Though it’s the second biggest city in the state, Colorado Springs still has a frontier feeling to it, thanks to the vast plains and towering mountains just east of town. Chief among the latter is Pikes Peak. Standing at more than 14,000 feet, it’s one of the country’s great natural treasures—in fact, its “purple mountain majesties” helped inspire the lyrics to “America the Beautiful.”
As you’d expect from a city surrounded by such splendor, outdoor recreation is a big draw in Colorado Springs. Hiking, mountain biking, and rock climbing are especially popular. But you’ll find a pretty active arts scene here, too. Head downtown for museums, theaters, boutique shops, restaurants, and an art walk through local galleries on the first Friday of every month from April through December.
The Great Outdoors
- Garden of the Gods is a popular and free-to-visit National Historic Landmark with dramatic 300-foot sandstone rock formations. Hike and climb to your heart’s content.
- Pike’s Peak Cog Rail: Reach the summit of Colorado’s most famous mountain without breaking a sweat. This scenic three-hour train ride takes you past boulders, streams, and trees that are roughly 2,000 years old.
- Helen Hunt Falls: Take a short hike within North Cheyenne Cañon City Park to see a picturesque waterfall (which has nothing to do with the star of Mad About You). Stay on the increasingly steep trail, and you’ll eventually come to the Silver Cascade Falls.
Arts and Culture
- Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center boasts a museum housing works by American masters such as John Singer Sargent and Georgia O'Keeffe. Enrich your experience with a free tour led by a knowledgeable docent.
- ProRodeo Hall of Fame and Museum of the American Cowboy: Check out rodeo paraphernalia from the past 100 years as well as Western art and artifacts including saddles and costumes.
- TheatreWorks: A busy professional theatre that produces classic and contemporary plays by the likes of Shakespeare, Beckett, and others.
- Western Museum of Mining and Industry: Pan for gold, see a working steam engine, and pet the resident burros.
- Cave of the Winds*: Get an up-close look at stalactites and stalagmites, then let off steam on the thrill rides outside the caves.
- Ghost Town Museum: This award-winning facility is designed to resemble mining towns of the late 19th century, complete with a blacksmith’s shop, a saloon, and stables.
Where to Stay
- To splurge: The historic Broadmoor Hotel is a AAA Five Diamond resort at the base of Cheyenne Mountain. It has 54 holes of championship golf, numerous pools, and lavish guest rooms.
- To be near nature: The eco-friendly Sundance Mountain Lodge is located 15 minutes outside of Colorado Springs on 5 private acres with winding paths and waterfalls.
- To save: Rodeway Inn & Suites offers an outdoor pool and comfy hotel rooms within walking distance of downtown shops and restaurants.