The Colorado Springs area has a lot to offer when it comes to local attractions and outdoor activities. From cultural and historical sites to fun family attractions, you’ll find numerous places to explore. This will be our article in a series of exploring some of these great attractions in further detail. The following are some of the best things to do in Colorado Springs.
Manitou Cliff Dwellings
Manitou Cliff Dwellings features Native American architecture and art of the Anasazi community. Visitors can learn more about this community and the area’s history at two on-site museums. The enchantment and mystery of the Native American culture is sure to be a delight for all ages. These ancient Anasazi ruins are 800 to 1000 years old. The original site of these dwellings was in McElmo Canyon, in southwestern Colorado and featured 40 rooms. In 1904, Virginia McClurg hired William Crosby and the Manitou Cliff Dwellings Ruins Company to begin the relocation process. They wanted to preserve and protect these dwellings from looters and relic hunters. The 2 museums feature many cultural displays and educational opportunities. Go early and stay late. You can spends your entire day at the dwellings or just a few hours, it’s up to you, but there is plenty to see and do. You can walk through all of the rooms, take pictures, visit the museums and have a picnic!
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo provides opportunities to see a wide range of animals from around the globe, including hippos, gorillas, and tigers. Visitors can go on an Australian Walkabout, feed giraffes, and take part in the Animal Art Experience. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is the only mountain zoo in the United States with elevation starting at 6,714 feet at the front gate and goes up from there. There are breathtaking views of Colorado Springs and is home to over 750 animals. One of the most unique things about the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is the capacity to interact with so many of the animals. Visit 365 days a year for family fun – from up-close experiences and to taking a trip on the Mountaineer Sky Ride. Ranked as one of the top zoos in the country by USAToday 10Best and Trip Advisor, you’ll get to explore innovative exhibits, enjoy fun events and find attractions to keep you entertained.
North Pole, Colorado – Santa’s Workshop
Santa’s Workshop can bring a smile to any visitor’s face with attractions such as magic shows, visits to Santa’s house, and holiday rides. Visitors can get in the holiday spirit while Christmas music plays in the village. This holiday-themed amusement park also features several gift shops filled with custom gifts. At Santa’s Workshop, it’s Christmas every day of the year. The North Pole was founded in the 1950’s and was originally a normal theme park but then changed their theme to Christmas and have been adding new rides and more Christmas spirit over the years. It is a great place to visit if you are missing the Christmas spirit or would like to buy Christmas ornaments. Santa’s Workshop/North Pole is located at the foot of Pikes Peak. The altitude is 7500 feet and they are situated on the side of Pikes Peak mountain. To say that Colorado weather is unpredictable is an understatement, so you need to come prepared for anything. Be sure to visit Santa in his house while at the North Pole, Colorado. It’s one of the funnest things to do near Colorado Springs on your vacation or just passing through.
Royal Gorge Bridge and Park
The Royal Gorge Bridge offers a thrilling adventure with the world’s highest suspension bridge, along with scenic views of the surrounding mountains. Those who visit the Royal Gorge can take jeep tours of the area and go whitewater rafting on the Arkansas River. Standing over 956 feet above the crashing Arkansas River, the Royal Gorge Bridge connects visitors from one side of the millions-plus-years-old gorge to the other. 360° of adrenaline packed rides and breathtaking views of Colorado’s natural wonders. The Royal Gorge Park is packed with fun ways to spend a day, like the awesome gondola rides across the canyon, zip lining and the heart pounding SkyCoaster. There are also many picnic areas to take in the views and enjoy your lunch. You’ll definitely want to bring your camera. Head out and make a day of it. You won’t be sorry you visited the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park. Take your family on an unforgettable vacation filled with one-of-a-kind, endless adventure you won’t find anywhere else!
Old Colorado City
Old Colorado City in western Colorado Springs offers a chance to stroll past historical buildings, learn more about local history, visit art galleries, and browse quaint local shops. This part of Colorado Springs also hosts numerous events throughout the year, such as Art Walks, Territory Days, Harvest Festival and Christmas Stroll. Old Colorado City has eclectic boutiques, award winning restaurants, and charming local art galleries that offer hours of entertainment. Perfect for strolling the day away down beautiful, tree-lined streets. At night, the pubs and restaurants host live music and performances. Visit and see how it’s grown from a Wild West frontier town to one of the premier Colorado destinations for shopping, dining and fun.
U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center
Those who are interested in sports can tour the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Center, where athletes work hard at getting ready for these events. It has been the home of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee since 1978. Its location, the former Ent Air Force Base, was selected for its high elevation, which is thought to improve training effectiveness. The facilities include an indoor shooting range, the Olympic Training Center Velodrome, an Olympic-size swimming pool, two sports centers housing numerous gymnasiums and weight rooms, and a sports science laboratory. Your visit involves taking a walking tour of the complex and visiting the Olympic Hall of Fame. One of the many experiences at the center is the Social Media Wall and interactive touch-screen display, which allows visitors to track Team USA athletes as they prepare for future competitions and recount top moments from past Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center
The Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center provides an informative and entertaining experience for those who want to learn more about the area’s prehistoric roots. This dinosaur museum features an awe-inspiring display of dinosaurs, prehistoric marine reptiles, pterosaurs and fish of North America’s late Cretaceous period and a look at a working fossil laboratory. The fossil skeletons on display are supplemented with vibrant graphics and life-restoration sculptures to help you visualize these fascinating animals in life and the environments. The Dinosaur Resource Center was originally created to be an intentionally temporary fossil repository, displaying fossil specimens collected and cast by Triebold Paleontology Incorporated. The museum then opened to the public in May, 2004. Many of the fossil specimens are displayed as tactile exhibits available for guests to touch. A hands-on children’s corner includes a touchscreen featuring 3D digital models and other hands-on activities like fossil dig stations and puzzles.
Pikes Peak Highway
The Pikes Peak Highway is a 19-mile toll road that runs from Cascade, Colorado to the summit of Pikes Peak at an altitude of 14,115 feet. It was constructed in 1915 and paid for by Spencer Penrose at a cost of $500,000. Pikes Peak Highway offers one of the best routes in the U.S. for beautiful scenery and picturesque views. Visitors can take a drive along the highway, hike it on foot, or ride along it on bikes while enjoying mountain views and watching for local wildlife. Heading up to the top of Pikes Peak provides stunning views of the area. There are four main ways to explore Pikes Peak and reach the summit: Driving in your car, Group shuttle services, cycling or hiking. However you choose to experience it, you’ll enjoy stunning views of lakes, mountains, wildlife and the surrounding area.
Cave of the Winds Mountain Park
Cave of the Winds Mountain Park provides a chance to explore caves and other underground areas. Learn more about the geology of this part of the Colorado Springs area, as well as its history. Candlelight tours are offered, as well as zip lines and other fun activities. The name, Cave of the Winds, relates to a legend about the Apache, who were said to believe the cave was the home of a Great Spirit of the Wind. The first documented mention of the cave came in 1880 when two brothers, John and George Pickett, discovered the cave during a hike in Williams Canyon. They discovered that their candles flickered in a small shelter cave they had found and wind was seen to be blowing from a nearby crevice. Crawling through the opening they emerged into a large chamber. Cave of the Winds has been in continuous operation since 1881 – making it one of Colorado’s oldest visitor attractions. With two cave tours to choose from, one will be right for you! Their most popular family friendly Discovery Tour is a perfect way to learn about the history and geology of the cave and see some of the most beautiful formations. For those who want something more daring and spooky, the Lantern Tour is an adventure into the mountain with only a hand held lantern to light your way!
May Natural History Museum
May Natural History Museum is the place to go for those who want to learn more about bugs and see some of these critters up close. This fascinating museum has more than 8,000 insect species, including tropical bugs. Museum founder, the late James May, traveled the world for 80 years to collect each specimen, sending the creatures he found from locations like Africa and South America. He collected more than 100,000 specimens in his travels, which is no small feat! They have many rare and priceless specimens that are only seen here or in nature including beetles so big that while in mid-flight could knock a grown man to the ground! They have everything from giant tropical insects and spiders to thousands of colorful butterflies and moths. The museum is home to squishy beetles, gigantic spiders and deadly scorpions, all perfectly preserved. Families and school groups have been visiting the museum for decades. With this large of a collection, there’s a bug for everybody!
Ghost Town Museum
The Colorado Springs area is home to quite a few ghost towns, which make for interesting places to visit. The Ghost Town Museum gives visitors a chance to travel down a real wooden promenade and get a peek into early pioneer life — how these people of the past worked, lived and played. You can even try your hand at an old-fashioned butter churn and printing press, check out authentic stagecoaches and wagons and explore thousands of other artifacts that are true pieces of Colorado history. The museum is housed inside a historic stone structure. In 1899, the Colorado Midland Railroad constructed it as a maintenance building for the steam locomotives that hauled gold ore to the Golden Cycle Mill, once located across the street from the museum. The Roundhouse next door and the Ghost Town Museum are all that remain of the operations of the Golden Cycle Company, which closed the facilities in 1949.