‘It’s a well-known fact that there are tons of things to do in Colorado Springs for outdoor enthusiasts,. However, the city is way more than just a hub for adventurers…’
Let’s take a look at its background and location before we dazzle you with its range of top visitor attractions. Colorado Springs is actually the largest city in the state of Colorado in terms of size. It’s located in the eastern part of Colorado, just 60 miles from the state capital, Denver.
Colorado Springs sits at the foot of the majestic Southern Rocky Mountains and, at some points, the city reaches heights of more than one mile above sea level. The city’s population is around 464,000 people and its home to a plethora of sporting bodies, including USA Hockey. In 2018, it was named the most desirable place to live in the United States, which tells you a lot about its amenities, the pace of life, and its people.
So, let’s go on a quick journey and explore all the great things to do in Colorado Springs on your visit.
Garden of the Gods
Exploring the 1,300 acre Garden of the Gods park is one of the top things to do to in Colorado Springs for all the family. The park, which is a National Natural Landmark, is full of enormous sandstone rock formations; some of which reach more than 300 feet high. The area is a real community hub for the residents of Colorado Springs and has a seemingly endless array of classes and activities for all ages.
While visitors can certainly join in the activities, if you’re short of time, you can hire a bike or Segway and take in the sights a little more quickly. If you’re an adrenaline junkie, you can book a climbing adventure, which will see you hanging above the ground attached to rope. For the more sedentary traveller, get yourself a good seat in the glass-fronted café and spend time (with coffee and cake, of course), gazing out across the spectacular scenery. Entry to Garden of the Gods part is free of charge.
We must warn you that Pike’s Peak is not for the faint of heart. It’s bigger than we can show you with both our arms totally outstretched, so if that doesn’t give you some indication of its size, we genuinely don’t know what will. Anyway, Pike’s Peak is the highest summit in the Southern range of the Rocky Mountains and it stares down at Colorado Springs like a watchful parent.
The peak was named after an American explorer, Zebulon Pike, regardless of the fact that he never actually reached the top. We think if you go and make it to the peak, there’s a good chance they’ll rename it for you. It’s got to be worth a shot. If you’re worried that you might not have the stamina to walk that distance, then worry not. You can actually drive to the top in the comfort of your car. If you don’t drive, you can take the regular shuttle. Either way, there’s no excuse for not getting there. Besides, you can always tell the folks back home you did it on foot.
Because of the driving, Garden of the Gods is a good thing to do in Colorado Springs for all the family, regardless of age and fitness levels. When you get to the top, head to Summit House and pick up one of their very special donuts. These are no ordinary donuts, however, and they turn to mush when transported down to lower altitudes. We’ve no idea quite how that works. It’s like some sort of witchcraft, and we like it.
Tickets required, available online or at the toll, $5-$15
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
Because everything in Colorado Springs is exceptionally high, it should come as no real surprise that their zoo is the highest in the US. It sits at 6,800 feet above sea level and we imagine that carrying things up there must be pretty thirsty work. The zoo sits on Cheyenne Mountain (hence the clever name) and covers 140 acres of land in total. Don’t worry, though, only 20 of these are used for the exhibits.
The zoo is listed as one of the top ten in the US and it’s difficult to imagine an animal park in a more beautiful setting than this one. It has both land and water-based creatures and is famous for its giraffe conservation work. One of the highlights is the African Encounter where the lions, elephants, black rhinos, and meerkats live and it’s a good thing to do in Colorado Springs with kids. However, if you’re interested in more authenticity, you can see iconic land animals on the African savannah in their natural habitat.
Note to visitors: we promise you won’t see any penguins waddling around downtown as they’re not native to Colorado. However, we can’t assure you won’t see an American Black Bear or a Black Widow Spider…
Tickets required, available online or from the box office, $0.75-$24.75
Colorado Springs Fine Art Center
This Fine Art Center has various galleries, a 450 seat theatre, shop and library amongst its many offerings. It sits within the campus of Colorado College and works in conjunction with the educational facility. One of the highlights is the Taylor Gallery, which has an extensive permanent collection of Southwest art on display.
The Colorado Springs Fine Art Center also has chandeliers by noted glass-artist, Dale Chihuly. Its design has also been widely lauded for the use of Adobe and Art Deco in its building. When you find it, you’ll instantly know you’re in the right place. It’s a great facility and catching a show or an exhibition is a fun thing to do in Colorado Springs.
Tickets required, available at the box office, $5-$10
Downtown Colorado Springs
The downtown area feels like a small town, while offering the services you’d expect from a larger city. Being a designated Creative Arts District in the state, you can expect to find a whole lot of public art dotted around, with some outstanding installations on display.
One of the best things to do in Colorado Springs downtown area is hit the shops. There’s a really eclectic mix of stores and there’s really nothing you can’t find here. Some of the highlights are the independent boutiques, which are fantastic for gifts to take home. In terms of relaxing, grab a space on a sun dappled patio, with some local Colorado Springs wine or beer and watch the world go by.
Off-beat things to do in Colorado Springs
If you’re hungry and love aviation, you’ll be in your element at the uniquely unique Colorado Airplane Restaurant. The restaurant is a renovated Boeing KC-97 airplane and it’s an Instagram lover’s dream. We can confirm the food is way better than usual plane fare. The servings are also a whole lot bigger.
If you wanna take a peek at the outside of a classified NORAD Cold War nuclear bunker (and who doesn’t?), you can do so on Cheyenne Mountain. Tours are not permitted as the bunker is operational but it’s still an interesting place to visit. The bunker looks particularly spooky and mysterious at night, when the tunnel is lit up against the dark backdrop of the mountainside.
Colorado Springs is a beautiful and serene city, popular with visitors who love being out in the fresh air. It sits in a fantastic location at the foot of the Rockies and is rated highly as an ideal place to live and work. Although, Colorado Springs isn’t far from Denver, it feels like it’s a million miles away from a major US city. This means it benefits from the best of both worlds. There’s a good range of accommodation options and many of the attractions in the area will suit people budget travellers. The city is served by Colorado Springs Airport but most visitors arrive via Denver International.
Have you visited Colorado Springs? What were you favourite things to do?