If you caught last week’s post, then you know that I’ve recently taken a trip to one of my favorite weekend-ish vacation spots—Colorado Springs, CO. I say “ish” only because where I live is actually about a day’s drive away, so having more than a weekend to explore is definitely ideal. But I’ll take what I can get.
In my most recent visit, I only spent about a day and half in Colorado Springs. But fortunately it wasn’t my first visit to this outdoor hotspot, so I already had a bit of an idea as to where I wanted to go and what I wanted to see. For those first time Colorado Springs travelers or those maybe considering taking a trip out, I’ve put together a short list of some of my favorite sights to see. A lot of these activities can be done in a day. Or you can take your time with each one. The versatility is all up to you.
Garden of the Gods Park
Garden of the Gods is a public park with several sandstone and limestone structures scattered throughout its 1,367 acres. There’s a lot to see here, but if you only have a day, consider walking the Central Garden Trail. It’s a popular and easy walk where you’ll get to see a lot of formations, including the Kissing Camels, both Gateway Rocks, and more. The trail isn’t much longer than a mile, so you might even have time to do a couple more afterwards.
I’d also highly recommend stopping at the Visitor & Nature Center before or after your hike. Here you can get a little bit more information about some of the structures in the park as well as the park’s history. There’s also a cafe and a theater inside, but they may not be operating or may be operating at a limited capacity due to COVID-19 restrictions. I would check their website to properly plan your visit.
As a big brunch goer, I’d also recommend checking out the Garden of the Gods Market & Cafe, which is about a ten-minute drive away from the park. They’ve got a decent-sized menu, lots of diet options, and specialty cocktails!
This 14,115-foot summit is a popular destination for all Colorado Springs travelers. There are several ways to get to the top of the mountain. You can drive, ride your bike, hike, or take guided tour. Each obviously comes with pros and cons of its own, so think about your comfort level before deciding.
During my last visit to Colorado Springs, I drove up the mountain—almost to the summit (the top was closed due to inclement weather)—to some amazing views. If you decide to drive, make sure you take into account if your car can make it up as well as the amount of gas you have in your tank. And whichever way you decide to get to the top, be mindful of how long it’ll take you to get there. Here’s the website link for more information.
Manitou Springs is actually a small historic district just outside of Colorado Springs. The neighborhood has a very charming vibe to it, with plenty of art galleries, shops, and cafes lining the streets. It’s a great place to take some photos to update your Instagram feed. To be honest, I didn’t do as much here as I would’ve liked. But small-town, laid-back vibe left a big impression on me and I’d definitely like to make a return. You can do a little bit more research on the town here.
Red Rock Canyon Open Space
Not to be confused with Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre just outside Denver, CO, Red Rock Canyon Open Space is located right next to Manitou Springs. This park has several trails, ranging in difficulty, so it’s perfect for a family adventure or an experienced hiking trip. You can climb some of the structures—with special permission—and certain trails allow dogs to wander off-leash. There’s even more fun waiting for you here, so definitely consider making this a part of your Colorado Springs itinerary!
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
This is actually the only place on this list that I haven’t had the chance to visit yet. But I’ve heard nothing but good things. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is located on Cheyenne Mountain and overlooks the city of Colorado Springs. Not only is it the highest elevated zoo in America, but it’s also home to more than 30 species of endangered animals. You can even meet and feed the animals! They also have virtual experiences—which are especially useful in the COVID-era. Zoos are great fun for families and animal-lovers alike, and this one sounds like no other!
There’s definitely so much more to explore in Colorado Springs—I know I’ve barely scratched the surface. But if you’re looking for a good introductory visit, these are all places and activities I’d highly recommend!
For those of you who have been to Colorado Springs before, what are some of your recommendations? Leave them in the comments section below!
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