I spent a few days in Colorado Springs taking in the sights of the Eastern Foot of the Rocky Mountains. A great change since I’m so used to seeing the Western-side from the West Coast of Canada.
At 6,035 feet the city stands over 1.6 km above sea level, which is higher than Denver. For visitors like me who are at sea level, this took a little bit of adjustment, so we didn’t exercise heavily. We took it slow, but did notice even climbing a flight of stairs was a bit more difficult. To counteract this, we made sure to stay very hydrated.
Accommodations: The Cliff House at Peak Pines
Nestled at the foot of Pikes Peak in Manitou Springs is the historic Cliff House which has a Victorian charm to it. From its start as a stagecoach stop to its turn-of-the-century prominence as the area’s premier mineral resort, it remains ago to place in Manitou Springs to stay. We found that they have the glamour of a bygone era with a modern-day style and sophistication. Plus, they were awarded the AAA Four Diamond status. All the staff were friendly and helpful.
Each room has its individual character and includes special feature such as a gas fireplace, two person spa tubs, steam showers and towel warmers.
We stayed in the Katherine Lee Bates Celebrity Suite. It has a queen bed, sitting areas with gas fireplaces, heated towel racks, wifi and tub. The rooms are very beautiful and has all the modern features that you would need. Lots of outlets and USB plugs to charge all my devices.
Every morning, there is Light Continental Breakfast Buffet served in the dining area. We had a nibble of scrambled eggs, biscuits and gravy, fresh fruit, cereals, yogurt, pastries, tea, juices, and freshly brewed coffee before we started each adventure.
Dinner: Fine Dining at The Cliff House
At night, the same Dining Room as the breakfast buffet turns into a modern Victorian splendor for dinner. The walls are adorned with stunning oil paintings by local legend C.H. Rockey and the damask-covered tables are set with Riedel crystal wine glasses and Christofle Hotel flatware.
On the menu, you will find unique items like Elk, Lamb, and Rocky Mountain Trout for dinner.
Transportation: Rent a Car
The best way to get around Colorado Springs is renting a car. I looked into public transportation and car sharing, but the cheapest and most efficient way around was to rent a car. It’s best to book a vehicle ahead of time before you get to the airport. We actually booked ours via costco.com for the best deal.
Taste Test: Manitou Springs Mineral Springs
You can taste test the 8 different mineral springs that once were thought to have healing powers. Each spring has its own distinctive flavour and effervescence, so make sure you bring a water bottle to taste them all.
This is crafted by natural rainwater and snow melt from Pikes Peak and the surrounding mountains that soak into rock fractures. As the water penetrates deeper into the ground, it becomes heated and mineralized. The warm water naturally flows up into the porous limestone where it becomes carbonated.
It’s a fun experience, but not everyone likes the taste of mineral water. The best part is that it’s free.
Sightseeing: Manitou Cliff Dwellings
The Manitou Cliff Dwellings is a historical place. Preserved under a protective red sandstone overhang, the authentic Anasazi cliff dwellings are over 800 years old. Guests are encouraged to explore the dwellings room by room using a self-guided tour. These fascinating architectural remnants are from an American Indian culture that roamed the Southwest from 1200 B.C. to 1300 A.D. I can’t even imagine how life was like back then living in this dwelling.
There is an entry fee associated with visiting Manitou Cliff Dwellings.
Below the Manitou Springs Cliff Dwellings is a three-story Pueblo-style building that was built in the style of the descendants of the Anasazi. The first six rooms of our Pueblo were built in 1904 and housed a family of local Native Americans until 1984. Since then, the Pueblo has been expanded faithfully in the architectural style of the Pueblo Indians and houses the Anasazi museum and gift shop.
Lunch: Crystal Park Cantina
Crystal Park Cantina is a unique, home-style Mexican restaurant in Manitou Springs serving delicious food made with the finest ingredients available. On the menu, you will find tapas, tacos, burritos, enchiladas, and enjoy the drink menu of margaritas, sangria, and cocktails.
There is a contemporary atmosphere in this restaurant featuring local artists and is very casual and welcoming.
Sightseeing: Garden of the Gods
Garden of the Gods Park is a registered National Natural Landmark with dramatic views, towering sandstone rock formations against a backdrop of Pikes Peak and if you’re lucky – brilliant blue skies. We loved it so much that we actually came twice, plus there is no entry fee. The outstanding geologic features of the park are the ancient sedimentary beds of deep-red, pink and white sandstones, conglomerates and limestone that were deposited horizontally, but have now been tilted vertically by the uplift of the Rocky Mountains and Pikes Peak.
Take a stop at the visitors centre to get a view of the entire garden at their viewing area. There is a theatre and other displays to learn more about the area. You can then drive freely around the garden and park in designated areas to view certain sights. You will definitely want to dedicated a few hours here as its just stunning.
There are hiking trails and shorter walks to cater to those with different abilities. The space is very photogenic, so I had a blast taking photographs. If you’re lucky, you’ll see some rock climbers.
Drive-thru: Glen Eyrie Castle
When was the last time you were the honoured guest at a castle? Enjoyed a morning coffee on the terrace overlooking a herd of bighorn sheep? Just minutes from downtown Colorado Springs, Glen Eyrie is the original estate of the city’s founder, General William Jackson Palmer.
We did not stay here, but we did take a drive through the estate, but we could not step out of the vehicle to walk around. There are public tours at select times during the day, but we didn’t end up attending any of those.
The animals here are stunning and it was like having a mini safari ride driving through the estate.
Sightseeing/Hiking: Seven Falls
The Broadmoor Seven Falls is a series of seven cascading waterfalls of South Cheyenne Creek. It is a privately-owned tourist attraction since it was opened in the 1880s, so you must take a bus to get inside as well as pay a small fee.
Trails from the top of the falls lead to Midnight Falls, near the headwaters of South Cheyenne Creek, and Inspiration Point.
Sightseeing/Hike: Helen Hunt Falls
Helen Hunt Falls is a waterfall located on Cheyenne Creek in the North Cheyenne Cañon Park. The falls are named in honor of Helen Maria Hunt Jackson, a United States poet and writer who became an activist on behalf of improved treatment of Native Americans by the U.S. government. Don’t confuse her with the actress with the same name.
There is parking for about 30 vehicles at the falls and it becomes crowded early during summer months when visits to the canyon are popular among locals and tourists. The Columbine Trail, which starts at the entrance of the Park by the Starsmore Visitor and Nature Center, terminates at Helen Hunt Falls.
You can hike a short distance of about 2/3 of a mile up a moderately steep trail above Helen Hunt Falls to reach Silver Cascade Falls. It’s a beautiful view from the top of Downtown Colorado Springs.
Lunch: Rocky Mountain Food Tour
A good way to explore the culinary scene of Colorado Springs is to go on a Food Tour. We embarked on the Delicious Downtown Food Tour.
On this tour, we started at Antlers Hotel in the heart of Colorado Springs to meet up with the group and learn more about the town’s rich history.
From there, we made our way to 5 different culinary destinations to get a taste of what they had to offer.
From restaurants to spice shops, we found come unique gems like Jack Quinn’s that offered great pub food like nachos made with potato chips.
The walk around town was easy as we made our way down Tejon Street going from restaurant to restaurant as well as learning of how Colorado Springs came to be.
Food Tours are a must in any city you travel to as you get to meet other tourists and even some locals. Plus, everyone is so friendly.
Happy Hour: The Rabbit Hole
The Rabbit Hole is a hip underground bar and eatery accessible through a door that looks more like a subway stop than a restaurant. With a full bar and dinner menu, The Rabbit Hole has an Alice in Wonderland theme, but with a bit of morbid twist. This is fitting, since the owner claims this space was the original city morgue.
Dinner: Four by Brother Luck
All the locals were raving about Four by Brother Luck and how he will be in Top Chef. He is no stranger to the culinary scene as he appeared on Beat Bobby Flay and won. Also he and appeared on Chopped. His restaurant – Four by Brother Luck focuses on the four providers behind his cooking – hunters, fisherman, farmer and gatherers.
The menu is split up into 4 sections to to show the four regions that has been influenced by Western European, Spanish Colonial, Native American and Latin American cuisine. You can order the tasting menu by choosing 4 courses.
Looking for more recommendations?
A big thanks to The Colorado Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau for helping us make the most out of our 2 days in Colorado Springs. Check out their website to help plan your trip to Colorado Springs. There is a plethora of activities to do.