I’ve mentioned before that moving to Colorado was a decade-long dream for my family, and we were so happy to become transplants just over two years ago. As soon as I learned that Colorado Springs would be our new home, I hit the internet to find out all the things there were to do–and boy, was I excited!
According to Trip Advisor, you should visit Garden of the Gods first and foremost, which we did of course. It was a year later that we tagged along on a free guided walking tour there and learned some of the coolest history behind the park. Do you know why some rocks are red and some are white? Do you know how they formed into vertical rocks? We do! 🙂
Next on the list is Pike’s Peak. We took the highway up, but you can also take the Cog Railway or even hike up. The drive took a little longer than I thought, so I would definitely pack food next time and enjoy the trip a little longer. There are many places to pull off and enjoy the views, have a picnic, explore, and hike. Also, don’t forget your coats! It’s always cold at 14,114 feet!
The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is one of the best zoos in the country, and it’s right here in our own backyard. Not only are the views incredible, but the animals are active and up close. It’s a thrill no matter your age. What I was surprised to discover though, is that very few people seem to take advantage of the trip to the Will Rogers Shrine that is included with your zoo admission. The castle-like structure is full of pictures and interesting memorabilia about Will Rogers, it has an exquisite chapel, and the balconies practically scream for a “Romeo & Juliet” monologue.
My absolute favorite spot in town is the North Cheyenne Canon and Helen Hunt Falls. The hike to the top is a bit steep, but not too long. However, you can see the main part of the waterfall from the parking lot–great for people with disabilities or little people who aren’t ready to hike. My kids like to go in the visitor’s center for activities, and they lovingly refer to it as “the hobbit house” thanks to its unique architecture. We love to hang out by the stream to picnic, gold pan, and stick our toes in the cool water. Leaving the park by Gold Camp Road is a must if you’ve never done it.
A short drive east of town is the Paint Mines Interpretive Park. This gem is in the middle of nowhere and quite the geological surprise. The colors in the rocks are extraordinary, and it’s fun to imagine the ways the formations were created. We were the only people there the day we went, and it was definitely worth the drive.
If the Great Outdoors isn’t your cup of tea, there are many tours and indoor activities to keep you busy as well.
The Focus on the Family Welcome Center is a favorite destination of ours. First, let me tell you that even though it is a Christian organization, they are not trying to convert people at the door or evangelizing your children in the play area. While they would be more than happy to talk to you about matters of faith, the facility is available as a safe family-friendly place without pressure. The 3-story slide is visible from outside the building, and the indoor play area provides hours of fun for little ones. There’s a snack shop in the play area, and there’s a free coffee lounge near the bookstore. They even have birthday party rooms that you can reserve and use free of charge.
For a tour with perks, check out Patsy’s Candies factory tour! Once you’re rocking the super stylish hairnet, you get to see where the magic happens. We got to see how they caramelize the popcorn, pull the taffy, and wrap the chocolates. And there were plenty of free treats to eat along the way!
For the best tourist lunch, I have to recommend the Curbside Cuisine food trucks downtown at corner of Nevada and Platte. Maco’s Tacos always gets my vote, but the kids beg for rustic pizza from Za. Take cash to make it easier, enjoy the food, and hang out. The atmosphere is so funky, and there are frequent musical performances.