Out east, the regions' hot spots — and everything else, to be honest — are spread out, but all that sprawl gives way to big rewards. As long as you have wheels, high speed limits on the major roads make getting around a breeze, especially going north and south. Much of the action here happens in shopping centers, but keep your eyes open for the locally owned standouts.
While we've named this hot spot for The Citadel mall, the indoor shopping behemoth isn't really the main draw here. From the west-end boundary on Union Avenue to the east end on Powers Boulevard, within the couple miles surrounding Platte Avenue you'll find a diverse offering of often-affordable activities — from specialized shops and ethnic food to live music, cannabis clubs and cheap flicks — worthy of capturing your attention day or night.
The Black Sheep
2106 E. Platte Ave.
This all-ages venue continues to offer the kind of shows that deserve its clientele's hard-earned allowances. Part of the venue's success is that it draws audiences as diverse as its musical offerings. And the calendar is constantly restocked with nationally touring acts.
Springs Ensemble Theatre
1903 E. Cache La Poudre St.
This all-volunteer theater company embraces works that push performers, as well as stimulate conversations for audiences. This year promises to be another solid one for SET, with performances filled with laughter, tears and difficult-to-navigate emotional spaces.
975 N. Academy Blvd.
Tomo boasts an excellent menu overall, though most folks go for the sushi. Lunch bento boxes are generous, and dinner steaks in Japanese sauces are delicious.
2331 E. Platte Place
From big-name brands to antique and vintage options and gently used clearance, Platte Furniture has something for just about every thrifter's taste. Local-business boosters will be happy to know this place has been locally owned since it opened in 1978.
Speak Easy Vape Lounge and Cannabis Club
2508 E. Bijou St.
Speak Easy Vape Lounge offers more of a party than a speakeasy vibe, hosting regular hip-hop shows, and events like bong bingo. It prides itself on its dab bar, but the huge snack bar is also impressive. Speak Easy is a great club for the stoned extrovert.
Stargazers Theatre and Event Center
10 S. Parkside Drive
Built 40 years ago by Hollywood Cinerama architect Vincent G. Raney, Stargazers previously served as a theater, opera house and series of churches. Now, the large geodisic dome hosts a solid schedule of live performances by local and national acts, as well as special events.
Club History Vape Lounge
2308 E. Platte Ave.
Club History has the vibe of a classic rock 'n' roll club. A variety of smoking rigs are available for use: Sit around the resin bar, filled with various units of international currencies, toking a pipe, or take a larger piece to one of the many private tables.
The Lazy Lion
2502 E. Bijou St.
Past the polished foyer and its gallery-grade glass, The Lazy Lion's club space is rather plain, though it gets most of the details right. The couches are comfortable, and it offers a huge selection of concentrates, flower and snacks.
Cheers Liquor Mart
1105 N. Circle Drive
There's a reason Cheers Liquor Mart continues to win the Indy's Best Of awards. With a selection of beer, wine and spirits that puts your average corner liquor store to shame, Cheers is the place to stock up for every size and style of occasion. And if beer is your drink of choice, consider buying by the case.
651 N. Academy Blvd.
It may be a Dallas-based regional chain, but Entertainmart is definitely a shopping destination for those who don't mind purchasing consumer electronics with a little mileage on them. You'll also find movies, music, video games, anime and manga, as well as a selection of pop-culture-inspired decor.
The Citadel Mall
750 Citadel Drive East
With approximately 150 stores, The Citadel has plenty of the retail fronts you've come to expect from indoor malls. Entertain the kids at the arcade and Imagination Celebration's Imagination Space. Or chill out by the shining fountain in the food court. Check the website for coupons, as well as a calendar of events.
3530 N. Chelton Loop
Nestled amidst factories and rehearsal spaces, Flux Capacitor hosts a variety of shows for all ages, with punk, hip-hop, indie and metal acts leading the way. "This is the FUBU of venues — for us, by us," says owner Bryan Ostrow.
911 N. Murray Blvd.
A touch of Mexican heaven in a strip mall, Tlaquepaque will thrill seekers of heat and authenticity alike. But a penchant for spicy birria is not required. Enchiladas and tacos are equally satisfying in Tlaquepaque's spacious and comfortable dining room.
3736 E. Pikes Peak Ave.
Rows of groceries offer to supply you with everything that authentic mole recipe calls for. But first, follow your nose to the cafe in the back and treat yourself to the whole tilapia mojarra. You're not supposed to grocery shop on an empty stomach, remember?
Asian Pacific Market
615 Wooten Road, #160
The Asian Pacific Market brings a little slice of home to everyone else who ends up here from abroad, stocking a wide selection of East Asian, European and Caribbean exports, as well as fresh fish and supplies for personal and commercial kitchens. Stop by the deli for favorites like whole roast duck, cha siu bao and more.
Ball and brews stand out in this growing and lively section of North Powers Boulevard, challenging suburbs haters not to have fun. Plenty of locally owned businesses have taken root amid chains, standing out among countless places to eat, drink and be merry before a Switchbacks soccer or Sky Sox baseball game. Not a sports fan? How about a mini-brew tour? All but one of the breweries in the East region are on or just off North Powers.
Security Service Field
4385 Tutt Blvd.
Home to the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, Security Service Field accommodates up to 8,500 fans of Triple-A baseball. Last year brought a major change, when the Sky Sox became the top farm team for the Milwaukee Brewers (rather than the Colorado Rockies), moving into the Pacific League Coast. The 144-game 2016 season runs from April 15 to Labor Day, and the home schedule of 72 games includes promotions such as Fireworks Nights (there are 18 this season, most of them on Fridays). Single-game tickets cost $11 to $13, with options for multiple games in the $10/each range. Look out for select Bark in the Park weekends, when well-behaved pooches can join and watch from lawn seating.
Peaks N Pines Brewery
4005 Tutt Blvd.
Brewer Paul Vieira loves "the lagers and the pilsners." His grains come from major American, English, German and Czech roasters — nothing too boutique, and he's all-but-exclusively using pellet hops from traditional growers in the U.S., U.K. and Germany.
Sand Creek Stadium
6190 Barnes Road
The Pikes Peak region welcomed a new pro franchise and sport in 2015: the Colorado Springs Switchbacks Football Club. An expansion team, the Switchbacks play in the USL Pro soccer league. The 2016 Switchbacks season counts 15 home games (generally two or three per month from April to September) at Sand Creek Stadium, which holds 4,000 spectators. Tickets range from $15 to $40.
3739 Bloomington St.
The bright, affordable eatery fulfills not only a general craving for curries, noodles, heavy coconut-milk sauces and crunchy salads, but also consistently delivers better-than versions of beloved staples. Also visit its equally excellent sister operation, EIM Thai, on the west side.
3743 Bloomington St.
A colorful pastry display case greets you at this Filipino eatery, then gives way to order and pickup counters, while an open kitchen and walls of bright Filipino food pictures gift a fresh and easy feeling. Portions here are generous for the price.
The Wobbly Olive
3317 Cinema Point
Wobbly Olive is a great high-end dining and drinking option. Plates are gorgeously presented and follow through with full flavor. Manager and mixologist Phil Arana creates crazy awesome cocktails with layers of interesting depth. Up for a surprise? Ask for the Dragon's Breath.
Escape Velocity Comics
3347 CInema Point
After you've seen the movie, it's time to read the book — or, more likely, as Marvel and DC Comics duke it out for cultural dominance once more, the comic. Escape Velocity's North Powers and Downtown (19 E. Bijou St.) locations have stacks and racks of comics, graphic novels and memorabilia, including special shelves for local artists.
Rock Bottom Restaurant & Bar
3316 Cinema Point
Yes, it's a chain, but the Colorado Springs outpost claims a local brewer who does all brewing on-site. Each month he unveils a new brew. And the beers aren't bad — at all. Bonus: Every few months, Rock Bottom's corporate office sends notice of limited seasonal menus, which at times incorporate local ingredients.
Named for General Arnold Palmer, known as the city's "founder," Palmer Park is not your typical city green space. And the surrounding area isn't typical either. Between the shopping center on the northwest corner of things and the park that makes up the bulk of this hot spot, there are plenty of ways to spend a pleasant day in this part of the city. Throw in a few solid late night options as well, it's clear that this local secret has more appeal than its zip code might suggest.
2727 Palmer Park Blvd.
Gearonimo has the best deals on used outdoor gear in the Springs. Boots, packs, tents, clothes, skis, climbing gear, kayaks and bikes fill the place, which is staffed by a knowledgeable team who will help you find your way. Want to empty your garage rather than fill it? You can also consign.
3506 N. Academy Blvd.
Though it doesn't look like it from the outside, Rawkus is the Springs' premier venue for dance music. Connoisseurs of hip-hop, electronica and dubstep flock here every weekend for the touring musicians.
Banh Mi Viet
3315 N. Academy Blvd.
The Vietnamese sandwiches here are simple, and just five variations compose the menu. Each of them is $3.50 — you can't go wrong. Buy one of each, and you've still spent less than you would on a single entrée at many other eateries.
3430 N. Academy Blvd.
With 10 years under its belt, it's easy to see why Club Q bills itself as "Colorado Springs' best gay bar." Expect a plethora of special events, ranging from beer pong to live DJ sets and drag shows, plus weekly drink specials.
3650 Maizeland Road
This city-owned open space is popular with everyone, including hikers and dogs. It's mostly wooded with some open valleys, boasting beautiful rock formations and breathtaking views of Pikes Peak. Mountain bikers love the challenges those rocks, as well as tight turns and tree roots, present. Keep your eyes open for regular park cleanup opportunities.
Hooked On Books
3918 Maizeland Road
There's always time to read, and Hooked on Books' original location is stocked full of new and used books on any subject imaginable. Owner Mary Ciletti will buy, sell and trade all types of titles. Ask her about the woman in the painting on the front window.
Fifth Element Gallery & Tattoo Studio
3856 Village Seven Road
Fifth Element Gallery & Tattoo Studio has shaped up to be an entertaining, offbeat gallery, hosting shows for low-cost art, fan art, street art and more. Whether the canvas is a traditional canvas or human skin, the art here is different and certainly worth stopping in to see.
Copperhead Road Bar & Nightclub
3330 N. Academy Blvd.
Copperhead offers evenings of live country music, and a staff of beautiful and busty beer-slinging servers who put on Coyote Ugly-style bartop performances. Whether or not you live the country life by day, head to Copperhead Road for a taste of the country nightlife.
The Dab Lounge
1532 N. Circle Drive
Owner Dan Goodman has built this club's niche on stand-up comedy and powerful dabs. Though the bar itself is busy with dabbing rigs, service comes easy. Pre-rolled joints and blunts are available. And yes, there is a snack bar.
More Out East
Rocky Mountain Brewery
625 Paonia St.
Field beers are incredibly good thanks to a creative staff. RMB's award-winning Eat a Peach and Da' Yoopers cherry beers are epic. So who cares if this brewery is buried in a fairly drab industrial area. On a given day, you'll find nearly a dozen small-batch beers on tap, best tried via the four-beer sampler paddle.
Nano 108 Brewing Company
2402 Waynoka Road
Nano is a seasonal brewery, featuring beers from around the world, in their proper season. Brewer/owner Keith Altemose explains that Nano 108 has "zero mainline beers" and brews a constantly rotating selection of releases that aren't even named. Instead, an electronic beer board simply displays the respective beer style and educational info.
Springs Trampoline Park
2512 Airport Road
Get a jump on fitness and family fun with this locally-owned trampoline park. Check out a trampoline-assisted slam dunk lane, as well as a stunt landing bag, plus weekly dodgeball!
2704 E. Fountain Blvd.
This friendly, sugar-slinging donut shop is done up in sherbet pinks and oranges, boasting glass display cases brimming with mouth (and eye) candy.
Frankie's Bar & Grill
945 N. Powers Blvd.
Make it a Monday with 99-cent, 10-ounce domestic drafts, or catch Two-fer Tuesdays. Both of Frankie Patton's bars are comfortable eastern hangouts for games or a quick, quality bite. Burgers, Tex-Mex and much more. Frankie's Too, by the way, is located in Falcon (7376 McLaughlin Road).