When travelers think about Colorado Springs, the Olympics may come to mind. It is the home of the United States Olympic Committee who supports, among many things, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams. With the planned opening of the U.S. Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame in 2019, the downtown area has experienced a renaissance of new businesses. Today, it brims with culture, arts, shopping, craft beer, spirits, coffee and cuisine. What makes this city unique is that steps away from the downtown area, outdoor adventure beckons. The combination of both the urban and the outdoors makes for a fantastic get away. A visit to Colorado Springs affords visitors the type of experience that is unique in terms of what one can see in a short amount of time. If you are in town for a visit, here are some suggestions for a quick stop in Colorado Springs.
Over Easy, A Daytime Eatery
Have a meal downtown. There are a variety of choices, but if you are looking for an award winning breakfast or for lunch try this is your place. Featuring a make your own Bloody Mary bar, this award winning breakfast and lunch spot uses local, organic ingredients, serves fair trade coffee and has a made from scratch motto that translates into delicious food. The restaurant was just named #10 on Urbanspoon’s list of 101 Great Breakfasts in the United States. For breakfast there are omelets and Benedict’s but the pancake selections are truly special. The menu offers the Peace, Love & Pancakes Flight, where patrons can choose three from a list of five options. They are open from 7:00am – 2:00pm and do not take reservations.
See Colorado Springs from the top of America’s most famous Mountain. It is said that Katharine Lee Bates wrote the poem that inspired the song, “America the Beautiful” in 1893 when she surveyed the view from the top of Pike’s Peak. Head to the southern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, to ascend the 14,115’ foot mountain located in Pike National Forest. The peak was discovered by Lt. Zebulon Pike in November of 1806. After an unsuccessful first attempt to climb it, he declared that, “No man would ever reach the summit.” There are many ways to get to the top, there are hiking and biking trails and a paved road for driving. One of the best and most relaxing ways to take in the experience, is to board the Pikes Peak Cog Railway. Trips on the train are available year round (weather permitting). It takes about 3 hours round trip. From the summit you can see four states, the peaks of the Continental Divide, the cities of Colorado Springs, Denver and Manitou Springs as well as the gold camps of Cripple Creek and Victor that still operate today. Refer to the website for prices and times of departure.
The Garden of the Gods
The Gardens of the Gods is a free city park. Charles Perkins, a railroad tycoon, purchased the land in 1879. Upon his death, he requested that it be returned to the city of Colorado as a free park. In 1971, 1,350 acres were designated as a National Landmark. The Iconic, towering, sandstone rock formations are over 300 million years old. There are opportunities to rock climb, hike challenging trails or walk on a family/dog friendly/handicapped accessible 1 1/2 mile paved loop. The loop provides fantastic photo opportunities to shoot the flora, fauna and famous rock formations. There is a visitor & nature center that incorporates cutting edge, interactive museum technology, a video that explains how the formations were created and a cafe. If your inner cowboy calls you, Academy Riding Stables offers guided leisure trail rides: www.arsriding.com.
Manitou Springs Visitors Center – Historic Mineral Springs Tours
The Ute Tribe (along with the other Native American Nations that populated the region) was the first to discover the 8 naturally carbonated mineral springs that bubbled up from the earth around what is now known as the city of Manitou Springs. The Ute believed that the medicinal waters had healing powers and were a gift from the great spirit Manitou. Visitors are encouraged to stop at each one and take a sip, as every spring has a different taste, depending on the minerals they possess. The Visitors Center provides a free map that details the location of each fountain, mineral content and tasting cups. The center also has information on a free springs shuttle or a guided tour that departs on Wednesdays and Saturdays from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Swirl Wine Bar-Restaurant
After a day of meandering in and out of the unique storefronts in this funky town, and after getting your fill of the healing waters from the area fountains, you might want to snack or sip on something else. Swirl Wine Bar is a terrific place to enjoy great food and local spirits. The menu offers cheese boards, charcuterie, small plates, sandwiches, salads, coffee and desserts. They specialize in finely crafted and curated wine, craft brews and spirits to pair with the food. Inside, it feels like a comfortable living room, decorated with mismatched chairs and couches. On a nice day, patrons can sit outside in the private courtyard that is dog/family friendly. In the evenings they have a happy hour and live music. Refer to the website for more information.
Colorado is one of the most visited places in the United States. If you crave a trip that offers outdoor pursuits, breathtaking vistas, craft beverages and food, this could be the perfect destination for a long weekend.