When it comes to shopping, the west side is known for two things: gift shops and art galleries.
If you're looking for a well-set piece of turquoise, an exquisite painting, a funny T-shirt, or a unique souvenir, shops here have you covered — and we mean covered.
But here's a little secret: There's a heck of a lot more than what meets the eye in Manitou Springs and Old Colorado City. I'm talking eat-your-heart out vintage dresses, handmade vino, sweet outdoor gear and kitchen gadgets that will transform you from a harried housemaid to a domestic goddess.
Here's a sampling, but we're sure you'll find more to love. You just have to look around.
As the saying goes, ladies first.
In Old Colorado City, Barracuda Bazaar (2603 W. Colorado Ave., barracudabazaar.com), Eve's Revolution (1312 W. Colorado Ave., evesrevolution.com), and SWISH Vintage and Vogue Apparel (1816 W. Colorado Ave., swishvintage.com) outfit women with clothing and accessories conveying an eco-and-style-conscious vibe. Verve (2513½ W. Colorado Ave., 351-7030) is an artists co-op with plenty of wearables, like hats and earrings, and SuperFine Jewelry (2616 W. Colorado Ave., #5, 917/607-0935) will help you adorn yourself with trend-setting necklaces, earrings, and sunglasses, as well as some locally made natural lotions and such.
Walk a little further on the wild side? Try Nice 'N Naughty (2504 W. Colorado Ave., 633-7277) for that perfect lace corset.
(This may be a good place to note that if nature takes a certain course, Baby Cotton Bottoms, at 1301 W. Colorado Ave. and babycottonbottoms.com, will hook you up with everything for natural parenting, from cloth diapers to carriers. And that Mountain Moppets, at 2532 W. Colorado Ave. and mountainmoppets.com, sells way-cute duds for the little ones.)
Meanwhile, Piramide Clothing Company (2516 W. Colorado Ave., piramidenf.com) promises a laid-back, natural look. And there's another Piramide at 106 Cañon Ave. in Manitou Springs, which brings us to a whole other shopping wonderland.
The Ten Spot (742 Manitou Ave., 685-1545) in Manitou is great for all since it's packed with accessories, and everything is $10. But if you're a girly-girl, you'll want to make a beeline for Safron of Manitou (720 Manitou Ave., 685-5153), which brims with ornamented frocks and one-of-a-kind jewelry. Meanwhile, those who lean "crunchy" will enjoy La Henna Boheme (801 Manitou Ave., 636-2626), and The Poppy Seed (123 Cañon Ave., lovethepoppyseed.com).
For a good place to fuel your brain, you also may want to check out Black Cat Books (513 Manitou Ave., manitoubooks.com), where you can browse books, including a nice selection of titles by local authors, or check out the connected art gallery at the Business of Arts Center. And you won't want to miss CK Comics and Collectibles (719 Manitou Ave., Suite B, 344-9045), where you can rediscover your inner superhero.
Of course, many believe the west side is the best side for outdoor activity. To get yourself outfitted, there are a number of options.
At Blindside (600 S. 21st St., #150, blindsidecolorado.net), you can pick up a skateboard or snowboard, or just a bunch of stickers. Bike-riders will find high-end products at ProCycling (600 S. 21st St., #120, procyclingwarehouse.com), and a more casual atmosphere at CS West Bikes (3020 W. Colorado Ave., cswestbikes.com). Fishermen can visit Angler's Covey (295 21st St., anglerscovey.com).
Feel like climbing the newly legal Incline? Head to Manitou for Mountain High Sportswear (958 Manitou Ave., mountainhighsportwear.com) or Kinfolks (950 Manitou Ave., kinfolksmanitou.com), which has a small offering of outdoor gear (and a lot of great beer). Want to climb it with your dog? Consider checking out the travel bowls, leashes and boots (really) at Republic of Paws (2411 W. Colorado Ave., republicofpaws.com) and Gigi's (728 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, gigisshop.com). Don't forget about Wag N' Wash (1625 W. Uintah St., wagnwash.com) for cleanup.
You could also reward your pup by picking up a carved wooden bear for him or her to stare down, at Nature of Things Chainsaw Art (347 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, natureofthingschainsawart.com).
Speaking of things carved out of wood, those whose adventurous side is musical should duck into the Dulcimer Shop (740 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, 685-9655) for hand-crafted instruments, or Moondog Music Shop (10 S. 25th St., moondogmusicshop.com) for a new guitar or bongo drum.
This is living
Returning home, at least in focus: At some point, you're going to want to stop into Commonwheel Artists Co-op (102 Cañon Ave., Manitou Springs, commonwheel.com) for a great selection of local ceramic pieces. (In particular, watch for the business' annual festival around Labor Day.) For crystals and candles and the like, pop by Celebration Metaphysical Center (2209 W. Colorado Ave., celebrationstore.com). Cooks and bakers should also drop by the Manitou Kitchen Shop (906 Manitou Ave., #102, Manitou Springs, 685-9900) and Whickerbill (742 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, 685-1540) for way-cool kitchen gadgets and dishes.
Speaking of food, you can get vegetables (plus other healthy groceries) at Mountain Mama Natural Foods (1625 W. Uintah St., Suite A, mountainmamanaturalfoods.com). More gift-oriented food items are available at The Sweet Elephant (2502 W. Colorado Ave., sweetelephant.co), which dishes wine and food items; D'Vine Wine (934 Manitou Ave., #108, Manitou Springs, winerymsprings.com), where you can create your own wine on site; and the Olive Tap (906 Manitou Ave., #103, Manitou Springs, theolivetap.com), which offers gourmet olive oil.
Olive Tree Traders (2526 W. Colorado Ave.; 906 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, olivetreetraders.com) doesn't sell olive oil, but it does sell exotic, embroidered bedspreads and Turkish mosaic lanterns. Mavi Turkish Arts (724 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, 229-3790) will set you up with a truly amazing rug. And Earthen Artisan House (2611 W. Colorado Ave., earthenartisanhouse.com) sells all kinds of products for making your nest natural and wholesome — unless you'd rather take a different approach and just fill it with rubber duckies from The Quacker (738 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, quackergiftshop.com).