Introducing guest blogger Tanya from Rad Family Travel
Colorado Springs is your city destination when you are looking for outdoor adventure, local city brews yummy affordable dining, and fantastic views at an altitude.
Stretched out alongside Pikes Peak and her foothills, Colorado Springs has loads of free or inexpensive fun for all ages. Hike and bike cool trails, snap selfies above 14,000 feet, meet giraffes up close and personal, walk where great leaders and athletes have trained, get your adrenaline pumping while white water rafting or crossing an expansive river gorge, and so much more.
You could spend an entire week in one of our favorite places to live. Learn where us locals love to play and eat, especially when friends and family come to visit.
This post is part of our Explore My City series – come and visit cities around the world through the eyes of local parents
1. Garden of the Gods
Free to the public forever, the towering red rocks and nature trails make Garden of the Gods the centerpiece of Colorado Springs. From, sunrise to sunset, ages 0 to 99 never grow tired of this place.
Technical climbing, Segway tours, mountain biking, nature hikes, and are possible in the park. Parking at the Rock Ledge Ranch, which also offers a cool Living History Tour. The Garden of the Gods Visitor Center is modern and also worth a walk through after you explore the park.
A gorgeous driving loop goes one way around the park. (1805 N 30th St, Colorado Springs, CO 80904)
2. Pikes Peak – America’s Mountain
Drive up to 14,114 feet and enjoy expansive 360 views from Pikes Peak – America’s Mountain.
Enjoy a scavenger hunt (ask the attendant when you go through the gate) from your car as you spy wildlife and changing terrain. The Pikes Peak Highway is a never-boring 19-mile trip to the summit. Stop along the way when you can.
Be sure to check online for Pikes Peak Highway hours of operation. The road is open as weather permits. (5089 Pikes Peak Hwy, Cascade, CO 80809)
3. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
Repeatedly in the Top Ten Zoos across America according to many resources, America’s only Mountain Zoo should not be missed. Plunked on the side of Cheyenne Mountain, you are sure to burn some calories as you meet animals up close and personal at this zoo.
Feeding the giraffes, spying rhinos, watching grizzlies wrestle, and riding the sky chair are kid favorites, and the park’s food is quite delicious. (4250 Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Rd, Colorado Springs, CO 80906)
4. Air Force Academy
You don’t need a cadet to tell you the Air Force Academy is well worth a visit when you’re visiting Colorado Springs. A Division-1 University setting that is home to cutting-edge technology, top-notch education, and leadership training, with awesome midcentury modern architecture, this campus is worth an inspiring visit.
Don’t miss seeing the chapel inside and out! In addition to the cool campus, hikers and bikers can explore their well-maintained trails on their 18,500-acre property. (US Air Force Academy, 2346 Academy Dr, U.S. Air Force Academy, CO 80840)
5. The Broadmoor Seven Falls
The Broadmoor’s Seven Falls is nature’s eye candy. While it does cost to take the hike up the Falls, this National Geographic International Waterfall is worth every penny. This double-whammy visit requires some planning.
First, explore the grounds and hotel lobby of the luxurious 5,000-acre resort called the Broadmoor – your worth-a-splurge 5-star hotel. Then, purchase tickets for Seven Falls at the gate once you’ve taken the shuttle from the hotel. (S. Cheyenne Canyon Rd, Colorado Springs, CO 80905)
6. Olympic Training Center
Gymnasts, boxers, cyclists, figure skaters, swimmers, wrestlers and more train here in Colorado Springs. Many boxers and MMA fighters spend months training here to become prepared for the ring. One of three campuses (the other two being in Lake Placid, New York and Chula Vista, California), this United States Olympic Training Center helps Olympic and Paralympic athletes train for upcoming events. Take a tour and you might even meet an Olympian or Paralympian during your visit! (1 Olympic Plaza, Colorado Springs, CO 80909)
7. Royal Gorge Bridge & Park
Looking for an adrenaline rush? Just one hour from Colorado Springs, the Royal Gorge is the perfect day trip. Your entrance fee into the park includes walking the Bridge, riding the Gondola across the gorge as much as you like, visiting the Theater, and the giant playground called Playland. For a supernatural high, try the Royal Rush Skycoaster, you’ll free fall 50 mph through the air and hang 1,200 feet above the Arkansas River. (4218 Co Rd 3A, Cañon City, CO 81212)
8. White Water Rafting in nearby Buena Vista
White water rafting on the adrenaline pumping Arkansas River is pure outdoor adventure for 8-year-olds and up. Choose your own adventure with our favorite Noah’s Ark Whitewater Rafting and Adventure Company.
Noah’s Ark offers slower going rafting adventures for newbies and younger folks, as well as more challenging rapids for ready-to-go thrill-seekers. Noah’s Ark, as one of Colorado’s largest and most experienced whitewater rafting and adventure companies, is also home to a super cool aerial adventure park. Totally worth the 2 hour day trip from Colorado Springs! (23910 US Hwy 285, Buena Vista, CO 81211)
More experienced rafters should look out for inflatable rafts for sale and seek the appropriate permits depending on the location if they wish to take on self-guided rafting in any of Colorado’s rivers.
9. Manitou Cliff Dwellings
Just 5 miles west of Colorado Springs, climb and walk through these relocated ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings. Established in the very early 1900s, the Manitou Cliff Dwellings have been visited for decades, as well as the very informative Anasazi Museum. This place is particularly fun with school-aged children. (10 Cliff Rd, Manitou Springs, CO 80829)
10. Manitou Springs Penny Arcade
Manitou Springs is a historic spa town just on the west side of Colorado Springs before you head up into the mountains. Walk around the town, drink from the fountain spouting natural mineral water, and then head to the sweet penny arcade loaded with hundreds of games from every decade.
Look for the white buildings with red trim. Your family can have an hour of fun for about $20. Donkey Kong, Pinball, Deal or No Deal, Zoltar, Skee-Ball, Pac-Man, horse races, and much more. Most games cost 25 cents. (930 Manitou Ave, Manitou Springs, CO 80829)
11. Red Rock Canyon Open Space
Just before you drive up to Manitou Springs, you’ll see Red Rock Canyon Open Space off to the left. This nearly 1500-acre city park feels like a nod to the Garden of the Gods to the north. Pack a picnic and head to Red Rock Canyon Open Space for picnicking, technical climbing, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding. Set your kids and your dogs to run wild. (3550 W High St, Colorado Springs, CO 80904)
12. Glen Eyrie
Built by the founder of Colorado Springs himself, General William Jackson Palmer, this English Tudor-style castle built called Glen Eyrie was built in 1871. Boasting 17 guest rooms, 2 dining rooms, and meeting rooms like the Castle Great Hall, Glen Eyrie rests on 500 acres of pine trees and sandstone formations just 1 mile north of Garden of the Gods. If anything, it’s worth a quick drive through, or consider staying the night (great for a couples getaway!) and making reservations for dinner. Or tour the castle if you call and plan ahead. (3820 N 30th St, Colorado Springs, CO 80904)
13. John Venezia Community Park
Looking for some free fun with toddlers and elementary age kids? Grab your picnic lunch, swimsuits, and sunscreen and head to John Venezia Park for their splash park, expansive playground and green space for kicking around the soccer ball and more. (3555 Briargate Pkwy, Colorado Springs, CO 80920)
Our favorite Colorado Springs places to eat
These are our very favorite places to take our guest out to eat in Colorado Springs:
Bingo Burger: Gourmet hamburgers, fries, creative sauces, boozy shakes & local brews. Downtown – 132 N Tejon St, Colorado Springs, CO 80903
Skirted Heifer: If you like cheese, you’ll love these burger & bun options with choose-your-own toppings, yummy fries & frozen custard in this cozy diner. Downtown – 204 N Tejon St, Colorado Springs, CO 80903
Walter’s 303 Pizzeria & Publik House: Great family pizza joint in North Colorado Springs – 2690 North Gate Blvd, Co. Springs 80921
Bristol Brewing Company at Ivy Wild School: Funky fun local brewery in an old elementary school offering tours, craft beers & fantastic appetizers. 1604 S Cascade Ave, Colorado Springs, CO 80905
Phantom Canyon Brewery Spacious: 3-floor brewery housed in a historic building downtown shares microbrews, delicious grub, and a billiards hall. Downtown – 2 E Pikes Peak Ave, Colorado Springs, CO 80903
Josh & John’s For your sweet tooth: this local joint is home to naturally homemade ice cream packed with flavor. 3 locations, one being right next door to Walter’s 303 Pizzeria mentioned above and one downtown: 111 E Pikes Peak Ave, Colorado Springs, CO 80903
Where to stay on Colorado Springs with kids
Need a place to stay? These are our picks for families in Colorado Springs:
Great Wolf Lodge: You know the deal: massive indoor waterpark, mini-golf, ropes course, arcade, and lots of dining options. Located just across Interstate 25 from the Air Force Academy. 9494 Federal Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80921
Embassy Suites is especially winsome for big families of 5 or 6. This central location, plus their complimentary daily happy hour and breakfast buffet (made-to-order omelets!) are tough to beat. 7290 Commerce Center Drive, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 80919
About the Blogger
Hi! I’m Tanya Raedeke, founder of Rad Family Travel, where we love to help families get out there! I’m married to an adventurous husband and we love living in Colorado Springs. Together we’re raising four tweens and teens, making memories together at home and away, especially enjoying outdoor travel across the USA, often in our national parks.
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