Although many people know there are tons of things to do in Colorado Springs for outdoor enthusiasts, that’s not all the Colorado city has to offer residents and visitors. 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 this 1,300-acre 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, comprises enormous sandstone rock formations – some up to 300 ft tall – against the scenic backdrop of Pike’s Peak. 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 on those, if you’re short of time, you might want to hire a bike or segway and make your way around.
There’s also the option to book a climbing adventure if hanging by ropes above the ground gets your pulse racing (in a good way). For the more sedentary traveler, gazing out at the spectacular scenery from the comfort of the glass-fronted cafe, while drinking coffee and eating cake, is never a bad idea. And it’s all free! Not the coffee and cake, obviously, but entry to the park.
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, it’s 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 they have the highest zoo in the United States. 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 that 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. There’s also a great educational exhibit called My Big Backyard, which aims to educate people on how to safely live with the wildlife surrounding them in Colorado Springs. 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 theater, 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. It 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 Colorado Airplane Restaurant. No, we wouldn’t lie to you; this actually exists. A Boeing KC-97 has been transformed into a pretty unique place to grab some dinner. We can also confirm that the food is way better than the stuff you usually get on a plane. 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. We can’t tell you what it’s used for, or we’d have to kill you, but you can drive up close and take a look from the outside. It looks pretty neat at night when the outer tunnel is lit up in the darkness.
FAQs About Colorado Springs
We’ve compiled answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the city and things to do in Colorado Springs. These will help your research, planning, and general education about all this beautiful mountain city has to offer.
What can you do for free in Colorado Springs?
Head downtown to the popular Uncle Wilber Fountain and cool off in the midday sun. This is a fun thing to do in Colorado Springs with kids as who doesn’t love splashing around in warm water? Alternatively, if you’re feeling energetic, spend the day at beautiful North Cheyenne Canyon Park, and marvel at the Helen Hunt Falls. No, they’re not named after the Oscar winning actress.
What is there to do in Colorado Springs in the winter?
If you’re feeling chilly in the winter months, hit up one of the local brewery tours, such as the Colorado Mountain Brewery or Bristol Brewing Company. Or, head to the Ghost Town and experience what life was like back in the days of Colorado’s Wild West.
Does it snow a lot in Colorado Springs?
Not really. If snow does fall, it’s generally very light, and it never lasts more than a few days.
What is Colorado Springs known for?
Being awesome? Oh, you mean apart from that? Well, it’s also pretty well known for the Palomar Divide, which separates Denver from the city. It’s just high enough to keep the weather on either side, so it can literally be raining on one side and gorgeous and sunny on the other. It’s like magic.
What is there to do on a rainy day in Colorado Springs?
Head to the Fine Art Center to catch a show or travelling exhibition, or hit up the Space Foundation Headquarters and Discovery Center. The kids will love you for it. More so, we mean.
Colorado Springs is a beautiful and serene city, popular with visitors who love being out in the fresh air. It sits in a beautiful location at the foot of the Rockies and is known for being an attractive place to live and work. Colorado Springs isn’t far from Denver but, when you’re there, it does feel like you’re in the middle of the country and not just a short drive from a major US capital. Therefore, it benefits from the best of both worlds. There’s a good range of accommodation options and many of the attractions in the area suit people traveling on a budget. Colorado Springs Airport serves the city, but many visitors arrive via Denver International. We hope we’ve convinced you of all the great things to do in Colorado Springs and that’s we’ll see you around real soon.