What to Do in Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs is an interesting place. I wasn’t sure I’d like it at all, but I found myself feeling very…clean and free. There’s a real outdoorsy feel to the entire town, as the outdoors is very hard to escape with the mountains around every corner. What to do in Colorado Springs? Well…a lot!
I was in Colorado Springs to get my new pair of skates. The Olympic Training center is there (along with like four other ice rinks, which was amazing) along with some excellent people to help me get my skates perfectly done. So of course I decided to turn it into a real trip!
Day 1: Adjust
You’re going to need a day to adjust to the altitude, I think, before doing any serious climbing or exercise. I’d recommend taking it easy, sitting outside, keeping hydrated. I sat in my Airbnb, on the porch, reading a book for the first day. I wound up taking the trip to get my skates tried on as well, but I didn’t do anything particularly intensive. If you are interested in learning how to travel with skates – check out this post!
Day 2: See the Sights!
The next day I ramped things up, and I went to the Garden of the Gods. This is a super popular trip, lots of people go, it’s on every list – and it’s amazing. It’s not overrated in any way, it’s a ton of fun. I recommend getting there early to get your Instagram pictures at the big front rock, but otherwise the park isn’t terribly busy but there are enough people that you don’t need to worry about getting lost/hurt with no one to help you.
This was a great morning, wandering around trails, stopping just to truly take in the amazing scenery. I followed this up with a trip to the Manitau Cliff Dwellings and….boy, you can skip this one. I don’t know why these two are often on the same list, they are suited to *very* different types of people. The Garden of the Gods is free and huge and beautiful. The Manitau Cliff Dwellings cost $10, it’s shockingly small, and while beautiful it’s also basically a tourist trap.
The cliff dwellings are very interesting, but there’s about 4 of them, and you see them all in about 15 minutes. The museum is basically nonsense, and even if you linger it wouldn’t take you more than 20 minutes reading *everything*. The Cliff Dwellings aren’t even original to the area, they were moved there. No, what there is at the Cliff Dwellings is a massive, and I mean massive, gift shop. This shop was probably twice the size or more of the actual dwellings. I paid $10 to have access to a gift shop. Skip this attraction unless you’re really desperate, there are much bigger and better options elsewhere in the US.
As a good example of how it’s easy to make these look impressive, the featured image for this post shows one of the dwellings. Again, very cool, however there were only three more of these and they’re not very big.
After a nice day with a small disappointment in-between, I went to my “nice meal” of the trip. As I don’t eat a lot, I decided I would go to a fancy-ish restaurant and take home a lot to-go. This worked out great. I went to the Rabbit Hole, which has perhaps the cutest entrance to a restaurant ever.
I enjoyed the food, although I will say rabbit is not my favorite (I discovered). The bison ribs were absolutely fantastic, however. The cocktails are overpriced, but then they always are, and the treat of having a flaming drink was pretty worth it (and it was yummy). I had my meal for the next day and all but my last dinner taken care of.
Day 3: More Exercise (it’s just what you do here)
The next day I was back at it (I skated every day I was here, as well, but that’s fairly niche so I’m not going to harp on it) but I as I skated most of the morning I only had time for one other thing. Originally I was planning to head to Seven Falls, but my Uber driver warned me this was another tourist trap that was overpriced and I’d be better off at Helen Hunt Falls.
She was totally right, and I had so much fun climbing to the top of Helen Hunt Falls. There’s tons of other trails and paths, but this one was very straightforward and had stunning views. The next day was more skating and pretty much relaxing outside, but the Garden of the Gods and Helen Hunt Falls were well worth my little 3 day trip.
What I Missed Out On
Glen Eyrie. I wouldn’t have been here for the castle, because I’ve always found the mid-west’s fascination with castle architecture to be a little bit odd and vaguely in-your-face money squandering, but I’d come here for the tea. Colorado Springs is one of the few places I’ve visited where I did not go to an afternoon tea, and I regret that. Rather than ordering out from Chipotle on my last day (disappointing) I would much rather that I’d gone here.
Going to the Garden of the Gods a second time. Totally would have been worth it, even if my body was screaming by the time I got on the plane to go home.
All and all I can definitely recommend this even as a weekend trip, as you can adjust pretty easily to the altitude required for Garden of the Gods (they outline their paths with altitude quite well) and I’d say that’s the most worthwhile thing to do here.