Exploring Colorado Springs


Known as Olympic City USA, this city provides year-round adventures from hiking mighty peaks to exploring living history museums.


  • Colorado Springs features majestic mountain vistas, natural wonders like Garden of the Gods, and cultural attractions like the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum.
  • Authentic local experiences range from tasting craft beers at breweries to interacting with artists at monthly art walks.
  • Outdoor activities span rock climbing, mountain biking and scenic drives along high-altitude byways like Pikes Peak Highway.
  • Festivals for all seasons include summer hot air balloon events, fall food and music festivals, and winter ski competitions.
  • Family-friendly stops include the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Western Museum of Mining and Industry, and kid-oriented hiking trails.

Scenic Natural Surroundings

Colorado Springs is situated at the base of Pikes Peak, the iconic 14,115-foot mountain visible from nearly everywhere in town. Pikes Peak Highway, a 19-mile scenic drive, winds its way up to the mountain’s summit for sweeping views of the city and the surrounding Colorado Rockies. The Garden of the Gods, aka Gods Park, with its spectacular red rock formations, offers hiking and rock climbing amidst geological wonders. Royal Gorge and Cripple Creek offer nature with a dash of folklore. Just a few miles west lies the epic Colorado Trail, spanning 500 miles across stunning high-altitude scenery. From mountains to mesas, forests to deserts, the diversity of landscapes surrounding Colorado Springs creates a visual feast.

Outdoor Recreation

The natural assets near Colorado Springs and throughout El Paso County provide endless outdoor recreation. Experience Pikes Peak on foot by hiking Barr Trail, a 13-mile challenge with over 7,000 feet of elevation gain. Go mountain biking on the intermediate Midland Loop at Ute Valley Park or tackle advanced downhill trails at Captain Jack’s. In winter, ski at family-friendly resorts like Monarch Mountain or try steep runs at Breckenridge.

Scenic Drives

Meander along Colorado’s Scenic and Historic Byways to admire gorgeous high-country vistas in the Pikes Peak region. Journey through the Collegiate Peaks on Highway 24, passing wildflower-filled meadows and towering 14,000-foot peaks. Cruise the Gold Belt Tour to former mining towns like Victor and Cripple Creek. Or take the Poudre Canyon route paralleling the rushing Poudre River.

Local Culture and Cuisine

In addition to natural splendor, Colorado Springs has a thriving arts, dining and brewery scene. Support local at the monthly First Friday Art Walk to visit downtown galleries while enjoying street performances. In the summer, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center exhibition features regional artists. Pop into Ivywild School, a converted elementary school now with culinary shops, taproom and restaurant.

Top Local Eateries

Colorado Springs dining spans casual cafes to fine dining. For breakfast, try Loyal Coffee with wholesome bowls and sandwiches made from scratch. At lunch, order an elk burger and local craft beer at Bristol Brewing Company. In the evening, reserve a table at The Blue Star for their seasonally-inspired tasting menus. Save room for dessert at Keegan Cake Designs, where the buttercream frosting takes center stage.

Top Breweries

The craft beer culture is alive and well in Colorado Springs, from the Old Colorado City and Manitou Springs neighborhoods to the foothills of the Colorado Rockies. Sample innovative brews at Cerberus Brewing, like their coffee-infused Black Dog Stout. Stop by Red Leg Brewing Company during a bluegrass performance and try their signature Hero Red Ale. Or sip a peach saison at Goat Patch Brewing, located at a working farm growing hops and fruit used in the beers.

Family-Friendly Activities

From hiking adventures to hands-on museums, Colorado Springs offers family fun for all ages. Ride the narrow-gauge railway up Pikes Peak for gorgeous mountain views accessible by train. Check out dinosaur fossils and a working gold mine at the Western Museum of Mining and Industry. See big cats, African penguins and other exotic species at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. Learn about the history of American pioneers at the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum.

Educational Attractions

Immerse kids and adults in history and science at area museums. At the Peterson Air and Space Museum, sit in the cockpit of a WWII fighter plane. Watch an IMAX movie about the planets and outer space at the Space Foundation Discovery Center. Time travel to the Ice Age and interact with mammoths at the Florissant Fossil Beds. If visiting in winter, sign up for one of the free junior ranger programs at Pikes Peak National Forest. This is Olympic City USA, so don’t forget the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum to learn more about the Earth’s oldest continuing athletic competition.

Four Season Festivals and Events

The Colorado Springs events calendar is marked with annual festivals and happenings year-round. In winter, watch competitive figure skating at the Broadmoor Open or see hot air balloons light up the sky at the Colorado Springs Festival of Lights. As temperatures warm in spring, attend the Territory Days festival to experience 1800s frontier life.

Annual Street Fairs and Music Festivals

Summer brings plenty of fairs and festivals to Colorado Springs. At the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Festival, peruse work from over 200 artists while listening to live music. Sample beers from 60+ breweries at the Colorado Springs Craft Beer Week. Fuel up for the day at the Colorado Springs Food Truck Festival, with local and regional vendors lining downtown streets. In the fall, celebrate the city’s German heritage at Oktoberfest or savor chili cook-offs at the Emma Crawford Festival.

Historical Sites and Cultural Attractions

Beyond the natural landscapes, Colorado Springs has a rich cultural heritage. Immerse yourself in the past by walking along Old Colorado City, a restored 1890s town with boutique shops and eateries. At the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum, uncover stories of early explorers, Ute tribes, and founders of the city. Check out historic locomotives at the Colorado Railroad Museum or take a guided tour through the Air Force Academy to see aircraft exhibits and the stunning cadet chapel.

Art aficionados won’t want to miss the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. This Tudor-style building houses a professional theater company, art galleries with rotating exhibits, art classes, and more. The building itself is an architectural beauty. Nearby, amble along Tejon Street downtown to uncover street art in alleys and on buildings. Don’t miss the “Language of the Birds” mural with its imaginative display of winged creatures.

Local Dining and Nightlife

As an artsy college town and the home of Colorado College, Colorado Springs delivers quality dining and entertainment options. Foodies can choose from cozy cafes, chef-driven bistros, and flavorful ethnic eateries. Pair your meal with local beers at brewpubs or handcrafted cocktails at chic lounges. Listen to live music at intimate venues or dance the night away at open-air clubs.

Top Nightlife Hangouts

Start your evening sipping inventive cocktails inside The Principal’s Office, a speakeasy with a prohibition-era ambiance. Catch some live blues, funk, or rock at Stargazer’s Theater and Event Center. If looking for a rowdy dance scene, head to the Golden Bee, a western nightclub offering line dancing lessons along with a mechanical bull. Or go bar-hopping along Tejon Street in downtown Colorado Springs, which has over a dozen watering holes within a few-block radius.

Lodging Tips and Recommendations

With stunning nature readily accessible, staying in or near downtown Colorado Springs positions visitors close to attractions. Your vacation planner can recommend hotel options ranging from national chains to cozy inns and B&Bs.

Budget-Friendly Hotels

The downtown Colorado Springs area has several affordable chain hotels, like Fairfield Inn and Suites, near museums and restaurants. Just west, choose Residence Inn for more space plus free breakfast, or Hampton Inn for their indoor pool and hot tub. Those wanting boutique charm can stay at the historic Lennox House with reasonable rates.

Luxury Stays

The Broadmoor Resort offers five-star lodging, dining and spa services on its expansive property at the base of Cheyenne Mountain. Near Garden of the Gods, Cliff House at Pikes Peak provides lavish rooms with scenic vistas. Or escape to a remote mountain setting at Dunton Hot Springs, a restored ghost town turned resort with natural hot springs.

Getting Around Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs is reasonably walkable, with many downtown attractions within close proximity. Explore downtown neighborhoods or Old Colorado City on foot. For farther flung sights like nearby Manitou Springs, drive or take a bus tour. To travel in style, book a historic trolley ride or reserve a guided jeep tour. And be sure to pick up a handy visitor guide to help orient yourself during your travels.


What is the best time of year to visit Colorado Springs?

The Colorado Springs area offers plenty to do year-round. Summer is peak season, with long days primed for outdoor adventures. Fall brings dazzling golden aspens along mountain byways. Winter offers skiing and seasonal events. Spring has wildflowers and moderate temperatures.

What is there to do in Colorado Springs when it rains?

Head indoors to top area museums like the U.S. Olympic Museum, Peterson Air and Space Museum, or Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. See an IMAX movie at the Space Foundation Discovery Center. Or spend a relaxing day at the Broadmoor Resort’s spa facilities or indoor pool.

Are there any kid-friendly hikes near Colorado Springs?

Yes, great options for family hikes include the Red Rock Canyon Trail, Palmer Trail in Bear Creek Regional Park and the Guy Hill Trail in Cheyenne Canyon. Harder hikes to try with older kids are the High Drive and Blodgett Peak trails.

With its epic nature, cultural depth, and array of attractions, Colorado Springs entices visitors year after year. From hiking and brewery hopping to museum explorations and local cuisine, the city offers memorable activities for all interests. Use this guide to discover the very best this iconic Colorado destination has to offer.


About the author

Ransom Patterson

My expertise in Colorado life extends beyond just residing here; it’s also about living actively within the community. I spend my time cycling through Denver’s trails, experimenting with local cuisines, and immersing myself in the local music scene. These activities give me a unique perspective on the cultural and outdoor offerings of Colorado. This hands-on approach allows me to provide insider tips and personal recommendations that resonate with both locals and visitors alike.