From Rockrimmon, tucked in the foothills, to the plains and Black Forest, the north region covers a massive area. Pickings seem sparse at first glance: but don't be fooled — plenty of good happens up here, and if you're exploring by car, it's even easier to find. Streets that twist, turn and change manes, along with increased speed limits, can be puzzling to navigate. Be sure to fuel tour map app with enough cellular data.
Though UCCS started as a commuter college, its growth trends more towards traditional campus life. A swathe of hip businesses and eateries have popped up to serve the student population, drawing further crowds from across town for convenient shopping and a little off-the-beaten-path hiking. With easy access to I-25 and Academy for drivers and the Pikes Peak Greenway Trail for bikers, it's convenient.
University Village Colorado
4880-5342 N. Nevada Ave.
This shopping center features a running club and a farmer's market, as well as a swathe of shops and eateries, both chain and local.
Cowboy Star Restaurant
and Butcher Shop
5918 N. Nevada Ave.
With a mandatory happy hour that makes a spendy menu more accessible, this cattleman couture restaurant and butcher shop serves game-changing steaks.
Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum
5867 N. Nevada Ave.
Occupying the upstairs of Pikes Peak Harley-Davidson, the motorcycle museum features antique motorcycles both international and domestic.
Venice Olive Oil Co.
5214 N. Nevada Ave.
University Village has its own gourmet tap-house of monounsaturated goodness, which also features a wide array of vinegars.
TheatreWorks at the DustyLoo Bon Vivant Theater
3955 Regent Circle
Now in business for over 40 years, TheatreWorks is known for compelling staged works, often with prologue lectures to provide context.
of Contemporary art
1420 Austin Bluffs Pkwy.
Known better as GOCA 1420, this half of UCCS's energetic gallery program draws local and national artists for conceptual shows.
Sport Climbing Center
4642 Northpark Dr.
This traditional climbing venue offers 50 top ropes and 25 lead climbs, plus a supportive, student-heavy community.
Austin Bluffs Open Space
University Park Blvd. and Rockhurst Blvd.
Separate from but connected to Pulpit Rock Park, this hiking- and biking-friendly space features some unique and ancient rock formations.
Peak Place Coffeehouse
2360 Montebello Square Dr.
Located behind everything and tucked in the corner of a strip mall, this cool spot serves local coffee, beer and wine to compliment frequent live music.
Heroes & Dragons
5751 N. Academy Blvd.
This store offers an impressive selection of nerdy print media, with occasional special events.
India Palace Restaurant
5644 N. Academy Blvd.
This Academy destination is a long-standing Springs favorite for Punjabi cuisine, featuring an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet and a wide array of vegetarian options.
Academy of Children's Theater
2314 Vickers Dr.
Students from 4 to 19 can learn about every aspect of theater at this Springs institution. And anyone can pick up a ticket to one of their productions to see the results.
Toy Station at School Crossing
5540 Library Lane
It's inconceivable, how much stuff this place packs in. Expect toys, gifts, teaching and learning aids and a sweets shop with light meal options.
Dublin House Sports Bar
1850 Dominion Way
Cheap pours? Check. Brunch buffet? Check. Karaoke? Oh, you'd better believe it. This Irish bar sounds like home to me.
Silver Pond Chinese Gourmet
6523 N. Academy Blvd.
Be liberated from the typical ubiquitous brown sauce at this 18-year-old restaurant, named as one of the Top 100 in the U.S., Canada and Australia by Chinese Restaurant News
Jun Japanese Restaurant
& Sushi Bar
1760 Dublin Blvd.
The northern location of the well-loved Japanese restaurant is the original. Drop by and celebrate 25 years of killer sushi, ramen and teriyaki this year.
6840 N. Academy Blvd.
Here you'll find standout Vietnamese in an area largely dominated by chain outfits.
If shopping malls seem a little passé, worry not. The shops along this stretch of North Academy have everything the hot spot's namesake mall had at the height of its glory days — and more. The resulting variety of apparel, electronics, media and athletics retail options comes with a rainbow of largely family-friendly dining possibilities and activities. Busy parents are a common sighting in this area for that very reason.
1175 Chapel Hills Drive
The newest branch of the PPLD feature 3D printing, maker spaces, 3D animation and basic audio and video recording. Oh, and a whole mess of books, movies and music for borrowing, too.
Chapel Hills Mall
1710 Briargate Pkwy.
This storied north-end standard is full of shopping opportunities, quick eats and cheap movies. Check online for events and coupons.
Dance and Event Center
1414 Kelly Johnson Blvd.
Check out begenning and intermediate classes on a variety of dance styles, from Salsa to Ballroom Waltz with plenty of Rumba in between. Check for private lessons and events.
Paint the Town
Paint & Party Studio
7844 N. Academy Blvd.
When the artistic mood strikes, this store, tucked behind The Egg & I, has the supplies and support to make your vision turn into reality.
7525 N. Academy Blvd.
The food at this spot is in fine form, whether you want soup, salad, curry or stir-fry. Fear no MSG here, but be warned: hot means HOT.
Crave Real Burgers
7465 N. Academy Blvd.
This small Colorado chain has won huge accolades at the Denver Burger Battle, always embracing its signature giant-crazy-burger mentality. For example: a burger with bacon and a fried egg, served on a halved donut. Dig in.
Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park
1750 E. Woodmen Road
For adrenaline junkies of all ages and stripes, trampolines and the like stretch as far as the eye can see at this chain. They even offer guided workout classes.
1376 E. Woodmen Road
REI has almost every single outdoor product known to man, and the return policy is the best in the business. Plus, members get 10 percent back on eligible purchases.
Wag N' Wash Healthy Pet Center
1234 E. Woodmen Road
Bring your pup here when they're dirty, and they'll go home clean and happy. While waiting, check out a selection of gourmet treats, accessories and specialty food.
The Margarita at Pine Creek
7350 Pine Creek Road
With near-constant themed dinners and an ever-shifting menu that emphasizes ultra-fresh, local ingredients, there's always something new and delicious happening at this gorgeous, gourmet outpost.
The Promenade Shops at Briargate
1885 Briargate Pkwy.
This outdoor shopping center with wide sidewalks, sunny storefronts and outdoor speakers blasting peppy music features scores of hip stores and eateries.
8270 Lexington Drive
With a fenced-in dog park, a BMX course and plenty of green-space, this little park is a big deal. It also connects to the Skyline trail for easier access.
Not everything is on a hill in this neighborhood, but it's not always easy to go more than a few hundred feet without going up or down. It's not San Francisco, it's just the foothills. But that means there's plenty of great hiking spots throughout this neighborhood, all largely neighborhood secrets. Once you're done wandering in the woods, look around for tasty bites, good coffee and, for those who partake, a brewery and a cannabis club.
Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame
101 Pro Rodeo Drive
A trip to the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame makes for a quintessential Western afternoon (if you like looking at photographs of horses more than you like riding them, that is.) The museum features rotating exhibits that showcase the history of the American cowboy and the impact rodeo culture has had in Colorado. Wander the halls to learn about iconic cowboys, stock contractors, clowns, announcers, artifacts, memorabilia and artwork, then venture outside to Priefert Arena where rodeo events are held throughout the year.
Adventure Miniature Golf
6550 Corporate Drive
Ever visible from I-25, this 23-year-old Springs establishment hosts three themed mini-golf courses, each a robust 18 holes long, plus batting cages.
My Club 420
6628 Delmonico Drive, Suite A
This cannabis club provides a safe place to smoke with a sports bar vibe, featuring movies, trivia, poker, video game tournaments and a long dab bar. This club also carries menus from neighboring restaurants — goodbye, munchies!
Cleats Bar and Grill
6624 Delmonico Drive
With over 30 televisions, this revamped sports bar is obviously a good place to go watch the game. What's not so obvious is that the pub fare here goes well beyond frozen and generic bar food. A lot of ingredients are made in-house, and the ones that aren't are sourced with quality in mind.
NaRai Thai Restaurant
805 Village Center Drive
From stir fries like the garlic chicken noodles to complex curries like a superb massaman, NaRai's menu is full of winning dishes. Also visit the gorgeously decorated south location.
Ute Valley Park
1705 Vindicator Drive
This off-the-radar spot on the northwest side is full of rock formations that'll make you question whether you're really in Utah. An open space full of small loops, you can ride up and down Ute Valley Park's steep surfaces for a half hour or all day.
Wilson Ranch Park
2335 Allegheny Drive
While this space does have great views, a playground and tennis courts, it's all about the pool. Think kid-friendly water park, with a water-pumping playground and water slide, guaranteed to make summers unforgettable.
Blodgett Peak Open Space
3898 W Woodmen Road
With a friendly trail up to a fine overlook of the Springs above a big green water tower, Blodgett Peak Open Space is fine for a light hike. But smaller, less-traveled trails to the south of the parking lot lead through foliage growing from land scorched by the Waldo Canyon fire — a very different kind of beauty than most trails offer.
3.14 Sweet and savory pi bar
5152 Centennial Blvd.
Butter and grandma: that's how it's done at this quaint little pie shop. With savory pies, quiche and creative takes on sweet pie standards, diets run away scared. Wash down your slice of heaven with sommelier-picked wine or craft beer.
Momma Pearl's Cajun Kitchen
6620 Delmonico Drive
Chef Robert "BB" Brunet cooks his mom's authentic Cajun recipes, including delightful Coco Rice, crawfish étouffée, Cajun Dirty Rice, and po-boy sandwiches. A beer and wine list complete with Louisiana's Abita Beer was just added to offerings. Finish with beignets.
Red Leg Brewing Company
4630 Forge Road, Suite B
Named for the cardinal stripe on Civil War artillerymen's pant legs, Red Leg is a veteran-owned brewery that aims to serve beer that honors servicemembers past and present. And with great beers on tap ranging from a light pils to a hefty stout, it's safe to say: mission accomplished.
505 Popes Bluff Trail
Housed in what used to be a sports bar, now part of Youth With A Mission's offices, Kairos serves up some socially conscious coffee sourced from Serranos Coffee Company. The menu is nothing crazy, but covers all your bases. Go to work, socialize and enjoy a top-notch mountain view.
More Up North
Legends Miniature Golf & Batting Cages
6655 Dalby Drive
This cash-only business offers batting cages to let your inner David Ortiz out. Or, play one of the three 18-hole mini golf courses. Or play all three — this place is affordable!
Colorado Mountain Brewery
1110 Interquest Pkwy.
600 S. 21st St
CMB manages to keep switching things up while also sticking with some tried-and-trues. With dishes like duck poutine, Colorado lamb Bolognese and venison egg rolls on the menu, don't forget this place is really about the beer.
United States Air Force Academy
3120 Academy Drive
Once you clear the gate, head for the iconic Cadet Chapel and the Barry Goldwater Visitor Center. Then get back outside where awesome trails, the expansive Eisenhower Golf Course, and horseback riding at the USAFA Equestrian Center await.
Mikado Asian Bistro
13141 Bass Pro Drive
Glitzy decor in this standalone restaurant gives Japanese fusion dining a Las Vegas feel. But if you can peel your eyes away from the red-eyed dragon chandelier overlooking the place, the plates here are also a sight to behold.
Western Museum of Mining and Industry
225 North Gate Blvd
More than 27-acres consisting of a reclamation exhibit, 10-stamp mill, historic buildings, theater and 5,000-volume research library. Release your inner geek for a day of learning about geology, technology and the environment.
O'Malley's Steak Pub
104 Highway 105, Palmer Lake
This year will mark the beloved restaurant's 30th anniversary. Enjoy cooking your own sized-to-order steak or burger, then wash it down with craft beer or one of 30-plus tequilas.
Tri-lakes Center for the Arts
304 Highway 105, Palmer Lake
This little town brings in a swathe of talented artists both local and not. Keep an eye on the calendar for the occasional lecture or live musical performance.
La Rosa Southwestern Dining
25 Highway 105, Palmer Lake
Aside from some of the most excellent Mexican and New Mexican bites in the region, this restaurant also offers fresh-juiced margaritas made with fine tequilas. We highly recommend the carne adovada.
Black Forest Meadery
6420 Burrows Road, Unit A, Black Forest
This little meadery is nestled into the trees of Black Forest like a nursery rhyme, producing mead, wine and melomel - mead with fruit - in a range of styles.
Pikes Peak Brewing
1756 Lake Woodmoor Drive, Monument
Neighborhood equals community, and this brewery knows it well. They often brew special ales for charities from cancer to conservation to fallen firefighters. Sip some suds and feel good.