Best Of 2004

Favorite

Best of Recreation: Work that Body: 

click to enlarge Jeff  Martin sinks the put on the 17th at Patty Jewett Golf Course. - BRUCE ELLIOTT
  • Bruce Elliott
  • Jeff Martin sinks the put on the 17th at Patty Jewett Golf Course.

Best Golf Course

Readers poll winner Patty Jewett Golf Course

900 E. Espaola St., 385-6938 or 385-6950

When you get that urge to chase that little white ball around a golf course, head over to this oasis smack in the middle of town. This century-old course has been our reader's favorite for years. The 18-hole course is a par 72 and sports peaceful surroundings, majestic trees and sometimes a glimpse of a fox or coyote. Patty Jewett also provides a separate nine-hole course for quickies. The clubhouse adds to the historic atmosphere, with dark wood paneling, lush carpet and homey nooks for relaxing after a round or two. The most unique feature? It's rumored that this historic landmark is regularly visited by a special guest -- the ghost of their first golf pro, Willy Campbell. Stand by the clubhouse fireplace and see if you get a chill. -- GTS

Best Bike Trail

Readers poll winner Santa Fe Trail

Riding north, you'll pick up the Santa Fe Trail just after you pass under the Woodmen Road bridge. In a couple of minutes, you're riding a wide, well-maintained dirt trail that rollercoasters through meadows and forests and alongside Monument Creek. You can ride for a mile or two, or for an entire day -- through the Air Force Academy, and all the way to Monument, if you like. It can be a great workout, or an easy family ride -- take your choice. If you're lucky, you may spot a great blue heron, or a herd of deer, or even a bear with her cubs. And remember: You owe this beautiful, pristine ride to the Academy, whose presence guarantees that this land will remain forever undeveloped, and to a bunch of folks from the county, the Air Force and the private sector, who came together to create the trail a dozen years ago. From all of us who love to ride: Thanks! -- JH

Best Place To Work Out

Editorial pick The Manitou Incline

From the end of Ruxton Avenue in Manitou Springs, follow the signs to park at the Barr Trail parking lot Look down, step, breathe, take another step ... keep breathing. The week's stress falls with each step: This one's for the whiny co-worker, another for the boss who never acknowledged that useless report s/he requested and one more for that unexpected bill. Whatever you do, pace yourself! Reclaim peace and get perspective (not to mention killer buns, legs and lungs) on the StairMaster from hell. Starting at 6,500 feet, the Manitou incline ascends Mount Manitou 2,100 feet via 5,000 old railroad ties. These cog railway tracks may be a scar on the mountain to some, but to others they're the best workout around. -- WY

click to enlarge Jonathon Taylor rides the rail at the Richard Goose Gossage Youth Sports Complex. - SUNNIE SACKS
  • Sunnie Sacks
  • Jonathon Taylor rides the rail at the Richard Goose Gossage Youth Sports Complex.

Best Running Trail

Editorial pick Grandview Trail, Palmer Park

3650 Maizeland Road

City Parks and Recreation, 385-5940

Palmer Park features many of the best running trails in Colorado Springs. "There're rocks, trees, thin trails and wide trails. All you need." So notes Ewen North, a local cross-country runner and sales clerk at Runner's Roost downtown. The best trail for running within Palmer Park is Grandview, an intermediate slope that offers a commanding view of the city at its summit. The trail combines many aspects appealing to runners: a natural surface that's easy on the knees, seclusion from urban stresses and a scenic turn-around point. The trail can be accessed from the intersection of Chelton and Paseo roads. From that point it's 1.6 miles and a 200-foot elevation gain to the summit at 6,550 feet. From the overlook you can see all of Colorado Springs. --DW

Best Place To Skateboard

Readers poll winner Richard "Goose" Gossage Youth Sports Complex

3225 Mark Dabling Blvd.

City Parks and Recreation, 385-5940

Once upon a time skateboarders had to resort to risking tickets, jail time and physical altercations with security guards and overzealous not-so-good Samaritans in order to learn kickflip backside tailslides and nollie noseslides. Those days are long gone thanks to the skate park at Gossage Youth Sports Complex, which supplies four-wheeled wood-plank enthusiasts with their own special place. The combination of carve-able bowls and grind-able ledges make the park a worthy training ground for newbies, the freshest of the fresh and seasoned hesh-dogs alike. -- SG

click to enlarge Palmer Park Dog Park is the best place to take your dog (and your thirst). - SUNNIE SACKS
  • Sunnie Sacks
  • Palmer Park Dog Park is the best place to take your dog (and your thirst).

Best Day Trip

Readers poll winner Denver

Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce

1445 Market St., Denver, 303/534-8500

Despite I-25, Indy readers still think that Denver is a day trip and not an overnight expedition for the intrepid, fearless traveler. But for those of us who yearn for the (sometimes) open road, Denver has more than a day's worth of charms. Start with a world-class art museum, a great regional library, and dozens of shops, galleries and supercool boutiques, not to mention the Broncos, Rockies, Nuggets and Avalanche (well, maybe the Avs, if the hockey lockout ever ends). There's enough nightlife to keep you busy for two years' worth of weekends, not to mention restaurants and bars galore ... remember, fun starts at the top, and when a city's mayor owns seven bars, you know that you're not in Kansas any more. -- JH

Best Place To Take Your Dog

Editorial pick Palmer Park dog park

3650 Maizeland Road, north of the playground

City Parks and Recreation, 385-5940

The mere mention of the word can launch some pooches into a tail-wagging frenzy. You even have to spell the word p-a-r-k around some dogs to avoid a prolonged session of over-exuberant impatient anticipation. The dog park at Palmer Park is the place to get those wiggles out. Converted from an underused softball field, it's enclosed by a fence and gets enough traffic to thwart prickly sticker weeds that can be rough on tender paws. It has a double gate for safer entries and exits and a flat expanse for running and playing as long as you want. What more could you ask? How about a doggy drinking fountain that dribbles water into a special slow-draining bowl? -- GTS

Best Reason To Go To Pueblo

Readers poll winner Colorado State Fair

click to enlarge Kiss your bride- or groom-to-be in view of the Kissing Camels at the Garden of the Gods park, best place for many things.
  • Kiss your bride- or groom-to-be in view of the Kissing Camels at the Garden of the Gods park, best place for many things.

1001 Beulah Ave., 800/876-4567

September at the ranch always meant juggling the day work so that we could all go to the state fair. As the sun set, we'd load up a truck to go see the rodeo, or a George Strait concert, or just to wander the midway and lose our hard-earned pay on games of chance and adrenaline-pounding rides. For sure, the state fair isn't about sophisticated entertainment. It's about cotton candy, gooey caramel apples, greasy Indian fry bread, and large domestic farm animals. But that's the fun: going back in time to a simpler era. At the annual shindig, agriculture, local culture and entertainment collide in one big, gaudy extravaganza that's as fun for adults as it is for kids. -- GE

Best Tourist Trap, Best Place For A Picnic, Best Place To Pop The Question

Readers poll winner Garden of the Gods Park

Visitor center at 1805 N. 30th St., 634-6666

That tourist spectacle de rigueur may be the best place in town to walk, run and scramble, but it can also provide an afternoon of plain ol' sittin'-around-and-eatin' gratification. Pick a spot off the path, beaten or otherwise, hunker down with your basket or bag, and nosh at one of the prettiest places in the universe. Look west to the mountains; look east to the plains. Look up at the blue, blue sky, down at the bleu de chevre you're eating, and realize that, local politics aside, you're pretty lucky to be living in the Springs. -- AR

Best Reason To Hit The Western Slope

Editorial pick Wiesbaden Hot Springs, Ouray

970/325-4347; 888/846-5191

A good soak in a natural hot spring is surely one of the great joys of living in Colorado. Unfortunately, the Front Range offers scant soaking opportunities. That's why a trip to Ouray, known as "Switzerland of America," makes for a wonderful way to rest and recuperate from Front Range stresses. Nestled in the San Juan Mountains south of Montrose, Ouray's Wiesbaden Hot Springs provides lodging, offers a small underground soaking pool, and a vapor cave maintained between 107 and 109 degrees. Wiesbaden also offers a milder outdoor swimming pool, also small, where you can sit and soak while taking in the glorious scenery. It's $10 for a soak ($9 if you bring your own towel). Guests in the motel enjoy unlimited hot springs use and overnight prices range from $120 to $175 ($80 to $140 in the winter). -- DW

Best View Of Pikes Peak

Editorial pick

click to enlarge Fun with books and bunnies at the Penrose Library. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Fun with books and bunnies at the Penrose Library.

State Highway 24 heading west into the Springs Penrose Hospital's rooftop. Anywhere in Palmer Park. Patty Jewett's back nine. Ask anyone, and the breadth of viewpoints is as broad as the Front Range. But the winning view is the one you see heading west into the Springs from Highway 24. Countering stretches of urban wasteland bordering the highway -- the strip malls, dodgy bars and faded motels -- the view of Pikes Peak inspires, soothes and reinvigorates. From the exhilaration of mid-winter's sparkling whiteness to the wonder of sunset's alpenglow to the fearsome beauty of the peak shrouded in bulbous black clouds during a mid-summer storm, ultimately, Pikes Peak reminds you why you live here, why you return and why, no matter your frustrations with its social or political environment, Colorado Springs is always a place to fight for. -- WY

Best Pool For Playing

Editorial pick Cottonwood Creek Recreation Center

3920 Dublin Blvd., 385-6508

Springs residents aren't accustomed to swimming pools with moving parts. For those of you who want to know what you might encounter at Cottonwood Creek's pool, think Disney. If your favorite ride is It's a Small World, stick to the Lazy River, where you can float easily down a winding channel. More adventurous? Head over to the main pool area, which generates 2-foot-high waves every 10 minutes. OK, so Mr. Toad's Wild Ride is more your style. The 30-foot-tall winding water slide is as fast and as bumpy as you make it. And the topper, the aquatic spinning Teacup ride of the Springs? It's the whirlpool that gets you whizzing around in a current that's strong enough to blast swimsuit bottoms right off your body if you're not careful. Stand in the middle and watch the crowd zip by in a blur or float on your back and watch the ceiling spin. Warning: Don't wait till the last minute to get out -- that small opening can be mighty elusive when you're too dizzy to walk straight. -- GTS

Best Free Game

Editorial pick Disc golf

Cottonwood Creek Park, 7040 Rangewood Drive

The great thing about disc golf is that it's more mobile and a whole heck of a lot cheaper than regular golf. Yeah, any yokel can own a set of fancy-pants clubs, but it takes all of $10 to own a snazzy professional-quality disc. Forget straining your back carrying heavy clubs, or even having to shell out for a caddy. Cottonwood Creek Park has an 18-hole disc golf course ready to use and complete with a map, an estimated par on each hole and places where you tee off. Even if you can't make it to Cottonwood, you can make up your own course, giving you the option to make it as crazy as Calvin & Hobbes' infamously anarchistic Calvinball. -- KL

Best Library Branch

Readers poll winner Penrose Public Library

20 N. Cascade Ave., 531-6333

Two words: the view. Take a book to the upstairs reading area and enjoy the gorgeous panorama of the mountains to the west or step into the beautifully restored Carnegie library and marvel at the architecture. Visit the El Pomar Nonprofit Resource Center and learn how to finally write that grant, or figure out if law school is for you in the El Paso County Bar Library. Watch a film, take the kids to story time, guess whodunit with a mystery, or catch up on the news of the world -- it's all here, along with some of the friendliest librarians you'll find anywhere. -- BLS

Best Place To Watch A Storm

Editorial pick Top of Austin Bluffs by the cellular antennae

Colorado has one of the highest instances of lightning strikes in the United States, and this summer demonstrated some spectacular sky shows. Next time the dark clouds roll in, jump in your car and head for University Heights, the development that's going up on the north face of what longtime locals know as Austin Bluffs. From Union, go west on Collegiate Drive, between Austin Bluffs Parkway and Academy Boulevard. Wind your way through a roundabout and climb the hill aiming for the three cellular antenna towers. Turn left on Rockhurst Boulevard. At the top of the hill there's a cul-de-sac where you can park your car and get a 360-degree view of the Springs (that is, until adjacent houses are built). Seal the windows, recline your seat, listen to the rain and watch the show. -- GTS

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