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Get lost: Gold mining

Consider these suggestions for making the most of a Springs visit



Why are you here?

No, that doesn't mean philosophically or spiritually. We mean, why are you in Colorado?

Most of us who live here are transplants so why did we face the wagons west, or retreat from California? The simple answer for many of us is that we love the mountains, the climate and the access to the abundant nature around us.

That's not all. We also love the many other activities and destinations that dot our breathtaking landscape.

Those who've lived here a while know Colorado offers plentiful hot springs, historic towns, national parks, bed and breakfasts, wineries and breweries and sporting nooks (biking trails, fishing spots, etc.).

If you're here to visit or vacation, all the options can make it overwhelming to construct the most satisfactory itinerary. Tourist traps alone might consume you. So, borrowing a page out of the typical travel guide, the Indy thought it might be useful to recommend how to spend a limited amount of time in Colorado Springs and its surroundings.

Find your own restaurants and places to rest your head, but pay heed to some of the following advice to get the most out of your trip.

24 hours in town

Four words: Garden of the Gods. Every trip starts here, at the city's must-see natural beauty. When you exit the park's west side, peruse Manitou Springs and then decide: Take the cog railway up Pikes Peak, or tour Cave of the Winds and the Manitou Cliff Dwellings? Pass through Old Colorado City, and either drive north to check out the ProRodeo Hall of Fame and U.S. Air Force Academy chapel, or south to visit the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo or Seven Falls. Spend the rest of your evening exploring downtown.

Three days in and around town

Relaxing the pace, break all the activities of a 24-hour visit into two days. Add in some more destinations, allowing for a trip out of town the third day.

Additional in-town destinations to be considered: The Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center (Main or Modern), U.S. Olympic Complex, American Numismatic Association Money Museum or Western Museum of Mining and Industry. Swing by Glen Eyrie and Miramont Castle while you're near the west side, and visit the duck pond at The Broadmoor when near the southwest. Also, stroll the art galleries in Old Colorado City and Manitou Springs.

For your day out of town, consider whether you desire urban or outdoor pursuits. Pueblo, Denver and Boulder can each offer more than a day's worth of entertainment if you didn't pack hiking boots. But if you want to get your feet wet, consider taking a guided rafting trip on the Arkansas River out of Buena Vista, Salida or Cañon City. Or, if you're easily acclimated and self-motivated, summit one of Colorado's 50-plus fourteeners. Visit the Royal Gorge if you head south, the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument if you head west. Or, choose another destination from the "one-week" section.

One week in Colorado

Taking into consideration all of the aforementioned activities, again, slow your pace and be selective. In Pueblo, visit the Sangre de Cristo Arts Center, the Pueblo Riverwalk and the historic district. In Denver, hit the Denver Art Museum, Botanic Gardens and 16th Street Mall. Keep heading north and see Rocky Mountain National Park.

Tour New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins and The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey in Cañon City. Also on the southern leg, venture through the San Luis Valley to Great National Sand Dunes National Park. Stop by Bishop's Castle in the San Isabel National Forest on the way.

If you're the gamblin' type, hit up Cripple Creek or Blackhawk and Central City. If you're the patient type, fish the renowned South Platte River. If you're the adventure-then-relax type, hike or bike a plethora of trails and find a good hot spring to soak in. If you're the romantic type, book a night in a mountain bed and breakfast.

If you came to Colorado to ski, or for winter sports, you probably already know what you're doing.

Get lost. Have a blast.

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