There's something to be said for returning to your childhood roots: It can involve a lot of hands-on projects, sugar and excitement. Just like the east side of Colorado Springs by day.
If you plan ahead and secure a slot, you can start off with art classes at Kids Can Draw (3617 Betty Drive, Suite S, kidscandraw.info). Or just drop into the Imagination Space (Citadel Mall, 750 Citadel Drive East, 387-9015), where the brilliant folks behind Imagination Celebration (imaginationcelebration.org) promise daily hands-on activities, for free, ranging from dancing to robotics.
Then keep the energy flowing by catching a Sky Sox game at Security Service Field (4385 Tutt Blvd., milb.com). Our Triple-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies is an easy, budget-friendly draw that offers plenty of ancillary events (fireworks displays, random giveaways, etc.) in the summertime. Alternatively, if you're more of an indoor-gaming rather outdoor-gaming family, you can stop by iT'Z Family Food & Fun (3035 New Center Point, itzusa.com) and engage in a game of 10-pin bowling, bumper cars and more. Or see what's playing at Cinemark 16 and its IMAX theater (3305 Cinema Point, cinemark.com).
Also along the Powers Boulevard corridor, you can schedule a visit to the National Museum of World War II Aviation (765 Aviation Way, worldwariiaviation.org) even before it officially opens, via a reservation through its website. Not only will you see the facility as-is, but also the adjacent site where World War II planes are restored.
Heading out more toward the plains, you'll come upon the large cats of Serenity Springs Wildlife Center (24615 Scott Road, Calhan, serenityspringswildlife.org), the largest federal- and state-licensed big-cat facility in the state. Visit lions, tigers, cougars and other species, many of which are rescues. You can even see the University of Colorado Colorado Springs' mascot, Clyde the mountain lion.
While in Calhan, home to an abundance of activities at our El Paso County Fair (366 10th St., elpasocountyfair.com) in July, take note of the El Paso County Speedway (366 10th St., elpasocountyspeedway.com), home to the racing of everything from "High Plains Midgets" to "Colorado Dwarf Cars."
Heading back into town, there are two places right off of Platte Avenue to be aware of. First is Asian Pacific Market (615 Wooten Rd., 573-7500), where you can meet all your Asian cooking needs, such as deep-frying supplies, huge woks, lobsters, fish and crab. You can also get your sweet tooth satisfied with a bottle of Ramune, which is in a bottle sealed with a glass bead — otherwise known as hours of entertainment.
Across the street from that is the Colorado Springs Flea Market (5225 E. Platte Ave., csfleamarket.com) open every weekend at 7 a.m.; for a $2 entrance fee (12 and under free), you can browse new and vintage merchandise. You may also find bounce houses for the kids in the summer.
Not so kid-friendly, but definitely a welcome choice for the brewing enthusiast, the Rocky Mountain Brewing Company (625 Paonia St., rockymountainbrews.com) offers "brew on premises" on Saturdays, during which you can use its equipment and guidance to create your own beer. See, sometimes it pays to be an adult.
You ask me to find you coffee in the eastern half of the city, and I shall point you to the hospital — the St. Francis Medical Center, to be specific. There you'll find the fully stocked Healing Grounds Coffee Bar (6071 E. Woodmen Road) open weekdays on the first floor; find Seattle's Best Coffee, and a whole lot of niceness.
Otherwise, Nemo's Coffee Shop (2114 E. Pikes Peak Ave., nemoscoffee.com) is making good use of a new location with a drive-through window, having added an expensive Synesso espresso machine that churns out blazing cups of goodness. Grab a Southwestern-themed meatless burrito in the morning.
A good option for afternoon or evening, especially if you're wanting to talk about the matinee you just saw at Cinemark 16, is the newest Coffee & Tea Zone (3245 Cinema Point, coffeeandteazone.com). Those scared of nighttime caffeine can always go for a Zoneberry frozen yogurt, modeled after the popular Pinkberry offering elsewhere.
Finally, when in the North Academy area, you might hit Copper Creek Coffee (3315 Carefree Circle West, 597-4189) which has been doing God's work for the past eight years or so.
— Bryce Crawford