Traveling and experiencing new activities is fun whether it is a destination or it’s in your own backyard. My family and I, as well as my twin sister live in the beautiful state of Colorado, specifically, Colorado Springs. We love the gorgeous weather we get most of the year and we are not short on sunshine. I know Florida is named the sunshine state, but I think Colorado at least ties or takes the lead in this area! There may be some chilly days, but most of the time the sun is shining bright.
My sister and I were born and raised in Colorado Springs and loved every minute of it. There are some timeless icons of Colorado Springs that never get old no matter how many times I go. These places are so unique and wonderfully gorgeous that I think we take for granted sometimes living here. In high school I got to wake up everyday and drive past the famous Garden of the Gods with the majestic snow capped Pike’s Peak in the distance. It’s simply gorgeous!
If you are looking for a place to visit, place Colorado Springs on your list. You will not be disappointed!
Every city has their unique characteristics and places that make them… well them. Here are seven must see things to do and see in Colorado Springs. These are great destinations to visit as a family and with kids as well.
- Garden of the Gods:
- Admission: Free! To the Visitor and Nature Center as well as park itself
- Activities: Visitor and Nature Center, hiking, biking, free guided walks, jeep and segway tours, adventure programs and rock climbing (for experienced climbers with permission).
- Website: www.gardenofthegods.com
- Start at the Visitor and Nature Center. Here you will find exhibits on the people who who used to make this place home – the Native Americans – and how they lived, wildlife and geology. The geology exhibit goes into why and how the iconic red rocks were formed and how we can keep this park pristine and the red rocks for years to come. Next, head into the park. You can drive through it, but it’s worth it if you have the time to get out and walk around or find a hiking trail. Most trails are easy and the scenery and views cannot be beat! You’ll be glad you did. Also, don’t forget to take lots and lots of photos. It’s a perfect place for that family photo or selfie! It’s a great park to spend a couple hours to a full day at depending on the activities you choose.
- Pike’s Peak (14,115 feet above sea level):
- Admission: If hiking – Free (though you will most likely have to pay for parking which varies) If driving – a $35 fee per car fee or $10 per person 15 years and over and $5 for those 6 years to 15 years old (make sure to check current hours of operations)
- Activities: Hiking or driving
- Website: www.pikes-peak.com
- It is one of Colorado’s arguably most famous fourteeners (mountains above 14,000 feet) if you will. Pike’s Peak never gets old. There are two ways to get to the top – hiking or you can drive the whole way up (and down!) on a paved road. They used to have a tram to the top called the Cog Railway that just recently closed and I am not too sure if it is indefinite yet. Hiking is great and the views are fantastic of the city. You can get these by just hiking up a half mile or so and it’s fun to go even if you aren’t going to the top. If you do want to hike the whole thing, make sure you are fully acclimated to the altitude, bring water, pack the right equipment (it’s 15-20 degrees colder at the top) and start early. I have hiked it many times and have run the Pike’s Peak Marathon a couple times a few years back. You get such a great sense of accomplishment after hiking up something so big! You can hike up and drive down if you choose too (just make sure there is someone to drive up and meet you). Driving up is just as fun and beautiful and certainly a faster alternative to the top. There is a gift shop at the top and don’t forget to get the scrumptious donuts they offer!
- Air Force Academy:
- Admission: Free
- Activities: They offer self-guided tours – Visitor Center, Cadet Chapel, Arnold Hall, Honor Court, Falcon Athletic Center, Hiking and driving around a bit to look at the “airplanes on a stick” as we call them!
- Website: www.usafa.edu
- This was a place that we would take relatives and friends when they came – nearly every time. The chapel is one of a kind and there are fun little hiking trails for anyone with little difficulty. It’s fun to walk around, see the visitor center and take photos. When we were little it was fun for us to see the “airplanes on a stick” that are located around the Academy and to anticipate the next one – they were all so different. It’s a great place for adults and kids alike.
- Broadmoor Hotel:
- Admission: None
- Activities: Site seeing, shopping and restaurants
- Website: www.broadmoor.com
- This is a five star beautiful, unique historical hotel in south Colorado Springs. It is worth the visit. It is relaxing to walk around the lake and take in the crisp air and beautiful mountain scenery. There are also awesome restaurants and a little cafe and stellar shopping with unique finds. Our absolute favorite time to go is just before Christmas to look at the most amazing decorations and twinkling lights that are just everywhere! This is where we take our Christmas photos each year. We pick our favorite tree and snap our family photo. We also look forward to visiting the Cafe to order hot chocolate and a delectable sweet. It’s a family tradition that we always look forward to! …but maybe one day we can stay a night or two as well!
- Olympic Training Center:
- Admission: General admission for a tour is $12 for an adult, children 5-12 are $8 and military/65+ are $10, under 5 years are free
- Activities: Tours
- Website: www.teamusa.org/csotc
- This is such an interesting place to visit. The tour and all the facts are amazing – to hear about the facility and the athletes that train there! It awes me every time!
- North Pole:
- Admission: General admission in $24 for ages 3-59, 2 and under and 60+ are free, military are $19
- Activities: Mini theme park great for little kids
- Website: www.northpolecolorado.com
- I haven’t been to the North Pole since I was little, but I want to go again to bring my own little ones! I have friends that have taken their kids and said they just have a ball! It’s a little theme park with Santa’s Workshop to complete the adventure!
- Cheyenne Mountain Zoo:
- Admission: There are three different times throughout the year – regular, peak and value days. General admission ranges from $14.75 – $24.75 for a day admission. I would recommend looking at their website at cmzoo.org to get their detailed admission and schedule.
- Activities: See the awesome animals!
- Website: www.cmzoo.org
- We love LOVE the zoo. It is rated in the top 10 zoo’s in the United States. The animals are awesome, but the views can’t be topped either! It’s located on the side of a mountain and it’s not just another zoo. I highly recommend reserving a day to go.
The best restaurants unique to Colorado Springs my sister and I have found.
- Pig Latin Cocina – piglatincocina.com: ($) This started out as a popular food truck that eventually found a permeant home. It’s a fusion of Latin and American food that is amazing! Get there early though – it’s a fairly small restaurant and seating fills up fast!
- Paravicinis – paravicinis.com: ($$) This is an Italian Bistro with homemade food made with love – you can just tell! It’s a great place for family gatherings and a great place to relax.
- Marigold Cafe and Bakery (marigoldcoloradosprings.com ($$) – This little place has a big menu and carries a big reputation – a good one. The food is phenomenal and the bakery specialties can’t be beat! It’s near the Garden of the Gods. One of your days is planned. Breakfast at the hotel, visit Garden of the Gods and Marigolds for a late lunch or dinner!
- Pizza Rustica – pizzeriarustica.com ($): Antipasta and Pizza – good, no… awesome pizza!
- Duca’s Neapolitan Restaurant – ducaspizza.com ($): ($) Can you tell we like Italian food yet! Duca’s is a family run pizza place with wood fired pizzas. They are amazing and worth a try!
Colorado Springs is a unique and special place and will always hold a spot in my heart. It’s a city with so much to see, do and learn about. I only listed seven great places to see, but there are so many more. You could fill a week, two or even more with great adventures. I guarantee there will be fun and many smiles to be seen and there are no shortages of places to fill a hungry stomach.
Come visit my favorite part of the country!
I do believe it is time for another adventure!
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