We decided to take a family road trip to Colorado. I tracked our expenses to see if we actually stayed under budget. We spent 5 nights in Boulder, CO and took road trips to Denver and Rocky Mountain National Forest.
Our first day was mostly a travel day. (See what we did in the car here.)
Mr Miser made “I want to stop” cards to each of us. My son used his “I want to stop” card for the Heartland Museum of Military Vehicles in Lexington, NE. We donated $10 to them. Then we all used our “I want to stop” cards to get ice cream. Once we arrived in Boulder, CO we immediately bought our groceries. While Mr Midwest Miser was shopping for groceries the kids and I went to a nearby park. They ran around like lunatics, it was perfect. We bought a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store for dinner and ate at our Air BnB.
We didn’t have much planned for our first day. We decided we should go to Rocky Mountain National Forest. Unfortunately, there was an Iron Man competition on our route and our 1 hour drive turned into 2 hours. I wasn’t sure if we would go back, so we upgraded our day pass to a week pass and paid $35. (This was a mistake since we didn’t find time to go back.). At the national park we hiked up to Alberta Falls. The kids LOVED the trail. It was 1.7 miles and they climbed on every. single. rock. next to the trail. It also started to hail while we were out there, which the kids also found fascinating. We ate sandwiches at the falls and then hiked back to the car. We basically spent 3 hours in the car for 1 hour of hiking. This was incredibly disappointing to me until my daughter proclaimed on our way back to Nebraska that this was her favorite part of the whole trip.
We headed to Denver Museum of Nature and Science. (It was free with our Omaha Children’s Museum Membership.) We spent the whole day there. We spent almost two hours in the Discovery Room alone. We at BBQ for lunch and had dinner back at our Air BnB. Then we biked through the neighborhood to get ice cream at Sweet Cow. Unfortunately, our Air BnB was having electrical problems, so we had to use flashlights to get tucked in at night. (Hence the cheap bill.) We rolled with it and pretended like we were camping. It was fine.
We went up to National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). Unfortunately, many of the displays weren’t working properly. It’s a free museum and I would recommend it if you are already in Boulder. I wouldn’t drive out of my way to check it out since most displays were out of order. We went back to the Denver Nature and Science Museum because we didn’t see all of it the day before. We went on a hike in Boulder on the Chautauqua Trail. This trail had more of an incline and less rocks to climb on, so the kids weren’t happy campers. I brought with us “Nature Bags” for a scavenger hunt which also wasn’t a hit. (Target $1) Afterwards, we went to downtown Boulder to walk around and eat Pizza at Pizza Colore. Downtown Boulder has little play areas for the kids including a splash pad and rocks to climb on. The kids loved this part of the day.
We spent the entire day at the Denver Children’s Museum. Last time, we went our Omaha Children’s Museum membership got us in for free. This time they said we had to have a patron memberships for a 50% discount. The patron membership for a family is an extra $40 for the year at the Omaha Children’s Museum. This is something we will consider upgrading in the future, depending on our travel plans. We paid $56 for a one time visit and it was totally worth it. The kids had a blast. After the museum, we went to see the Colorado Rockies play. We are not sports fans, so I was surprised my husband set this up. We had an expensive dinner at Ignite (burger joint) near the ball field. I panicked on our way in when my daughter whispered, “do we have to watch baseball” and quickly bought candy from a street vender. I announced to the kids that they would get one licorice every time a certain play occurred. “Ok kids, if a guy gets on second base, you get a licorice.” It worked wonders! They were way more in to the game than they would have been if candy hadn’t been at steak. I never/rarely reward with food, but this made the night enjoyable and we were on vacation, so why not?
We made breakfast for the road but I had a weak moment and requested McDonald’s. The kids played in the play area for 30 minutes, again like lunatics, and then we headed on. We were pulled over by the Sterling Colorado Police for a blinker error. It was an incredibly polite officer and we received a warning. We stopped at Runza for lunch and a bathroom break. I collected the free treat coupon from their kids’ meals and then stopped a few hours later at another Runza for a bathroom break and their free treats! We made it home in time for our “Back to School” Open House. The next day school started…
Our total food was stuff we had at home + $103 in groceries + $171 eating out.
We forgot to grab cash on our way out and since I refuse to pay ATM fees, I went to Walmart and bought a $1 pickle and asked to get $100 cash back from my debit card. I’m a genius.
- $275 total on food
- $180 on gas
- $300 on Air BnB (discounted for electrical issues)
- $10 donation for Military Vehicle Museum
- $0 for Denver Nature and Science Museum (free without our Omaha pass) It’s part of the ASTC program.
- $50 for Colorado Rockies ballgame, candy and Parking
- $56 for Children’s Museum Entrance
- $35 for entrance to Colorado Rockies National Park
Grand total for 5 nights in Colorado $906