There are a lot of things of things to do in Colorado Springs! For starters, sitting in the shadows of Pikes Peak and Cheyenne Mountain, the city offers spectacular mountain vistas. If you have doubts about its great beauty, here’s a great bit of trivia; America The Beautiful, the song every American child learns in grade school, was inspired by the view from the top of the 14,115 foot high Pikes Peak. The area is chock full of things to do including natural attractions, man-made ones, historical sites, and cultural ones. Plan a trip to Colorado Springs and see for yourself.
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
Visit Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, a small zoo with a big mission: conservation. The zoo is home to the largest herd of giraffes in the United States. They supply these tall critters to zoos around the country. A big attraction: the daily animal feedings. Check the zoo’s schedule when you’re there. The zoo’s program, Quarters for Conservation, raises money for groups working to save animals around the world. A quarter from each paid admission is donated to this program. The best part? You get to vote for the animal you want your quarter to go to. Cheyenne Mountain is a refuge for rogue animals that would have been put down without this haven. The program rescued two grizzlies, Digger and Emmet, two Montana bears, were rescued by the zoo. They exhibited unacceptable behavior in the wild and the other option was death. They seem happy in their new habitat. Buy a ticket and ride the Mountaineer Sky Ride. The aerial views of Colorado Springs from up here are fantastic. The zoo ticket admits visitors to the Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun further up the mountain.
Garden of the Gods
The aptly named Garden of the Gods offers acres of amazing red-rock formations dating back as far as 300 million years. It is a must-see when visiting the area. Railroad magnate Charles Elliot Perkins purchased the land in 1879. This wise man left the land in its natural state. Following his death his heirs, per his wishes, donated the 489 acre site to the city in 1909. The gift came with the stipulation that public access would always be free.
The Visitors’ Center, run by the Garden of the Gods Foundation, got a total makeover and expansion in 2015. Some of the highlights are the new Geo-Trekker Theater where visitors can view the short film about how the rocks got there (there’s a charge for this); the new exhibition halls with interactive exhibits on the geology, ecology, culture and history of the park; the projection screen you can watch the web cam focused on Pikes Peak and the red rocks 24/7. You can dial up any day you want over the last year. There are free guided walking and nature tours, paid Jeep and Segway tours, guided rock climbing. Drive the 3½ -mile main loop and secondary roads on your own. With a 10mph speed limit and heavy traffic, it can be slow-going. Allow ample time. Park and walk among the ancient rocks. Bring a camera to take advantage of many wonderful photo opportunities at the Garden of the Gods.
Rock Ledge Ranch
Rock Ledge Ranch run by the City of Colorado Springs, is a living history museum with a place on the National Historic Register. Set between the Garden of the Gods and Pike’s Peak, the ranch boasts expansive vistas. There are four historic periods represented here: Indian life circa 1775, the 1860s byt the Galloway Homestead, the 1880s by the Chambers Home and Ranch (once a thriving orchard and farm) and the the early 20th century by the 1905 Orchard House built by Colorado Springs founder General Palmer for his sister-in-law, Charlotte Sclater. All the houses, except the Galloway Homestead, occupy their original sites and were built by successive owners of the property. There is an admission charge; days and hours vary seasonally.
Since we visited Seven Falls in 2011 things have changed including the name. In the fall of 2013, devastating floods severely damaged this natural wonder forcing its closure. The Broadmoor, the luxury resort a short distance from the falls, acquired the property in 2014. After extensive restoration, the site, now called Broadmoor Seven Falls, reopened in August 2015. What’s different? Guests now park at the resort and board free shuttle buses to the falls where they can buy their admission tickets. You can then walk the three-quarter-mile road to the base of the falls or ride the open-air tram (there’s a small charge for this). Our tip: ride up and walk back, there are interesting places to explore along the creek. Restaurant 1858 named for Colorado’s gold rush era (“Pike’s Peak or bust”), serves lunch and dinner; hours vary seasonally; check their website for days and times of operation. The food at the restaurant, housed in an elegantly rustic hand-hewn stone and wood building, “showcases traditional Rocky Mountain flavors and takes its cue from the heritage of the Old West.” Food is sourced from local growers whenever possible. You can either climb the 224 steps to the top of the 181 feet high falls or take an elevator to the Eagles Nest viewing platform partway up the falls. For a special treat, visit at night when the falls are ablaze with lights. Feeling adventurous? The Broadmoor has added two zip line courses. Broadmoor Seven Falls has an admission fee; hours vary seasonally.
Downtown Colorado Springs is a vital place. There are restaurants, shops and the vibrant Art on the Streets program. This changing exhibit offers visitors a chance to see what local artists are creating. You can download a guide and a map of the current exhibits on their website.
More things to do in Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs has a lot to offer visitors year-round. Figure skating holds a special place here, it’s home to the World Figure Skating Museum and Hall of Fame. It’s also the headquarters for the United States Olympics Committee and the Olympic Training Center. And in keeping with the cowboy heritage of the area, The Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame and Museum of the American Cowboy is here. The Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau website has more visitors’ information and suggestions for things to do in the area.
Besides these things to do in Colorado Springs, there are a lot of things to do in the surrounding area.
This post on things to do in Colorado Springs, was first published 8/10/2011. It was updated and republished on 12/8/2016.