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Garden of The Gods

#1 in Colorado Springs

It’s easy to see how this natural landmark earned such an ethereal title: These magnificent red rock formations look as though deities themselves could’ve carved them. However, the sandstone pillars are, in fact, the work of geological activity along a natural fault line, as well as rainfall over millennia. You can learn about the garden’s formations at the Visitor and Nature Center, which houses numerous informative displays and hosts daily nature presentations. You are welcome to explore the park on your own time (either on foot or by bike); the Visitor and Nature Center also offers guided van, Jeep and Segway tours (prices vary by vehicle and tour length). Or, if you’re looking for a more authentic “Wild West” experience, you can reserve your spot on a guided horseback tour offered by the Academy Riding Stables.

Hiking Type

2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend


Pikes Peak

#2 in Colorado Springs

Rising 8,000 feet above Colorado Springs, Pikes Peak – aka “America’s Mountain” – has been beckoning to visitors since the 19th century. Gold brought the pioneers here, but it was the richness of the mountain’s natural beauty that motivated them to stay. The views from this pink granite mountain were so stunning, they inspired Katharine Lee Bates to pen the words to the patriotic song, “America the Beautiful.” Today, the famous Colorado Gold Rush slogan, “Pikes Peak or Bust,” now applies to tourists: Every year, thousands of hikers tackle the climb in search of spectacular photo ops, families get a taste history while riding the Pikes Peak Cog Railway and stunt-devil wannabees get their fair share of thrills along the winding 19-mile Pikes Peak Highway.

Hiking Type

Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend


Manitou Springs

#3 in Colorado Springs

Let’s get one thing straight: Manitou Springs is not a part of Colorado Springs, and residents here won’t hesitate to remind you of that. Unlike its much larger neighbor, this small town in the Rocky Mountain foothills (about 6 miles northwest of central Colorado Springs) has rejected urbanization. Instead, Manitou Springs – now a National Historic District – remains a charming hippie-era haven filled with art galleries, funky boutiques and outdoor cafes.

Neighborhood/Area Type

Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend


United States Olympic Center

#4 in Colorado Springs

This facility in Colorado Springs is the flagship training center of the U.S. Olympic team and the active headquarters of the U.S. Olympic Committee. The 35-acre complex houses two Olympic-size swimming pools, as well as practice facilities for a variety of competitive sports, including fencing, gymnastics, weightlifting and wrestling. In addition to the athletes who live and train here, the center welcomes roughly 130,000 visitors each year and offers 16 guided tours each day during the summer months. Start your trip to the U.S. Olympic Training Center at the Visitors Center, where you’ll find detailed information about the complex. From there, you can make your way to the massive Hall of Fame, which honors some of the most spectacular athletes in U.S. Olympic history.

Sightseeing Type

2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend


North Cheyenne Canon Park

#5 in Colorado Springs

If you’re visiting Colorado Springs during the summer, consider spending a day at North Cheyenne Cañon Park, located about 7 miles southwest of town. This park comprises more than 1,600 acres at the bottom of a 1,000-foot-deep canyon; the park’s differing altitudes can support a vast array of wildlife, including deer, mountain lions and black bears. In addition to miles of hiking trails, you’ll also find part of the North Cheyenne Creek – a popular place to swim in the warmer months.

Parks and Gardens Type

2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend


United States Air Force Academy

#6 in Colorado Springs

If you feel a need for speed, then plan a visit to the U.S. Air Force Academy. Not only is the academy a must for any lover of the movie “Top Gun” who’d like to see the impressive plane maneuvers first-hand, it’s also a functioning educational institution for future pilots. Your first stop should be the Visitor Center, which offers a brief yet informative introduction to the academy. From there, you’re free to explore areas like the Cadet Chapel, the Honor Court and Falcon Stadium.

Museums Type

1 to 2 hours Time to Spend


Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

#7 in Colorado Springs

Animal lovers say that the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is a must if you’re visiting Colorado Springs with kids. Located south of the city at the foot of Cheyenne Mountain, this facility makes it easy to get up-close-and-personal with hundreds of furry, scaly and feathery creatures. While here, you can also feed a giraffe, take a spin on the zoo’s chairlift-style, open-air ride and snap photos with the zoo’s residents during animal encounters.

Zoos and Aquariums Type

Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend


Old Colorado City

#8 in Colorado Springs

Sitting just west of the downtown area is Old Colorado City, the original capital of the Colorado Territory. Founded back in 1859, this area was once a hotbed of activity, overflowing with farmers, miners, ranchers and other settlers seeking a piece of their own Manifest Destiny. In 1917, Colorado City was annexed by a fast-growing new settlement: neighboring Colorado Springs. Although it is no longer its own town, the Old Colorado City Historic District maintains its 19th-century “Wild West” feel with a few modifications: the area’s buildings now house locally owned art galleries, quaint shops and mom and pop restaurants.

Sightseeing Type

2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend


Red Rock Canyon Open Space

#9 in Colorado Springs

Arizona and Utah aren’t the only states that boast rosy rocks – Colorado has them, too. And you don’t have to stray too far from Colorado Springs to get a good look at them from a hiking or biking trail. Sitting about 4 miles northwest of downtown along Route 24 (right before you reach Manitou Springs), Red Rock Canyon has contributed to the area’s scenic landscape since 7000 B.C. In the 1800s, the desert landscape was used to refine the ore that came from the gold mines in nearby Cripple Creek. During the 20th century, Red Rock Canyon was owned by the Bock family, who had plans to transform the land into a vacation haven, complete with a resort hotel and a golf course. In 2003, the city of Colorado Springs purchased the land and used its striking red cliffs to punctuate miles of new hiking and biking trails.

Hiking Type

Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend


Mueller State Park

#10 in Colorado Springs

When you don’t feel like driving nearly three hours to Rocky Mountain National Park, Mueller State Park offers a convenient alternative. Located about 30 miles west of Colorado Springs, its roughly 5,000 acres host jagged mountain peaks, verdant aspen forests and 55 miles of trails for hiking, biking, cross-country skiing and more. Recent visitors say that the trails are well-maintained but many of them are relatively short; however, they can be extended by looping on other trails, making this an ideal outing for leisure walkers and adventure-seekers alike.

Hiking Type

More than Full Day Time to Spend