COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Colorado’s second largest city is located at the base of the Rocky Mountains — in view of America’s Mountain, Pikes Peak. Despite the city’s beautiful mountain views, Colorado Springs is a tourist attraction for far more than its proximity to the Rockies and wealth of adventure activities.
It’s a family-friendly destination with stunning sights and 55 thrilling attractions, including 30 free activities, for visitors of all ages, budgets and athletic abilities, according to the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The following three itinerary ideas can be customized based on travelers’ budgets and activity levels.
See the view that inspired “America the Beautiful”
A must-visit attraction when in the Colorado Springs area is Pikes Peak, America’s Mountain. With a 14,115-foot peak, the “fourteener” is the 31st tallest mountain in Colorado and one of 53 in the state standing 14,000 feet above sea level.
The expansive view at the summit features the Rockies’ “purple mountain majesties,” “spacious” blue sky, blue lake waters and — on a clear day— flat and “fruited” Kansas plains. It’s the view that inspired Katharine Lee Bates to pen the poem-turned-patriot-song “America the Beautiful.”
To visit the summit visitors can drive around 156 turns along the Pikes Peak highway or take the cog railway from Manitou Springs, Colo. The cog rail ride, which costs between $28 and $36 for an adult round-trip ticket, includes spectacular vantage points and commentary about the mountain.
Hikers can opt to hike to the summit and take the train one way, and bikers can take the cog rail up the mountain and travel the 20 miles back down on a guided mountain bike ride.
Atop the mountain, visit the gift shop to eat a “world famous” doughnut baked at 14,110 feet!
Walk through the Garden of the Gods
For budget travelers, Garden of the Gods is a gem. This free park is the No. 1 attraction in Colorado Springs on TripAdvisor and is full of paved walking paths, hiking trails, gigantic rock formations and scenic photo opportunities. Before leaving the park, the Garden of the Gods Trading Post is a convenient place to pick up Colorado souvenirs.
Adventure seekers can bike or horseback ride through Garden of the Gods, and rock climbing is permitted for climbers who register ahead of time. Less active travelers can walk the paved pathways between the formations or simply take a scenic drive, stopping for closer looks and photographs along the way.
Tour the U.S. Olympic Training Center
Some of the top summer Olympic and Paralympic athletes train at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, which is open for public tours Monday through Saturday.
The $5 guided tour features a close look at the shooting range used by USA Shooting, an Olympic-size pool, the weightlifters’ training area, gyms and the visitor center that houses Olympic medals and memorabilia and a Team USA gift shop.
The hour-long tour is free for children age 10 and younger, and discounts are available to senior citizens and active military.