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West Colorado Springs: InSider 2016 

In the shadow of Pikes Peak, Colorado Springs' "Quirky" neighborhoods flourish, fostering offbeat business and eateries aplenty. The big hills and mesas make navigating at times tricky, but the slower driving speeds generally, make life for everyone less stressful. Enjoy the most iconic trails and hiking spaces in and just outside the city, as well as a rich slice of Colorado's Pioneer History.

Manitou Springs

This small mountain community, a hop, skip and a jump away from Colorado Springs proper, has a little bit of everything. Along with the incredibly friendly residents, visitors will find shopping, history, great food, talented artists and the delicious mineral springs that made Manitou famous. It's also home to the most popular hiking trails in town, plus a few local secrets hidden off the beaten path. Eat, drink, and keep Manitou weird!

Manitou Art Center

513-515 Manitou Ave.

manitouartcenter.org

Far more than just a gallery, the Manitou Art Center is a collaborative space for artists and makers to tinker. Housing the Pikes Peak Makerspace has allowed members of the center to create in a high-tech and versatile studio environment.

Manitou Springs Heritage Center

517 Manitou Ave.

manitouspringsheritagecenter.org

This center functions as a gallery, a museum, a learning establishment and a community hub, doing more than just preserving Manitou's history. Keep an eye on its yearly events like the upcoming beer festival.

Mountain Living Studio

741 Manitou Ave.

mountainlivingstudio.com

Anchoring a corner on Manitou Avenue, Mountain Living Studio holds the works of nearly 150 Colorado artists who work in painting, photos, fabric, furniture, stained glass and pottery. Spread over two floors, the collection encompasses contemporary and traditional tastes.

C.K. Comics and Collectibles

719 Manitou Ave.

manitousprings.wix.com/ckcomics

With a recently opened tabletop gaming room, C.K. Comics is cementing itself as more than a retail front in the community. Here you'll find used and new books, figurines, comics and more, along with cool people to enjoy your purchases with.

Swirl Wine Bar

717 Manitou Ave.

swirlismybar.com

Swirl is really everything you could ever want in a wine bar, including a cozy environment, a knowledgeable sommelier, and tasty food. Moreover it is a great little venue for events from blind tasting classes and live music to art shows and weekly movie nights. Cheers!

Green Horse Gallery

729 Manitou Ave.

greenhorsegallery.com

This gallery and shop is chock-full of original, handmade items ranging from functional and art pottery to textiles to paintings. It's artist-owned and operated, featuring the work of a bunch of local and regional artists.

click to enlarge The Keg - BRIENNE BOORTZ
  • Brienne Boortz
  • The Keg

The Keg

730 Manitou Ave.

685-9531

The Keg is one of those places that comes to mind when you think of Manitou. When you find someplace where you can get killer food, local beer for the adults, and bottomless soda for the kids, yes, you've got a favorite.

Mona Lisa

733 Manitou Ave.

monalisafondue.com

Mona Lisa, the local go-to for cheese and chocolate fondue, is more than just a restaurant. Its downstairs wine cellar carries a versatile selection of wines that you can enjoy by the glass or as a flight. Between the wine and the atmosphere, it makes for a great date.

Red Dog Coffee

739 Manitou Ave.

reddogcoffeemanitou.com

A cute and modern coffee house, Red Dog serves up bomb breakfasts and lunches alongside delicious drinks. Using coffee from Colorado Coffee Merchants, their well-trained baristas whip up a mean latte.

Manitou Brewing Co.

725 Manitou Ave.

manitou-brewing.com

Manitou Brewing Company's emphasis is on craft beer and craft food. Though their menu looks typical, the execution is anything but. Tip: try the pork belly tacos. If you feel the need to burn it off later, check out the Manitou Running Club, meeting here every Wednesday.

Enter the Room

742 Manitou Ave.

entertheroomco.com

If you haven't hopped on the puzzle room craze yet, this is a great place to start. Take a few friends and spend an action-packed hour testing your skills.

The 10 Spot

742 Manitou Ave.

685-1545

There's no shortage of high-class boutiques on the west side, but you don't have to spend much to get some great shopping done. Every single item at The 10 Spot is $10 or less, and they've got knickknacks and accessories galore.

Quacker Gift Shop

738 Manitou Ave.

quackergiftshop.com

It's hard to imagine a business concept so specific, but here it is all the same. Every single item in Quacker is duck-themed. If you're looking for a rubber ducky for Christmas, or one in Broncos garb, they've got something that fits the bill.

click to enlarge Manitou Springs Penny Arcade - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Manitou Springs Penny Arcade

Manitou Springs Penny Arcade

900 Manitou Ave.

685-9815

This charming arcade is a Manitou staple. Many games take pennies, nickels or dimes and feature wooden figures or hand-painted moving backdrops. There are newer games, too, plus kids' rides, air hockey and a photo booth.

The Poppy Seed

123 Cañon Ave.

lovethepoppyseed.com

Referred to locally as "pot-friendly fashion," The Poppy Seed is a great place to pick up hemp clothing and accessories, as well as anything you can need/want/imagine emblazoned with the classic marijuana leaf symbol.

The Loop

965 Manitou Ave.

theloopatmanitou.com

If you ask any local about this neighborhood haunt, they'll all tell you the same thing: best margaritas in town. In fact, The Loop won our Best Of competition in that exact category last year. The food itself is good, but the margaritas.

Anna's Apothecary

116 Cañon Ave.

annasapothecary.com

Geared mostly toward internal healing, Anna's stocks teas, tinctures and herbs for all ailments, as well as beauty and skincare products. They share a space with Radiantly Raw Chocolates, a little shop that provides more all-natural goodness.

The Cliff House at Pikes Peak

306 Cañon Avenue.

thecliffhouse.com

The Cliff House offers some of the area's finest dining alongside a great sleeping experience. It's rated a AAA Four-Diamond destination.

Commonwheel artists co-op

102 Cañon Ave.

commonwheel.com

This is the first place to go for lovely ceramics and much more from Colorado artists. Recently remodeled, Commonwheel has both a members' gallery and a sales floor, showcasing some of the region's most unique artwork.

Ancient mariner

962 Manitou Ave.

facebook.com/LegendaryAncientMariner

This sweet little bar is regarded as a major Manitou music venue, thanks to its weekly local jams and rotating blues, rock and folk bands. Plus, the Mariner's a good bet for a pint of beer and some fairly rockin' pub food.

Darpino Studio Gallery

934 Manitou Ave.

darpinostudiogallery.com

Showcasing fire art by nationally recognized local artists, Darpino Studio Gallery is curated by Fred Darpino himself, the man behind some of the most recognizable bronze sculptures in the area.

Kinfolks

950 Manitou Ave.

kinfolksmanitou.com

This community pub is a local haunt for good reason. With a great, intimate atmosphere and focus on local brews, Kinfolks' refreshments are only second to its entertainment, weekly live music and open mic nights.

Townhouse sports grill

907 Manitou Ave.

685-1085

Here, the colorful exterior is rivaled only by the colorful clientele. This classic bar is a Manitou staple, hosting live music on the weekends and sporting some beautiful burgers.

click to enlarge Manitou Incline - FILE PHOTO
  • File Photo
  • Manitou Incline

Manitou Incline

Hydro Street

manitouincline.net

This trail has become an iconic attraction for fitness buffs and visitors looking for an elite workout at 6,400 feet. Your reward for completing it? Bragging rights and a great selfie opportunity at the top.

Cave of the Winds

100 Cave of the Winds Road

caveofthewinds.com

This supposedly haunted and definitely haunting cave system is quite the sight. The regular tour, with its rock formations and grottoes, is pretty spectacular, but for a really cool time, try the lantern tour.

click to enlarge COG Railway - FILE PHOTO
  • File Photo
  • COG Railway

Cog railway

515 Ruxton Ave.

cograilway.com

The view from the top of Pikes Peak is truly unrivaled, but why not take the coolest way up, too? The Cog is a scenic trip to the summit along a slowly climbing railroad track, treating visitors to spectacular panoramas.

Manitou Cliff Dwellings

10 Cliff Dwellings Road

cliffdwellingsmuseum.com

No, they aren't exactly authentic Anasazi cliff dwellings, but this reconstructed and preserved tourist trap was made with love and admiration all the same and it's still quite a sight to behold. The museum and gift shop, at least, are fully authentic.

Iron Springs Chateau

444 Ruxton Ave.

ironspringschateau.com

If you're looking for straight-up camp, you've found it. This sweet little dinner theater produces original melodramas, which means oodles of singing and dancing, with themed olios at intermission.

Fare Bella Studio & Gallery

16 Ruxton Ave.

farebellagallery.com

Fare Bella houses the work of quite a few local artists. With a focus on painting, the gallery puts on arts classes each month, which are pricey but led by local leaders in the medium.

Tracy Miller Gallery

16 Ruxton Ave.

tracymillergallery.com

Off the main stretch of galleries and shops on Manitou Avenue, Ruxton Avenue sports its own attractions. The Tracy Miller Gallery is one of these. Miller's collection of vibrant and impressionistic paintings is a sight worth seeing.

Garden of the Gods Trading Post

324 Beckers Lane

gardenofthegodstradingpost.com

This locally-owned-since-the-1920s shop is touristy, yes, but if you're looking for souvenirs you've found the right place. Also, keep an eye on the jewelry. There are some hand-crafted and high-quality pieces in there.

click to enlarge Crystal Park Cantina - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Crystal Park Cantina

Crystal Park cantina

178 Crystal Park Road

crystalparkcantina.com

The Cantina isn't your run-of-the-mill Tex-Mex. It keeps its prices low and its food healthier than average, for those of you who don't want to rack up the bill (or the calorie count). Also, trust us, you will want to try the Cantina Burger.

Maggie's Farm

141 Manitou Ave.

maggiesfarmmarijuana.com

The first recreational dispensary in El Paso County, Maggie's Farm offers a selection of top-shelf strains, edibles and other goodies. And because their posted prices include tax, you won't be bamboozled at the cash register.

Emerald Fields

27 Manitou Ave.

emeraldfields.com

Marketed as a "cannaboutique," Emerald Fields is quintessentially Coloradan. "Guides" walk around with tablets to help customers find what they're looking for, like the Apple Store geniuses of recreational weed.

Adam's mountain café

26 Manitou Ave.

adamsmountain.com

Adam's is committed to its community and to sustainability in a way that other restaurants only dream of. With a goal of sourcing everything it can locally and organically, it churns out refreshing food that goes above and beyond.

Briarhurst Manor Estate

404 Manitou Ave.

briarhurst.com

There are few restaurant settings as lovely as the Briarhurst Manor. Built in 1872, then rebuilt after a fire in 1886, the Manor stays true to its late-Victorian vibe, with gourmet food and classy drinks.

click to enlarge Red Rock Canyon Open Space - BRADLEY FLORA
  • Bradley Flora
  • Red Rock Canyon Open Space

Red Rock Canyon Open Space

3550 W. High St.

redrockcanyonopenspace.org

With over a dozen trails and stunning natural beauty, Red Rock Canyon Open Space is arguably the most popular park for locals looking to hike, run or cycle.

Old Colorado City

A nationally designated historical site, Old Colorado City is absolutely precious. The architecture and design recall the old West, but there's plenty to do for those with modern sensibilities. Aside from the delightful and diverse shopping opportunities, there's also plenty of art galleries and live music to keep your creative side happy. And when you get hungry, look for a bite at one of many community-minded eateries in the area.

click to enlarge Chavez Gallery - COURTESY LIESE CHAVEZ
  • Courtesy Liese Chavez
  • Chavez Gallery

Chavez Gallery

2616 W. Colorado Ave.

chavezartgallery.com

The husband-and-wife team behind Chavez Gallery will charm you as much with their magic tricks as with their imaginative artwork. This interactive gallery is always a hit with families.

Brother Luck Street Eats

1005 W. Colorado Ave.

chefbrotherluck.com

No one in town is pushing more boundaries with food than Brother Luck. His menu is playful and innovative, featuring surprise dishes and old favorites with unique flavors. Recently appearing on the Food Network's Chopped, Luck is representing The Springs in a big way.

Daisy in a Bottle

2902 W. Colorado Ave.

daisyinabottle.com

Tucked inside Agia Sophia coffee shop and bookstore, this little clothing boutique showcases unique bohemian, steampunk, modern and eclectic styles. Though business hours are short, shoppers can always email to set up an appointment.

Tapateria

2607 W. Colorado Ave.

tapateria.com

Beyond the specials and rich charcuterie boards, TAPAteria's regular offerings are elegant and satisfying. The menu is half vegetarian, a quarter vegan and fully gluten-free. Its wine selection is also extensive, which makes for a fully rounded meal.

Honey Cottage

2429 W. Colorado Ave.

thehoneycottage.com

This adorable little store is your one-stop shop for Colorado honey and beehive products. Whether you're shopping for skincare or something to bake with, these folks will help you out.

Uchenna

2501 W. Colorado Ave., #105

uchennalive.com

In case you hadn't noticed, we love food in this city, and we like options. The unique and authentic Ethiopian fare served up at Uchenna has always piqued our interest for this exact reason. It's different and wholly delicious.

The Leechpit

3020 W. Colorado Ave. #A

leechpit.com

This retail playpen is filled to bursting with vintage clothing, rare vinyl, old-school video games, movie and television dolls, and collectibles of all varieties and interests.

Colorado Kite & Ski

2820 W. Colorado Ave.

ckski.com

Who needs two stores for winter and summer recreation when you can have it all in Colorado Kite & Ski? This OCC staple has a wide selection of both, along with other outdoor gear.

click to enlarge Eve's Revolution - ELLY STEWART
  • Elly Stewart
  • Eve's Revolution

Eve's Revolution

1312 W. Colorado Ave.

evesrevolution.com

This west-side boutique embodies all that is good in the women's shopping world. The used clothing and accessories are classy, and the new items often procured by owner Eve Carlson herself won't be found anywhere else around here. Add to the equation reasonable prices, honest opinions on outfits and a laid-back vibe that will stay with you all day.

45 Degree Gallery

2528 W. Colorado Ave.

434-1214

Billed as "art from every angle," 45 Degree has a wide selection of local art, plus unique options for custom framing.

Fossil Brewing Co.

2845 Ore Mill Road, #1

fossilbrewing.com

A relatively new brewery with an eye on community, Fossil brews simple and stunning beers. It also donates a portion of sales from its Evolution Ale to local nonprofit organizations.

Michael Garman Museum

2418 W. Colorado Ave.

michaelgarman.com

This gallery of Michael Garman's sculptures dishes statuesque charm in the form of exquisitely carved characters and street scenes. It's called Magic Town for a reason.

Cucuru Café and Gallery

2332 W. Colorado Ave.

cucurucafe.net

Head here on Monday nights for tango. Instructor John Miller teaches advanced moves, followed by a free practica. Make it a full evening out and pair your session with some of the restaurant's excellent Spanish tapas and wine.

click to enlarge Front Range BBQ - LAUREN MCKENZIE
  • Lauren McKenzie
  • Front Range BBQ

Front Range Barbeque

2330 W. Colorado Ave.

frbbq.com

Front Range Barbeque is a community-minded restaurant serving up far more than damn fine barbeque (though that is absolutely part of its appeal). Summers, you'll find the band Blue Frog hosting "Blues on the Porch" and various touring and local musicians perform here on a regular basis. What's more, each winter they host an art market on their tiny corner of Colorado Avenue. This place has a lot going for it.

High Rise Coffee Roasters

2421 W. Cucharras St.

springscoffee.com

Toby Anderson, owner of High Rise Coffee Roasters, carries 38 varietals, with 12 to 14 roasted and on the line ready for sales. "We try to get everything off the line in a week," he says. "The big deal is freshness."

Arati Artists Gallery

2425 W. Colorado Ave.

aratiartists.com

"Arati" in Hindi means "to send a little light or beauty into the world," and acts as a fitting namesake for this OCC gallery. Arati's regional artists offer a variety of well-priced pieces in painting, woodturning, bronze sculpture and jewelry.

Second Floor Studios

2418 W. Colorado Ave.

thesecondfloorstudios.com

These studios are largely the private workspaces of local artists. However, when they do open their doors they do it in a big way, featuring tours during the holidays, live music and painting, and classes led by all sorts of talented folks.

The Loft

2506 W. Colorado Ave., Suite C

loftmusicvenue.com

This venue and event center offers free lessons in East Coast swing at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays, followed by a $10 open dance session. Every now and then, the Loft hosts live swing bands. Keep an eye on its website for details.

Mineral Adit Rockshop

2824 W. Colorado Ave.

475-1557

While not the best-organized rock shop in the Springs, the Mineral Adit still sports an impressive collection if you're willing to dig. Carrying everything from run-of-the-mill quartz to increasingly rare moldovite, it meets every mineral addict's needs.

Lunazul Gallery

1024 W. Colorado Ave.

facebook.com/lunazulgallery

Having just opened its doors last November, LunAzul Gallery is still a fresh face in the Old Colorado City arts scene. The gallery's focus is indigenous artwork of Latin and South America, with stock rotating regularly.

Paravicini's

2802 W. Colorado Ave.

paravicinis.com

Chef Franco Pisani endeavors to create dining experiences, which is evident in Paravicini's fine service and inventive menu. Pisani's love for the art of cooking is comes out in the variety and quality of his genuine Italian recipe. Thankfully the portions don't leave you staggering.

The Dive

3043 W. Pikes Peak Ave.

719thedive.com

Don't be surprised to find higher quality than the name would suggest. Sandwiches, burgers and all-day breakfast make this a neighborhood staple.

Alchemy

2625 W. Colorado Ave.

alchemypubcolorado.com

If you want a fun cocktail, you'll certainly find that at Alchemy. Pop rocks, gummy bears and anything else you can think of are used liberally as garnish for these sweet mixed drinks, and there's sure to be something on the menu to prevent tomorrow's hangover.

click to enlarge Pizzeria Rustica - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Pizzeria Rustica

Pizzeria Rustica

2527 W. Colorado Ave.

pizzeriarustica.com

With a focus on sustainability and community support, Pizzeria Rustica stands out not just for its fantastic pizza, but also for the way it gives back. Look out for its regular wine dinners, each in support of a local nonprofit organization.

Jives Coffee Lounge

16 Colbrunn Court

jivescoffeelounge.com

Jives hosts a casual, college-y environment, with a spacious, open floor plan and contemporary art hung somewhat haphazardly on its walls. With occasional open mic nights and live acoustic music, it's a nice, laid-back place for a cup o' joe.

Jake and Telly's

2616 W. Colorado Ave.

jakeandtellys.com

The appeal of Jake and Telly's Greek Taverna lies in the flawless execution of traditional Greek dishes. Lamb Kivetzi, pastitsio and moussaka are among its extensive offerings. For a great experience, get a seat on the balcony, and eat in the shade of surrounding trees.

Thunder & Buttons II

2415 W. Colorado Ave.

thunderandbuttons.com.com

It's hard to say if it's the food, drinks, service, weekly bar events or location that makes Thunder & Buttons a favorite west-side bar. Regardless, when a bar goes balls-out and strives for excellence, it pays off. Join them four nights a week for Crazy Tony's Karaoke.

Simpich Showcase

2413 W. Colorado Ave.

simpich.com

This is a museum of the Simpich family's storied dolls and puppets as well as a theater, where craftsman David Simpich writes and performs plays with his original marionettes. Trust that these aren't your average sock puppets.

Mother Muff's

2432 W. Colorado Ave.

mothermuffs.com

The warm and welcoming atmosphere of Mother Muff's is matched by the comfort-food feel of its menu. Another draw is the restaurant's calendar of events, which features live music, poker, Geeks who Drink and other bar activities.

Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods park is one of the Springs' biggest draws, and it's no wonder it was called the best park in America by TripAdvisor in 2014. The scenery is astounding, and the surrounding Kissing Camels and Holland Park neighborhoods are full of vitality. Tourists and residents alike will find quaint local shops and some great restaurants, as well as plenty of outdoors to explore, for fans and foes of pavement alike.

click to enlarge Garden of the Gods - FILE PHOTO
  • File Photo
  • Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods

1805 N. 30th St.

gardenofgods.com

In 1909, the Perkins family donated these 480 acres to the city. Since then, the city has nearly tripled it in size. Go behold these massive sandstone formations that jut out of the earth, creating an alien red foreground for the majestic mountain landscape.

Rock Ledge Ranch Historical Site

3202 Chambers Way

rockledgeranch.com

In the shadow of Garden of the Gods, Rock Ledge offers numerous special events year-round — an old-fashioned baseball game, a sheep shearing festival, etc. — but head over any old Wednesday through Saturday in the summer for living history demonstrations, from the forge to the barn to the pioneer kitchen.

Space Foundation

4425 Arrowswest Drive

spacefoundation.org

In the mood to geek out? Pay the Space Foundation a visit to find out what astronauts eat in space, ogle at full-scale model rockets and learn about intserstellar missions past and present.

Mollica's Italian Deli

985 Garden of the Gods Road

mollicas.com

Mollica's, while a supreme place to lunch, is much more than that. Including a market with fresh and frozen Italian ingredients and meals, Mollica's does it all. Good news for carnivores, each sandwich is piled high with quality meat, whether your speed is more meatball or grinder.

Range Gallery

1485 Garden of the Gods Road, #160

rangegallery.com

Kathleen McFadden's photography features Americana subjects, captured with film and vintage cameras. She's also notable for innovations like her "third dimension" panoramic photographs that curve out to hug the viewer, and a spinning camera that creates a warped image that still manages to document its subject well.

Celebration Metaphysical Center

975 W. Garden of the Gods Road, Unit C

celebrationstore.com

Often labeled a bookstore, Celebration is that but also a place for crystals, jewelry, CDs, tarot cards, incense and wands. This shop is also the go-to place in town for psychic readings, divination classes, full-moon rituals and the like.

Trinity Brewing Co.

1466 Garden of the Gods Road

trinitybrew.com

Trinity has blown up, thanks to top-notch, experimental production on top of great flagship beers like the lawnmower-ready One Ear Saison. To ease the buzz (from the alcohol, not the community), grab some nice bites here, too.

House of Color

750 W. Garden of the Gods Road, #100

houseofcolorcolorado.com

"Cutting edge" isn't just a play on words when it comes to House of Color, a hair studio and art gallery with hip local art and unique stylists. It will begin hosting First Friday receptions June 2016, including refreshments and refreshing contemporary art.

WIllowstone Antiques

2150 W. Garden of the Gods Road

willowstoneantiques.com

Boasting the title of "Colorado's largest indoor marketplace," Willowstone Antiques is a great place to go treasure hunting. The 75,000-square- foot showroom also rents out to dealers, so you can find handmade goods by local artists and crafters.

click to enlarge Land of the Pyramids - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Land of the Pyramids

Land of the Pyramids

905 W. Garden of the Gods Road

landofthepyramids.com

While a bit haphazard in its design, Land of the Pyramids is an interesting blend of authentic Egyptian and American. Looking for kataifi, za'atar, tahini or particularly pungent yoghurt? This is the place to go, and you can pick up some cabinet necessities while you're here.

Lounge at Hookah Emporium

805 W. Garden of the Gods Road

facebook.com/hookahemporium

More eclectic than the name suggests, The Lounge at Hookah Emporium sells hookahs and accessories alongside everything from clothing and tapestries to hand-blown glass pipes, bongs and jewelry by local artists.

Custom Railway Supply

1015 W. Garden of the Gods Road, #150

customrailwaysupply.com

This place is a dream-come-true for rail fans. You can find esoteric components for your model train set, vintage memorabilia and maps of rail lines. Custom Railway Supply is also a great place to get inspired by the endeavors of your fellow enthusiasts.

Painting with a Twist

1025 W. Garden of the Gods Road

paintingwithatwist.com

All you have to do is show up. An instructor will provide paint, brushes, canvas and wine, and you'll come away with a finished piece of art.

Glen Eyrie Conference Center

3820 N. 30th St.

gleneyrie.org

Take a tour of the massive stone castle on city founder General Palmer's estate, sip some tea and even stay overnight if you want.

Colorado Technical University

4435 N. Chestnut St.

coloradotech.edu

Colorado Technical University offers a variety of courses and degree programs, including graduate opportunities in IT and criminal justice. It also hosts volunteer and career fairs throughout the year, plus family-focused events for non-traditional students.

More Out West

503W

503 W. Colorado Ave.

471-3370

503W is a playful little pub between Downtown and Old Colorado City. It hosts a variety of events, including live music, craft beer dinners and a flannel-themed New Year's Eve party, which is just a delight. Be sure to check it out when it puts beer floats on the menu. Ice cream plus beer can only equal greatness.

Benny's

517 W. Colorado Ave.

634-9309

Benny's has nothing if not character. And characters. Local blues stars like Grant Sabin and rock groups like the Cari Dell Trio play here regularly, and it's also an excellent pit stop for bikers, barflies and all who like to live the good life.

click to enlarge Mountain Mama's Natural Foods - ELLY STEWART
  • Elly Stewart
  • Mountain Mama's Natural Foods

Mountain Mama Natural Foods

1625 W. Uintah St., Suite A

mountainmamanaturalfoods.com

Mountain Mama, a family-owned natural food store on the west side, finished second in Indy's Best Of competition (category: Natural Food Store) 14 times before taking our top prize in 2014. But to the many locals who rely on its produce and cute café, it has always been No. 1.

Wines of Colorado

8045 W. U.S. Hwy. 24

winesofcolorado.com

The Wines of Colorado, as the name suggests, sells different wines from around the state. But more importantly, it also offers up some of the finest grilled fare around, burgers and brats being their specialties.

Bloom's Mill Hill Saloon

1668 S. 21st St.

632-6932

With stuffed buffalo and deer decking the walls, this place feels like a good ol' country bar, a sensation heightened by the strong pour and cheap drinks. Other pluses are the weekend bands and the view out over the city when the garage doors are opened.

click to enlarge Bear Creek Regional Park - LAUREN MCKENZIE
  • Lauren McKenzie
  • Bear Creek Regional Park

Bear Creek Regional Park

245 Bear Creek Road

elpasocountyparks.com

This area's sweeping vistas and several miles of trails make it a favorite on this side of town. The portion below 21st Street is easier for hiking and biking and is a popular horse trail; the upper half is a more technical ride for bikers. If you've got a pup in tow, take them to the dog park section of Bear Creek for doggie water fountains, scenic trails and lots of creek to play in.

Patsy's Candies

1540 S. 21st St.

patsyscandies.com

Patsy's Candies was, for a long while, a favorite retail front in Manitou. As it stands, you can still get their delicious handmade candies here at the factory and take tours during summer.

Carlos' Bistro

1025 S. 21st St.

carlosbistrocos.com

You will almost certainly find owner Carlos Echeandia greeting guests at their cars and ushering them inside. Then he's at their table, describing food or talking them into one of his excellent Pisco Sours, which he'll shake himself. He serves top-of-the-line Prime beef plus wild-caught, daily-delivered seafood items dressed in superb sauces.

Joseph's Fine Dining

1603 S. 8th St.

josephsdining.com

Owner Joseph Freyre, a wizard of tableside presentation, would gladly speak for his restaurant, but his menu speaks for itself. This gourmet eatery promises some of the best seafood in the city. Red Lobster eat your heart out... with butter.

Pepper Tree

888 W. Moreno Ave.

peppertreecs.com

Perhaps one of the more scenic eateries in town, Pepper Tree's view of the city is unrivaled, especially at night. Moreover, it delights with a classic menu and occasional inventive specials. The cocktails are well-rounded and simple, ideal for a quiet and classy date night.

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  • Ballot Measure Forum @ Penrose Library

    • Tue., Oct. 11, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Free

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