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East daytime hangouts

Welcome to the land of pop flies and furry friends

by and


There's something to be said for returning to your childhood roots: It can involve a lot of hands-on projects, sugar and excitement. Just like the east side of Colorado Springs by day.

If you plan ahead and secure a slot, you can start off with art classes at Kids Can Draw (3617 Betty Drive, Suite S, kidscandraw.info). Or just drop into the Imagination Space (Citadel Mall, 750 Citadel Drive East, 387-9015), where the brilliant folks behind Imagination Celebration (imaginationcelebration.org) promise daily hands-on activities, for free, ranging from dancing to robotics.

Then keep the energy flowing by catching a Sky Sox game at Security Service Field (4385 Tutt Blvd., milb.com). Our Triple-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies is an easy, budget-friendly draw that offers plenty of ancillary events (fireworks displays, random giveaways, etc.) in the summertime. Alternatively, if you're more of an indoor-gaming rather outdoor-gaming family, you can stop by iT'Z Family Food & Fun (3035 New Center Point, itzusa.com) and engage in a game of 10-pin bowling, bumper cars and more. Or see what's playing at Cinemark 16 and its IMAX theater (3305 Cinema Point, cinemark.com).

Also along the Powers Boulevard corridor, you can schedule a visit to the National Museum of World War II Aviation (765 Aviation Way, worldwariiaviation.org) even before it officially opens, via a reservation through its website. Not only will you see the facility as-is, but also the adjacent site where World War II planes are restored.

Heading out more toward the plains, you'll come upon the large cats of Serenity Springs Wildlife Center (24615 Scott Road, Calhan, serenityspringswildlife.org), the largest federal- and state-licensed big-cat facility in the state. Visit lions, tigers, cougars and other species, many of which are rescues. You can even see the University of Colorado Colorado Springs' mascot, Clyde the mountain lion.

While in Calhan, home to an abundance of activities at our El Paso County Fair (366 10th St., elpasocountyfair.com) in July, take note of the El Paso County Speedway (366 10th St., elpasocountyspeedway.com), home to the racing of everything from "High Plains Midgets" to "Colorado Dwarf Cars."

Heading back into town, there are two places right off of Platte Avenue to be aware of. First is Asian Pacific Market (615 Wooten Rd., 573-7500), where you can meet all your Asian cooking needs, such as deep-frying supplies, huge woks, lobsters, fish and crab. You can also get your sweet tooth satisfied with a bottle of Ramune, which is in a bottle sealed with a glass bead — otherwise known as hours of entertainment.

Across the street from that is the Colorado Springs Flea Market (5225 E. Platte Ave., csfleamarket.com) open every weekend at 7 a.m.; for a $2 entrance fee (12 and under free), you can browse new and vintage merchandise. You may also find bounce houses for the kids in the summer.

Not so kid-friendly, but definitely a welcome choice for the brewing enthusiast, the Rocky Mountain Brewing Company (625 Paonia St., rockymountainbrews.com) offers "brew on premises" on Saturdays, during which you can use its equipment and guidance to create your own beer. See, sometimes it pays to be an adult.

Mug up

— Bryce Crawford

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