The south part of our city is quite the grab bag of neighborhoods. To the west, all the ritzy, fancy stuff. To the east, skipping over Fort Carson (because us civilians can't really hang out there) and a network of highways and heavily trafficked roads, you're in Fountain, which, though nice, isn't exactly The Broadmoor.
And who wants to hang around in a place you won't get kicked out of? Half the fun of padding around the The Broadmoor (1 Lake Ave., broadmoor.com) is getting bristly looks from its employees. The other half, of course, is that it's gorgeous. Same goes for the Penrose House (1661 Mesa Ave., elpomar.org) nearby; it's so pretty in the summertime, it's crazy. (We're talking artwork inside, groomed gardens outside.)
Some things to look for: At the Penrose House, the artwork, architecture and the organ that has pipes integrated throughout several rooms, an early sort of surround sound. See it all when El Pomar hosts public tours the first Monday of every month. If you do your own tour of The Broadmoor, hit the celebrity hall in The Broadmoor West, as well as the historical tidbits sprinkled throughout the main building. And drop into the Hayden Hays Gallery (haydenhaysgallery.com) — which is actually two separate galleries, one geared toward the traditional and one more Western- and wildlife-oriented.
Hey, even if money does buy happiness, you can walk around like a civilized person for free.
On the cheap
More free stuff lies up the road, in North Cheyenne Cañon. Drive past the Starr Kempf house (2057 Pine Grove Ave.) to see the late artist's magnificent, twisting steel sculptures; just don't dawdle, because the neighbors frown upon that sort of thing. After that, visit Starsmore Discovery Center (2120 S. Cheyenne Cañon Road, tfocc.org) and Helen Hunt Falls Visitor Center (4075 N. Cheyenne Cañon Road, tfocc.org) at the top and bottom of the canyon, respectively. Starsmore, the original home of the family by the same name, is a beautiful place to enjoy the stream, its gardens and its specialty, hummingbirds. There's hiking around here, but you can also drive the windy road up to Helen Hunt Falls, which by the way, is a fun to place to creep around at night (not that I'm promoting that).
Skip Seven Falls, which is expensive (at least $8.25 per adult and $5.25 for most kids), and do the seriously impressive Cheyenne Mountain Zoo (4250 Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Road, cmzoo.org) and Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun (cmzoo.org/aboutZoo/history/willRogersShrine.asp) instead. Also worth visiting is the Cheyenne Mountain Heritage Center (1118 W. Cheyenne Road, cmheritagecenter.org) for art classes and history.
Southwest is home to several museums as well. The U.S. Figure Skating Museum (20 First St., worldskatingmuseum.org) and the El Pomar Foundation Carriage Museum (11 Lake Circle, elpomar.org) reside in the Broadmoor neighborhood, and further south, the always-weird John May Museum (710 Rock Creek Canyon Road, maymuseum-camp-rvpark.com) houses an incongruous collection of insects and space program information. Take care in finding it — State Highway 115 is dangerous, especially when you're craning your neck looking for the museum's giant stag beetle sign.
Continue the natural-world education at Venetucci Farm (5210 S. U.S. Hwy. 85, ppcf.org/venetucci). See the so-lo (slow food locally) movement in action, with summer programs for kids like "Junior Farmhand," numerous volunteer opportunities (weeding, planting, harvesting and the like), and of course, pumpkin-picking for the kids in the fall.
Or, if you prefer your straw in a cup rather than in a bale, just grab a coffee, latté or other fancy caffeinated beverage at C Cobb Creations Coffee Bar (236 E. Cheyenne Mountain Blvd., cobbcreations.com), Sacred Grounds (1801 Cheyenne Blvd., 475-0888) or Black Bear Coffee & Tea Lodge (6550 S. Academy Blvd., 226-2327).
Racing and roasting
Adrenaline junkies: Keep an eye on the calendar for motorsports events at the Pikes Peak International Raceway (16650 Midway Ranch Road, Fountain, ppir.com) or the El Paso County Speedway (366 10th St., Calhan, elpasocountyspeedway.com). PPIR boasts a large, paved track for stock cars, sports cars and motorcycles, and plans for a two-mile road course in the future. The county speedway, which is dirt and located at the county fairgrounds (which is more east, than south, we know), can also accommodate a variety of vehicles and events, from races to swap meets.
If you're of a mind to leave Colorado Springs altogether, consider daytripping to downtown Pueblo. The Historic Arkansas Riverwalk (Welcome Center, 101 S. Union Ave., puebloharp.com) is pretty, and there are cool shops and restaurants around it. Wireworks Coffeehouse (103 S. Union Ave., #110, 719/543-3000) is worth a visit for its pear sandwich alone.
For a really amazing cup of coffee, head to Solar Roast (226 N. Main St., solarroast.com), a local company that uses solar power to roast its organic beans. If you're the adventurous type, get the Bull Breaker, four shots of espresso with chocolate and cayenne pepper.
But don't leave without hitting the Sangre de Cristo Arts Center (210 N. Santa Fe Ave., sdc-arts.org) and the attached Buell Children's Museum (sdc-arts.org/buellchildrensmuseum.html). Now, the Sangre recently witnessed a changing of the guard, which could mean a new look for its programming in 2011 or beyond. But in past years, it's delivered a potpourri of local exhibitions, works of visiting artists, anthropological displays, and, here and there, a packaged show. The Buell is an entirely hands-on enterprise, with highly interactive programming. Both institutions host a variety of events as well, from visiting Broadway shows and traveling groups to live outdoor music events in the summer.