- Courtesy Western Museum of Mining & Industry
- Check out the area’s mining history at WMM&I.
Museums and attractionsNaturally, the history of the Pikes Peak region is tied to the history of the Wild West, for better or worse. To get a glimpse of where we came from, check out the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum. Alongside exhibits about Native American and black history in the region, our reputation as the “City of Sunshine” and more, you’ll find the museum’s most comprehensive ongoing exhibit, The Story of Us: The Pikes Peak Region from A-Z. It presents the area’s history alphabetically and explores everything from our various natural disasters to our connection to silent film star Lon Chaney.
- Courtesy Dinosaur Resource Center
Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center
201 S. Fairview St., Woodland Park, rmdrc.com
Explore some very, very early history with a short drive up to Woodland Park, where the Dinosaur Resource Center shows off fossils from North America’s Late Cretaceous period — 100.5 million to 66 million years ago. Skeletons of dinosaurs, pterosaurs, marine reptiles and fish are displayed alongside models and interactive exhibits to help you get the most out of your visit. Occasional family activities offer STEM education that goes beyond paleontology.
Tourists and locals alike also get a kick out of the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, which was originally founded in 1926 by philanthropist Spencer Penrose. Throughout its near-century of operation, it has become a bastion of environmental conservation and community engagement, with plentiful animal attractions and activities to enjoy, including a cool opportunity to feed the zoo’s famous giraffe herd 365 days a year.
- Courtesy Space Foundation
4425 Arrowswest Drive, discoverspace.org
We’re lucky enough in Colorado Springs to host the world headquarters of the Space Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to advancing the teaching of all things space-related — from the history of the U.S. space program to current strides in astrophysics and exploration. The Space Foundation Discovery Center boasts a variety of neat exhibits from space suits to interactive Mars rover play sites, and special events invite families and adult nerds alike to have fun and learn.
In 2018, construction began on a massive new Pikes Peak Summit Complex, so expect to see some work being done on the visitor center that has been in place on the summit since 1963.
After a visit to the Peak, you might enjoy a quick drive down to Manitou Springs, a bustling mountain town with a lot to offer (but limited parking, so click here to look into shuttle rides). Check out free, guided tours of the town’s namesake: its mineral springs. Once thought to possess healing properties, the springs each have a unique mineral content, which affects their taste. Guided tours will clue you in to their history, too.
- Matt Inden / Miles;
- Cave of the Winds is a local geological wonder.
Then, of course, every tourist must take a spin through Garden of the Gods. One of the region’s most iconic attractions, Garden of the Gods boasts rock formations that can provide the perfect backdrop for those family vacation photos, from Balanced Rock to the Kissing Camels. Not only can you hike or bike throughout the area, but you can also track down places to climb with Front Range Climbing Co.
- Courtesy United States Olympic Committee
Olympic Training Center
1 Olympic Plaza, teamusa.org
More than 130,000 tourists visit the Olympic Training Center each year, and until our Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame gets up and running, it is the major tourist attraction for fans of the Olympics making the pilgrimage to “Olympic City USA.” Check out the hour-long tours on offer and get a glimpse of the training facilities of the country’s top athletes.
In Colorado Springs’ downtown core, check out retail outlets like Ladyfingers Letterpress, a nationally recognized stationery store, with designs printed in-house by its owners Morgan Calderini and Arley-Rose Torsone, plus plenty of unique gifts. You can also check out Zeezo’s, a decades-old costume shop and vintage clothing store that’s worth spending hours exploring. Add onto this plenty more boutiques, and the retail alone can keep you busy. But that’s not all you can get up to downtown. Some of our favorite restaurants and breweries occupy the downtown stretches of Tejon Street and Nevada Avenue (see our food section here for some specific recommendations), and you can sign up for food and brewery tours at visitcos.com.
- We love strolling Manitou Springs in summer.
Farther west, you’ll find Manitou Springs. After stopping in at the Manitou Art Center and the Manitou Springs Heritage Center to get a feel for the town’s history and artistic passion, you can take a stroll down Manitou Avenue and find restaurants and wine bars, a historic penny arcade, a place to snap Wild West-inspired photos, crystal stores and herb shops, a comic store and more.