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Father’s Day in Loveland – Five ways to spend the perfect day with your dad

It’s Father’s Day next Sunday, June 21. Have you made any plans for spending the day with your dad yet?

If not, I’m a dad with two kids, ages 11 and 5—and I’ve got five great Father’s Day options in beautiful Loveland, Colorado. I realize that you may not be able to get together with your father in person next Sunday, so all of these suggestions are great any time you’re able to get together and honor your old man.

1 – Ride ‘em Cowboy!
Getting ready for our ride at Sylvan Dale

Did you know that Loveland is home to Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch, Colorado’s lowest elevation dude ranch? And did you know that anyone can visit and take a horseback ride to explore their 3,000+ acres of pure Colorado gorgeousness? I recently had the opportunity to go for a two-hour ride (only $65/per person) with my daughter and wife, and we all had an amazing time.

Don’t worry if you’ve never been on a horse before, or if it’s been a long time.  The wranglers are very good at making sure you have all the instructions you need to control your horse and enjoy your ride. Who could think of a better way to social distance? Once you’re on your horse, you can take off your mask as you’re outside and definitely more than six feet away from the other riders!

On the trail at Sylvan Dale

On our ride, we climbed the mountainside next to the Big Thompson Canyon, exploring the forest, over rocks, through streams, and even ran into a herd of big-horn sheep – and talk about the jaw-dropping views. Many folks think that they have to drive hours into the mountains for this kind of experience—but it’s all right here in Loveland.

Sylvan Dale actually offers a special Father’s Day Western-style Cook Out (unfortunately this is already sold out for this year—though mark your calendars for 2021,) but they may still have openings for trail rides on Sunday, or you could always get your dad a gift certificate for a ride that you can take another day. An extra-special option would be one of their “Chow Down” rides that include the horseback ride and a special dinner or breakfast cooked for you on the mountain side. Note that children do need to be at least 7 years old ride a horse at Sylvan Dale.

2 – Hike and Wine
The beautiful Devil’s Backbone

Talk about a pairing. When you combine visiting a winery with a hike in Colorado’s bountiful natural glory, the sensory delights extend far beyond the palette. In Loveland, we are blessed to have the Devil’s Backbone Open Space directly across the street from Sweet Heart Winery. Take your dad for a hike (or a mountain bike experience) on the trails at Devil’s Backbone and stop in at the winery for a tasting and a charcuterie board or stay for a full meal from a local food truck and maybe even take in some live music performed by local musicians.  Granted, this experience may not be the most suited for those under 21, but for adult children with an outdoor- and wine loving father, this could be the perfect itinerary.

If you haven’t hiked Devil’s Backbone before, you’re in for a treat.  It is an impressive geological rock formation that spans over the 2,198 acres and over 12 miles of trails. Regardless of your (and your dad’s) athletic ability, there is most likely a trail that will work for you.

My favorite option that isn’t too strenuous is the Wild Loop Trail to the Keyhole Trail (round trip less than 2.5 miles). This gets you to the keyhole formation, which is a large gap in the rock that opens to sweeping views west to the Rocky Mountains—definitely a must see. If you’re interested in something longer, you can continue north from the Keyhole along the Blue Sky Trail, which connects to Rimrock Open Space and Horsetooth Mountain. Don’t forget to bring your water, sunscreen and definitely watch out for the occasional rattle snake.

After your hike, a nice glass of wine sounds pretty good, right? And if the weather’s nice Sweet Heart Winery has an amazing outdoor patio area behind their building right on the banks of the Big Thompson River. I could honestly sit there for hours watching the water go by. If you’re lucky, you may even see some wandering Elk.

Sweet Heart Winery
Wine and a Charcuterie Board at Sweet Heart Winery

Note – If you want to do this hike with kids (it’s great for them, too,) you could swap the winery for my favorite ice cream joint, Dairy Delite—less than two miles east of Devil’s Backbone on US 34. It’s been Loveland staple for over 40 years, and a great place to get an authentic Chicago dog and a root beer float!  Yum…

My kids on the trail at Devil’s Backbone
3 – Day at the Lake
A beautiful day for sailing at Carter Lake

While Colorado may not be known for watersports, Loveland is certainly the exception to the rule.  On hot summer days, there are lots of places nearby to cool off, in one of the lakes, reservoirs or rivers in and around town.

Take a picnic meal from Nordy’s BBQ—they’ve got a great Family Feast that you can get to-go, that includes a full slab of ribs, brisket and a whole chicken, served with fries, pasta slaw, beans and cornbread muffins.  So good…

If you’re looking for great outdoor fun by the water with your dad and family, look no farther than Carter Lake.  Nestled in the Colorado foothills, the lake is beautiful from every direction.  You can rent a boat or a stand-up paddleboard, go fishing, rock climbing, swim at the beach, take a hike around the lake or just enjoy a lazy day near the water. Or do it all! The entrance fee is only $9 per vehicle. And if you’re feeling adventurous, spend the night at one of the 118 camp sites. As of June 12 there are still eight sites available for the night of June 21.

Kayaks at Carter Lake
4 – Laser Tag and Pizza
My family enjoying the 2-story ropes course at Loveland Laser Tag Fun Center

Another option to consider is a trip to Loveland Laser Tag Fun Center.  This place is a fantastic option rain or shine being indoors, and they’ve totally redesigned the experience to meet the new safety and social distance standards.  Did you know that LLT has some of the most state-of-the-art equipment that is on the market?  Challenge your dad to a round of Laser Tag, and afterwards try out the two-story indoor ropes course and climbing wall!  My kids and I love this place!

After all of that, don’t miss their very own in-house café, which features made-from-scratch pizzas baked in a wood-fired pizza oven!  And if you (and your dad) are into beer, LLT is right across the parking lot from one of my favorite breweries in town—Grimm Brothers Brewhouse.  Their taproom is open every day from 2-8pm – my personal favorite is the Blood Orange Griffin!

5 – Golf and Dining Downtown
Golfing at The Olde Course

Does your dad like to golf?  Or is he interested in learning how to play golf?  There are three great golf courses to pick from in Loveland.  Choose from the spectacular views at Mariana Butte, try the “island green” at the Olde Course or if you’re short on time (or like me, just don’t have enough patience to get through 18 holes), take it easy at Cattail Creek’s 9-hole course.

Downtown Loveland

When it’s all done, take Dad out for a nice meal in downtown Loveland.  There are so many great places to choose from, but some of my favorites are Door 222, The Black Steer Steak & Seafood, Origins Wood-Fired Pizza & Wine Bar, and Betta Gumbo Southern Flavors.  You really can’t go wrong with any of these!  They’ve all got great patio seating if the weather is nice, but I’d definitely recommend making a reservation in advance if you can to be able to get a table!

Need a gift for your dad?

Loveland truly has some great and unique shops to find just the right thing for any father. Check out Rooster Brown’s in downtown Loveland for one-of-a-kind men’s apparel, accessories, gift items, and more. If your dad is into fishing, Elkhorn Flyshop on the west side of town has everything a fisherman could need or you could gift an experience by purchasing your dad a fishing class or a guided trip. Did you know that Loveland is home to the largest Harley-Davidson store in the western US?  They’ve got a huge selection of gifts and apparel to choose from.

If those stores aren’t quite right for your dad, then look no further than the Promenade Shops at Centerra, where you can find sure bets for Father’s Day gifts at stores like Dick’s, Eddie Bauer, Banana Republic, Macy’s, Barnes & Noble and so many more.

I sincerely hope this helps you plan the perfect day for you and your dad in Loveland.  Happy Father’s Day!

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