There's more to the middle of the city than parades and Fourth of July fireworks shows. This lively urban center is home to many cultural gems and activities, including bike trails, fine food and drink, live music and vibrant arts groups and venues. From what some locals are calling the New South End to beyond the boarder of the historic Old North End, downtown Colorado Springs will not disappoint you.
The heart of downtown Colorado Springs, like many city cores, has been experiencing a steady revival over the past decade or so. Thanks to redevelopment projects like the Mining Exchange Hotel, the city's few remaining historic buildings are in regular use if not being revitalized. It's a certified Creative District, meaning that arts will continue to be a big part of that growth. That also means the monthly First Friday Art Walk is not a thing to be missed.
Kimball's Peak Three Theater
115 E. Pikes Peak Ave.
Indie movie houses are still one of the best barometers of a city's cultural vitality. Thankfully, discerning cinephiles can count on Kimball's for the kind of films that would otherwise require a trip to Denver. Oh yeah, and there's a fully stocked bar, too. Let's see Tinseltown top that.
28 S. Tejon St.
Over Easy taps into a culinary zeitgeist with some starkly simple breakfast principles. But don't get too discouraged if you find a long wait at peak times. Items like the blueberry streusel pancakes, the Green With Envy juice blend (kale, cucumber, carrot, ginger and green apple), and the award-winning biscuits and gravy are worth the wait. (Find another location at 5262 N. Nevada Ave., #100 Central, and look for a third if you're reading this later in the year.)
The Machine Shop
4 S. Wasatch Ave.
This community oriented studio hosts a variety of artists, including a residency program during which artists are granted full access to the studio and an exhibit following. As a gallery, it often collaborates with Blank Canvas Café, just down the street.
Western Jubilee Recording Company
433 E. Cucharras St.
With seats from the El Rialto Theater in Florence — packed into a rental truck for them by prisoners from Cañon City — and a pure sound stumbled onto by way of walls covered with tapestries, the theater is used as both a recording studio and a performance hall.
22 S. Tejon St.
Fujiyama produces some serious bites, that's no secret. But with this downtown staple's lunch special, all sushi rolls are half-off, making it the perfect option for an affordable, indulgent lunch that will satisfy everyone on that big account you're trying to land.
Triple Nickel Tavern
26 S. Wahsatch Ave.
If cheap pitchers of PBR and raucous live music are your ingredients to a good night, the Triple Nickel Tavern has the perfect recipe. The bass-playing owner calls himself a "Boston native who believe in comfy chairs, tasty beverages, rowdy conversation, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Red Sox victory."
Dream Catchers' Blank Canvas Café
103 S. Wahsatch Ave., #106
Dreamcatchers is part gallery space, part coffee shop and part landscaping service. What ties it altogether is an emphasis on inclusion and engagement: adults with intellectual disabilities and at-risk youth run the show here. The Studio at Dreamcatchers supports artisans who make a range of goods from reclaimed wood and upcycled materials.
121 S. Tejon St.
Nosh has won Best Cutting Edge restaurant since 2008, back when it was called "Innovative Menu." Which is kind of amusing, since the menu hasn't actually changed a whole lot since mid-2010, when then-chef Shane Lyons created many of what have become known as the restaurant's signature dishes.
23 S. Tejon St.
Red Gravy chef Eric Brenner serves his guests refined-but-casual Italian food, with a little taste of home. Beyond the faux-urban decor of the quaint dining area, square footage abounds. In the basement, the bakery space churns out fresh focaccia, pizza dough and desserts.
The Gold Room
18 S. Nevada Ave.
This 350-capacity Art Deco performance hall, located within the downtown Mining Exchange complex, hosts a variety of community events, live music and comedy acts.
Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum
215 S. Tejon St.
If you haven't been to the Pioneers Museum since that fifth grade field trip, now's the time to go back. You'll be able to appreciate the old carriages, guns, medical equipment, a fully functioning early 20th century elevator and restored courtroom from the same period better now that you can hold still and pay better attention than you could back then. Oh, and it's free.
Seeds Community Café
109 E. Pikes Peak Ave.
Not to mix social consciousness with earth-friendliness, but Seeds primarily serves the wider community with its "pay as you can afford" model. The cool part beyond that is dedicated sourcing of local items, from locally baked bread and organic produce from urban gardens to natural meat options.
31 N. Tejon St.
Colorado products make steady appearances; the cocktail list proves one of the smarter in town; service is superior; and plates are overall powerhouses. From a pork belly appetizer with memorable onion rings to Prime steaks, a killer, enormous primal-cut-trim burger and many seafood options, The Famous excels.
25 N. Tejon St.
Downtown, Cowboy's is the place to go if you want to bowl, dance and drink all in one night. And even if cutting a rug isn't your thing, the country-style line dancing is a sight to behold.
AHA Gallery, The Kreuser Gallery, The Bridge Gallery
218 W. Colorado Ave.
Under the Colorado Avenue bridge is the Depot Arts District, a hidden gem of the Springs. Here you'll find The Kreuser Gallery, featuring work by local artists in addition to renting studio space and offering classes. You'll find also the AHA Gallery, which plays host to a wide range of local artists as well as beloved traditions like charity art shows and its annual Holiday Art Market. Finally, Bridge Gallery is a staple of the Depot Arts District. Everything you find inside this early 20th century granary is member-made and under a hundred bucks. You can expect to find examples of pretty much every medium here.
Phantom Canyon Brewing Company
2 E. Pikes Peak Ave.
This historic building always holds an entertaining array of brews from high-ABV to easy session suds, as well as a fun menu. Enjoy some while playing billiards or from the beloved patio.
Cottonwood Center for the Arts
427 E. Colorado Ave.
This nonprofit provides Colorado Springs with a place to make art, sell it and build community throughout. In addition to showcasing local artists' work, Cottonwood helps those artists make it happen by hosting open critique sessions, renting out nearly 80 studios and offering diverse and affordable classes. Go to network, go to work-work or go to admire others' work — it's all worth your while.
El Taco Rey
330 E. Colorado Ave.
The avocado pork burrito here might be legend, but this double-layer soft corn tortilla version deserves your fealty too. Either way, the wait is well worth the reward here.
118 E. Kiowa St.
At Mediterranean Café, freshness is taken quite seriously — from the grape leaves that wrap the homemade dolmas to the vegetables that fill the pita sandwiches. To add to their appeal, those pitas are a steal.
332 E. Colorado Ave.
The original Springs cannabis club feels like a hip cafe or bar. Instead of taps or syrup pumps, the back counter has lighters, grinders, rolling papers and a selection of glassware. It serves cannabis for on-site consumption, plus a small selection of fresh smoothies, coffee and espresso drinks. Memberships start at $5, and ladies get in free on Fridays.
Triple S. Brewery
318 E. Colorado Ave.
One of the newest breweries in town, Triple S is already making waves. Hosting a variety of events such as downtown brewery tours and "Beer & Bass" dance parties, this sweet little bar is on its way up. The excellent beer doesn't hurt.
The Rabbit Hole
101 N. Tejon St.
Last call for food comes around 1:10 a.m., but until then you can dance with diversity. Will it be the orange-honey duck wings or the blackened tofu sticks? The bacon-wrapped rabbit meatloaf or the chicken chicharrónes? There's no wrong choice when you're dining down here.
113 N. Tejon St.
Gallery 113 was named for its previous address at 113 Tejon Street. It has since moved to 125 ½, but kept its name. The co-op features an eclectic mix of fine art made with paint, chalk, graphite, ink, clay, wood, silk, cement, marble, glass, jewelry, beads, copper wire, sterling silver, gold, yarn, paper, and other mediums.
20 N. Tejon St.
With a steady calendar of performances, the Mezz sits behind the Mansion — one of the busiest nightclubs in the city, where the a historic opera house once stood — with a backdoor, alley entrance. It's not a private club, but you can purchase membership, which offers perks and also helps fund the Colorado Springs Conservatory.
Sparrow Hawk Gourmet Cookware
120 N. Tejon St.
Whether you're a professional chef or enthusiastic amateur, Sparrow Hawk Gourmet has got you covered. They stock all the pots, pans, tools and utensils you need — and all the ones you don't but want anyway.
110 N. Tejon St.
A trip to Sparrow Hawk would pair well with one to Savory Spice which offers the Springs' widest variety of spices, ground fresh weekly. You can also find extracts, sauces and other specialty items here that you won't in regular grocery stores.
Ola Juice Bar
27 E. Kiowa St.
Blend cashews, avocado, dates, lemongrass, vanilla, coconut milk, coconut water and raw agave, and what do you get? The Avocado Medjool, just one of many reasons to beat a path to this organic juice spot.
Paris Crepe Euro Café
218 N. Tejon St.
Though the form is French, the fillings here are more often international flavor tributes, all delicious. Look for gluten-free options, too.
21 N. Nevada Ave.
City Rock is mecca for climbing bums in town. The gym is huge and newly renovated with routes for beginners, experts and everyone in between. City Rock also hosts yoga classes, movie nights, competitions, and guided outdoor climbs. Thanks to The Ute and Yeti, an on-site bar, there's really no reason to leave.
Taste of Jerusalem
15 E. Bijou St.
Recently, Abdul Nasser's downtown staple added a breakfast menu, expanding the beloved menu of falafel, kebabs and hummus with Moroccan breakfast dishes like fatayer, shakshuka and oh-so-fair foul mudammas.
The Ute and Yeti
21 N. Nevada Ave.
This is City Rock's in-house bar hangout. There are enough Colorado craft beers on tap to make your head spin before ever taking a sip. A cozy fireplace, plentiful board games, weekly trivia night and all sorts of community events keep the place feeling lively all the time.
112 N. Nevada Ave.
The beer menu here looks like a train schedule: no nonsense, full of stats and makes your brain hurt if you stare at it too long. Really good selection of really good beers. Did we mention how good the beer is?
111 E. Bijou St
Next to Acacia Park, Art 111 is a communal space that promotes local artists. It's something of a hybrid gallery/marketplace that also features musical and community events. Keep checking back in to see what's new.
The Modbo and S.P.Q.R.
17C and 17B E. Bijou St.
These sister art spaces in the alleyway are go-tos, particularly during First Friday Art Walks, for discovering up-and-coming local artists. They're small, sure, but combined there's plenty of room for all the art openings, musical performances and poetry readings your little hipster heart desires.
23 E. Bijou St.
Everest Imports is an eastern trip. In this cramped and fragrant downtown store, browse clothes, jewelry, incense, meditation items, little statues, yoga supplies and other do-dads imported from India, Nepal and Tibet.
115 E. Platte Ave.
Acacia Park is Colorado Springs' oldest park, brought to you by city founder General William Jackson Palmer. Now it's a downtown hub where you can go to picnic, lounge, play lawn games, play on the playground, play in the refreshing fountain, play shuffleboard, skate some laps, get a cup of coffee, or even use a public telephone. In the park, find Story Coffee (facebook.com/storycoffeecompany) serving great caffeinated drinks in a tiny home by the band shell.
Around the park, find Independent Records (123 E. Bijou St., beindependent.com) for the nostalgic experience of flipping through vinyl or buying a cheap glass pipe; Skin Evolution Tattoo (107 E. Bijou St., facebook.com/Skin.Evolution.Tattoo) for exactly what its name implies. Title 9 (210 N Tejon, titlenine.com) for upscale activewear, Zerbe Jewelers (212 N. Tejon, zerbejewelers.com) for, well, jewelry, CJ Kard (214 N. Tejon St., cjkard.com) for dainty cards, gifts and stationery, Terra Verde (208 N. Tejon St., terraverdestyle.com) for "rustic yet sophisticated" women's clothing, jewelry, accessories and home decor, Halo Boutique (230 N. Tejon St., shop4halo.com) for a more "unique and fashion-forward" version of that, Rocky Mountain Soap Market (220 N. Tejon St., rockymountainsoapmarket.com) for organic, handcrafted soaps with eclectic scents, or Mountain Chalet (226 N. Tejon St., mtnchalet.com) for the outdoor gear you need to get out of downtown.
Also within sight are Bingo Burger (132 N. Tejon St., bingoburger.com) and Skirted Heifer (204 N. Tejon St. skirtedheifer.com), two downtown spots that deserve your patronage. Both serve grass-fed Colorado beef and make many other efforts, such as incorporating recycled materials into their sharp decors. Bingo also uses San Luis Valley potatoes and Pueblo chiles, and pours Colorado beers.
Formerly a less-than-pleasant part of the cityscape, this part of downtown is on the rise. With a brand new apartment complex recently completed, businesses have been rushing into spaces both classic and classy. As a result, this neighborhood now hosts some of the hippest eateries, breweries, drinking spots and businesses in town, as well as a few beloved south-end standbys. If that's not enough, there's plenty of free parking space to be had for your adventures.
America the Beautiful Park
126 Cimino Drive
This sweet open space on the west edge of downtown draws children and adults to its upscale playground, covered picnic tables and stellar metal fountain that cascades water in the summer. Farmers markets, art festivals, races and outdoor concerts also bring crowds. And it's a fine place to hop on or off of the Pikes Peak Greenway Trail.
Mountain Fold Books
121 E. Costilla St.
This new, nonprofit coffee shop / small press book store is a homey gathering place for espresso aficionados, zine enthusiasts and all those who fancy themselves counter to the Springs' gun-toting, god-fearing stereotype. Mountain Fold prides itself not just in its seriously rare and eclectic reads, but as a conscious participant in this culturally complex and ever-evolving city. Clear your schedule for monthly queer open mic nights.
120 W. Costilla St.
It's a whole city block (3 acres!) of outdoor urban laser assault fun, and you can get started for as little as 26 bucks. The indoors "The Gauntlet: Rogue Ops" experience starts at $12.
Iron Bird Brewing Company
402 S. Nevada Ave.
The sole local spot to feature true English-style cask ales. Session brews abound, yes, but Deadstick double IPA is a killer brew. Order up a house-made brick-oven pizza to go with..
528 S. Tejon St.
Johnny's is always hoppin', often with live music and a good-size crowd — from bikers to businessmen. The diverse and overall delectable menu ranges from burgers and sandwiches at lunch to ribeyes and tuna steaks at night.
Habitat for Humanity Restore
411 S. Wahsatch Ave.
The "discount" building materials here, checked for quality upon intake, are really worth a closer look for those into do-it-yourself home repairs and updates.
520 S. Tejon St.
Following a recent flash renovation and re-branding of sorts that promised the addition of vegan-friendly items to the classic Irish pub menu, McCabe's regulars were relieved that most of their favorite bar-food plates had survived. Yes, shepherd's pie and corned-beef-and-cabbage offerings remain, but also on the entrée list is a grilled cauliflower steak.
Tim Gill Center for Public Media
315 E. Costilla St.
A collaboration between 22 different organizations, this off-shoot of Rocky Mountain PBS produces local content to tell stories that would otherwise go untold. The downtown location houses several other nonprofit offices, serves as a reception hall and provides the resources to empower citizen journalists.
Fieldhouse Brewing Co.
521 S. Tejon St.
Known for brews like the potent Sticky Paws wheat ale, this brewery also churns out gluten-free brews in a variety of styles, with a solid Test Tap Wednesday and food truck service.
The Greatest Escape Games
801 S. Tejon St.
One of those places you've been hearing so much about, Great Escape locks you in a room with puzzles that you and your team have to solve to escape. Sounds like a lot of fun, but you haven't felt true frustration until you get stuck on the first of an hour's worth of riddles.
25 W. Cimarron St.
The Warehouse today is the product of seasoned chef/owner James Africano's years of culinary acumen and upstart bartender James Winchell's considerable mixological skills.
230 Pueblo Ave.
With events like a belly dance tribute to Pink Floyd's "The Wall" and a Sunday Funday Hula Jam, Zodiac keeps it interesting. Staples include a burlesque show, goth dance night as well as your more run-of-the-mill karaoke and open mic nights.
702 S. Cascade Ave.
Try the Harvey Wrote Some Lyrics, a wash of absinthe, Mahon gin, a house-made pistachio cream, simple syrup and a nutmeg garnish bring out everything special about pistachio. Try it with the much-lauded spicy Brazilian coconut shrimp soup, which brings starchy sweetness, coconut milk creaminess and a medium burn..
Gold Camp Brewing Company
1007 S. Tejon St.
The big, sticky, citrusy Phoenix Phire IPA that won Gold Camp the 2015 Manitou Springs Heritage Beer Festival is just one of its many superlative brews.
1025 S. Sierra Madre St.
You may think the "steam" in Urban Steam refers to what rises from a hot cup of coffee, and you wouldn't be wrong, but it also refers to this top notch coffee shop's location in the shadow of the Martin Drake Power Plant's billowing plume. Urban Steam roasts its beans in-house, serves awesome waffles and whiskey and executed perhaps the cleverest deflection of obnoxious yelp reviews we've seen (ask about the Wall of Shame.)
King's Chef Diner
110 E. Costilla St.
The diner's smaller "Original Castle Location," is open 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Friday. The Bijou Street location (131 E. Bijou) is probably the king of late-night chef-ery — at least on weekends; the 4:30 a.m. closing time is on Fridays and Saturdays only.
Movement Arts Community Studio
525 E. Fountain Blvd., # 150
Volunteer-run and donation-fueled, MACS is a space dedicated to movement, music, contemplative arts and community. Class offerings here are so diverse, the best we can do to sum it up is they're all creative and playful. Live music often accompanies.
Mountain Equipment Recyclers
1024 S. Tejon St.
Mountain Equipment Recyclers sells high-quality consignment equipment and gear for every kind of outdoors fun. So instead of paying full price for that North Face fleece you've been eyeing, check out what's in stock here. You're sure to find something comparable — and a lot more.
Montague's Coffee House
1019 S. Tejon St.
This café is known for its collection of fine teas and coffees, as well as its addictive desserts and diverse menu of sandwiches, soups and quiches. Cushy chairs and low tables make for a cozy atmosphere in which to read or meet with friends.
Once you go north of Acacia Park, even on ever-busy Tejon Street, you may notice a sudden hush. But just because this part of downtown is a little less loud doesn't mean it's any less packed with stuff. In fact, it's easy to trip over the next museum in this neighborhood. A lot of what's going on has to do with Colorado College or city's cultural anchor, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. There are also plenty of great shopping, eating and drinking establishments here too.
Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center
30 W. Dale St.
The FAC, borne out of the Broadmoor Art Academy in the 30s, is pretty much a whole arts district under one roof. You've got a museum that features both permanent and rotating exhibits channeling the spirit of the American West. You've got a 400-seat theater where, depending on the day, you can see a play, musical, dance, comedy, concert or film series. And you've got the Bemis School of Art to help you hone your craft so that one day you'll be the one showing work at the FAC.
Wild Goose Meeting House
401 N. Tejon St.
The feel of this place — with its huge community table, indie pop music, and chalkboards — is integral to the hip experience. It's a great place for a craft beer and local sausage An imposing third-wave coffe menu and occasional live music makes this a chill downtown hangout.
American Numismatic Association's Money Museum
818 N. Cascade Ave.
More commonly referred to as the Money Museum, this collection of coins is nationally acclaimed and absolutely worth a look. You can schedule a full tour or explore the interactive exhibits yourself.
311 N. Tejon St.
Odyssey Gastropub wants you not to just travel gastronomically, but to celebrate adventure befitting a well-deserved homecoming. It desires to be that banquet hall of respite, with ample booze and comestibles to satisfy all.
111 E. Boulder St.
Head to this downtown bar-cade for a beer, some grub and endless old school games like Pac Man, Donkey Kong or Frogger. And with fried mac n cheese, mini corndogs and a triple decker grilled cheese all on the menu, you've got to wonder if this isn't the first place to stop after a trip to Maggie's Farm.
IDEA Space at Colorado College
Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Center for the Arts, 825 N. Cascade Ave.
IDEA stands for InterDisciplinary Experimental Arts, which offers a hint as to what goes on in this space. Stationed at and curated by Colorado College, IDEA hosts exhibitions, speakers, films, workshops and performances that tug at the cultural fabric of this region in unexpected and thought-provoking ways. IDEA Space is an extension of the this liberal arts college's mission into the broader Pikes Peak community and also offers a great peek into the work of art students.
Boulder Street Gallery
206 N. Tejon St.
Boulder Street Gallery does custom framing, but that's just a fraction of what goes on here. The gallery expanded to this location in 2009 to showcase more work in various mediums, including photography, watercolor, acrylic, pastel, oils, prints and jewelry. Local artists take center stage here, with the Pikes Peak Watercolor Society Co-Op calling this space home.
Brooklyn's On Boulder, Lee Spirits Co.
110 E. Boulder St.
Brooklyn's is a gin joint and cocktail bar, run by the Lee Spirits Company. Every drink starts with Lee Spirits gin and mixes beautifully. Beyond the foyer, there's a small, richly decorated space that churns out pre-Prohibition-style cocktails. To be brief, this place hits on all sixes.
In a state with an increasing number of distilleries, Lee Spirits is the only solely focused on gin (as of this publication date). Its commitment to gin is clear in the variety of aromas, techniques and recipes explored.
320 N. Tejon St.
Poor Richard's, part bookstore, café, restaurant and toy store, is the only place to grab a slice of pizza or a latte, pick up a new book and chat with friends while the kids entertain themselves in the toy store. More than that, it is a progressive bastion in a conservative town, one that's managed to stay relevant more than 40 years.
Coaltrain Wine & Spirits
330 W. Uintah St.
There's a separate tasting room and a refrigerated beer cave full of limited-run offerings. But perhaps one of the coolest features is the temperature-controlled, high-end wine room, which holds about 300 selections — and counting. The front room is filled with wines from all over the world, with especially impressive offerings from France and Italy.
Coquette's Bistro and Bakery
321 N. Tejon St.
There's good news for the gluten-sensitive in Colorado Springs: Coquette's. This high-quality restaurant and bakery does what it does without a touch of gluten, which is impressive given that their menu has more variety than most.
311 N. Tejon St.
The bar at Tony's stretches as far as your dollar will. Offering a plethora of drink specials that will please even the most budget-conscious patron, this college bar also hosts your fair share of post-collegiate locals sipping beers and cheering on their favorite teams.
And if that's not enough ...
4 Great Storm Brewing
204 Mountain View Lane
This local craft brewery has eight taps of creative brews, like an oatmeal rum raisin stout.
5 Storybook Brewing
3121A N. El Paso St.,
Come for the Hop-Infusion Wednesdays at this newbie nano. Stay for the food truck service.
6 Gossage Youth Sports Complex
3225-3950 Mark Dabling Blvd.
Named after Colorado Springs' favorite "local boy done good," this park has more than just a Hall of Fame name, offering baseball, softball, soccer and even skateboarding all under the lights.
7 Johnny's Navajo Hogan
2817 N. Nevada Ave.
The owner built this place in the '30s, back when the only place to see live music was at the Broadmoor. Navajo Hogan Roadhouse, as it was called then, was modeled after a traditional Navajo Indian dwelling and built without a single nail (according to its website.) All day happy hour on Sunday, $1 tacos all day Monday and karaoke night on Wednesday are good bets.
8 Funky Little Theatre Company
2109 Templeton Gap Road
In just its second season, this little theater has emerged out of a struggling Templeton Gap strip mall as a creative force that cannot be ignored, rushing head-on into plays that tackle challenging topics.
2330 N. Wahsatch Ave.
Owner Sabrena Soong procures beans through and roasts under R&R's Golden Pine label. She serves a variety of coffees and specialty drinks, alongside celebrated baked goods, inside an artsy, converted old auto garage.
10 Memorial Park
1605 E. Pikes Peak Ave.
This is where rollerbladers and walkers peacefully coexist, kids cavort on playgrounds (including one built for children with disabilities) and anglers fish in Prospect Lake. Memorial is home to fields and facilities for numerous sports, including baseball, football, tennis, basketball, handball, skateboarding, hockey, ice skating, soccer, volleyball and swimming. On the West side, a velodrome skirts the park, providing an Olympic-quality practice course for cyclists.
11 Shooks Run Park
S. Corona St. and E. Fountain Blvd.
Wreathed by Shooks Run Trail, the park parallels the trickling Shooks Run Creek from Constitution Avenue to Fountain Boulevard, and encompasses playgrounds, and tennis courts while linking to other trails.
12 Hillside Gardens & Nursery
1006 S. Institute St.
Though Hillside Gardens primarily sells plants, the nursery also specializes in small, elegant weddings, complete with fountain, gazebo, bridal cottage and bar. It also hosts outdoor concerts. Keep an eye on events calendars (and in the weekly Independent) for announcements of shows that come with killer views.
Black Forest Animal Sanctuary is very proud to be able to bring dogs like Joey…