Top places to visit and things to do in Colorado Springs, CO
Colorado Springs is a thriving city located at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, so the views are just spectacular! The city is known for its outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and climbing, especially if you’re visiting Colorado Springs in the summer.
However, there are plenty of other things to do in Colorado Springs like learning about history at a museum, visiting a Victorian castle, exploring the nightlife downtown, and much more.
Plus, the dining options are unmatched with numerous bars and restaurants featuring cuisines from all around the world.
Table of Contents
- Air Force Academy
- Pikes Peak Region
- Garden of the Gods
- Springs Fine Art
- Olympic Training Center
- Downtown Colorado Springs
- Manitou Springs
- Pioneers Museum
- Glen Eyrie Castle
- Miramont Castle Museum
- Caves of the Winds Mountain Park
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Photo Credit: Air Force Academy Homepage
The United States Air Force Academy sits on over 18,000 acres of land near the Rocky Mountains, which offer amazing views throughout the whole campus. The academy is quite new with plenty of modern athletic facilities, research centers, outdoor activities, and much more.
Thousands of men and women from across the country come to the academy to learn the required skills to be a member of the Air Force.
The academy is a popular attraction with over a million visitors every year. To start your visit, we recommend heading to the visitor center first, where you can get help from staff, visit numerous exhibits, watch a short film about the academy, purchase souvenirs, and more.
After getting settled in, the activities are endless! You can head to the planetarium to learn about astronomy through concerts, live talks, films, and events.
You can also check out the cadet facilities where students do most of their learning, or the athletic facilities like the football field, basketball court and swimming pool.
If you’d like to spend some time outdoors, you have plenty of options. One of the things you can do is hiking or biking as the academy offers over 30 miles of trails all with different views and levels of difficulty.
Another activity to consider is fishing, which is available in the academy’s eight different lakes. Finally, you have the option of hunting deer and wild turkeys.
Keep in mind that you have to meet certain requirements for some of the activities, so be sure to check beforehand (and/or at the visitor center).
Photo Credit: Pikes Peak America Facebook
Pikes Peak is one of the most famous mountains in the US. It’s also one of the tallest, at over 14,000 feet tall. The mountain offers plenty of activities like hiking, climbing, cycling, camping, and more, making it one of the best things to do if you’re visiting Colorado Springs in the summer, or really any time of year.
If you’d like to just enjoy the views, you can drive up the scenic Pikes Peak Highway, or you can take the train on the Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway, which has been around since 1891.
Photo Credit: Pikes Peak Cog Railway Facebook
Once you board the train, you’ll be taken nine miles to the summit of the mountain and, during the journey, you’ll see and learn about beautiful sights like Pike National Forest, Engelmann Canyon, and Deer Park. You’ll also get to see plenty of wildlife like deer, sheep herds, marmot, and Bristlecone Pine trees.
After you’re done, you can take the train back down the mountain or you can hike back down on the 13-mile Barr Trail. Keep in mind that the Barr Trail is very long and challenging with an elevation change of nearly 7,500 feet.
If you’d like to make it a bit easier, you can stop halfway at Barr Camp where you can rest, grab a bite to eat, and even stay overnight if you make a reservation.
Otherwise, there are a few different smaller trails around the Pikes Peak region, like the Elk Park Trail, the Manitou Reservoir Trail, the Bottomless Pit Trail, and more. They range from one to five miles long and most of them are of moderate difficulty.
Garden of the Gods is a 1,300-acre nature center, park, and national landmark that sits among numerous 300-foot tall red rock formations with views of Pikes Peak in the background. Just viewing the park alone is one of the best things to do in Colorado Springs! However, there are plenty of activities for you to enjoy.
One of the most popular activities is hiking since the park offers five miles of trails that all take you through the red rock formations. You can also go mountain biking on the trails, or horseback riding, which is available for 1-2 hours for beginners and experts.
Another thing to do is rock climbing. Head to the visitors center to take a 1.5-hour tour which departs every three hours. If you’d prefer to do something less strenuous, you can take a jeep or segway tour to see around the whole park. Tours range from 45 minutes to half-day tours.
Finally, there are geology exhibits, guided nature walks, educational programs, events, a gift shop, a cafe, and so much more to check out at Garden of the Gods!
Photo Credit: Springs Fine Art Facebook
If you’re an art-lover, you need to put The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center on your list of things to do in Colorado Springs. The Arts Center is a museum, art school, and theater located inside Colorado College near downtown Colorado Springs.
One of the many things you can do at the Arts Center is check out the museum, which has numerous exhibitions that are always changing, and a collection of over 20,000 items from Native American, Hispanic, and Spanish cultures. Another place to check out is the award-winning theater, which hosts many dramas, comedies, and musicals every year.
Finally, there’s the art school that offers a huge selection of courses no matter your age, interest, or skill level.
Other things to do at the Arts Center include the Ladyfingers Stationery Shop where you can purchase hand-made and locally sourced items, or attend a community program or event.
Photo Credit: Olympic Training Center Website
There are only a few Olympic Training Centers in the US, and one of them is located in Colorado Springs. The training center not only prepares athletes for the Olympics and Paralympics, but also provides dining, housing, and recreational facilities for the athletes.
Tours are available every 30-60 minutes and last for around an hour. On the tour you can view the training facilities, see real athletes training, and you might even be able to talk to them! You can also check out the Hall of Fame of the USA Olympics and watch a short film.
You’ll finish the tour with a stop at the gift shop where you’ll have the chance to buy Team USA gear which helps support the athletes.
If you’re looking for things to do in Colorado Springs, downtown is the perfect place to go for a wide variety of options whether you’re alone, with friends, or with family.
If you want to spend some time in nature, you can hike or bike on one of downtown’s many trails or check out one of the five large parks in the area. For something more modern and “trendy”, downtown offers a thriving nightlife scene with tons of breweries, bars, and clubs.
Other things to do include shopping at some of the numerous locally-owned boutiques or checking out the art scene, which can be done just by walking around. There are tons of pieces of art on display for the public throughout downtown Colorado Springs!
After you explore downtown Colorado Springs all day, you’ll probably feel a bit hungry! The good news is that there are plenty of places to grab something to eat including restaurants, coffee shops, ice cream shops, and candy stores. You can find a wide variety of cuisines like American, Mexican, Mediterranean, and more.
One of the most popular things to do in the town is, of course, the mineral springs which have been created slowly over thousands of years. Water underground slowly eroded the limestone, which resulted in natural carbonation and other minerals in the water. There are eight different springs in town, all with their own unique benefits and features. SunWaterSpa is a good place to go if you want to relax and treat yourself to a mineral soaking.
Another great thing to do is go hiking on one of Manitou’s many trails, all ranging in length, difficulty, and views. One of the most popular hikes in the area is the Manitou Incline, which consists of 2,744 steps that you have to climb to reach the top.
If it sounds strenuous, it is. But you’ll be rewarded with epic views of the city at the top. Just keep in mind that the Manitou Incline is one of the most challenging hikes in Colorado and it requires a lot of preparation.
After you’re done exploring all the outdoor activities in Manitou Springs, you can take your pick and eat at any of the 30 locally-owned restaurants, bars, and cafes in the area. There are also ice cream shops, candy stores, and bakeries (and we, of course, found the one brewery in town).
Photo Credit: Pioneers Museum Facebook
The museum features many permanent exhibits as well as a few that are always changing. There are also many collections including pottery, art, and quilts; as well as collections explaining the history of Colorado Springs and how things like Native American influence, mining, agriculture, and health benefits made Colorado Springs into what it is today.
There are also programs and events that frequently occur at the museum. Guided tours are available as well, just be sure to book two weeks in advance!
Photo Credit: Glen Eyrie Castle Facebook
The castle features a 2,200 square-foot great hall, 17 bedrooms, two dining rooms, and 24 fireplaces. If you’d like to stay the night, you can book a variety of rooms online, like standard, exclusive, and deluxe. Each stay includes complimentary breakfast for two in the morning!
If you’d like to just visit the castle, there are plenty of things to do, like hiking on one of the castle’s trails, playing board games (it’s got to be the game of Risk!, right?), participating in team activities, or drinking afternoon tea.
Depending on your choices, some of these activities may require a reservation ahead of time.
One of the best ways to discover all of the castle is to book a guided tour which is available once or twice a day every day of the week.
Each tour is 90 minutes long and you’ll watch a short video, tour the first and second floors of the castle, visit the Carriage House, and spend time outside – all while guides share information about the castle and its founders.
Photo Credit: Miramont Castle Museum Facebook
The castle was originally built as a private home in 1895 but it has now been turned into a popular tourist attraction.
Even just the exterior of the castle is extremely impressive as it has nine different types of architecture, including English Tudor, Byzantine, and Gothic. Inside, the castle has over 30 rooms scattered across 14,000 square feet – all decorated with antique furniture.
The museum also features exhibits about the Manitou Springs Fire Department, the Nurnberg Trials, war memorabilia, maps from the 1800s, and more. Once you’re done exploring the museum, you can sit back and relax in the Queen’s Parlor Tearoom where you can enjoy tea and baked treats.
Keep your eye out for events at the castle as well, like spooky Friday the 13th Midnight Tours, an annual Christmas celebration, Valentine’s Day High Tea, and more!
Photo Credit: Cave of the Winds Mountain Park Facebook
The caves were discovered in 1881 near Pikes Peak and they’ve been attracting tourists ever since, so they’re also one of the oldest things to do in Colorado Springs!
One of the most popular things to do at the caves is to take one of the three available tours. The Discovery Tour is around 45-60 minutes long and you’ll see the best rock formations in the cave, discover 15 rooms, and climb nearly 200 stairs, all while learning about the history and geology of the caves.
The Lantern Tour is a bit more thrilling as you’ll only be able to hold a candle-lit lantern while you navigate through the darkness of the cave. Guides will also share ghost stories and spooky folklore during the tour. Finally, the Caving 101 Tour allows you to get a behind-the-scenes look at the cave as you’ll explore more hidden parts of the cave, all while only having a flashlight to light the way.
Caves of the Winds doesn’t just stop at the caves either. There’s a whole theme park that includes things like the Terror-dactyl ride where you’ll sit in a swing-seat 200 feet above the ground, the Frontier Zip Lines that’ll take you 80 feet above the canyons, or the Bat-A-Pult where you can go with a friend on a 1200-foot round-trip adventure above Williams Canyon at nearly 40 miles per hour.
Another great thing to do is the Via Ferrata adventure that combines hiking and rock climbing. You’ll start with a hike above the canyon and then do some mountain climbing on the cliffs, which is suitable even for beginner climbers.
Finally, you’ll finish the adventure with some ziplining.
Other things to do include the Windwalker Challenge Course, the Cliffhanger Climbing Wall, Geronimos Leap, and much more.
If you’re looking for something more relaxed, you can enjoy some food and drinks at Caver’s Cafe, pan for gems, or do some shopping at Pickett’s Gift Shop.
Photo Credit: ViewHouse Facebook
ViewHouse is a restaurant and bar that prides itself on using mainly fresh, organic, and locally-sourced ingredients without hormones or antibiotics.
The atmosphere inside the restaurant is fun and lively with numerous TVs, large windows with great views, bar activities, and a large outdoor area where you can play yard games or attend one of the numerous events that ViewHouse has to offer, like “Country in the Courtyard,” “Music on the Green,” or “Yoga on the Green.”
ViewHouse features numerous menus like a lunch menu, a beer menu, a brunch buffet menu, and more. Some popular meals include jumbo buffalo wings, Nashville Hot Chicken and Waffles, Blue Crab Enchiladas, and much more. The drink menu includes beer, wine, spirits, and cocktails.
Photo Credit: Yelp
Shuga’s is a small restaurant and bar that serves Mediterranean-style food. Inside, the ambiance is calm and welcoming with warm, retro decor. Outside, you’ll find a small seating area with umbrellas, and there’s even a teepee!
However, the best thing about Shuga’s is the delicious food. The most popular dishes include a bowl of ramen, key lime pie, roast beef sandwiches, BLTs, bruschetta, and more. For drinks, there’s a large variety of wine, beer, cocktails, and coffee.
COATI is a food hall located in southwest downtown Colorado Springs. However, it’s much more than a food hall! COATI is also an event and hangout space, hosting things like yoga and live music. If you’re feeling hungry, COATI is definitely one of the most unique things to do in Colorado Springs.
COATI features seven restaurants, all serving different cuisines like Hawaiian, Korean, American, southern soul food, and more. There’s also a brewery, two bars, and even a popsicle shop!
The Block Bar & Grill
Photo Credit: The Block Bar and Grill Facebook
The Block Bar & Grill is a restaurant and bar that serves classic American fare. It’s the perfect place to unwind and have fun as it has numerous large TVs, a pool table, great music, and much more.
The food menu includes things like chips and salsa, nachos, fried shrimp, jumbo wings, burgers, and more. For drinks, there’s a large selection of cocktails and beer.
White Pie Pizzeria
Photo Credit: White Pie Facebook
It’s not just the pizza that’s minimalistic, but also the space, with industrial decor, wooden tables, white brick walls, and a large outdoor patio with umbrellas and string lights.
The menu features eight different New-Haven pizzas or “pies” as they like to call them. If New-Haven-style pizza isn’t your thing, there are five Sicilian-style pizzas as well, which have a thicker crust. Flavors range from “three meats” to “fuggetaboutit” which doesn’t have any cheese. Besides pizza, White Pie also offers charcuterie boards, salads, chicken tenders, and more. For drinks, you can enjoy a wide range of cocktails, local beer, and wine.
The Rabbit Hole
Photo Credit: Rabbit Hole Facebook
The Rabbit Hole is one of the best things to do in Colorado Springs if you’re looking for a place to eat that’s elegant and refined; yet casual and playful. Just about every bartender we talked to suggested this place.
The restaurant and bar is Alice in Wonderland themed with tons of cool and trippy artwork depicting the famous story. There are also various places to sit depending on your preferences. The front of the restaurant is more lively with loud music, whereas the back is quieter if you’re looking for something calmer.
Another great thing about the Rabbit Hole is the menu. It includes dishes like steak, bison short ribs, rabbit meatloaf, mac ‘n cheese, and more.
Plus, most of the meals can be substituted for vegetarian or vegan options if you’d like! For drinks, there’s a wide variety of cocktails, beer, wine, and spirits available.
Due to its popularity, we highly suggest getting a reservation!
Photo Credit: The Well Facebook
The Well is a food hall located in the center of Colorado Springs that aims to not only serve great food but to be a place where the community can gather together.
The Well features three unique restaurants: Dun Sun, which focuses on Asian fusion cuisine, Noble Burger, which serves midwestern burgers, and Kumbala, which serves authentic Mexican fare. There’s also a large bar and cafe, The Gift Horse, where you can come and relax any time of the day to have a coffee, drink, or pastry.
If you’re looking for something fun to do with the community, check out one of the various events that take place multiple times a week at The Well, like yoga, trivia, live music, and more.
Photo Credit: Atomic Cowboy Facebook
Inside, the building is light and airy with tall ceilings and plenty of space. There are even pool tables to have some fun while you wait for your food. There’s also a large outdoor patio with plenty of seating in a cozy atmosphere.
If you’d like to grab a drink, Atomic Cowboy is the place to go with a large selection of cocktails, wine, and beer.
For food, check out Denver Biscuit Co which is famous for its delicious biscuits which are incorporated into many dishes like biscuit french toast, biscuit pot pie, biscuit strawberry shortcake, and much more.
If you’re in the mood for pizza, head to Fat Sully’s where you can grab pizza by the slice or an entire 26-inch pie! You can mix and match what vegetables, meat, and dip you’d like.
Photo Credit: Principle’s Office Facebook
Principal’s Office is a bar that used to be, you guessed it, a school! In 2012, Ivywild School was converted into a space for the community where people can gather together to eat, drink, attend events, and much more.
Principal’s Office serves a large variety of cocktails that are fittingly named after school terms like “Secretary’s Spring Mule” and “Vice Principal’s Manhattan.” There’s also plenty of beer and wine available. If you’d like something non-alcoholic, Principal’s Office also serves a wide range of coffee and tea.
Feeling hungry? The school also offers food from five different restaurants, all serving different styles of food including BBQ, American, Detroit-style pizza, empanadas, and more.
Axe and the Oak Whiskey House
Photo Credit: Axe and the Oak Whiskey House Facebook
Axe and the Oak Whiskey House is one of the first distilleries in Colorado Springs, opened in 2013 in the old Ivywild School by five friends. Since then, the distillery has gone on to win more than 40 awards across the globe.
The interior of the space is calm and rustic themed with warm lighting and a wooden bar and furniture, making it the perfect place to unwind and enjoy some of the best whiskey in town.
Axe and the Oak prides itself on creating fresh, handcrafted whiskey straight from the Rocky Mountain water and local grains, all while staying affordable. Some of the most popular whiskeys include “Colorado Mountain Bourbon Whiskey,” “Pikes Peak Hill Shine,” and more.
For a more “behind the scenes” look at the distillery, bottling tours are available every other Thursday. Each tour includes a “day in the life of a distiller” experience as well as free samples of the whiskey and lunch at the end of the tour!
Cork & Cask
Photo Credit: Cork & Cask Facebook
Cork & Cask is an upscale wine and whiskey bar located in Southern Colorado Springs. Inside, the bar is luxurious yet fun with eclectic decor like old Victorian chairs, cool artwork, and chandeliers. Outside, you’ll find a large patio with six different fire pits to cozy up next to.
One of the best things about Cork & Cask is the huge drink menu. You can find whiskey from America, Ireland, Japan, India, France, and much more. There’s also a large selection of cocktails, wine, and beer.
While Cork & Cask doesn’t serve full meals, they do offer a few different tasty snacks to enjoy with your drinks like deviled eggs, bavarian pretzels, stuffed olives, and much more.
Speakeasy: The Archives Underground
Photo Credit: The Archives Facebook
The Archives is an underground bar and speakeasy located in downtown Colorado Springs. It aims to create both classic and modern cocktails that everyone can enjoy in a calm and relaxed setting with dim lighting and music.
The Archives has a large selection of drinks including daiquiris, margaritas, martinis, beer, and much more, all made with the freshest ingredients. Plus, if you don’t find something on the menu, you can ask the bartender to make you anything that you’d like!
They also have a full menu of food to satiate your appetite while you sip on your classic and/or craft cocktails.
The Archives is located, as its name suggests, downstairs inside of Colorado Craft. You can enter through the restaurant when they are open, but through the backdoor in the alleyway (true speakeasy style) after 10 pm.
Shame & Regret
Photo Credit: Shame & Regret Facebook
Shame & Regret is a back-alley scotch and whiskey bar located in downtown Colorado Springs. The bar is decorated in a gothic theme with comfortable Victorian-style chairs, amazing artwork, chandeliers, and a literal “wall of shame” photo wall.
You’ll be sure to find something you like at Shame & Regret as it has over 70 types of American whiskey and 80 types of Scotch whiskey. It also has a large selection of cocktails, wine, and beer.
If you’re feeling hungry, the bar also has a small food menu that includes items like jumbo pretzels, Thai chicken, croquettes, creme brulee, and much more.
With so many great Colorado Springs Breweries to visit, we created a separate guide to give you our favorites. For more info, click here to read our Colorado Springs Breweries Guide.
Though there are many things to do in Colorado Springs, we recommend taking a day trip to see some other amazing sights that the state has to offer.
One popular tourist attraction to check out is the Royal Gorge Bridge, which is located around an hour and 15 minutes away from Colorado Springs in Cañon City. The bridge was built in 1929, is over 1,000 feet long, and suspends 950 feet above the water.
The idea behind the Royal Gorge Bridge was all started by Lon Piper, a bridge builder who visited the area and wanted people to be able to see the amazing views of the Royal Gorge Region. So, engineers and a team of 80 men got together to build the bridge and it only took seven months to complete!
Now, the bridge has attracted over 26 million visitors and it also includes a park where you can go mountain climbing, ride on the World’s Scariest Skycoaster, fly through the clouds on a zip line, take a gondola across the gorge, bring your children to a three-story playground, check out the rare Water Clock, and much more.
Denver is the capital and the most populated city in Colorado, located around an hour away from Colorado Springs. The city is known for its beautiful scenery, outdoor adventures, high elevation (5,280 feet!), fun events, and much more.
One of the best things to do in Denver is check out Larimer Square, which is a historic neighborhood that is now buzzing and packed full of shops, restaurants, bars, and more.
The square features over 15 dining options with numerous different kinds of food including Chinese street food, Asian-Fusion, seafood, Mediterranean, Southern BBQ, Mexican, and much more.
For nightlife and environment, there are five options: a brewery, two bars, a disco, and a comedy club. If you’re in the mood for some retail therapy, there are over 10 different shops ranging from pet boutiques to engagement rings!
Other things to do in Denver include checking out some of the city’s various parks, taking a trip to the rocky mountains, heading to a museum, going to the Denver Zoo, and getting sudsy at one of the numerous breweries. (Brewery guide for Denver coming soon!)
Breckenridge is a small skiing town located about two hours away from Colorado Springs. The town sits at the base of the Rocky Mountains, making it the perfect place to hit the slopes. Breckenridge even has the highest chairlift in the US, located at the luxurious Breckenridge ski resort.
If skiing isn’t your thing, or you’re not visiting in the winter, Breckenridge offers plenty of other things to do no matter what time of the year you’re visiting. During the summer, some of the top activities include hiking, whitewater rafting, biking, golfing, horseback riding, and more.
If you visit during the fall, make sure to stop and take in the amazing scenery as the leaves change to warm yellow, orange, and red. You can do this while hiking, biking, or taking a scenic drive.
If you’re hungry and need a break after enjoying all the outdoor activities, you’re in luck! Even though Breckenridge is small, it has over 100 restaurants and bars, as well as theaters, spas, yoga studios, museums, and more.
Boulder is a small town located 30 minutes past Denver and around two hours away from Colorado Springs. The town is known for its outdoor activities, thriving downtown area, museums, art galleries, and much more.
If you’d like to spend some time outdoors, there are plenty of options like hiking, rock climbing, biking, picnicking, and more. Another great thing about Boulder is the shopping, as it has numerous boutiques located along Pearl Street.
The shops include apparel, books, gifts, beauty, home decor, jewelry, and much more.
If you’re feeling hungry, there are many food halls that include restaurants, bars, food trucks, and coffee shops all in one space.
Some of the most popular food halls in Boulder include Rosetta Hall, Avanti F&B, Rayback Collective, and more.
Overall – Things to do in Colorado Springs, CO
As you can tell, there are so many things to check out whether you’re visiting Colorado Springs in the summer, fall, winter, or spring.
Also, if you’d like to take a day trip away from Colorado Springs, there are plenty of sights to see as well!
Since the things to do in the area are endless, we hope that this list has made it easier to decide where you’d like to visit during your next trip to Colorado Springs!
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About Boozing Abroad
We are Samantha & Chris and we are Boozing Abroad (literally). Together, we've traveled to over 40 states and 20 countries drinking local beers, wines and spirits along the way.
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Samantha and Chris fell in love with traveling together back in 2015. They met, married, and lived together in Richmond, VA for 7 years before becoming full-time travelers in 2020.
Along the way, they’ve traveled to over 40 U.S. states and 20 countries while drinking local beers, wines, and spirits during their journeys.
Join them as they share travel resources, stories, and guides based on their personal experiences drinking locally when traveling globally.