kids? You’ll want a guide or maybe even an easier atmosphere to give it a try.
At Basecamp Ouray, kids can try climbing in the indoor gym. Once you’ve mastered the indoors, you can arrange to go with a guide to the real walls of the outdoors.
Have older kids that are a little more daring, and are already comfortable high on the mountain? You can even book to do the local Via Ferrata.
All safety gear is provided.
Older kids (12+) can have a real rugged, outdoor experience by canyoning through the waters of Ouray. If you have older kids, then this can be one of the most memorable things to do in Ouray, or maybe even anywhere!
Canyoning Colorado offers various Canyoning experiences, including beginner level. These half day tours include insurance and photos.
Being a strong swimmer is NOT a requirement, BUT you and the kids should be comfortable with water on you and in your face since you will be rappeling down a waterfall. The adventure begins with a warm up area before getting to the waterfall.
We saw a group go by and begin their canyoning experience while we were hiking through Baby Bathtubs (Portland Creek). Most were teenagers with a few adults. And it looked like a blast!
Take a Walking Tour of the Historical District
The Ouray County Historical Society offers walking tour on Thursday evenings in the summer. There is a cost that benefits this non-profit and you must reserve in advance.
On the tour, you can expect to see notable buildings and areas of Ouray. Learn about the Beaumont Hotel, the school, the County Museum, and more on this fun, educational tour.
Note: The tours last about 2 hours, so make sure to bring a snack or eat dinner before so the kids don’t get hangry!
Take a Scenic Drive
Ouray sits right on highway 550, otherwise known as the Million Dollar Highway.
Why is it called the Million Dollar Highway?
The name Million Dollar Highway has a few explanations. One, the locals use to joke that you’d have to pay them a million dollars to drive it with its steep cliffs and windy roads.
Another explanation is that it costed about a million dollars to expand and pave the highway.
Some say, it’s because of the million dollar views.
Regardless of the reason it was named Million Dollar highway, it is a beautiful and breathtaking drive to make. Though as one of the explanations say, it should be driven cautiously and with acute attention.
The highway stretches from Ouray to Silverton. You won’t see many guardrails because the road is even too narrow for those.
If you consider yourself a great, safe driver, this can be one of the thrilling, exciting things to do in Ouray with kids. It doesn’t require hiking, just relaxing and enjoying.
See The Switzerland of America Lookout Point
Ouray is known as the Switzerland of America. It’s a town nestled in between two steep mountains, part of the San Juan mountains.
As you head south out of Ouray, you’ll come across a lookout point to see the city laying at the base of the mountains. There is a sign to direct you and a little pullover area.
(The main header picture of this post at the top is the view you’ll get!)
Get Some Sweets and Toys
Sweet Ouray- 460 Main St
O’ Toys- 539 Main St
Ouray is a cute town with lots of shopping. And if your kids have to get dragged around shopping, make sure to hit some of the kid-friendly stores in Ouray. To really gear it toward the kids, head to Sweet Ouray, a candy and gift shop downtown.
Then head to O’ Toys about a block away to play with some classic toys and new toys. Plus, they have outdoor toys so you can take some to the park to play during the day or during a concert in the park.
Concerts in the Park
On Thursdays in June, you can head to Fellin Park (right behind the Hot Springs) and enjoy a free concert in the park. This is both family-friendly and dog-friendly. Bring food or buy it there, put down a blanket, and enjoy a beautiful, family evening in Ouray.
Play at the Park
While you are at the concert, or on any other day when there is no concert going on, the kids can run around and play at Fellin park.
One of the great things to do in Ouray with kids is just relax at a park. Really, anywhere we go we love to check out the local parks. I love the backdrop of this one with the mountains in the background.
The park has a few slides for all ages, a pavilion with a couple picnic tables, and a nice open grassy area to run around in.
Go Back in Time at the Alchemist Museum
The Ouray Alchemist was one of the top recommendations of things to do in Ouray with kids from the staff at the visitor center.
The Ouray Alchemist is the largest pharmacy museum in Colorado. You can take a tour to learn all about herbs and medicines back in the day and how people were treated and healed. Walk among the oldest prescription in Colorado, a time capsule of artifacts from 350 BC, and photography and paintings from the wild west.
DID YOU KNOW: You can even rent out the penthouse on top of the Ouray Alchemist? (For couples, not big enough for families)
Explore History at the Ouray County Museum
420 6th Ave
If your kids like history, then visiting the Ouray County Museum will be one of their favorite things to do in Ouray.
The museum is actually what used to be the miners hospital back in 1887. There are over 30 rooms and 40 exhibits that will show you a gem collection, narrow gauge railroad history, a Native American room, a hospital suite from the mining era, and more.
Outside, the kids can see pioneer cabins and ranch displays.
When we go on trips, my kids always ask to go horseback riding. We didn’t have time for it in Ouray, but there are plenty of options if you have the time.
One main option is the Horseback Adventures, which offers various tours.
If you happen to have (and bring) your own horse, you can take a tour with kids as young as 5.
Otherwise, kids 7 and older can join one of the other tours that take you through the land of Ouray, with some even seeing waterfalls along the way.
Visit Nearby Ridgway
Ridgway is obviously not in Ouray, but it is just a short drive away. And if you have an extra day to spare, heading to Ridgway State Park is a wonderful option.
There are a few entrances to Ridgway State Park depending on what you are wanting to do. Campers have different entrances, and use of the lake has an entrance.
You’ll want the day entrance where you can hang out at an incredibly scenic lake for the day. Bring some fun water toys or even an affordable Stand up Paddle Board to enjoy the lake.
Ridgway State Park is a great place to stay with an RV, tent camping, or even rent out a yurt.
Daytime activities include biking on the trails, looking at the stars (it is a dark sky park!), geocaching, hiking on over 14 miles of trails, swimming (at Dallas Creek), and more. It’s the perfect way to spend a day outside with the family, and yet have a bit of relaxation.
Check out hours, closures, and more activities of Ridgway State Park.
Visit Nearby Telluride
If you’ve gotten through all the fun things to do in Ouray with the kids and still have another day, you should definitely make the 1-hour drive over to Telluride.
We particularly loved walking through town, visiting Bridal Veil Falls, Town Park, and taking the gondola up to Mountain Village.
We also visited during the Hot Air Balloon Festival which was fun (even though the weather didn’t allow the balloons to launch that day).
Ouray in Winter
Most of the activities listed are perfect for visiting Ouray with kids in the summer. But here are a few activities if you are visiting Ouray in winter.
The Ice Park is located at Box Canyon. Here, a man made ice park is made in the Uncompahgre Gorge.
It’s free to visit the ice park. Whether you and the kids will giving climbing a try or not, it’s still fun to go watch those who are giving it a go.
Skiing and Sledding in Ouray
The town has a cool little ski hill on 3rd Avenue called Lee’s Ski Hill. You’ll find a tow rope that brings you up the hill. You can then enjoy a 75 foot vertical downhill back to the bottom.
It’s a great, perfect place to take the kids when visiting to get some easy skiing practice.
Skis and snowboards are both allowed.
But if you are wanting some sledding, then head to Vinegar Hill. Ouray closes an entire block of 5th street to make Vinegar hill, where families can come to sled.
This is a long time tradition that dates back over 100 years.
Bring your own sled.
Did you Forget Something from Home?
Ouray is a nice, quaint little mountain town. To keep that charm, there aren’t any major stores in town.
If you forgot something, you can try the Hardware Store in town. They have a bunch of random items, (like swimsuits). But they still might not have what you need.
If it’s clothes you need, check out the sports store just a couple doors down from the hardware store.
If you still haven’t found what you need, your best bet is to head to Ridgway. It’s not too far away and has stores like Family Dollar and a grocery market.
Where to Stay in Ouray with kids
Where We Stayed- the best rental in Ouray (really!)
First, I have to mention where we stayed in Ouray because it was awesome.
We stayed in a condo rental off Oak Street. Oak Street is a quiet, dirt side road. It’s really close to town, but off of the main road and area.
We have a family of 6, so our kids often have to share beds. It is a dream when we find somewhere they can have their own bed. So this place was a dream!
This great rental in Ouray had awesome, huge windows, stocked kitchen, washer and dryer, two bedrooms…and a loft with extra beds! (They were actual beds/mattresses, too, not pull-outs.)
The coolest part of this rental was the outdoor patio area. And the loft area for the kids.
Oh, wait no, the coolest part was hanging out on the front deck area and counting how many waterfalls we could spot in the mountain just across town.
No, the coolest part was that the Uncompahgre River was just on the other side of the street…
There were lots of cool parts about this rental. We even loved the chest of puzzles and games for our evenings inside.
Great Hotels in Ouray
There are a lot of cute, local hotels. I don’t remember seeing any chain hotels while we visited, which helped the town keep its charm.
Here are a few hotels that have cool perks, cool history, or just make great hotels in Ouray for families to stay at.
The Weisbaden– Beautiful, historic hotel with hot springs on site (and a vapor cave!). Options include private rooms to entire houses on property.
Twin Peaks– A great hotel in town with hot springs pool on site. You can sleep up to 6 in a room comfortably (with actual beds!)
Riverside Resort– highly rated inn with suites and cabins. Can sleep up to 6. Convenience store and restaurant on site.
Have an RV?
Check out 4J+1+1 RV park. It’s located on the northern side of Ouray at the edge of the downtown area. It has modern amenities for your comfort.
Best Things to do in Ouray with Kids
There are clearly so many things to do in Ouray with kids. Are you more into history or hiking? Waterfalls or hot springs? Maybe try a little bit of everything on your next trip to Ouray, Colorado.
Enjoy the downtown area and so much more when you visit Ouray with kids, no matter what time of year!
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