“Mom, what are we going to do today?” Oh, the question, a favorite of children, always arriving much too early…particularly on a day that is open and unfettered, free of soccer games, work, and school. My daughter greets me every Sunday morning this way, nestling next to me as I’m merely contemplating the idea of maaaybe opening my eyes. I usually turn over covering my head with a pillow and mutter, “what about just relaxing…” It’s more of a spoken wishful thought than a true suggestion, as I already know from past experience that relaxing all day is to her a completely unacceptable option. Some days however, “what we’re going to do today” has me bounding out of bed even before (truly) her. One such day is almost upon us. In just a few short weeks when she asks me the question I will exuberantly reply, “We’re going to Open Studios!”

I was introduced to Open Studios when my daughter’s elementary school teacher assigned going as homework. Per the website, “The Open Studios Fall Artist Tour is hosted during the first two weekends of October. Artists from around Boulder open their studios and allow you privileged access in to their creative process. Feel free to engage the artists; ask questions, watch demonstrations, and learn about the fascinating world of art and design.” I love looking at art, so this was an assignment with which I was eager to assist. I just didn’t realize how inspiring and fun it would turn out to be for both her and me, and something that would easily be near the top of both of our lists as one of the best parent-kid activities Boulder offers.

open studios pic

Image credit: www.openstudios.org

With almost 130 participating artists, and because visitors are able to attend at their leisure over the course of four days, the studios are usually not too busy at any one time, allowing ample opportunity for children to talk directly with the creators of the art they’re observing. Satiating a child’s curious mind, this interaction makes the result, and the process, that much more meaningful. I love watching my daughter’s eyes widen when she’s shown how an artist shapes their clay or what they were thinking about when painting a specific piece. A gem of this setup is the travel in between. It’s a sort of treasure hunt and museum on the go, perfect for young attention spans. We make an entire day of it, taking little detours to look at the gorgeous autumn leaves or eating at a new-to-us restaurant close to a studio. Many artists also have additional activities children can enjoy. Two years ago we sat in the yard outside a studio painting to our hearts’ content using the free supplies available to children and adults alike. If you’re not yet sold, I will seal the deal with this final detail: there are snacks. GOOD snacks, like yummy apple cider and gingerbread cookies.

So now that you’re in, you will need a map (sold for $12 at a variety of businesses around Boulder), a means of transportation (in some cases even just your feet or a bike as many studios are clustered together and may be close to your neighborhood), and geared up to have a fun, fulfilling family day. You can find more details about times and where to purchase your map here.