Want To Travel Cheap? Join the Sharing Economy and Airbnb Your Place!

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Want To Travel Cheap? Join the Sharing Economy and Airbnb Your Place!

My family loves traveling! For us it is infinitely better when that travel is free/cheap. It just feels good! Here is one way our family of four has managed to make travel really affordable – we Airbnb our house whenever we are gone. Yup, we “move out” of our house for as short as a 3 day stay. It can be scary to step into the sharing economy and invite other people into your house I get it, but with a little trust most people are really happy with the results.

Renting our house on Airbnb made us feel like we hit the jackpot!

A Recent Airbnb Cheap Travel Example

My kids want to learn to surf. We live in Colorado. Let’s go to San Diego! We booked tickets early so got a great deal on Southwest [we had points to burn from a credit card sign up] and booked our return using miles on United. So no direct cost for travel. We then rented a car – we used Amex points for 1/2 the car so it was super reasonable [cost us

Photo courtesy of Mariah Tauger Photography www.mariahtauger.com

Photo courtesy of Mariah Tauger Photography http://www.mariahtauger.com

$130 for the week]. We rented a house in Encinitas, a block to the beach, for $250/night which turned out to be one of our biggest expenses. This is where it gets good – we concurrently rented our house in Boulder for $250/night. This was basically a wash though we paid a bit to Airbnb for the transaction on both ends. The costs for our week surfing trip – above our normal expenses – was surf lessons and 1/2 the car. And a few t-shirts the kids picked up along the way. This works for me – I’m ready to book another trip pronto!

Here is how you can make Airbnb work for your family

We hosted our first Airbnb guest last summer. It was a leap of faith but we were traveling for six weeks [internationally] and it just seemed one of our biggest resources was going to be left on the table. We jumped in with both feet and listed!

Then we patiently waited. And waited. And waited. Then it happened, someone reached out about renting for a week. I looked up their profile and she had just joined Airbnb and had no reviews. Yikes! We exchanged emails multiple time and finally I felt comfortable accepting her housing request.

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Get your property listed

  1. List your property on Airbnb. It’s free and easy to list your property. You need to take some photos and think about exactly how you want to describe your property. Be accurate. Be detailed. Be honest. What is great about your location? Are there any drawbacks? Don’t advertise something you don’t have. Remember people will rate you and good ratings are the key to success in this endeavor.
  2. Set your price. This is a bit tricky. Do some research. Look around on Airbnb for houses near you. What are they listing their places for? Does the price fluctuate based on events nearby? What price would make it feel fair for you to move out and share your home with others? It’s not a science – trust your gut.
  3. Set your calendar. List the dates your home is available and the price for those dates. For example, during the Ironman in Boulder, CO, the prices can be set higher as there are no hotels available in the city.
  4. Do you need a rental license? In a lot of cities they are starting to make anyone renting their space out get a rental license – even for short-term rentals. If you are only renting once or twice your compliance is up to you. In Boulder, CO it costs $130 for a rental license for four [4] years – not too bad.
  5. Make a plan for getting your home organized/cleaned. We only rent out 3 of our 4 bedrooms so we can keep one for our stuff. We put a lock on the door to the extra bedroom. When we have renters, everyone gets a moving box, and then empty their rooms of valuables, things that are sentimental, and their closets. These boxes are packed up and put in the locked bedroom. We use one size box and make it super simple. We declutter and organize somewhat so it’s easy for anyone to enjoy the house. We hire a cleaning person to clean after we leave before anyone rents.
  6. Have a local contact. When we were out of the country we had a local friend act as the renters’ contact person. They were on call if anyone needed them and they walked through the house between renters to make sure it was all in order after the cleaners came in.
  7. Review your guests. Airbnb will ask you to review your guests. Your guests will also review you. This is a very important step in the sharing economy process – making things transparent. The guest won’t see your review until they have reviewed you, so feel free to be honest. I like to focus on the positive, but I won’t hesitate to mention something that could be improved. When you review each other, your reviews will then be public for everyone to read. Having positive reviews will increase your traffic and interest in your property.

Get the kids bought in! 

Our boys are okay with this plan as they have done it for a long time. They think it’s normal.  When we started renting out our house when we traveled we offered that we would give our boys something they wanted if we rented the house out for X days. It worked. They cleaned their rooms out well and spent the time rooting for us to get that extra week. We did get that extra week and we rewarded our kids!

Dream about your vacation!

If you don’t already have a vacation planned, head over to Airbnb or Trip Advisor and poke around. They have great suggestions and ideas of what to do in all these locations. I got a 10 page booklet about what to do in and around San Diego when we booked our trip to Encinitas. Also, hosts offer guidebooks which often tell you a lot about what to do in and around their property. It can be a helpful process as you clarify your travel plans.

Please share your experiences!

Have you had experiences sharing/renting your family home? Would you do it again? Are their other options beyond Airbnb and VRBO that are family friendly? Please share!

Questions about family travel, how to Airbnb your place, or anything else, give me a shout at Email Amanda

 

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Time to Start Thinking Skiing! Get Free Ski Passes for Your 5th and 6th Graders!

IMG_0070If you have a 5th or 6th grader it is time to start thinking about getting them their Free/Cheap Ski/Snowboard passes. The way it works is that there are two different programs: School of Shred & Colorado Ski Country USA. They both offer 5th graders free skiing, but at different locations, so you want to get both! They offer 6th graders cheap or free skiing depending on the program. More details below.

5th Graders: You get 4 days of free skiing at all Colorado Vail Resorts: Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and A-Basin [School of Shred]. In addition you get 3 days of free skiing at 20 other Colorado ski resorts including Aspen, Buttermilk, Steamboat, Copper Mountain, Winter Park, and many more [Colorado Ski Country USA]. And you also get one free ski/snowboard lesson and equipment rental through both programs – so essentially you could take 2 free lessons with rental gear if you are new to skiing or snowboardng. They really want you to get good!

6th Graders: You can purchase a pass for 4 days at all 20 Ski Country USA resorts for $99 [these are the smaller resorts]. This is a screaming good deal! School of Shred on the other hand is offering the same deal for 6th graders as they did for 5th graders–4 free days of skiing at their resorts.

It is time to get your child[ren] registered! Don’t forget to register for both programs – especially if you have a 5th grader!

School of Shred Passport – Sign Up

Colorado Ski Country USA Passport – Sign Up

Have fun skiing/snowboarding!

Boulder’s Kids Eat FREE List Updated!

Calling foodie kids and families! Who said there is no such thing as a free lunch? Here is how you can get even – take your kids out for a free meal in Boulder! My families favorites include – Wahoo’s and Under the Sun Eatery & Taphouse. Which of these great deals does your family enjoy most? 

Boulder Listing – Kids Eat Free! 

Monday

  • Larkburger invites kids ages 12 and under to eat FREE every Monday from 4 p.m. to close when an adult spends $9. 2525 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder. 303.444.1487
  • Under the Sun Eatery & Taphouse offers Kids Eat FREE opening to 6pm.
  • Spooners Frozen Yogurt offers 50% OFF for Kids after 6pm every Monday. They are located in 29th Street Mall.
  • Cafe Mexicali [Baseline just East of 28th] offers FREE kids meal with an adult meal purchase.
  • Boulder Beer offers Kids Eat FREE after 5pm off the kids menu.
  • Pei Wei offers Kids Eat FREE after 4pm off the kids menu.
  • Modern Market offers Kids Eat FREE on Sundays and Mondays 5pm to close.

Tuesday

  • 4580 offers Kids Eat FREE [10 & under] when family is seated in dining room by 6pm.
  • Oscar Blues in Lyons offers Kids Eat CHEAP on Tuesday. Kids eat for half off their kid’s menu. 303 Main Street, Lyons. 303.485.9400

Wednesday

  • 4580 offers Kids Eat FREE [10 & under] when family is seated in dining room by 6pm.
  • Wahoo’s Fish Tacos serves up to two FREE kids meals for every $10 adult meal purchased after 4pm on Weds. Kids must be 12 or younger. 2790 Pearl Street, Boulder. 303.473.9072

Thursday

Friday

  • What restaurant should go here?If you know of one I’m glad to include it on the list.

Saturday

  • What restaurant should go here? If you know of one I’m glad to include it on the list.

Sunday

  • Centro Latin Kitchen has Family Night each Sunday where Kids under 10 receive a FREE kid’s entrée (choice of any entrée from the Centro kids’ menu) with the purchase of an adult entrée after 5 p.m. 950 Pearl St., Boulder. 303.442.7771.
  • Under the Sun Eatery & Taphouse offers Kids Eat FREE opening to 6pm.

Everyday Discounts for Kids

  • Moe’s Original Bar B Que offers Kids Eat Cheap Every Day. Kids 10 and under pay $2 for their kids menu daily. They are new in town, but delicious!
  • St. Julien/Jill’s offers free meals for children 3 and under when they eat off the children’s menu. 900 Walnut St., Boulder. 720.406.9696
  • The Taj offers Kids Eat Free under 5. Between 5 and 10 years kids pay 1/2 price for meals. 2630 Baseline Rd., Boulder. 303.494.5216
  • Smiling Moose provides a Free Kids Meal with the purchase of any sandwich, chips, & a drink. Coupon is at the link above. 3223 Arapahoe Ave, Boulder. 303.530.2700.
  • Wild Mountain Brewery offers Kids Eat Free on the first Tuesday of each month. For kids 12 and under with a paying adult. 70 East First Street, Nederland. 303.258.WILD.
  • Casa Alvarez offers Kids Eat Free every day with the purchase of an adult meal. Just join their club-it’s free, easy and you get the discount the same day. 3161 Walnut Street, Boulder. 303.546.0630.

Don’t forget to always call ahead to make sure these restaurants are still offering their Kids Eat Free deals as they are subject to change at any time.

Family Movie Nights [Not the ones in the movie theater!]

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My family loves a good movie night! We often have a tough time finding a movie we agree upon. Recently we have tried to find some good oldies and it’s worked. The kids actually like them. And they tend to be free or cheap to watch.

home-aloneYou don’t have to pay [or pay much] to watch some wonderful movies! To get them free or almost free you have to stick to the older movies. Most kids won’t jump up and down for joy when you tell them you are going to play Princess Bride, but they usually end up loving them despite themselves. Head to the library, use Amazon Prime Instant Video [if you’ve got it already], or check your cable company’s free On Demand movie section. Babble has an interesting Top 10 List of free or almost free movies: 10 Picks for Cheap [or free!] Family Movie Nights.

In Boulder you can check out the Boulder Outdoor Cinema’s showings too. Some are better for the family than others! For 2013 it looks like Despicable Me & Princess Bride are the family-friendly winners in the line up.

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You cannot always count on movie ratings, especially with older movies, to tell you all you want to know about the movie you are considering watching with your family. To check out the appropriateness of a movie you can head to Common Sense Media where you can look into the movie themes and appropriateness for your kids’ age group. This is a fantastic resource since it really is tough to know what is appropriate for your family!

Enjoy family movie night without the huge expense of taking the family to the movie theater! The oldies really are goodies when it comes to watching movies with your kids!

Any other movie recommendations? What are your family’s favorite movies?

Kids Eat Free! in Boulder

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Monday

  • Larkburger invites kids ages 12 and under to eat FREE every Monday from 4 p.m. to close when an adult spends $9. 2525 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder. 303.444.1487
  • Beau Jo’s Pizza’s Kids Night is Mondays. Up to 2 kids eat FREE with each paying adult. Plus there is kids’ entertainment each night. They have gluten-free & dairy-free options. 2690 Baseline Road, Boulder. 303.554.5312

Tuesday

  • Oscar Blues in Lyons offers Kids Eat CHEAP on Tuesday. Kids eat for 99 cents off their kids’ menu. 303 Main Street, Lyons. 303.485.9400

Wednesday

  • The Attic Bar & Bistro offers a Kids Eat Free until 7pm. 949 Walnut St., Boulder. 303.415.1300.
  • Wahoo’s Fish Tacos serves up to two FREE kids meals for every $10 adult meal purchased after 4pm on Weds. Kids must be 12 or younger. 2790 Pearl Street, Boulder. 303.473.9072
  • Mamacita’s offers Kids Eat for CHEAP off the kids menu all night. Kids eat for 99 cents of the kids’ menu. This restaurant is on The Hill–great people watching.

Thursday

Friday

  • What restaurant should go here? 

Saturday

  • What restaurant should go here?

Sunday

  • Centro Latin Kitchen has Family Night each Sunday where Kids under 10 receive a FREE kid’s entrée (choice of any entrée from the Centro kids’ menu) with the purchase of an adult entrée after 5 p.m. 950 Pearl St., Boulder. 303.442.7771.

Everyday Discounts for Kids

  • Minglewood offers Kids Eat Cheap Every Day. Kids get all you can eat pasta for $6. My kids love this place!
  • Moe’s Original Bar B Que offers Kids Eat Cheap Every Day. Kids 10 and under pay $2 for their kids menu daily. They are new in town, but delicious!
  • St. Julien/Jill’s offers free meals for children 3 and under when they eat off the children’s menu. 900 Walnut St., Boulder. 720.406.9696
  • The Taj offers Kids Eat Free under 5. Between 5 and 10 years kids pay 1/2 price for meals. 2630 Baseline Rd., Boulder. 303.494.5216
  • Smiling Moose provides a Free Kids Meal with the purchase of any sandwich, chips, & a drink. Coupon is at the link above. 3223 Arapahoe Ave, Boulder. 303.530.2700.
  • Wild Mountain Brewery offers Kids Eat Free on the first Tuesday of each month. For kids 12 and under with a paying adult. 70 East First Street, Nederland. 303.258.WILD.
  • Casa Alvarez offers Kids Eat Free every day with the purchase of an adult meal. Just join their club-it’s free, easy and you get the discount the same day. 3161 Walnut Street, Boulder. 303.546.0630.

Don’t forget to always call ahead to make sure these restaurants are still offering their Kids Eat Free deals as they are subject to change at any time.

If you tried one of the Kids Eat Free! deals, did you like it? Which restaurant[s] are your family’s favorites in the Boulder area? Where are some other great deals for families? Any favorites for the gluten-free crowd? Dairy-free crowd?

Boulder Family Deals: July 12

Here is a list of some of the deals I have noticed around town or online. This week there are two local Boulder organizations to support: Rocky Mountain Kids & Kutandara.

Denver Museum of Nature & Science Deal: Museum Entry, Planetarium, and and IMAX Film. $12/adult and $9/kids from Livingsocial.

Universal Orlando: 4 day/2 park pass for $144. Travelzoo says it’s 70% off. I’ve noticed cheap tickets to Florida online as well. Check Travelocity or Kayak.

Rocky Mountain Kids’ Big Sale: 25% off the ENTIRE STORE. July 13, 14, & 15. This is a great local store and they always sales worth checking out.

Kutandara Intro to Marimbas Class: Children’s 90 Minute Intro to Marimbas for $12. Again, a great local resource to support.

2 Slap Watches for $12. This deal is from Plumdistrict. Kids love them. They are great for learning to tell time. And this seems like a good deal with free shipping. Worth looking.

It’s Too Hot!: What To Do With Your Family In The Heat

Here are some ideas to get you and your family out of the heat of Boulder. Sometimes in this heat our brains shut down and we cannot think of anything creative to do with the family to beat this heat–well here are some suggestions. Let us know what your favorite ways of having fun, but staying cool. We want to know!

Visit Pearl Street: Visit the pop fountain, take a ride on the TEBO train, get a coffee and/or kid friendly drink at Spruce Confection on West Pearl, where you can avoid the heat in their shady courtyard. You can also stop in to Piece, Love & Chocolate for a yummy treat.

Take a Tour: Check out the FREE Celestial Seasonings tour. They are open almost every day and you get free samples. Kids love this one! For more info click here.

Get in the Creek: We are really lucky to have Boulder Creek running through town. Don’t forget there are family friendly sites just East of the library to play in the creek. Walk up the bike path from there to watch the kayakers navigate the kayak course. Bring a picnic. Head to the library to pick up a book, look at the art exhibits, or just play in the kids’ area.

Head to Nederland: It is always cooler in the Mountains. Take a trip to Nederland where you can ride on the Carousel of Happiness, get a yummy treat such as the “famous” donuts at the Train next door. It is a beautifully restored old train with stained glass windows and wonderful details including a very extensive candy shop–the kids will really love it and you can sit down in the cafe to enjoy the treats.

Go for a Hike: Try the Anne U. White trail for a shady hike that is approximately 3 miles round trip. This is a fun and easy hike for your family and much of it is shady and wanders along a creek. For more details and directions click here.

Other ideas: Make popsicles, make slushies, make juice ice cubes, turn on the sprinkler, make a fort in the living room or outside, buy a block of ice and head to your nearest large hill and ride the block of ice down the hill, sit under a tree and sketch the coldest place on earth, etc…

This should get you started. I am personally thinking chilly thoughts for all of us at this point.

#boulder #free #bouldercreek

Boulder Families Deals: Great deals for families

Here are some of great deals that Boulder Families might want to check out. These are the top ones for the week. I sift through all the deals out there an find ones that seem authentic, valuable for families, and are preferably local or with local interest. If you know of anything else out there feel free to comment!

  • Jumpstreet Deal from Groupon. Here is a great way to blow off steam for your kids during those hot summer months. For 2 hours: 1 person/$10; 2 people/$19; 3 people/$35
  • 1 Year Subscription to National Geographic Little Kids for $10. This is a great deal brought to you by Mamapedia. The usual rate is $20/year even out of the magazine.
  • Check out the Da Vinci Machines Exhibit at the Denver Pavilions. For elementary aged kids and parents alike this is a great opportunity to explore this Renaissance icon’s creations. On loan from the Museum of Leonardo da Vinci in Florence, Italy. $14/2 tickets.
  • Date night deal! Agave Mexico Bistro and Tequila House [Valmont and 28th in Boulder] is offering a deal for $29 you get 2 entrees, an appetizer, and 2 margaritas. I live Agave and at $29 for 2, I love it for date night or a girls night out.

#boulder #kids #deals

Boulder Family Events: May 11 to 18, 2012

may 11 to 18, 2012

Listed here are some great family events. Most are free. They are all opportunities to be together as a family and engage your kids of all ages.

Have a fantastic week!

Friday, May 11

Saturday, May 12

  • Hill Flee Market. An event happening on The Hill with great finds, yoga, music, and much more. For a listing of kids’ events click here.
  • Children’s Storytime at the Main Library. All ages. Free. 10:15 to 11:00am. Ongoing activity.

  • Top Hogs: The Einsteins of Porcine. Join the Boulder Library for 2 amazing, comedy-filled trick pig show that is action-packed and fun for the entire family. All ages. At George Reynolds Library from 11 to noon. At the Meadows Branch Library at 3:00pm.

  • Golden History Museum’s Blacksmith Day. Blacksmiths will be forging iron into useful items. Amazing to watch!  All ages. Free.
  • Boulder Farmer’s Market. 8:00 to 2:00pm. 13th Street between Arapahoe & Canyon Blvd. Map. Great opportunity for families to purchase locally grown produce, eat delicious food, listen to live music and so much more! A Boulder kids’ favorite.

  • Boulder Museum of Contemporary Arts [BMOCA] provides FREE guided art activities for kids on Saturdays during the Farmer’s Market. I have heard that they have a space where you can throw a cup at the wall. Kids love it! 8:00am to 2:00pm. All ages

  • Family Day at CU Museum of Natural History: May’s theme is Running Water: Rivers, Streams and Faucets. Kids with BeetlesAll ages. Free. 1:00 to 4:00pm. Explore the size, shape, color, habitat, taste and behavior of beetles, the most diverse specie on earth! Learn what links all 400,000 species together and sing some Beatles songs as well!

  • Bookmaking for Kids at Two Hands Paperier. Ages 5+. 10:30 to 1:00pm. Cost $55 [1 child/1 adult]

Sunday, May 13 [Happy Mother’s Day!]

Monday, May 14

Tuesday, May 15

  • Children’s Storytime @ George Reynolds Branch Library. 10:15 to 11:00am. Free. Ongoing activity.
  • Lap Babies at the Main Boulder Library. Babies up to 12 months explore books & stories with their caregivers. 10:15 to 11:00am. No older children, please! Free. Ongoing activity.

Wednesday, May 16

  • Children’s Storytime @ Meadows Branch Library. 10:15 to 11:00am. Free. Ongoing activity.

  • Wednesday Storytime @ Main Boulder Library. 10:15 to 11:30am. 9 to 24 months. Ongoing.

  • Discovery Days at the Longmont Museum & Cultural Center. Ages 2 to 5. Low cost [$3.50 to $4.50/child]. Drop-in sessions: 9:00 to 10:15, 10:15 to 11:30, 12:30 to 2:00.

  • Barnes & Noble Storytime. Ongoing activity. 10:00am.
  • Gymboree Storytime @ Barnes and Noble. Stories, movement and more. Ongoing activity. 1:00pm.

Thursday, May 17

Upcoming Events:

Please let me know of any upcoming events that should be listed here. I am happy to include your free, low cost or unusual event in Boulder Family listing of weekly events. You can reach me at Boulder4Families@gmail.com or visit us on Facebook

Boulder Family Events: May 4 to 10, 2012

Listed here are some great family events. Most are free. They are all opportunities to be together as a family and engage your kids of all ages. there are a lot of free day events at major museums this week to enjoy.

Have a fantastic week!

Friday, May 4

  • Children’s Storytime at the Main Library. 10:15 to 11:00am. Free. Ongoing activity.
  • Family Game Night. Meadows Branch Library. 4:00 to 6:00pm. Fun for the whole family!

  • Bold Doors Student Art Exhibit. 3:00 to 5:00pm & May 5, 9:00 to 3:00pm.

    This is a student art exhibit and kick off event featuring repurposed doors artistically redesigned by students. Sponsored by the Center for ReSource Conservation. Support a great local organization and our artistic children!

Saturday, May 5

  • Dan Zanes and Friends at the Boulder Theater. Great kids’ music and a treat to have them in Boulder! Tickets cost $12.50/kids & $25/adults.

  • Denver Art Museum Target FREE day.
  • Nature Journaling and Migration with OSMP. All ages. Free. 9:00 to Noon. You must register ahead of time by calling 303.413.7657.
  • Children’s Storytime at the Main Library. All ages. Free. 10:15 to 11:00am. Ongoing activity.

  • French/English Storytime at the Main Library. All ages. Free. 10:15 to 11am.

  • Colorado Railroad Museum is FREE today.
  • Boulder Farmer’s Market. 8:00 to 2:00pm. 13th Street between Arapahoe & Canyon Blvd. Map. Great opportunity for families to purchase locally grown produce, eat delicious food, listen to live music and so much more! A Boulder kids’ favorite.

  • Boulder Museum of Contemporary Arts [BMOCA] provides FREE guided art activities for kids on Saturdays during the Farmer’s Market. 8:00am to 2:00pm. All ages

  • African Dance and Drum performance at the Canyon Theater of the Boulder Main Library. All ages. Free. 2:00 to 3:00pm.
  • Family Day at CU Museum of Natural History: May’s theme is Running Water: Rivers, Streams and Faucets. Kids with BeetlesAll ages. Free. 1:00 to 4:00pm. Explore the size, shape, color, habitat, taste and behavior of beetles, the most diverse specie on earth! Learn what links all 400,000 species together and sing some Beatles songs as well!

  • Bold Doors Student Art Exhibit. 9:00 to 3:00pm. This is a student art exhibit and kick off event featuring repurposed doors artistically redesigned by students. Sponsored by the Center for ReSource Conservation.

Sunday, May 6

Monday, May 7

Tuesday, May 8

Wednesday, May 9

  • Children’s Storytime @ Meadows Branch Library. 10:15 to 11:00am. Free. Ongoing activity.

  • Cruisers & Crawlers @ Main Boulder Library. 10:15 to 11:30am. 9 to 24 months. Ongoing.

  • Discovery Days at the Longmont Museum & Cultural Center. Ages 2 to 5. Low cost [$3.50 to $4.50/child]. Drop-in sessions: 9:00 to 10:15, 10:15 to 11:30, 12:30 to 2:00.

  • Barnes & Noble Storytime. Ongoing activity. 10:00am.
  • Gymboree Storytime @ Barnes and Noble. Stories, movement and more. Ongoing activity. 1:00pm.

Thursday, May 10

Upcoming Events:

Please let me know of any upcoming events that should be listed here. I am happy to include your free, low cost or unusual event in Boulder Family listing of weekly events. You can reach me at Boulder4Families@gmail.com or visit us on Facebook