Best Golf Course Readers Poll Winner Patty Jewett Golf Course
900 E. Espaola St., 385-6938
Patty Jewett is the workin' man's golf course. Not only can you play 9 or 18 holes for a reasonable price in a wife-beater and daisy dukes while watching the native fox follow the snack cart, but you can also eat some of the best diner food in town at the club. They're known for their hamburgers, but the Sunday brunch is hittin' like chicken in summer and autumn as you bask on the patio and soak in the verdant green you just couldn't achieve with your lawn at home. NB
Best Place to Spend Your Last Dime The Manitou Arcade
900 block of Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs
After the dinosaurs but before videogames, there were penny arcades, filled with the dust and noise of generations playing pinball, Skeeball and other antique amusements. Then came GameBoys and similar oddly named arcane games that require batteries. And cost a small fortune. A glimpse at simpler times, a hokey date for hip teens, an afternoon of hypnotic hand-eye coordination -- all this and more for mere dimes (or quarters) at the Penny Arcade in Manitou Springs. NH
Best Tourist Trap (and Best Place for a Picnic) Readers Poll Winner Garden of the Gods
East entrance on 30th Street, south of
Garden of the Gods Road,
You can wander through the Garden of the Gods in any fashion you choose, and it's still spectacular. Amble along the paths, ride a bike or a horse, push a stroller or wheelchair, you always get fabulous views. If your tourista friends aren't ambulatorily inclined, you can spend hours driving through the park at unbelievably low speeds and still be awed by the splendor of it all. It's unwritten law that everyone has their photo taken by Balancing Rock, but aside from that, save your film and buy postcards. Mere mortals have difficulty capturing the depth of this incredible natural beauty. MBP
Best Swimming Pool Readers Poll Winner Aquatics and Fitness Center
280 S. Union Blvd., 385-5984
Like it when you get bubbles in your swimsuit? The AFC has an honest-to-God bubble couch. It's a water playground and a pool with something for everyone (unless you crave deep water and a diving board). Splash in the water playground that sports both a big and a baby slide, fountains, and toys that spray. A "lazy river" winds between the playground and hot tub; if you want a workout, you can run against the current. Lap swimmers can view an enormous picture window that provides plenty of sunlight and a perfect view of Prospect Lake and Pikes Peak. GTS
Best Pool for Lap Swimmers Portal Pool
Open mid June through early August,
3535 N. Hancock Ave., 578-6679
A long, straight lane with a line to guide
Rope keeps kids on the other side
So swimmers won't collide
Oh, wouldn't it be loverly?
Indoor's nice but it's best outdoors
Fresh, clean air, and there's sun galore
Swim laps until you're sore
Oh, wouldn't it be loverly?
Portal Pool's water's crystal blue
Kids stay out of the lane--they do!
The temp stays eighty-two
And everything's just loverly! GTS
Best Mountain Biking Trail Readers Poll Winner Captain Jack's
North Cheyenne Cañon
Runs from the crest of High Drive to Low Drive
Captain Jack's offers some intense downhill riding sure to satisfy any true adrenaline junkie. Filled with high-banked turns and insane mogul jumps, this trail is not for the weak-willed. The initial ride up High Drive gets the blood pumping and prepares riders for the next three miles of gravity-induced excitement. Helmets are mandatory. Don't forget to take in the amazing views on your way back up Gold Camp Road to the parking lot. GM
Best Library Branch Readers Poll Winner Penrose Public Library
20 N. Cascade Ave., 531-6333, www.ppld.org Books, music, DVDs, an assortment of periodicals you're always interested in flipping through but not buying; three friendly, competent staffers manning the checkout desk at all times -- is there any doubt? No disrespect to the smaller branches, but Penrose has everything without the pomp and circumstance of an "institution." What you can't find in solid form is invariably available through an online catalog that recalls a utopian Amazon because, ta dum, it's all free. JD
Best Pong Hits Table Tennis Center
3505 E. St. Vrain, 591-8610,
In an industrially zoned crevice of East St. Vrain, Dana Jeffries quietly preaches the gospel of the widely known but rarely extolled sport of table tennis.
Show up at the right time and this computer instructor by day and table tennis instructor by afternoon will set you up across from his 10-speed Newgby "robot" ball machine and show you how to reverse its top, side and backspins.
Get your swing on and lose yourself in the trance of repetitive motion, or drop in for open play, leagues, lessons and the occasional tournament. JD
Best Nooner with a View Plaza Yoga with Monika Kaufman
Plaza of the Rockies, Suite 701,
North Tower, 510-5173 or
Do you think yoga means lying on a floor and looking like you're holding in a fart? Forget any preconceptions; Monika Kaufman offers rejuvenating, invigorating Vinyasa (flow) style yoga, with a view of the mountains, to break up the stress or monotony of your day. After one of these lunchtime classes (Tuesdays and Thursdays, 12:30-1:15 p.m.) you'll be addicted to something you don't need to feel guilty about. Classes are by donation with 15 percent of all proceeds going to FutureSelf. If you can't make the nooner, check out "Happy Hour" yoga after work (5:30-6:30 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays). Reservations suggested. CSB
Best Thing Next to the Sand Dunes Colorado Alligator Farm
9162 County Road 9 North, Mosca, CO
We have sand dunes and alligators, within spitting distance of each other, just 17 miles north of Alamosa, in Southern Colorado's San Luis Valley.
Why alligators? Well, it started as a tilapia farm and morphed into much, much more. A geothermal fluke keeps the water warm enough to support the reptiles year-round. But once folks heard they had alligators, the farm became a dropping point for unwanted exotic pets. Just this summer you could see gators, crocs, ostriches, tilapia, turtles of every size, ducks, goats, a very friendly mule, pythons, an African Grey parrot, a catfish roughly the size of a bassett hound, and assorted other reptiles, birds and fish. MBP
Best Place to Teach Your Kid to Ride a Bike Nancy Lewis Park
Templeton Gap just south of Fillmore
As a park, you couldn't ask for more -- a big grassy field, a built-in croquet court, a pond with hungry ducks and geese, playground equipment, a merry-go-round, a covered pavilion, restrooms. OK, it could use more shade trees.
Nancy Lewis Park is a large square. Put on your tennies. Pop Junior on the bike, with or without training wheels. Junior peddles, you stroll (or jog, depending on Junior's cycling skills) and you can circle the park till you're both tired enough to go home for a nap. MBP
Best Running Trail Readers Poll Winner Monument Valley Park
Runs along Monument Creek, downtown
Tired of the hamster route, around and around the track? In Monument Valley Park, 164 acres deeded to the city by General Palmer, you can run creekside from Bijou to Fillmore, continue northward to Palmer Lake (via the Santa Fe trail), or stop at Goose Gossage Park, take a break, watch the Little Leaguers, and head back. Run a fartlek from Fontanero to the WPA-era stone walls at Uintah. Clock your time with the quarter mile markers. If your timing is right, there'll be some water (courtesy of Colorado Running Company) in a cooler at the Mesa bridge. Drink a toast to the General's vision. NH
Best Reason to Get Poison Ivy Early Morning Hike on Ute Pass Trail
6 a.m.: Meet near Cog Railway parking lot (right side of Ruxton Avenue before the incline) to catch Ute Pass trail.
6:10 a.m.: Start hiking this moderate red gravel trail to a beautiful view of the Rampart Range.
6:40 Veer left at the fork, following a ridge through a nicely forested area.
6:45 a.m.: See sunrise over Colorado Springs at the same time watching for poison ivy (green plants with three leaflets per leaf and woody vines).
7:30 a.m.: Refreshed, head home to get ready for work.
8 a.m.: Apply Rhuli Gel to areas affected by poison ivy (while remembering that beautiful sunrise). CSB
Best Place to Skateboard Readers Poll Winner Manitou Skate Park
Beckers Lane, Manitou Springs
Yes, the transitions could be faster, the coping was set wrong and the speed blocks are more of a liability than an asset. But hey, if you can work a speed line through this humble park than you'll be able to find one anywhere. It has its flaws, but a mediocre, non-skateboarder designed park beats none at all. Perhaps someday Manitou will be the training wheels for a park worthy of the state's second-largest city. For now, the big boys will trek on down to Cañon City and the groms can learn to carve in Manitou's red concrete playpen. JD
Best Friday Night Recreational Activity in the Winter Rock the Rink
Sertich Ice Center in Memorial Park, 385-5983
You can't predict subcultures. Take Friday night "Rock the Rink" skating at Sertich Ice Center. A veritable cult of regulars packs the joint from 7 to 9 p.m. (winter months only) to ice-skate, ice-dance (sort of) and generally whoop it up like it was a 1972 roller disco, except on ice. DJs wear funny hats, do a smoke and light show, pass out inflatable electric guitars, hold raffles and play all the top 40 songs your kids love. You don't see people making out (gross!), which is awesome. And it's only $2.50 including skate rentals. Talk about a cheap date! Chuh. NB
Best Cooperative Sports Activity Buddy Sports
Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services, Special Programs
Office, 1315 E. Pikes Peak Ave., 385-6005
Some people love competition. Not everybody (hard to believe if you know one of the win-at-all-costs adult softball league players in town). For the rest of us who can't catch a ball when the pressure's on, try Parks and Recreation's Buddy Sports program. Sign up as a volunteer and they pair you with a buddy who has special needs. You and your buddy jump into a soccer or softball game where the rules are modified to emphasize playing and fun. Everybody plays; everyone has fun. Yea, team. GS
Best Addition to the Zoological Life of Colorado Springs African Rift Valley at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
4250 Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Road, 633-9925, www.cmzoo.org
The African Rift Valley exhibit houses the largest herd of reticulated giraffes of any zoo in the world, two species of antelope, four kinds of ground birds, two red river hogs and a gang of meerkats, plus uncounted numbers of delighted visitors (the two-legged kind). For the fearless, the zookeeper leads walks along the Safari Discovery Trail inside the animal yard. Filled with interactive features meant to educate and enthrall children of all ages, this exhibit is the first of some ambitious long-range plans for our mountainside collection of animals. May they all be as much fun. NH