10 ‘Must See’ Places in Colorado Springs

Whether you’re a local looking for a “staycation” or Colorado is on your bucket list, Colorado Springs, just 90 minutes south of Denver, is brimming with incredible experiences that you can’t miss!  Depending on the time of year, here are some of our family’s favorites.

  1. Need a place to stay? For the perfect mountain lodge resort experience, I suggest the Cheyenne Mountain Resort. Nestled at the base of Cheyenne Mountain the views, food, activities and service are spectacular! Not only do they have an outdoor heated pool for year-round swimming, but in the summer they have a 35-acre lake where you can build sand castles, rent a canoe or try stand-up-paddleboarding. The Country Club of Colorado has an 18-hole golf course that wraps around the resort for a spectacular experience. Not too big, not too small…Cheyenne Mountain resort is a beautiful place to bring your family.  Check out their packages here.
  2. The Olympic Training Center is the headquarters for the U.S. Olympic Committee and where all the indoor summer athletes train. Make sure you sign up for a tour and plan in advance in case you come during a busy time.  My family was lucky enough to be shown around by an Olympic weight lifter who showed us the pool, shooting range, gymnastics center and more.  In the lobby my kids got a kick out of sitting in the bobsleds on display and even came home with some official gear. It’s a rare opportunity kids of any age will love and never forget – go anytime, not just during an Olympic year.  They are always happy to have you!
  3. Garden of the Gods, a city park since 1909, is designated as a National Natural Landmark.  The red rock formations are over 300 million years old.  Beautiful in every season, you may be able to see more adventurous folks rock climbing on your hike.  With over 15 miles of trails, there is something for everyone! If you aren’t acclimated to the elevation, I suggest the 1.5 mile Garden Center trail which is wheelchair and stroller friendly. Check out the website for more information regarding rock climbing or horseback riding through the park. Dogs are welcome on leash, too!
  4. The U.S. Air Force Academy allows self-guided tours daily giving you a glimpse of cadet life. If you are a prospective applicant, click here to receive an escorted tour.  Make sure you see the impressive Cadet Chapel with it’s 17 spires towering against the backdrop of the Rockies.  Check the athletic schedule and maybe you’ll be lucky enough to attend a football game or other event! In the visitor’s center there’s a comprehensive film detailing the history of the Academy, the life of cadets and highlighting esteemed alumni.  Make sure you don’t miss it!
  5. The Space Foundation Discovery Center is a hidden gem everyone should visit.  Upon entering, walk past a real lunar module, space suits and NASA control panels. We were lucky to get a great tour from the vice president of education.  He took us into a robotics lab where students were building Mars rovers, explained actual pieces of rockets and shuttles around us and then was our favorite part…Science on a Sphere!  Here we learned all about the universe on an interactive globe floating above us in the middle of a circular lecture hall, showing us the weather on Jupiter, the Earth from multiple views, our moon and other planets in the solar system compiled from satellite images.  Definitely give yourself at least 90 minutes to take a look around.  No matter the ages of your party, there is something for everyone. Don’t miss this!
  6. Pikes Peak was the inspiration for the American patriotic song, America the Beautiful.  I can even see it’s impressive purple mountain’s majesty from my own home 100 miles to the north on a clear day.  Pikes Peak is a MUST on any visit to the Colorado Springs area.  If you aren’t feeling brave enough to drive to the 14,000′ summit, try the Cog Railway, which operates in all seasons and has been doing so since 1891!  For the more adventurous, you can try biking to the summit.  No matter how you visit, there are many beautiful lakes perfect for a picnic or fishing.  Make sure you stop at Santa’s Workshop if you have kids along. If you’re in the mood for a hike and want to see a beautiful mountain waterfall, don’t miss Seven Falls!
  7. Have you ever fed a giraffe?  This is something you must try on your visit to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo!  The zoo keepers sell the favorite leafy snacks in support of the animals, so don’t forget to bring along cash.  On the day we visited it was freezing so the animals were inside vs. out in their beautiful habitat.  However, it was amazing getting up close and personal to these beautiful creatures!  My middle son was hugging their necks every chance he got.  I’ll be honest, it would have been nicer to visit on a warmer day, but the giraffes loved having us give them attention and it was nice to have such a unique experience! In the monkey pavilion, there was a two-toed sloth napping in a hammock above us as we walked through.  Although the zoo is open year round, I would try to visit when the temperature is above freezing.
  8. Cripple Creek was founded during the gold rush over a century ago.  Take a tour of the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine deep inside the mountain to see how the early miners worked and gold veins in the rock.  A unique way to see the Gold Camp area is via steam engines of the Cripple Creek and Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad.  One of the richest and most diverse fossil beds in the world, Florissant Fossil Beds, is nearby and a great way to take advantage of the National Park Service’s program Every Kid in a Park, where every 4th grader and their family can see America’s historical sites and natural wonders for free.
  9. Manitou Springs, at the foot of Pikes Peak is just six miles west of downtown Colorado Springs. The mineral springs of the area were thought to have healing powers by the native Americans.  If you are looking for a challenging hike with great views try the Manitou Incline, which is a mile long with a 2,000 ft. change in elevation.  If you can’t make it all the way over to Mesa Verde in southwestern Colorado, you’ll love a tour of the Manitou Cliff Dwellings.  Jeep tours of Pikes Peak and zip line fun can be found hereCave of the Winds is another amazing natural wonder to visit, plus fun zip lines and other attractions in the area.
  10. Canon City (pronounced Canyon) and the Royal Gorge is 45 minutes southwest of Colorado Springs. If you’ve watched The Man in the High Castle on Amazon you’ve heard of this town. (And if you haven’t, watch it!)  Canon City is a great little mountain town with classic architecture and a unique flavor.  The Royal Gorge is an amazing canyon you must see either by walking or driving on the bridge, gondola, sky coaster or zip line.  Whitewater rafting on the Arkansas River and the Royal Gorge Railroad are also area favorites.