The Ultimate Guide to Summer in Douglas County

We all know that hanging out at ATA Karate Denver is a GREAT way to spend a good chunk of your summer, but unfortunately you can’t spend every waking hour here (as much as we’d love to have you do so!!) So every year we look for the best resources for other things to do in Douglas County to fill your summer up with lots of fun. The guide this year covers outdoor movies, outdoor concerts, pools, splash pads, waterparks and beaches, cheap movies, farmer markets, rainy day ideas, summer reading programs, summer camps, and festivals in Colorado (Macaroni Kid).

Outdoor Summer Movies in Douglas County

Enjoy a Colorado summer evening with a favorite film outside!

CASTLE PINES: Movie at the Ridge
The Ridge at Castle Pines North, 1414 Castle Pines Pkwy.
Activities for kids begin at 6:00 PM; movie starts at dusk.

  • Thursday, June 27: Ralph Breaks the Internet (PG)
  • Saturday, July 27: How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (PG)

CASTLE ROCK: Starlight Summer Movie
Festival Park, 300 2nd Street

Fun begins at 6:00 PM; movie starts at dusk.

  • Saturday, June 1: Ralph Breaks the Internet (PG)

HIGHLANDS RANCH: Film in the Park 2019
Civic Green Park, 9370 Ridgeline Boulevard
No dogs or glass allowed. Movie begins at dusk (approximately 8:30 PM).

  • Friday, August 2: Mary Poppins Returns (PG)
  • Friday, August 9: How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (PG)
  • Friday, August 16: Incredibles 2 (PG)

PARKER: Movies in the Park
O’Brien Park, 10795 Victorian Drive
Music, vendors, concessions, and games for kids begin at 6:00 PM; movie begins at dusk (around 8:30 PM).

  • Saturday, June 15: Ralph Breaks the Internet (PG)
  • Saturday, July 20: Incredibles 2 (PG)
  • Saturday, August 10: Rudy (PG)

Film on the Rocks
Red Rocks, 18300 W. Alameda Pkwy, Morrison
General admission tickets are $16 (plus an AXS convenience fee). Gates open at 6:00 PM; each film is preceded by a live concert and local comedian.

  • WEATHER CANCELLATION: Friday, May 10: Titanic (PG-13)
  • Tuesday, May 28: Bohemian Rhapsody (PG-13)
  • Monday, June 3: Ghostbusters (PG)
  • Monday, June 17: Mean Girls (PG-13)
  • Monday, July 1: Top Gun (PG)
  • Monday, August 5: The Mighty Ducks (PG)
  • Monday, August 19: Free Solo (PG-13)

CASTLE ROCK: First Fridays After 5
Festival Park, 300 Second St., Castle Rock

Friday nights in the summer are made for spending close to home, enjoying the beautiful weather, and unwinding from the long week. Head to Festival Park to enjoy live music, food trucks, cocktails, and kids’ activities. Register for the family-friendly themed 5K After 5 Run/Walk series. Festivities take place from 5:00–9:00 PM.

  • Friday, June 7: Dueling Pianos (Variety)
  • Friday, July 5: Red NOT Chili Peppers (Red Hot Chili Peppers Tribute Band)
  • Friday, August 2: Mike Nash and the Southern Drawl Band (Southern Country/Rock)
  • Friday, September 6: Artrageous (Variety)

CASTLE ROCK: Music in the Meadows
Butterfield Park, 3952 Butterfield Crossing Dr., Castle Rock
Head to the park with your lawn chair or blanket and a picnic dinner to listen to awesome live music while watching the sun set behind the majestic Rocky Mountains! The Meadows is excited to once again present a summer concert series, along with food vendors and giveaways! Concerts are 6:30–8:30 PM.

  • Thursday, June 13: Richie Law Band (Country)
  • Thursday, June 27: The Margarita Brothers (Jimmy Buffet, Beach Boys, and More)
  • Thursday, July 11: Little Moses Jones (Variety)
  • Thursday, July 25: New Sensation (’80s)

CASTLE ROCK: Tunes for Trails/Perks for Parks
The Amphitheater at Philip S. Miller Park, 1375 W. Plum Creek Pkwy., Castle Rock
Enjoy a night under the stars listening to live music at the new outdoor Amphitheater at Philip S. Miller Park. Food and drink available for purchase from area vendors. Yard games and bounce houses will be set up for the kids. Activities and music from 6:30–9:00 PM.

  • Wednesday, May 29: The Petty Nicks Experience (Tom Petty/Stevie Nicks Tribute Band)
  • Thursday, June 20: The Blu Rose Band (’70s, ’80s, ’90s Variety)
  • Thursday, July 18: That Eighties Band (’80s Pop)
  • Thursday, August 15: The Junior Varsity Three Band (’90s Pop/Rock)

FRANKTOWN: Concerts in the Park
Castlewood Canyon State Park, 2989 S. Highway 83, Franktown
Enjoy live music in the beautiful outdoor amphitheater at Castlewood Canyon State Park. Free with Park admission (Colorado State Parks day pass or annual pass required to enter Park).

  • Saturday, June 15 at 6:00 PM: Mark Cormican (Folk/Americana)
  • Saturday, September 14 at 5:00 PM: Mark Cormican (Folk/Americana)

HIGHLANDS RANCH: Summer Concert Series
Highland Heritage Regional Park, 9651 S. Quebec, Highlands Ranch
Bring a picnic dinner and join HRCA for another great Summer Concert Series. Pack a picnic and enjoy great music at the park. Kona Ice will be serving shaved ice.Sorry, no dogs or glass containers are allowed at Highland Heritage Park. Concerts are 6:30–8:00 PM.

  • Thursday, June 6: Mostly Harmless (Variety)
  • Thursday, June 13: Michael Friedman Band (R&B/Jazz)
  • Thursday, June 20: Forever in Blue Jeans (Neil Diamond Tribute Band)
  • Thursday, June 27: The Long Run (Eagles Tribute Band)
  • Thursday, July 11: Deja Blu (Variety/Dance)
  • Thursday, July 18: A Country Music Project (Country)
  • Thursday, July 25: That Eighties Band (’80s Pop)

LARSKPUR: Music in the Park
Larkspur Community Park, 8850 Spruce Mountain Rd., Larkspur

Enjoy another summer of Music in the Park with six concerts. Breing your lawn chair and favorite beverage, then sit back, relax, and enjoy a musical summer evening! Concerts are 6:30–8:00 PM.

  • Friday, June 14: Ashtonz (Variety)
  • Friday, June 28: Professor M (Motown to Memphis)
  • Friday, July 12: Rascal Martinez (’50s-’80s Variety)
  • Friday, July 26: Wirewood Station (Country)
  • Friday, August 9: Kantankerous (Bluegrass)
  • Friday, August 23: Lookin Back (’70s, ’80s, Top 40)

LITTLETON: Roxborough Summer Concert Series

Roxborough State Park, 4751 N. Roxborough Dr., Littleton
Bring your own chair and meet on the patio by the Visitor Center. The Friends of Roxborough will “pass the hat” for donations to benefit Roxborough’s pavilion fund. Remember, you need a State Parks Pass ($80) or Daily Admission Pass ($8) to enter the park.

  • Monday, July 8 at 5:30 PM: Deborah Solo & Kari Clifton (Guitar & Strings)
  • Date TBD: Jubilant Bridge (Guitar & Dulcimer)
  • Date TBD: Marianne Goodland (Celtic Harp)

LONE TREE: RidgeGate Summer Beats
Prairie Sky Park, 10249 RidgeGate Cir., Lone Tree, 80126
Enjoy a summertime break with live local music. Take a walk on the paved path around the park, bring a picnic dinner or purchase from local food trucks, and enjoy the music. Vendors, entertainers,  and art activities from 5:00-6:00 PM with live music from 6:00–8:00 PM.

  • Thursday, June 20: Michael Friedman Band (Contemporary Jazz/R&B)
  • Thursday, July 18: Skean Dubh (Celtic Folk)

LONE TREE: Backyard Beats Concert Series
Sweetwater Park (June) and Charles Schwab Amphitheatre (August)
Each summer, the City of Lone Tree hosts an exciting Backyard Beats Concert Series. Kids’ crafts will be provided by South Suburban Parks and Recreation. Food and drink trucks will be on site with a variety of goodies for purchase. The fun begins at 6:00 PM with the concert at 7:00 PM.

  • Saturday, June 15: Uptown Funk (Bruno Mars Tribute Band)
  • Saturday, August 10: The Steeldrivers (Bluegrass/Country/Soul)

PARKER: Discovery Park Summer Concert Series
Discovery Park, 20115 E. Mainstreet, Parker
Bring your picnic baskets, lawn chairs and beach blankets, and enjoy the music in Parker’s brand new amphitheater beginning at 6:00 PM. No alcoholic beverages are allowed.

  • Thursday, May 30: Wash Park (Pop/Top 40)
  • Thursday, June 13: Knot Rock (’70s Soft Rock)
  • Thursday, June 20: Nothing But Nineties (’90s Music)
  • Thursday, June 27: The Burroughs (Funk/Soul)
  • Thursday, July 11: Woodshed Red (Bluegrass/Blues/Funk/Rock)
  • Thursday, July 18: Conjunto Colores (Hard Salsa)
  • Thursday, July 25: Buckstein (Country/Rock)
  • Thursday, August 1: Boogie Machine (’70s Disco)

💦 Our Favorite Pools, Splash Pads, Water Parks, & Swim Beaches

Burgess Memorial Pool
22 N. Gilbert St., Castle Rock
(720) 724-2082

Weekday Hours: 9:00 AM–7:00 PM
Weekend Hours: 9:00 AM–5:45 PM

Child Admission (Ages 3-17): $4.25 R | $5 NR
Adult Admission: $5.25 R | $6.25 NR

Features at Burgess Memorial Pool: 

  • Zero-Depth Entry
  • Water Basketball
  • Lazy River
  • Toddler Slide
  • 20′ Water Slide
  • Picnic Areas
  • Locker Rooms
  • Wheelchair Accessible

Cook Creek Pool
8711 Lone Tree Pkwy., Lone Tree
(303) 790-7665

Weekday Hours: 11:00 AM–7:00 PM
Weekend Hours: 10:00 AM–6:00 PM

Child Admission (Ages 2-17): $3.50 R | $6 NR
Adult Admission: $4 R | $7 NR
Household Admission: $12 R | $23.50 NR

Features at Cook Creek Pool: 

  • Zero-Depth Entry
  • Water Slide
  • Lap Pool
  • Water Basketball
  • Leisure Pool
  • Dumping Bucket

H2O’Brien Pool
10795 Victorian Dr., Parker
(720) 851-5873

Daily: 10:00 AM–6:00 PM
Fridays till 9:00 PM

Child Admission (Ages 3-9): $4 R | $4.50 NR
Adult Admission: $5 R | $5.50 NR

Features at H2O’Brien Pool: 

  • Zero-Depth Entry
  • Play Structure
  • Dumping Buckets
  • Two 182′ Water Slides
  • Circulation & Lap Pool
  • Spray Garden
  • Concession Area
  • Shade Pavilion
Little ones under 48″ tall can take advantage of Little Squirt Time from 9:00–10:00 AM weekdays to enjoy a quieter, more relaxed atmosphere. Little Squirts may stay for Open Swim when the pool opens at 10:00 AM.

Please Note: H2O’Brien Pool is closed during the Parker Days Festival in June.

Pirates Cove
1225 W. Belleview Ave., Englewood
(303) 762-2683 (COVE)

Daily: 10:30 AM–6:30 PM

Child Admission (Ages 2-17): $8-$9 R | $13-$15 NR
Adult Admission: $9-$10 R | $14-$16 NR

Features at Pirates Cove: 

  • Zero-Depth (Beach) Entry
  • Leisure & Lap Pools
  • 750-Gallon Dump Bucket
  • Lazy River
  • Three Water Slides
  • Sand Play Area
  • Spray Garden
  • Barnacle Cafe
  • Cabana Rentals
  • Picnic Tables
  • Locker Rooms
  • Lockers (Additional Fee)

Water World
8801 Pecos St., Denver
(303) 427-7873

Daily: 10:00 AM–6:00 PM

Tickets start at $19.99 for children and $24.99 for adults
See the Pricing Page for full details

Features and Attractions at Water World: 

  • Thrill Rides
  • Lazy Rivers
  • Water Slides
  • Wave Pools
  • Family-Friendly Rides
  • Concessions
  • Family Locker Rooms
  • Tube rentals
  • Bungalow/Cabana Rentals
  • Lockers (additional fee)
This Denver legend has been named one of USA Today‘s 10 Best Water Parks for several years. With scores of attractions on 64 acres, it is one of the largest water parks in America. Every member of our family has a blast when we visit. ‘Nuff said.
Nearby Splash Pads 💦

Centennial Center Park
13133 E. Arapahoe Rd., Centennial

Why we love to splash at Centennial Center Park: Adjacent to the Civic Center, Centennial Center Park has several playgrounds for children of all ages, educational and historical information about the state of Colorado, a large grassy field, two covered picnicking areas, and a really, really big splash pad. Since the park opened, it has been one of the most popular in the area and the different levels can make it a little hard to keep track of more than one child. Just play together and stay together and you will have a great time! This one consistently makes USA Today‘s 10 Best Splash Pads!

Civic Green Park
9370 Ridgeline Blvd., Highlands Ranch

Why we love to splash at Civic Green Park: Located next to the library and steps away from the Highlands Ranch Town Center, Civic Green Park hosts a wide variety of events throughout the summer (which will always be listed on our events calendar, of course). Features include a fabulous playground with a shallow creek, a large grassy open area, and a stage with fountains in front of it (which are usually turned off during the events).

Elk Ridge Park
6971 Mira Vista Ln., Castle Pines

Why we love to splash at Elk Ridge Park: This hidden gem has interactive water features, a climbing wall, and an awesome playground with some unusual structures, including a slide from the upper level into the playground. The 11-acre park also offers 360-degree views of the plains, foothills, and mountains and an ADA-accessible trail network with educational features teaching the early history of Colorado.

Great Plains Park
20100 E. Jewell Ave., Aurora

Why we love to splash at Great Plains Park: Great Plains is a 50-acre park with a baseball field, paved walking/biking trails, separate playgrounds for younger and older children, and a wonderful splash pad! The only drawback to this park is that the bathrooms are pit toilets (can be especially troublesome during potty training) but everything else is great!

Philip S. Miller Park
1375 W. Plum Creek Pkwy., Castle Rock

Why we love to splash at Philip S. Miller Park: This 300-acre park has something for EVERYONE… great hiking trails, a large playground, the Challenge Hill outdoor staircase, and more. We can (and have) spent an entire day at this park. If the weather turns sour or it gets too hot, we head inside to the Miller Activity Complex (the MAC) to jump on the trampolines or swim indoors. For a big adventure, Castle Rock Zip Line Tours is also on site.

Westlands Park
5701 S. Quebec St., Greenwood Village

Why we love to splash at Westlands Park: One of our all-time favorite parks and winner of numerous awards, Westlands Park has an amazing playground for kids of all sizes, a two-story treehouse, an inline skating rink, walking paths that are wide enough for two strollers side by side, and a good-sized splash pad (plus the cleanest bathrooms of any park we’ve visited).

Nearby Swim Beaches 💦

Aurora Reservoir
5800 S. Powhaton Rd., Aurora
(303) 326-8425

Swim Beach: 10:00 AM–6:00 PM Daily
Park Hours Vary by Month

$10 per vehicle

Why we love Aurora Reservoir: This multi-use aquatic recreational facility with an interactive nature center has a swim beach with great beach-y sand, volleyball nets, covered picnic tables, a large playground, watercraft and bike rentals, and so much more! It also has lots of geese, so we recommend wearing water shoes.

Bear Creek Lake Park
15600 W. Morrison Rd., Lakewood
(303) 697-6159

Swim Beach: 8:00 AM–8:00 PM Daily
Park Hours Vary by Season

$10 per vehicle

Why we love Bear Creek Lake Park: Bear Creek Lake has 2,600 acres of parkland, 15 miles of dirt trails for biking and hiking, yurts that can be rented for overnight camping, and a swim beach at Big Soda Lake. The swimming section is roped off from the rest of the lake and they don’t allow motorized watercraft in this body of water. The swim beach also has a loaner station with life jackets, a playground, picnic tables, and decent bathrooms. They test the water weekly to make sure it is safe for swimming so you may want to call ahead to make sure the beach is open.

Cherry Creek State Park
4201 S. Parker Rd., Aurora
(303) 690-1166

Swim Beach: 10:00 AM–6:00 PM Daily
Park Hours: 5:00 AM–10:00 PM Daily

$10 per vehicle (includes Aspen Leaf Basin Water Quality Authority fee)

Why we love Cherry Creek State Park: We took our first family camping trip here because it has plenty to keep kids busy and was close enough to get home quickly if our adventure didn’t quite work out. Cherry Creek offers campsites, trails for hiking and biking, fishing, and a swim beach with good sand-castle-building sand. Entry is $9 per vehicle or a State Parks Pass plus a one-time $3 Aspen Leaf Basin Water Quality Authority fee.

$1 Summer Movies — And Other Theater Deals You’ll Enjoy ALL YEAR!

Love movies? Then you’ll love these deals and special screenings!

UA Meadows Stadium 12
9355 Park Meadows Dr., Lone Tree
The Summer Movie Express is BACK with $1 G and PG movies every Tuesday and Wednesday at 10:00 AM. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Will Rogers Institute. Both movies play on both days each week. 

  • June 4 & 5: The Croods and Puss in Boots
  • June 11 & 12: Despicable Me and Turbo
  • June 18 & 19: The LEGO Batman Movie and The House with a Clock in Its Walls
  • June 25 & 26: The House with a Clock in Its Walls and Paddington 2
  • July 2 & 3: Despicable Me 3 and Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch (2018)
  • July 9 & 10: The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part and How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
  • July 16 & 17: Smallfoot and The Secret Life of Pets
  • July 23 & 24: The LEGO Movie and Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie
  • July 30 & 31: Sing and How to Train Your Dragon 2
  • August 6 & 7: Penguins of Madagascar and Boss Baby
  • August 13 & 14: Kung Fu Panda 3 and The LEGO Ninjago Movie
  • August 20 & 21: Trolls and Minions
  • August 27 & 28: Madagascar and Shrek 2
  • September 3 & 4: How to Train Your Dragon and Storks

Additionally, this is the only theater in Colorado participating in Regal Value Days. All movie tickets are just $7 every Tuesday ($4 more for 3D). Sign up for the Regal Crown Club and you can get 50% off popcorn on Tuesdays too!

Dolphinz Swim School
18920 E. Plaza Dr., Parker
Swim with your friends while you watch a movie in their warm, indoor, salt-water pool at Float & Flick! This event takes place on the first Friday of every month but space is limited; call (720) 851-1524 to reserve your spot. Children are $10; one adult swims FREE with each paying child. Lifeguard supervision, popcorn, and a drink are included!

  • June 7: Ferdinand (PG)
  • July 5: Incredibles 2 (PG)
  • August 2: Finding Dory (PG)
  • September 6: Rock Dog (PG)

AMC Theatres
Castle Rock, Highlands Ranch, Parker, & Other Locations
Become an AMC Stubs® Premier Member for $15/year and earn cash rewards, free concession upgrades, waived online ticket purchase fees, discounted tickets on Tuesdays, and more.

Movie Tavern Breakfast and a Flick
18605 E. Hampden Ave., Aurora
Take advantage of $5 Movie Tuesdays (additional charge for 3D) and get a free popcorn with every ticket purchased. We also love going to the morning movies on Saturdays and Sundays, with matinee pricing and breakfast options starting at $8.

Elvis Cinemas
Littleton, Denver, and Arvada
Admission tickets are just $3 before 6:00 PM and $4 for movies starting after 6:00 PM. These are first-run movies that have been out for a few weeks or months (depending on how successful the movie is). You can save even more when you buy their gift certificate package: two tickets, two large popcorns, and two large sodas for $25! Buy the gift certificate package at the box office and redeem immediately. Visit for locations and showtimes.

🍎 Farmers Markets in Douglas County

The season’s best produce and MORE from local farmers & vendors

Castle Pines Farmers Market
562 E. Castle Pines Pkwy., 80108
June 5 through September 12, 2019
Wednesdays from 9:00 AM–1:00 PM

Castle Rock Farmers Market
Douglas County HS, 2842 Front St., 80104
June 15 through September 28, 2019
Saturdays from 8:00 AM–12:00 PM
Castle Rock Farmers Market
Festival Park, 300 2nd St., 80104
June 2 through September 1, 2019
Sundays from 11:00 AM–3:00 PM
Elizabeth Farmers Market
Gesin Lot, 165 S. Main St., 80107
June 14 through September 13, 2019
Fridays from 5:00 PM–9:00 PM
Highlands Ranch Farmers Market
Town Center, 9288 Dorchester St., 80129
May 5 through October 27, 2019
Sundays from 10:00 AM–2:00 PM
Parker Farmers Market
19650 Mainstreet, 80134
May 12 through October 20, 2019
Sundays from 8:00 AM–1:00 PM

10 Rainy Day Activities to Keep the Kids Entertained (And You Sane!)

Colorado summers are generally gorgeous but we are prone to afternoon showers. When you are stuck indoors with energetic kiddos, it can seem that the rain may never end. Help is on the way!

1.) Play in the rain. If the weather is warm enough, put on rain boots and go outside to stomp in the puddles. Look for tadpoles and other critters. Get muddy!

2.) Have a Teddy Bear Picnic in the family room. Set up a blanket on the floor, pack lunch into a picnic basket if you have one, and then walk all through your house with your favorite stuffed animals and dolls before sitting at your picnic spot.

BONUS: You’ll discover items you need but forgot to pack, which will make you better prepared for an outdoor picnic later!

3.) Make a fort in the dining room! Your dining room or kitchen table is perfectly built for forts. Lay a large sheet across the table and then turn all the chairs backwards to make room under the table and hold the sheet in place. Play card games or make up stories while sitting in your fort.

4.) Movie Night … at 2:00 in the afternoon! The kids love eating popcorn while watching a movie in the middle of the day, especially if snacks aren’t usually allowed in front of the TV!

5.) Make a movie. Kids love to entertain AND to see themselves as the star of the show. Have them sing, dance, or just act crazy while videotaping them. Then show it back to them. Don’t forget to send the video to Nana and Papa for rave reviews!

6.) Crafts, Crafts, and more Crafts! Kids of all ages LOVE crafts! Type “Macaroni Craft” into the Search box on our homepage and you’ll get a looooong list of ideas, most using items you probably already have on hand.

7.) Finger paint or blow bubbles in the bathtub! Put the kids in their swim suits or birthday suits and let them use their soap finger paints or blow bubbles in the tub before putting water in. Then go right into bath time.

NOTE: Skip this idea if there is lightning outside. According to the National Weather Service, this is NOT a safe activity when lightning is present.

8.) Play a board game instead of a video game. Old-fashioned board games are underrated but really are fun for the whole family and a great way to connect with your kids. Candy Land is a winner with preschoolers. Sorry or The Game of Life are fabulous for elementary and middle graders. Watch your Xbox-loving teen get hooked on Risk.

9.) Have a dance party! Put on some tunes and let loose. You can’t dance around like crazy without smiling and hey, you’ll burn a few calories too.

10.) Write a letter or draw a picture for friends and family and then send it … SNAIL MAIL. Who wouldn’t love to get a sweet note from a favorite child among the stack of bills and junk mail?

📖 Summer Reading Programs for Kids & Teens

Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program

Kids in 1st through 6th grade can read any eight books this summer and record them in a Summer Reading Journal. Bring the completed Reading Journal into a Barnes & Noble store between August 1 and August 31, 2019 and your child gets to choose a free book from the list featured on the back of the journal.

Learn more about the program and get summer reading suggestions for all ages at

Douglas County Libraries – The Great Summer Reading Road Trip

Sign up today for DCL’s 2019 Summer Reading Program! The program kicks off at all library locations on Saturday, June 1, from 10:00 AM–12:00 PM with life-size games, DJs, bouncy houses, food trucks, a book fair, and much more! Summer reading participants will receive prizes from Texas Roadhouse and the Colorado Rapids just for signing up.

If DCL meets this year’s community goal of 16,775 registered reading program participants, the DCL Foundation will donate $500 to Nature’s Educators.

Plus, you can help your school win some booty — the elementary, middle, and high schools with the most Summer Reading Program sign-ups by July 31 will each win $250!

New York Times Summer Reading Contest

Teens around the world are invited to participate in The New York Times Summer Reading Contest. Each Friday, The Times poses the question: What interested you most in The Times this week and why?

Teens (ages 13-19) can choose from any article, essay, video, interactive, podcast, or photograph published in 2019, on any topic they like. The New York Times will announce winners every Tuesday and publish their writing.

Curious about past winners? Read previous winners’ works, ranging from refugees and “post-truth politics” to power napping and junk food.

Scholastic Read-a-Palooza Summer Reading Challenge 2019

Ages 0-13 can join Scholastic’s Summer Reading Challenge! Kids can enter their summer reading minutes online, unlocking digital rewards as they complete weekly reading challenges, and access book excerpts, videos, and other summer-exclusive content. The program runs from May 6 through September 6.

😎 Douglas County Summer Camp Guide – 2019 (NEW CAMPS!)

  • Denver Academy Summer Program* (Denver | Ages 6-18) Experience the Denver Academy difference with the 2019 Summer Program, June 10 to July 12. Enjoy differentiated instruction and FUN for diverse learners, grades 1 to 12, including those with dyslexia and ADHD. The program includes academic classes, tutoring, and coaching as well as athletic and experiential camps.
  • K-12 Learning Academic Skills, Coding, and Keyboarding Programs* (Castle Pines | Ages 5-18)Love to Learn to Read, Write, do Math, and Code at K-12 Learning this Summer! Avoid Summer Learning Loss. Improve student confidence, academic skills, and overall ability while having fun to start off the next school year strong. Enrichment and remediation options for all grades.
  • Mathnasium of Parker Summer Math Camps* (Parker | Ages 7-18) Mathnasium transforms children’s lives through math! Our summer programs are designed to combat summer learning loss. We’ll help your kids retain all they learned this year, so they’re well equipped for a strong start in the fall.
  • CSU R.A.M. Camp (Castle Rock | Ages 5-15) The Town of Castle Rock is partnering with CSU to offer four different fun, healthy summer camps! Full-day camps are held at the MAC at Philip S. Miller Park with before and after care available.
  • Camp Timberline (Multiple Front Range Locations | Ages 5-18) Be known, Be Loved at Colorado’s four premier Christian sports and mountain adventure camps in Estes Park and the Front Range. Base Camp (overnight), Beyond Timberline (backpacking), SHIFT (High School juniors and seniors) are all in Estes Park. Outta Bounds Day Camp takes place at 10 different locations along the Front Range.
  • Outta Bounds Day Camp for Teens (Greenwood Village | Ages 12-14) A Christian sports and adventure teen camp unlike any other! Featuring sports instruction, a portable high ropes course, climbing wall, giant inflatables, theme parties, bible studies, and more.
  • HRCA Art & Science Summer Camps (Highlands Ranch) Get creative with more than 50 art and educational camps from science, technology, and robotics to jewelry making, cooking, drama, and tumbling. Full and half-day options available at four recreations centers.
  • KidzArt Summer Art Camps (Castle Rock, Highlands Ranch, and Parker) At KidzArt camps, we offer a diverse curriculum geared to stretch minds, exercise imaginations, and introduce new idea-generating techniques, all while having fun and building confidence! If you can dream, you can draw!
  • Pop! Arts* (Highlands Ranch & Parker) Join Pop! Arts for nine fabulous, fun weeks of summer camps and pop-ups in art, science, and cooking! Harry Potter, Star Wars, SLIME!, Fixer Upper, Mermaid & Unicorn, Pop Star, Camp Survivor, Crazy. Messy. FUN!, and so much more. It will be a summer to remember!
  • Flour Power Cooking Camps* (Highlands Ranch) All children learn through hands-on discovery. During our summer camps, your chef will create his or her own snacks and lunch and we’ll supply everything that he or she will need for an amazing week filled with newly developed life-long skills including math, science, reading, and chemistry!
  • Uncorked Kitchen Summer Camps* (Centennial) Uncorked Kitchen is offering eight themed camp weeks with a different menu every day based on the weekly theme. Your child will build confidence in the kitchen using proper skills, technique, and kitchen safety. Campers will also learn the value of teamwork and pride in the creation of a great meal for your family to enjoy.
  • Chatfield Stables (Littleton) Riding and working with the horse is the focus of our hands-on camp! No arts and crafts — just horses! Ours is the longest-running horse camp in the area. Every child has his or her own horse for the entire week. Kids get to lead, feed, water, and work with their horses every day!
  • Rosie’s Ranch Summer Camp (Parker) Does your child LOVE horses? Rosie’s Ranch is fun, friendly, educational and safe for all kids. Children with special needs are welcome too. Week-long horseback riding day camps and riding lessons will exceed every horse lover’s wildest dream. Enjoy art, horsemanship, and experience “life on the ranch.”
  • Camp DCL* (Multiple Douglas County Locations) Camp DCL adventures begin June 3! Kids ages 5-12 can choose from week-long, half-day camps exploring topics like cooking, art, robotics, LEGOs, and engineering. Our camps are facilitated by subject matter experts and supported by trained staff and volunteers.
  • Camp HRCA (Highlands Ranch) Enjoy a summer of fun with field trips and projects based on a new theme each week. Swimming, batting cages, rock climbing, cooking, pottery, art, and more are part of daily activities based on location. Campers can register for a single day or an entire week.
  • Critter Camp (Castle Rock, Denver, Franktown) The Dumb Friends League is offering summer Critter Camps for children in 3rd–5th grades. Experienced and enthusiastic staff and animals will give your child a day of learning through activities, games, and crafts. The Dumb Friends League learning programs provide lessons of compassion, respect, and proper care for animals to children.
  • Explorers Club Summer Camp (Castle Rock) World Compass Academy Explorers Club is the camp for you! We offer field trips three times a week and the other two days are filled with enriched language lessons and a variety of in-house vendors and activities. New this year, we are offering TWO programs, one for Kindergarten through 5th grade and another for 6th through 8th grade!
  • Global Village Academy Summer Camps (Parker) Global Village Academy Douglas County will be hosting 13 different half-day summer camps in June 2019! Camps are geared for children entering Kindergarten to 7th grade. Your child can learn to code, be immersed in a Spanish classroom, play sports with their friends, and so much more!
  • Lutheran High School Summer Camps (Parker) Our goal of Lutheran High School Youth Summer Programs is to nurture and develop your son’s or daughter’s natural talents, as well as to give them new skills to develop as they pursue their passions. Camp offerings are available for 4th-8th graders depending on the camp.
  • Parker Arts Camps at PACE (Parker) Parker Arts is excited to partner with some of the best enrichment providers in Colorado to offer a robust variety of fun and enriching camps for children of all ages! From June 10th through August 2nd, Parker Arts offers over 60 fun and educational themed day camps for your child.
  • Parker Parks and Recreation Summer Camps for Kids (Parker) Parker Parks and Recreation has a variety of fun and exciting summer offerings for children ages 3 to 18! Kids will have a blast learning new things, improving their skills, making new friends, and staying active this summer.
  • Rock Rec Camp (Castle Rock) Our state-licensed day camp is open when school is closed so your kids don’t have to spend their days off stuck at home. Campers will be busy at camp with structured activities such as games, sports, crafts, swimming, field trips, and much more. Summer camps fill up quickly so sign up today!
  • Shine Girl (Parker) Shine Girl shifts the paradigm by helping girls realize they are stronger together than they are apart. Our middle school summer camp is an engaging, empowering, and impactful three-day experience for girls in grades 6-8.
  • Ninja Intensity Summer Camps (Castle Rock) Summer Camp Ninja Warrior Style! It’s time to come try all the obstacles like you see on the popular TV show, from the warped wall to the devil steps! Are you ready to test your ninja skills? Can you “beat that wall”? Come find out!
  • Camp Impact!* (Highlands Ranch) Camp Impact — Thrills, Skills, and Ninja taught daily to campers ages 5-12. No experience necessary!
  • Parker Academy of Martial Arts* (Parker) PAMA is the biggest and oldest studio in town and believes in providing the best quality training, integrity, and family culture. We focus on self defense, confidence, respect, fitness, and fun for all ages. Our incredible and knowledgeable instructors help each student become the best they can be!
  • Camp Backcountry (Highlands Ranch) Spend summer at the full-day, week-long Camp Backcountry in Nature, Horse, Art, Expedition, High Adventure, and Leader-in-Training camps! Big outdoor adventure, close to home!
  • Zoology Foundation (Larkspur) Zoology Foundation offers two camps: Camp Critters (Ages 7-12) and Toogie’s Tots (Ages 5-6). Camps are hands-on animal experiences at the ZoFo sanctuary. We play games, complete crafts, and learn about animal care, respect for animals, and conservation.
  • Stone Canyon EDVentures Summer Camp (Larkspur) Nobody should finish the summer without amazing stories to tell. Stone Canyon will give you the setting; it is up to you to create the adventure. Experience laughter, thrills, and community this summer and let Stone Canyon transform how your camper experiences summer break!
  • CYT Front Range (Littleton) This is the Greatest Show! It’s time for musical theater fun in the sun with CYT. Come join us for a hands-on theater experience this summer as we play games and perform songs from The Greatest Showman. Find your character at CYT!
  • Performing Arts Academy (Highlands Ranch) PAA is a place for kids to learn, perform, and grow! They can gain confidence, build character, make friends, and have fun while putting on a musical production in just two weeks.
  • Bright Horizons (Denver, Englewood, Greenwood Village) Your child can enjoy everything summer has to offer! With experienced teachers, a curriculum based on each child’s interests, engaging projects and activities, special visitors, and more, summer will be fun and educational at the same time.
  • Christ Lutheran Church Preschool Summer Camp (Highlands Ranch) CLCP summer camp provides a safe and fun learning environment for kiddos ages 3 to 7. We will have interactive themes, create together, meet new friends, share God’s love, and play! Our outdoor space provides opportunities to explore. Camp is a great way to bridge the summer months!
  • Bits, Bytes, & Bots* (Highlands Ranch) FUNdamental Technology Education! Have a blast coding Mindstorms robots to do cool things; make your own game or story by coding it yourself; you can make your own cartoon story or talking faces with timelines instead of coding.
  • Camp Invention®* (Multiple Douglas County Locations) Unlock your child’s potential at Camp Invention! With our 2019 program, Supercharged™, campers in Kindergarten through 6th Grade will take on four exciting challenges, meet innovative superheros, and bring home newfound confidence!
  • Colorado Code Club Scratch Coding and Minecraft Adventure Camps* (Highlands Ranch)Learn to program your own video games, animations, mBot Robots, and Micro:Bit Controllers during our Scratch Coding Camp or participate as part of a safe, exclusive Minecraft server and complete epic quests while building a town as part of our highly popular Minecraft Adventure Camps!
  • Engineering for Kids Tech Camps* (Centennial) Engineering for Kids is proud to inspire children to build on their natural curiosity by teaching engineering concepts through hands-on learning. Engineering is, after all, one of the fastest growing industries in the world!
  • Inspire to Learn & Imagine STEMplicity Games (Castle Rock, Centennial, and Parker | Ages 3-14)Inspire to Learn & Imagine has camps for kids’ every desire! We make dancing art bots, we build LEGO® machines, we program robots, we create AR experiences, we even escape from the room of many clues!. Campers will work on hands-on, educational projects every day
  • Play-Well TEKnologies Summer Camp (Multiple Douglas County Locations) Dream it, build it, wreck it, repeat in LEGO®-inspired engineering camps! Campers learn about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math while playing with LEGO. Kids will engineer interesting projects, engage in critical thinking, and explore STEM concepts. Let your child’s imagination run wild with 20,000 LEGO pieces. Ages 5-12.
  • The Goddard School® of Castle Rock (Castle Rock) We provide the highest quality Early Childhood Experience year round for young children and their families, including a wonderful summer camp experience. Our experienced, loving, and nurturing faculty are committed to premium standards of childcare and innovative implementation of Early Childhood programs and education while having lots of fun during Summer Camp.
  • The Goddard School® of Parker (Parker) Our summer camp curriculum incorporates STEAM learning (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) into exciting, one-of-a-kind, and fun experiences for your child every day! We offer a broad range of programs and mini-camps to pique the interest and curiosity of every child.
  • HRCA Therapeutic Recreation (Highlands Ranch) Learn the skills to play a variety of sports with our sports camp or our Special Olympics tennis team. Build cities, bridges, motorized cars, and planes with our TR Lego Summer Camp with STEM Challenge. Prepare to complete a triathlon with out Tri Sports Camp. All of our summer camps are offered for ages 8 and up.
  • Grid Iron Flag Football Skills, Speed, & Agility Camps* (Highlands Ranch) Grid Iron Flag Football’s popular Skills, Speed, and Agility four-day camp is for young athletes (ages 5-12) who want a complete introduction to America’s Game or simply want to improve their skills in preparation for league play.
  • HRCA Sports Summer Camps (Highlands Ranch) Stay active all summer with HRCA Sports Camps! From beginners looking to try something new to more advanced players looking to refine their skills in tennis, fencing, dodgeball, basketball, or volleyball … we’ve got you covered!
  • Mile High Rowing Club (Englewood) Colorado’s most successful rowing program for teens, Mile High Rowing Club is a non-profit youth rowing program operating on the waters of Cherry Creek Reservoir in Denver
  • Pedalheads Bike Camps (Highlands Ranch) Pedalheads Bike is a learn-to-ride bike program for kids ages 2 through 12, best known for helping children get off training wheels and safely ride on the road.
  • SkyCamp (Parker) Let go of gravity and grab some air on our sprawling wall-to-wall trampoline courts. Challenge a friend or show off your inner acrobat. We have three brand new attractions that are a must try!
  • TGA Golf and Tennis Camps* (Lone Tree, Parker) TGA Premier Youth Golf and Tennis Camps offer an unforgettable experience for your child by combining expert instruction, daily matches and exciting activities (fun games, STEAM experiment, Olympic Day) that keep them active all day.
  • SafeSplash Castle Rock Summer Swim Camps (Castle Rock | Ages 3-12) SafeSplash Swim School Summer Camps in Castle Rock are perfect for students looking for a shorter, more intensive learning experience.
  • SafeSplash Lone Tree/Parker Summer Swim Camps (Lone Tree and Parker | 3-12) At SafeSplash, we understand… swimming is a life skill®. We offer a positive, fun experience to our students with the goal of helping them become safe, happy, confident, lifelong swimmers.
  • SwimLabs Summer Swim Camps* (Highlands Ranch | 5-17) At SwimLabs, we know the better you can see your stroke, the faster you can improve it. So from young kids who are just learning to swim to competitive swimmers who need an added edge, our unique facility provides instant video feedback that transforms swim instruction. It’s the same techniques and technologies used by Olympic swimmers. And it’s now available at a SwimLabs near you.

🎡 Summer Festivals Around Colorado: June through September

Jolene Rheault

Jolene works as a marketing professional but full-time as a mom. She lives in Highlands Ranch, CO with her 7-year-old son, husband, 2 cats, and a bearded dragon named Jerry.

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