No question, when it comes to pure land area and the public consciousness, Fort Carson (carson.army.mil) grabs more than its share of southern sunlight. And the rafting options in Cañon City are rightfully celebrated, too. But wait, there's more.
For starters, there's The Broadmoor (1 Lake Ave., broadmoor.com), the country's longest-running winner of consecutive Five-Star and Five-Diamond awards from Forbes Travel Guide and AAA, respectively. The hotel itself is a beautiful site to see, not just for the duck pond, but also for the Hayden Hays Gallery (haydenhaysgallery.com) and a handful of lauded dining establishments (see p. 69).
On the first Monday of the month, you can tour the Penrose House (1661 Mesa Ave., elpomar.org), the beautiful former home of Spencer and Julie Penrose and now a conference center of the El Pomar Foundation. Just don't crash it; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 577-7000.
Another place not to crash is the Starr Kempf House (2057 Pine Grove). The late Kempf's gorgeous metal sculptures can be viewed respectfully from the street, much like lights strung around the holidays.
On the other hand, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo (4250 Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Road, cmzoo.org) is open 365 days a year. (OK, 366 this year.) Rising to about 7,000 feet above sea level with its mountainside layout, it's home to giraffes and birds you can feed, plus all kinds of other animals, from bears to tigers to penguins. Paid admission there also gets you access to the Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun, 1.4 miles up the mountain from the zoo. Built by Spencer Penrose in memory of his famous friend, the shrine sits at 8,136 feet and affords some breathtaking views.
From there you may be able to see Venetucci Farm (5210 S. U.S. Hwy. 85, ppcf.org/venetucci), where you can pick up a pumpkin in the fall, catch a Starlight farm-to-table dinner in late summer, or shop its farmstand throughout the growing season.
A relatively little-known treasure is the World Figure Skating Museum and Hall of Fame (20 First St., worldskatingmuseum.org). The only museum of its kind, it not only honors big names in figure skating, but also displays artwork such as that of Andy Warhol. Other museums and centers in the area include the John May Museum (710 Rock Creek Canyon Road, maymuseum-camp-rvpark.com) and the El Pomar Foundation Carriage Museum (11 Lake Circle, elpomar.org).
Heading south on Interstate 25 from Colorado Springs, you'll see the Pikes Peak International Raceway (16650 Midway Ranch Road, Fountain, ppir.com). Check its calendar for racing events to watch, as well as for opportunities to actually climb behind the wheel yourself.
Keep going, and you'll find yourself in Pueblo. Stroll down the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk (Welcome Center at 101 S. Union Ave., puebloharp.com) and enjoy the restaurants and shops alongside it. Pueblo City Park (800 Goodnight Ave., pueblo.us) is a beautiful gem, with attractions such as bicycling and walking paths, bocce courts, a pool, Historic Carousel #72, the Pueblo Zoo, Sgt. Blake A. Harris Skateboard Park and more.
The Sangre de Cristo Arts Center (210 N. Santa Fe Ave., Pueblo, sdc-arts.org) is also worth a visit with its art classes, performances and exhibitions; check its website for programming info. And finally, the Buell Children's Museum (sdc-arts.org/buellchildrensmuseum.html), which is connected to the Sangre, has lots of hands-on exhibits for children to enjoy.
If you head west on Cheyenne Boulevard, just past the houses and before you hit the clouds, you'll find Sacred Grounds (1801 W. Cheyenne Blvd., sacredgroundscoffeeinthecanyon.biz), the spot to find "coffee in the canyon," as the sign attests. Its cozy, wood-happy interior and strong espresso drinks make it a sweet place to work, do homework or sleep on your laptop's keyboard if the coffee fails you.
Running farther south is Black Bear Coffee & Tea Lounge (6550 S. Academy Blvd., 226-2327), which brightens up a Safeway-anchored shopping center. If you go, grab the Mocha Polar Java: There's espresso, there's ice cream, there's frozen delight.
Cowboy Espresso Café (105 S. Santa Fe Ave., cowboyespressocafe.biz) calls Fountain home and, just as you'd imagine, serves a boot-scootin' cup o' joe. The spot recently changed ownership, adding an expanded breakfast menu along the way. Check out the homey interior of tile floors and mismatched chairs.
Or take the trail all the way down to Pueblo and run into one of the coolest roasters around: Solar Roast Coffee (226 N. Main St., solarroast.com), brothers Michael and David Hartkop's in-house mud station and purveyor of fine coffees roasted with the brand-new photovoltaic-powered Helios 5. Not to be ignored is Wireworks Coffeehouse on the Riverwalk (103 S. Union Ave., #110, 719/543-3000), which, as the name implies, has a hell of a view (and heaven for a kitchen).
— Bryce Crawford