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2013: South daytime hangouts 

A gateway to Colorado's past, with all the amenities of today

Less traffic than other parts of town, unobstructed views of the mountains, landmarks to ogle ... yes, you'll like it here.

As you've probably heard by now, the Broadmoor (1 Lake Ave., broadmoor.com) is one of the city's greatest claims to fame. Officially opened in 1918, the hotel and resort offers history, elegance, beauty, architecture and ambience to explore. Even if you can't afford to stay there, everyone is treated as a guest of the hotel. Walk through the lobby, take a leisurely stroll around the lake, visit the Carriage House Museum for free, have some refreshments, or just sit and soak in the (literal) richness.

Just up the hill at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo (4250 Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Road, cmzoo.org) you can walk through — and, for a little extra money, skyride over — hundreds of animals in a beautiful, natural mountain setting. See more than 30 endangered species in areas like "Wolf Woods," Rocky Mountain Wild" and, new this spring, "Encounter Africa" (offering sneak peeks through April, before a May opening). The natural environment adds to the adventure, and if you've never fed a giraffe before it's a sloppy thrill.

Your admission to the zoo also allows you to visit the Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun (cmzoo.org/aboutZoo/history/willRogersShrine). In fact, you can't get to the shrine without paying zoo admission and driving up the Russell Tutt Scenic Highway, but it's worth it. Perched at more than 8,000 feet, on a clear day you'll swear you can see all the way to the East Coast. The shrine — like the zoo itself, built by Spencer Penrose — is built of Cheyenne Mountain granite, and features photographs and art honoring Penrose's pal, Will Rogers.

Also in the neighborhood is the Starr Kempf House (2057 Pine Grove), where you can admire the late artist's striking metal sculptures from the street.

A short drive down Highway 115 will take you to the Fort Carson Historical Visitor Center and Kit Carson Memorial on Fort Carson at Gate #1 (Highway 115 and Nelson Boulevard, carson.army.mil). You needn't go on post; there's a parking lot and a park to explore with historical tanks, a helicopter, a cannon and even a piece of steel from the World Trade Center.

A little farther south, you'll find the May Natural History Museum (710 Rock Creek Canyon Road, maynaturalhistorymuseum.com) and its more than 8,000 specimens of insects, including butterflies, moths, beetles, scorpions, centipedes and tarantulas. Maybe a little dated, it's still charming and fascinating. There's also a campground (maymuseum-camp-rvpark.com) there. Both are open daily from May 1 to Sept. 30; in the off season, the museum opens to groups of 10-plus by appointment.

Moving eastward, Venetucci Farm (5210 S. U.S. Highway 85, ppcf.org) is a true landmark. Established by the Venetucci family in 1936, it became known as "the pumpkin farm" since its gates opened every fall for pumpkin giveaways to local kids. The farm was gifted by the family to the Pikes Peak Community Foundation in 2006, and remains a working farm with outreach, educational opportunities and fresh produce in the summer.

The Pikes Peak International Raceway (16650 Midway Ranch Road, ppir.com) is at Exit 122 off I-25 in Fountain. It bills itself as "a premier, participant-based motorsports facility," and you can arrange a ride-along experience or drive a race car yourself. PPIR also offers open lapping for both cars and motorbikes.

Finally, Pueblo (pueblo.org) has a lot to offer as a day-trip destination. Especially noteworthy is the Union Avenue Historic District, with both the Union Depot train station (pueblouniondepot.com) and the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk (puebloharp.com), as well as 83 buildings on the National Historic Register. Even if you find history a bit boring, you'll find something to appreciate in the shops, galleries and eateries that line the district. Or you can rent a pedal boat at the Riverwalk.

Also worth a stop is the Rosemount Museum (419 W. 14th St., rosemount.org), a 24,000-square-foot mansion from the 19th century that's been featured on A&E and HGTV. Most of the furnishings and decorations in the 37 rooms are original, and the woodwork is breathtaking.

Finally, the Sangre de Cristo Arts and Conference Center (210 N. Santa Fe Ave., sdc-arts.org) is a beautiful visit. Originally opened in 1972, the Center has been a strong, inclusive advocate for the arts in southern Colorado. With exhibits, music, theater, dance, classes, gift shops and the Buell Children's Museum, it's always a draw. 

  • A gateway to Colorado's past, with all the amenities of today

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