Colorado Springs, which is located just about an hour south of Denver, Colorado in the Pikes Peak Region, offers stunning natural scenery and exciting opportunities to enjoy the outdoors — such as hiking, biking, and camping — as well as a plethora of places to grab a bite and a brew.
Here’s how visitors can spend two days in Colorado Springs and make the most of their trip — from top notch coffee, hearty on-tap brews, and an outdoor adventure.
[Note: As of fall 2020, national travel is no longer restricted due to COVID-19 — but it’s important to remain safe and protect yourself and others from transmitting this disease. Remember to wear a mask, stay six feet from other people at all times, and be respectful of local safety regulations.]
Spend the Morning at Switchback Coffee Roasters
Switchback Coffee Roasters‘ slogan is “Excellent Coffee, For Everyone.” The company originally started in a garage in Colorado Springs 2010, and has since grown into both a coffee roastery and a cafe side by side in downtown Colorado Springs with a second location just unveiled in the Hillside Neighborhood. Switchback aims to go above and beyond Fair Trade, by developing personal relationships with their coffee growers and offering higher than fair trade price.
I ordered a pour-over brew, which was phenomenal, and offered rich notes of chocolate and caramel. Yes, I’m a coffee snob. Their cafe offers food fare such as breakfast burritos and avocado toast. Yum!
Spend the Afternoon Hiking in Garden of the Gods
Garden of the Gods is located about six miles northwest of central Colorado Springs (approximately a 25 minute drive) and open every day between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m. Visitors can explore this park with no admission fees. It’s been registered as a National Natural Landmark since 1971, and offers 15 miles of trails with opportunities for horseback riding, biking, and rock climbing — all 6,400 feet above sea level.
The red rock formations were created during a “geological upheaval” along a natural Coloradan fault line, over one million years ago. The local Native American tribe, the Utes, tell stories of the impressive geological creations within the Garden of the Gods through their petroglyphs that have been found in the park.
We hiked the Siamese Twins Loop Trail, and afterward checked out the Ridge Loop Trail — both of which offer spectacular views of the red rocks and the city of Colorado Springs below. The road to drive between trailheads is a one-way street — so beware of jeeps tours slowly checking out the beautiful scenery and people wandering across between sights.
Spend the Evening exploring Manitou Springs
Just 6.5 miles outside Colorado Springs is the historic Manitou Springs, which is said to translate to “great spirit.” This resort-style mountain town is centrally-located to the unique attractions of the Pikes Peak Region — such as the Garden of the Gods, and Pikes Peak’s 14,000 foot summit itself — and is a village of itself to explore.
The town’s history dates back to the 1870’s, when visitors discovered its nearby healing natural spring waters that the Ute tribe of Native Americans had been drinking for years, and are still on display today. There are eight different springs which can be explored on foot and viewed for free throughout the city.
The historic architecture of the village’s buildings host a variety of cute boutique shops, galleries, restaurants, and an old-timey arcade park with funnel cakes, custard and taffy. The main road through the center of town runs directly up to the popular hiking path, the Barr Trail, and the base of Pikes Peak.
Spend the Morning at Cave of the Winds Adventure Park
First discovered in 1881, the Cave of the Winds Adventure Park sits up above 7,000 feet (Colorado is an elevated lifestyle, if you haven’t caught on…) and offers cave tours, thrill attractions, and an adventure park for guests of all ages to enjoy — as well as spectacular vista views.
There are three unique cave tours: the 45 minute “Discovery Tour” which offers an easy and fun look at all the coolest cave features, a 90 minute “Lantern Tour” with ghost stories and folklore, and a “Caving 101 Tour” that takes you in the undeveloped, behind-the-scenes sections of the caverns.
Spend the Afternoon at Palmer Trail Section 16
Palmer Trail Section 16 is a 5.7 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located just outside downtown Colorado Springs. Here, you can connect with many other trails to make this as long of a hike as you want in the Pikes Peak region.
It’s a steep climb with views that are worth working for at the top — and it’s even a dog-friendly trail! There’s plenty of parking at the base with a well-maintained path the entire way up.
Spend the Evening at Bristol Brewing Company
Dating back to 1994, Mike and Amanda Bristol’s family-owned and operated Bristol Brewing Company has stood the test of time and built a name for itself as a standout brewery in Colorado Springs. It’s located within a former elementary school, the historic Ivywild School, which dates back to 1916 and emits a sense of smart, bohemian charm — and hip, but friendly brewery vibe.
There’s a dog-friendly patio and plenty of open space to enjoy a brew — or two or three, or a flight if you can’t settle for just one (like me!). Ultimately after sampling some seasonal brews, I chose the Winter Warlock oatmeal stout to enjoy which didn’t disappoint… Other on-tap choices not to miss include The Laughing Lab, the Beehive, and the Mango Pirate Golden Sour.
Although Colorado Springs isn’t as well-known as the nearby Colorado state capitol of Denver, this city is a fun place to escape for the weekend along the scenic hillsides of the Pikes Peak region, to explore Manitou Springs and conquer a tough trek followed by a well-earned on-tap brew.
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