I love my hometown of Colorado Springs! I get about one email or text a week from someone who is visiting Colorado Springs and wants to know what they should see while they're there.
Here are my ten suggestions. I won't say "Must-do's" because not all of them are for everyone. For example, hiking the Manitou Incline is super-strenuous so unless you're fairly fit, I'd skip it. Some people love seeing the Air Force Academy. It's beautiful and seeing the cadets march to lunch is impressive but it's not my personal favorite.
So here they are! In no particular order, my Top Ten Things to See or Do in Colorado Springs!
The Manitou Incline. This used to be a train that went up the side of a mountain, but mudslides shut it down 30 years ago. Since then people have hiked the very steep trail to the top. A year or two ago, the city improved the trail to make it less rough by putting in steps, but it's still super-challenging. My suggestion is to hike up the trail, then take Barr Trail back to your car. Barr trail is much flatter and a nice 3 miles hike down with easy switchbacks and great scenery. BTW, bring water cuz you're gonna need to stay hydrated and there's no water anywhere on the trail.
Pikes Peak. It's beautiful to look at and amazing to drive up. It's a toll road so be ready to pay something like ten bucks a person in your car. There's a gift shop and restaurant at the top. The road is 13 miles long and beautiful but twisty. Don't ride your brakes on the way down, just put your car in low gear so you don't burn out the brakes.
The Broadmoor Hotel is probably the most elegant and expensive and amazing hotel in the west. It's been there since the 20s or so. Walk the grounds, see the lake, have lunch or dinner or even spend the night!
The Air Force Academy, birthplace of ME! I was born at the Academy Hospital cuz my dad was in the Air Force. I went to high school at the AFA and worked selling hot dogs at their stadium. I love it there and it's beautiful. If you come before lunch I think they still let you watch the cadets march to lunch which is pretty cool. There's a great visitor's center with shirts, hats, you name it.
US 24. Not an attraction in itself, US 24 is the main road into the mountains from Colorado Springs. 20 minutes away is the town of Woodland Park. Stop for lunch or keep going. Further up are more small towns, not many restaurants if any and amazing scenery. Take a side trip off US 24 to the old gold mining town of Cripple Creek and grab lunch at any of the dozen or so good restaurants there and try some gambling.
Manitou Springs got it's name from all the old fresh water springs in the area. The springs are still there and some you can even drink from, but people come for the shopping and the restaurants. My favorite is The Mona Lisa, a fondue place built inside an old hotel that was also a brothel.
The Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun is one of my very favorite places in the springs. The views are lower than from Pikes Peak so you can actually see and enjoy it more in my opinion. You can go inside the shrine which is just beautiful and the story behind it is very interesting. It's one of the hidden gems of Colorado Springs and doesn't get the attention it deserves. Unfortunately, you have to pay zoo admission for the nearby zoo to get to the shrine, so plan on a visit to the zoo as well. Personally, I'm not a zoo person really so I just pay the admission to get to the shine because I like it that much.
This place is a tiny diner with only 13 seats, amazing food with generous portions. They got so popular they opened another one in town that has the same food but is just a regular restaurant. Skip that one and go to the one at 110 East Costilla.
If Guy Fieri was there, you gotta try it. The Skirted Heifer is all about custom gourmet burgers. There will be a wait at lunch or dinner time but it's worth it. While you're there, take a stroll through the park across the street or the shops nearby.
If there IS a must-do in Colorado Springs, it's Garden of the Gods. Huge park with beautiful rock formations. Hiking or driving it is fine. Plan on crowds if you go on a weekend.
And that's it! If you want to tell me about your trip to Colorado Springs and if you enjoyed any of these attractions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.