8 Spring Break Staycation Ideas

Staying in town for spring break? Here are eight great ways to turn the kids’ time off into a fun staycation.


1. Explore the Outdoors

Douglas County is home to some pretty awesome state parks and a short drive to several others. Round up the kids and go — for a hike, wildlife viewing, a family picnic, or all of the above. Stop by your library for a free state park pass with one of our Check Out Colorado backpacks.

2. Plan an Adventure

Did you know you can get free passes to local museums and cultural attractions using your library card? Get your Adventure Pass and spend the week exploring Butterfly Pavilion, Dinosaur Ridge, Molly Brown House Museum (NEW!), Denver Firefighters Museum, or four other attractions.

3. Play Games

Plan an epic game day at home, or stop by one of these libraries for an evening of games:

4. Host a Family-Friendly Film Festival

Convert the family room into a movie theater, complete with comfy seating and theater treats, and host your own celebration of film. Try these family flicks or check out our catalog for more.

5. Challenge the Kids to a Bake-Off

Make it a contest or do it for fun. Baking with the kids can be such a treat — and you can share the baked goodies with friends, neighbors and family. Check out these kid-friendly cookbooks, and heat those ovens!

6. Go ‘Camping’

Camp DCL’s weeklong, half-day camps — Be a Builder and Be a STEAM-y Chef — allow kids ages 6-12 to have fun with hands-on projects while learning important skills. Check out a typical day at Camp DCL. There are still a few spots available — register today!

7. Start a Garden

Early spring is a great time to start your garden. Why not get the kids involved? Spend some time each day putting together a creative container garden. Here are some books and ideas to get you going.

8. Cultivate Creativity

Bond with the kids over crafts. These books provide great ideas for crafting your own day of fun, or drop by our Lone Tree location for two different craft sessions for all ages during spring break.

  • Craft Lab: 2-4 p.m., Sunday, March 18. No registration required.
  • Open Studio: 6:30-8:30 p.m., Thursday, March 22. No registration required.



Learn About: Group Travel

If you missed the Travel Adventures event we recently hosted at Douglas County Libraries in Lone Tree, we’ve got you covered. That event, designed especially for travelers ages 50-plus and presented by a Road Scholar ambassador, covered educational travel tours in the U.S. and abroad.

If you’re excited to try new travel adventures but don’t want to figure out all the details, a group or guided trip might be right for you. Here’s some information from last week’s travel event to get you started.

Decide Where to Go

Check out travel books, videos and magazines from one of our seven library locations or DCL.org. You can also draw inspiration from travel experts:

When Do You Need a Tour Guide?

A tour guide might be helpful if:

  • You have limited time or simply prefer to leave the details to professionals.
  • Your destination calls for expertise: historic places, subject knowledge, language, adventure trips, dangerous or chaotic locations, and nature excursions.
  • You desire “local” or cultural experience outside the usual tourist fare.
  • You don’t want to drive or navigate public transportation on your own.

Questions to Ask Before You Book

Comparing tour companies goes beyond destination and price. Make a list of all your questions and record the answers in a spreadsheet to make your decision-making easier. Here are a few common questions:

  • Is this tour for travelers 50-plus or all ages? Couples, singles or both? Group size?
  • Can I see the full itinerary before committing?
  • Who are the guides? Are they locals/subject matter experts? Will they speak throughout or rely at times on prerecorded audio with headphones?
  • Is this tour tailored to general interest travelers or subject matter experts?
  • What kind of transportation is used? How much walking? Where will we eat?
  • Will I get free time?
  • What extra fees and expenses can I expect?

Additional Resources

Try these additional resources for more information or if you have questions.

Budget Group-Tour Companies

These companies accommodate groups of 20-40 people, mostly seasonal travelers. Lodging is equivalent to a Holiday Inn or Marriott, and expenses average $200-$350 per person per day (a nonrefundable deposit of $250-$300 is required; balances are due 75-90 days prior to departure). Extras may include single supplements, some meals, some excursions, international flights and transfers.

Upcoming Event

Join us for our next free travel-focused event.

Travel Club
Unique travel experiences and ideas for your next destination
Thursday, April 26, 11:30AM-1PM
Douglas County Libraries in Lone Tree (10055 Library Way)
No registration required
Learn more



DIY Concrete Valentines

concrete-heart-by-oceanCement your love this Valentine’s Day with this little DIY concrete valentine craft. It’s easy and fun to try with the kids.

Materials Needed

  • Rapid-set cement
  • Water
  • Heart-shaped silicone molds
  • Disposable cup
  • Stir stick
  • Optional: sandpaper, paintbrushes and craft paint

“Mise en place” isn’t just applicable to cooking. Make sure you have all your materials prepped and ready because this cement dries fast.

Ready to Start?

First, measure out 12 tablespoons of the rapid-set cement in the disposable cup. Then add 3 tablespoons plus a half-teaspoon of water. Stir immediately.

Once all dry chunks of cement are gone, pour into molds and smooth the tops of the hearts. Set aside to dry for one hour.

After hearts have dried, pop them out of the molds. If desired, you can sand the bottoms and paint the hearts.


If your kids loved this craft, then you have to sign them up for our Be a Builder camp during spring break (March 19-March 23). In this weeklong, half-day camp, kids will design and build everything from collapsible cardboard forts to wooden birdhouses. And, yes, they’ll get to experiment with stone, brick and mortar.

Recipe: Banana Dulce de Leche Pancakes

Banana Pancakes

Pancakes are the perfect Valentine’s Day breakfast. Whip these up with your kids.


Have kids measure 1 1/4 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and a BIG pinch of sea salt into a big bowl. This is the dry bowl.


Ask kids to chop and slice 2 semi-ripe bananas into TINY BITS! Set to the side.


Have kids stir together 1 cup of your favorite milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 1/2 tablespoons of light brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons room-temperature butter in a small bowl. This is the wet bowl.

Show your child how to crack open large egg. Add the egg to the wet bowl and mix together.


Have kids combine the wet ingredients into the dry-ingredient bowl. Add the chopped and sliced bananas to the batter and mix well.

Preheat your skillet over medium-low heat and melt about 2 tablespoons of butter or oil.


Spoon batter into preheated hot skillet, forming small-sized pancakes. Cook for about 2 minutes per side or until golden brown and bubbly, then flip the pancakes and cook the other side until golden brown and puffed.


Transfer to an oven-safe plate to keep warm in your oven — and then serve topped with Vegan Dulce de Leche Sauce (see recipe below).


Vegan Dulce de Leche Sauce


Whisk one 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk, 3/4 cup packed brown sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt in a large heavy skillet on your stovetop until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high and boil until mixture is reduced to about 2 1/2 cups, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Serve with pancakes!



If your sweet sous chefs loved making these, then you should sign them up for our Be a STEAM-y Chef spring break camp. In this weeklong, half-day camp (March 19-23), kids will make two recipes each day while learning STEAM concepts like the science of taste and genetic modification from Sticky Fingers.

This recipe was generously provided by our friends at Sticky Fingers.

Learn to Say “I Love You” in 72 Different Ways


Surprise your Valentine by learning to say “I love you” in a foreign language:


Spanish: Te amo

French: Je t’aime

Italian: Ti amo

Russian: Я вас люблю!

Danish: Jeg elsker dig

Tagalog: Mahal kita

Swahili: Ninakupenda

Try these and other languages — more than 70! — using your library card to access Mango Languages.

Stick to Your New Year’s Resolutions!


The new year is here, which means it’s an opportune time to wipe the proverbially slate clean and start fresh. 2017 is so last year — it’s time for brand-new resolutions, and maybe even a few bookish ones.

You make ‘em, and DCL can help you stick to them! 2018 is going to be a piece of cake (or whole-grain deliciousness, depending on the resolution).

Resolutions That Stick!

Resolution: Save money, but still enjoy life.
Stick to It: Let’s count the ways DCL can help you save money using just your library card:

  1. Check out DCL Local for great deals and discounts at area shops and restaurants.
  2. Get free passes to local museums and cultural attractions with Adventure Pass.
  3. Watch the best movies by conveniently downloading or streaming them to your device via Hoopla. Cost to you: $0.
  4. Read the newest books coming out, or the classics you’ve been meaning to get to. You can easily stream or download books for free using OverDrive and Hoopla.
  5. Go ahead and splurge on that new gadget you’ve been eyeing, but do your research first at Consumer Reports to get the best deal.
  6. Get fit without the expense of special classes. Hoopla offers a variety of health and fitness videos you can stream or download for free.

Resolution: Learn some skills, or at least some new ones!
Stick to It: Lynda.com makes it easy to brush up on skills, learn new ones, or just polish the old resume. All you need is your library card number.

Resolution: Read more, and maybe read something a little different.
Stick to It: We’ve got a Reading Challenge for you! Or you can join one of the many book clubs that meet at our libraries.

Resolution: Help my child become a stronger reader.
Stick to It: Struggling readers can gain reading skills and confidence through DCL’s Bark for Books and Reading Buddies programs.

  • Bark for Books allows kids to read out loud to trained dogs in a relaxed setting, with no judgement from classmates or parents. This kind of practice helps improve reading skills and build confidence.
  • The Reading Buddies program pairs kids ages 6-9 with trained teen volunteers for reading practice and literacy-based games.

Resolution: Cook healthy meals.
Stick to It: A new year calls for new recipes. Check out these cookbooks for healthy eating.

Resolution: Learn a new language.
Stick to It: Get started with Mango Languages via the Research page on this website. Learning with Mango is easier than you think, and you can do it from the comfort of home, the coffee shop, or even the airport. All you need is your library card number.

Sticking to your resolutions can make for a much happier new year. Here’s to that!




DCL’s Most Popular Checkouts in 2017

Wondering what your Douglas County neighbors were reading, watching and listening to in 2017? Wonder no more! These are the year’s top checkouts.

Adult Fiction

It’s safe to say Douglas County readers love twists and turns, and thrills and chills. Topping the adult fiction checkouts in 2017 were Camino Island and The Whistler by John Grisham, followed by David Baldacci’s The Fix, Michael Connelly’s The Wrong Side of Goodbye, and C.J. Box’s Vicious Circle.

Want more? View the expanded list of top adult fiction checkouts here.

Adult Nonfiction

Life-changing stories topped the list of popular nonfiction in 2017. And yes, we’re still trying to get organized! The top five included The Magnolia Story by Chip Gaines; Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly; The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo; Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg; and The Zookeeper’s Wife: A War Story by Diane Ackerman.

View the expanded list of top adult nonfiction checkouts here.

Young Adult Fiction

These page-turners were tops with young adults (and more than a few, ahem, older adults, too): Cinder by Marissa Meyer; The Maze Runner by James Dashner; Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs; Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon; and Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.

View the expanded list of top YA fiction checkouts here.

Juvenile Fiction

Wimpy kids flexed some major muscle with young readers in 2017. The top-five juvenile fiction checkouts included: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Double Down by Jeff Kinney; Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling; Wonder by R.J. Palacio; Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Old School by Jeff Kinney; and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay by J.K. Rowling.

View the expanded list of top juvenile fiction checkouts here.

Picture Books

Easy reading, great lessons, and adorable illustrations. These were the most popular picture books: Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses by James Dean; The Pigeon Needs a Bath! by Mo Willems; Ice Cream & Dinosaurs by Eric Litwin; The Thank You Book by Mo Willems; and How Do Dinosaurs Choose Their Pets? by Jane Yolen.

View the expanded list of top picture book checkouts here.

Adult Fiction Audiobooks

Historical fiction found a place among the thrillers at the top of this audio category, which included: No Man’s Land by David Baldacci; The Whistler by John Grisham; All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr; The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins; and Night School by Lee Child.

View the expanded list of top fiction audiobook checkouts here.

Adult Nonfiction Audiobooks


Disney’s animated film Moana topped the list of DVD checkouts in 2017, followed by The Girl on the Train, Trolls, Hacksaw Ridge, and Sully.

View the expanded list of top DVD checkouts here.




New Year’s Eve Party Soundtrack

Glittery-2018-Confetti-with-Ribbons2017 is swiftly coming to a close. Fresh starts and new beginnings await with 2018. We hope you’re taking some time to celebrate the end of the year (either because you had a fantastic one or the fact that it’s finally over).

This playlist is designed to have you dancing into the new year. You can download each song using your library card. (Download up to five songs per week from Freegal.)


Celebration” by Kool & the Gang

Dancing in the Dark” by Bruce Springsteen

Raise Your Glass” by P!nk

Havana” by Camila Cabello feat. Young Thug

Lose Yourself to Dance” by Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams

Blame It on the Boogie” by The Jacksons


Of course, you’ll have to end the night with the old favorite: “Auld Lang Syne” by Mediaeval Baebes

New Year’s Party Crafts for Kids

These simple party crafts are great for ringing in the new year with a bang!

Easy Party Poppers

These easy-to-make crackers add a fun surprise to any party.

You’ll need: tissue paper, toilet paper rolls, washi tape or string/ribbon, and candy and confetti

Paper Plate Party Animal

Via Crafts by Amanda for Kix

For the party animal in all of us! The whole family can get creative with this silly noisemaker.

You’ll need: one paper plate per crafter, yellow and light blue paint (or colors of your choice), two large pink pom-poms (or any color), black felt, and party blowers


You know that eclectic mix of buttons you’ve collected over the years? Here’s a festive way to use them!

You’ll need: scissors or decorative edgers, cardboard or corrugated kraft paper, markers, craft glue, ice-pop sticks, hole punch, waxed twine, and beads or buttons

New Year’s Fortune Cookie Messages

These paper fortune cookies are a creative way to share personal New Year’s messages with friends, family, and even the kids’ teachers.

You’ll need: scrapbook paper, glue dots, white paper, and scissors

Noon Year’s Eve Countdown

Get a head-start on your New Year’s celebration with DCL! Register for one of our annual Noon Year’s Eve countdown parties at these DCL locations. All events are free and take place on Sunday, December 31, at noon.


Thank-You Notes, DCL Style

2017 is almost in the books, but we couldn’t let it go without a quick look back and a heartfelt thank you for being part of the DCL events and activities that made it such a memorable year.

Camp DCL

Thank you, kid campers, for exploring what you want to be at Camp DCL. You cooked, created and built some amazing things. You learned detective skills, how to code games, and how to build robots. And you taught us that discovery is alive and well. We hope to see you at our spring break camps in 2018!

Camp DCL parent thank-you note: “Everyone was awesome! My son was on the younger/less experienced side and everyone was great at helping and getting him excited about it. It was his first experience with coding and was super positive, so thank you!”

Summer Reading Program

Thank you, Readers @ Play, for helping us meet our Summer Reading Program’s community goal of 4 million minutes of reading. But you didn’t just meet the goal, you totally crushed it with 6.8 million minutes read! You make us proud. Be sure to join us next June to kick off Summer Reading 2018.

Summer Reading Program parent thank-you note: “Thank you! For a few weeks, my son was a voracious reader. That’s never happened before!”

Outside the Lines

Great Douglas County Brew Tour

Thank you, library lovers, for taking your DCL experience Outside the Lines during the 2017 Great Douglas County Brew Tour. With our Brew Tour partners, we paired local libations with cheese and chocolates, made a few Pinterest-worthy crafts, and learned hipster coffee brewing tips and tricks from the pros. Cheers to you!

Brew Tour participant thank-you note: “What a great program from our local public library!”

Author Events

Thank you, book fans, for showing your book love to the 21 authors who joined us this year for compelling author talks and book signings. Stay tuned for more of these exciting events in 2018, starting with bestseller Jojo Moyes on Monday, February 5!

Dan Brown event attendee thank-you note: “Wow! Wow! Wow! What a fabulous event!”

Colorado Gives Day

Thank you, generous supporters, who helped Douglas County Libraries Foundation exceed our Colorado Gives Day goal of raising $20,000. The more-than $23,000 donated will help make wishes come true in our community, providing scholarships for high school equivalency testing and Camp DCL and supporting programs like Summer Reading, Cuddle Up & Read, and much more. We couldn’t do it without you!

If you missed us on Colorado Gives Day, there’s still time to make a tax-deductible donation toward our year-end goal.

Camp DCL scholarship recipient thank-you note: “Thank you so much for this scholarship for Luke. I know he will enjoy this camp, and my husband and I are so overwhelmed by the kindness from Douglas County Libraries.”

Storybook Holiday Party

Thank you, literary party people, for joining us at our inaugural Storybook Holiday Party earlier this month. It was a Grinchy good time, complete with Santa and his reindeer, and we can’t wait to see you at next year’s Storybook Holiday extravaganza.

Storybook Holiday Party guest thank-you note: “I just wanted to say that what you did last Saturday night [December 2] was absolutely magical! My daughter and I had a blast!”

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