Sprawling at the base of Pikes Peak, even at its most urban, Colorado Springs has a distinctly outdoorsy vibe. Its most notable attractions are geologic formations that jut haphazardly from the earth, its culinary scene draws inspiration from the land, and Chaco sandals are deemed appropriate footwear for almost every occasion.
When to Go
With ample sunshine and four distinct seasons, Colorado Springs is worth a visit year-round, but it's at its best in summer when days are warm, nights are cool, and trails are dry.
In June, cars, trucks, motorcycles, and dune buggies race to the summit in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, a 12.42-mile climb. Also known as Race to the Clouds, the event also includes drag races and a street festival. Every February, the Cripple Creek Ice Fest honors winter as ice sculptors carve 160-pound blocks into themed designs. Ice mazes and slides ensure the fun is interactive and photo ops are ample.
What to Eat
Colorado Springs' food scene connects to its roots. Southwestern fusion cuisine is popular, with many restaurants offering their own take on chile verde. The abundance of bison burgers links a health-conscious populace with a history of Plains living.
Souvenir to Take Home
Take home a piece of Colorado Springs' community pride with a pound of thoughtfully sourced, locally roasted coffee beans or a jar of farmers market honey.
Sustainable Travel Tip
For the best views and fresh air, ditch the car on Garden of the Gods' scenic routes. Adventures Out West offers a more sustainable and adventurous alternative to driving with Segway tours of the Juniper Loop (90 minutes) and to Balanced Rock (two hours, experienced riders only) and Amp'd Adventures leads one-and-a-half to two-hour electric bike tours.
Garden of the Gods has 19 noteworthy rock formations scattered throughout the park, so there are plenty of chances to get a unique photo of the iconic geology. However, getting a truly special shot is all about the light, which is best during the evening when there are no harsh shadows or glares.