‘The Springs,’ like most Coloradan towns, urges its visitors to dive headfirst into the Centennial State’s lifestyle. The possibilities are endless, from scrambling up to the top of a peak to going on a hike, enjoying delicious health-oriented food or simply taking in the pink and purple color palette that covers the mountains in the mornings.
Colorado Springs has so much to offer. It would take weeks to explore every restaurant and every nature site at the eastern foot of the Rocky Mountains. While you can’t see all of Colorado Springs in a single day, you can get a true taste of the city’s culture with our helpful one-day guide.
Here’s how to spend a perfect day in this charming Coloradan town.
Colorado Springs is home to 300 miles of trails, each one more challenging or scenic than the other. However, we understand not everyone can get up and go on a trek on just a cup of coffee, but a quick drive to Broadmoor Seven Falls is the perfect way to start the day, whether you are a morning person or not. The Seven Falls, which were purchased by The Broadmoor in 2014, are accessible via the hotel’s shuttle bus, a system that prevents traffic congestion on the road up to the falls. The seven cascading waterfalls of the South Cheyenne Creek are an impressive sight, standing at 184 feet in height. Take pictures of the natural wonder and if you are feeling energetic, climb the 224 steps to the top of the falls. There are two additional hiking trails that start from the top of the Seven Falls and they are open from May to October.
If you need a cup of joe before starting the day’s activities, some coffee shops popular among locals are Story Coffee Company and Loyal Coffee. For the perfect pastry to go with your coffee, you can never go wrong with Nightingale Bread, a classroom turned bakery located at the Lincoln Center.
Brunch and Lunch
Omelette Parlor is a popular choice among locals. The locally-owned eatery, which was once the home of the 1920s singing star Ruth Etting, provides a cozy atmosphere with its old-fashioned diner decor and display of vintage china. Awarded multiple times by the Independent and the Gazette as the Best Breakfast in Colorado Springs, the Omelette Parlor makes hearty breakfast dishes with a flair of cowboy cuisine. Tip: Order the cinnamon roll pancakes for a near celestial experience. For additional lunch options, head on over to The Skirted Heifer for the best burgers or to the IvyWild School for classic comfort food with an inventive twist. For an upscale culinary experience, you can’t go wrong with Lucky Dumplings by Brother Luck.
Afternoon in Nature
After a hearty meal, the mountains are calling. It would be a shame to visit Colorado Springs and bypass the Garden of the Gods, the city’s most visited park and the former home of various Native American tribes and even dinosaurs.
The Garden of The Gods is known for its outstanding geological features in the way of sandstone and limestone formations. The deep-red and pink rock formations seem to pierce out of the ground like fins. However, the sharp vertical rocks are not the only shape found throughout the 21 miles of trails. You can see giant toppled and overturned boulders as you walk around the paths and even some peculiar shapes such as the Balanced Rock, a huge boulder that sits at an angle at its base, giving the impression it will tip over at any given moment.
The park is the perfect place to participate in all of Colorado’s favorite outdoor activities. If you enjoy rock climbing, mountain biking, horseback riding or if you just want to go on a hike and take in your surroundings, the Garden of the Gods has something for everyone.
The main hiking trail is a 1.5-mile paved path cutting through the heart of the park’s most scenic sites. Stop to take a selfie with some of the most popular residents, the rock formations ‘Gray Rock’, ‘South Gateway’ and ‘Sleeping Giant’.
An Alternative Adventure
If a stroll to Garden of the Gods is not enough to satisfy your exploratory spirit, a 20-minute drive from the city center takes you to the Cave of the Winds near the Manitou Cliffs Dwellings. Tucked away between the red rock mountains, the Cave of the Winds offers a variety of tours, depending on your level of curiosity and your sense of adventure.
The standard tour explores the electrically lit portion of the cave, which includes 15 chambers. There is also the option to explore by lantern or candlelight the unimproved sections and darker passageways. If you are feeling like a true explorer, you can opt for the cave trek where you will crawl, climb and walk through the undeveloped depths of the Grand Caverns.
Whatever level of excitement you choose, the Cave of Winds is a unique look into the geological history that resides in the area.
Happy Hour or Dinner
The city is constantly reminding its residents, and visitors, to let go, to embrace new experiences and look in unexpected places, and their culinary scene is no different. Colorado Springs is well known for its craft beers and with many micro-breweries in the area, there are plenty of options to enjoy an icy cold pint. Have a beer; have two, each at a different brewery. There are no rules.
Favorite destinations include Phantom Canyon — where you can enjoy their Two-Headed Dog Imperial IPA with a side of their lemon Tabasco fried chicken — as well as Cerberus Brewing Co, Peaks N Pine, and 503W. Also, make sure to check out Weldwerks’ Springs location once it opens. If you’re more of a cocktail person, some of the locals’ favorites are Shuga’s and Brooklyn’s on Boulder.
As for dinner head downtown for one of the city’s best-kept secrets — The Rabbit Hole. In keeping with the Alice in Wonderland theme, the restaurant is hidden underground and its only entrance could be mistaken for a renovated subway station by the side of a set of parking meters. Once down the rabbit hole, the scene changes from the fast-paced downtown vibes to that of a dimly lit cavern-style restaurant with an intimate ambiance. From their drinks to their dishes, The Rabbit Hole experiments with innovative, tasty concoctions. Sip on their signature martini, The White Rabbit, a smooth blend of vanilla-flavored vodka, coconut rum and cream, topped with a flaming marshmallow.
Its cuisine centers on classic American dishes with a twist, like their bacon-wrapped rabbit meatloaf or the elevated take on mom’s macaroni and cheese, truffle cauliflower mac & cheese are worth the order.
After dinner activities
If you still have room after dinner, Colorado Springs has several fun options for dessert. Amongst them is Amy’s Donuts, only a 10-minute drive from The Rabbit Hole and it stays open until midnight.
Amy’s Donuts is a vibrant shop that offers an imaginative take on doughnuts, freshly baked on-site every day. Its display could be right out of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory — doughnuts topped with blue cotton candy, pieces of Twix bars plopped on glossy chocolate glaze. There’s even a take on Homer Simpson’s iconic doughnut.
There is no better way to get to know Colorado Springs (and digest your dinner) than by walking around its streets, admiring its collection of peculiar boutiques, old western architecture and historical buildings. The Old Colorado City is a distinctive area to explore, formerly just known as Colorado City during the Pikes Peak Gold Rush. The old town has maintained its 20th-century aesthetic by revitalizing the original architecture, painting the buildings with colors specifically used at the turn of the century and by removing any modern-looking signs. While Old Colorado City preserves its original look, the shops have brought a touch of 21st-century flair to the historical district.
For a shopping experience, visit boutiques like Eve’s Revolution or ERBN Boutique, which sells women’s apparel under $50. If you are looking for a beautiful memento of your trip to Colorado Springs, visit Santa Fe Springs Gifts for Colorado apparel and Southwestern jewelry.
It’s time to call it a night but not without one more drink to celebrate a perfect day in Colorado Springs. The city has a nostalgic bar scene, reminiscent of its prohibition-era past and the city’s history.
The Principal’s Office is such an example, as it’s located in a former elementary school now turned into a vibrant pub. It takes the concept of being sent to the principal’s office and creates a collection of cocktails inspired by the misfits who frequently got into trouble in school.
For a speakeasy bar experience, go to The Archives, an underground bar hidden in South Tejon street. Axe and the Oak offers a similar atmosphere, a moody, candlelit bar that offers its own brand of whiskey.
Over at East Bijou Street, down a dark alley, is Shame & Regret, a new addition to the bar scene that mimics a Catholic confessional. Raise a glass of one of their unique cocktails, like Swipe Right or Home Wrecker, and toast to a memorable day in one of Colorado’s best cities.