Getaway Guide: The Ultimate Family Weekend in Colorado Springs, Colorado
Family hiking in Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Courtesy of VisitCOS.
Colorado Springs, home to the iconic 14,115-foot Pikes Peak and some of the most stunning landscape on Colorado’s Front Range, is the perfect place to spend the ultimate family weekend. From hiking scenic trails to exploring historic museums, cave tours to wildlife viewing at America’s only mountain zoo, there are more than 55 kid-friendly things to do in the Colorado Springs area that are fun for the whole family. So, if you’re already planning your warm weather getaway and are looking for a close-to-home destination to explore Colorado’s great outdoors and enjoy the culture and history of the state, head to Colorado Springs for the ultimate family weekend.
Day 1: Garden of the Gods Park, Manitou Springs, and The North Pole
It might be a stretch, but if you can wake your kids up in time for sunrise at Garden of the Gods, you’ll witness one of the most beautiful vistas in Colorado Springs. Garden of the Gods, a registered National Natural Landmark, covers 1,300 acres at the base of Pikes Peak. You can hike and explore the red, pink, and white sandstone and limestone formations on your own, or for insight into the geology, wildlife, and history of the park, take a tour with a naturalist at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily. Be sure to stop at the Visitor & Nature Center to learn more.
Once you’ve spent the morning enjoying the #1 free park in the United States, head to Manitou Springs for some lunch and a taste of their famous mineral water springs. Try Crystal Park Cantina for Mexican-style cuisine or The Cliff House’s historic patio. Once you’ve properly fueled up for the afternoon, head to the Visitor’s Center for a free map and a cup. Yes, a cup. There are eight springs that are open to public for tasting, located all over town and they were thought by early inhabitants to have medicinal properties. Make sure to stop at the always entertaining and budget-friendly, Penny Arcade.
Finally, for some goofy fun for all ages, head to The North Pole, a holiday themed amusement park at the base of Pikes Peak. You can enjoy rides, a petting zoo, shopping, and entertainment at Santa’s Workshop from May through Christmas Eve. Dinner calls for some more whimsical fun, and so you must try The Airplane Restaurant in Colorado Springs. Diner’s eat in a Boeing KC-97 tanker with memorabilia adorning its walls. Kids and adults alike will enjoy the good food and the immersion into aviation history
Day 2: Helen Hunt Falls, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, and Caving
Day 1 began with some outdoor exploration, and so does Day 2 at Helen Hunt Falls. Hike to the top of these beautiful falls or take a guided hike to learn about the history of the area as well as the wildlife and natural ecosystem. Helen Hunt Falls are located in North Cheyenne Cañon, a beautiful place to explore. Stop at the Starsmore Visitor and Nature Center for maps of the hiking trails and a gift shop.
From Helen Hunt Falls, head to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, America’s only mountain zoo. The zoo is home to more than 800 species of animals, and kids can participate in educational presentations and interactive experiences. Bonus: you can actually hand-feed a giraffe or an elephant at the zoo!
Grab some lunch in downtown Colorado Springs—the downtown area offers something for everyone—and then head to CityROCK for a unique experience of the caving variety. This indoor rock climbing gym recently added a complex cave system underneath the building designed to teach visitors about caving and cave conservation. You can crawl through the artificial caves to learn about stalactites, stalagmites, and challenge each other to avoid the protruding formations. Keep score and see who wins at the end of the cave crawl!
For more information about visiting Colorado Springs with your family, visit visitcos.com.