If you’ve got a family who craves equal parts nature and culture, look no further than Colorado Springs. From hiking, biking and rafting at the edge of the Rockies to the vibrant arts and culture scene to dining on decadent dishes, this is your destination for an idyllic family vacation. Grab your sunscreen and hiking boots and get ready for a family adventure. We’ve put together your vacation guide to Colorado Springs below.
Colorado Springs is a mountain town, located at the base of Pikes Peak and sees 243 sunny days-per-year. It has 7000 acres of open space to explore, 230 miles of bike trails, 160 miles of park trails, and 105 miles of urban trails, giving families plenty of room to get active in the wild.
Five of the most popular places to hike in Colorado Springs include Garden of the Gods Park, which offers paved and gravel trails that take your family through soaring red rock formations where they can catch stunning views of Pikes Peak. The Red Rock Canyon Open Space is home to a variety of trails that guide visitors along the red rock canyons and ridges. This area also provides astounding glimpses of Garden of the Gods. The nearby Cheyenne Mountain State Park is home to 2,700 prairie-to peak ecosystems on 20 miles of hiking and biking trails that will keep you in awe for hours on end. And for views of the city from the top of a mesa, Palmer Park is a 737-acre wildlife preserve with plenty of trails. Finally, Austin Bluffs Open Space offers easy to moderate hikes through fantastic red rock towers.
Get Wet & Wild
When the temps rise, families can cool off while getting a little dose of adrenaline on a rafting trip. The Arkansas River is where the fun is at. Arkansas River Tours offers families a variety of excursions through the calm and white-capped currents that fit all ages and abilities. Choose between beginner trips for timid rafters, intermediate options for adrenaline junkies, and multi-day adventures for those who just can’t get enough.
Soar & Explore
Nestled between Colorado Springs and Pikes Peak, the nearby Manitou Springs is a popular spot for visiting families. You’ll find adventures above and below ground at Cave of the Winds Mountain Park. For underground excitement go on a tour of the Grand Caverns where you crawl and climb through the darkness. Once you are above the ground go on the Wind Walker Challenge Course where you take on a three-story obstacle course that is a maze of steel beams, ropes and ladders on top of the canyon. Unforgettable!
photo: via visit COS
Museums, Zoos & More
Take your kids to the “Highest Zoo in America”! Located at an elevation of 6,800 feet, your kiddos can visit hundreds of wild and exotic animals like elephants, giraffes and bears at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo!
The Manitou Cliff Dwellings overlook Manitou Springs and offer your family a glimpse into the lives of the ancient Anasazi tribe whose members once lived there. During the summer months, you may even catch Native American dances and experience real world encounters.
There are several museums worth checking out while in Colorado Springs. The Ghost Town Museum is located two miles from downtown the museum is a turn-of-the-century-town that is in a completely enclosed environment in the old Midland Terminal Railroad facility. The Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum and Penrose Heritage museum also provide families with plenty to look at. And, in early 2020 the nation’s only U.S. Olympic Museum & Hall of Fame will open near the downtown area giving kids an opportunity to experience the exhilaration of their favorite sports virtually!
Colorado Springs is packed with incredible places to eat! Some favorites include Four by Brother Luck (the chef was featured on Top Chef!) where you can dine on Beef TarTare, Cactus Fries, and there’s even a tiny burger your kids will love. Streetcar 520 offers an internationally-inspired menu perfect for lunch and dinner. We suggest indulging in shared plates and trying the Shrimp Etouffee, Crispy Basil-Ricotta Fritters, and Shrimp & Crab Tempura Avocado. The kids can choose from a variety of burgers and there’s even mac & cheese.
Looking for one of the best breakfasts in town? Head to the Garden of the Gods Cafe. Your mouth with water for their house-made Banana Bread French Toast made with rum caramel sauce, Chantilly cream and fresh bananas. But the Mountain Man Hash isn’t to be overlooked and you can always get Avocado Toast to stay on the lighter side. Don’t forget to grab a cup of coffee at Story Coffee, a charming tiny house-turned-coffee shop that offers espresso drinks and pastries.
One of the most unique dining options you’ll definitely want to hit is Ivywild School. This unique location that was once an elementary school and is now home to several eateries and a market place where you can buy local goods and view art. It has outside seating and is perfect for a family meal.
photo: by Annette Benedetti
Located in the heart of Downtown Colorado Springs, The Mining Exchange is a Wyndham Grand Hotel & Spa offering families a charming boutique experience. This restored historic hotel provides guests with modern amenities that are both elegant and cozy. Built in 1902 the building was originally a stock exchange for local mining companies. Now you can spend the night in a well appointed room or suite where you experience a touch of luxury and a whole lot of much needed comfort after a day filled with adventure. Choose from a one or two bed room or one of their suites. Don’t forget to book a treatment at their spa after your hike. Rooms start at around $227 per night.
Colorado Springs is a dream for families who love getting wild in the outdoors. Get ready for an incredible adventure that will leave you feeling like you’ve truly experienced the best of the state has to offer.