5 activities to prioritize during summer 2019 

click to enlarge Kirsten Akens, former Indy copy editor! - REN CREATIV
  • REN Creativ
  • Kirsten Akens, former Indy copy editor!

Drafting up your bucket list of summer activities? Overwhelmed by all the options? Of course, I’m biased in recommending that you select items from my new book, 100 Things to Do in Colorado Springs Before You Die. Released in May, this book is the first edition of this series for the Pikes Peak region, but just one of St. Louis-based Reedy Press’ “100 Things” titles, which have been published for more than 70 cities across the country.

Whether you’ve picked up a copy or not, here’s a sneak peek at some of the entries, one each pulled from the five different categories in the book — with added reasons why you should prioritize these activities for summer 2019.

Food and Drink

Enjoy dinner and a movie under the stars at The Margarita at Pine Creek

I truly believe summer isn’t summer without taking in dinner and a movie on the patio at The Margarita at Pine Creek (7350 Pine Creek Road, margaritaatpinecreek.com). The north-end restaurant that’s been serving up amazing eclectic dishes for 45 years also offers those meals with a classic or contemporary film on a big screen over the outside bar, most Friday evenings after dusk, June through September (weather-dependent). It’s like going to a drive-in, if that drive-in served seared scallops, mezze platters and complimentary house-made seasoned popcorn alongside pineapple house-infused tequila margaritas and sangria. (OK, it’s not really much like a drive-in except you’re outdoors, under the stars, watching a movie.) For those of you who aren’t night owls, the Market at the Margarita kicks off June 15, and it’ll open the Colorado Farm and Art Market’s 15th Anniversary Summer Season (farmandartmarket.com), so pop by for extra-special opening day festivities, including face painting and “Booth Bingo” with prizes.

Arts and Entertainment

Engage in innovative arts at Green Box

Even though events don’t start until July, registration for the 2019 Green Box Arts Festival (greenboxarts.org) opened June 1, and if you want to get in on some of the free workshops and performances happening through July 13, you’ll want to get signed up now. One of the most innovative arts festivals in the Pikes Peak region, Green Box has been bringing nationally recognized contemporary artists, dancers, chefs and more to the small town of Green Mountain Falls for more than a decade. Of course registration isn’t required to see this year’s featured art installation, “1.8 Green Mountain Falls,” by the highly acclaimed Boston-based sculptor and fiber artist Janet Echelman. And that’s good, because it’s going to be a doozy. ArtDesk, a publication of the Kirkpatrick Foundation (which supports the festival), describes this installation as “a 150-foot-long floating form made of soft fibers that will span Gazebo Lake Park.” The artwork will be “a part of Echelman’s Earth Time series, which takes the number of microseconds that an earth-day is shortened after a single earthquake — 1.8 — and uses it as a jumping off point for the artist to design her mesmeric creations.”

Sports and Recreation

Sled, stargaze and sit silently at the Great Sand Dunes

From hiking to sledding, the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve (nps.gov/grsa/index.htm) is a wealth of outdoor activity. But what you might not know is that in May the International Dark-Sky Association designated the Great Sand Dunes as an International Dark Sky Park. The Great Sand Dunes joins just two dozen other such national parks across the country identified by the association for their “exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and a nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, [and] cultural heritage and/or public enjoyment.” Plan to visit the park, and stay overnight, this summer and participate in an evening solar telescope viewing, a “Park After Dark” Ranger Program, or a Dark Sky Park celebration (date to be announced).

Culture and History

Tour the Air Force Academy

The United States Air Force Academy may be an institution of higher education, but it’s also a top tourist destination for many reasons, including its Cadet Chapel (the most visited man-made attraction in the state), Falcon Stadium and popular hiking trails. The newest stop on the Academy tour is the white-domed Planetarium, (usafa.edu/academics/facilities/planetarium) one of the oldest buildings on campus. After a 15-year closure and a multi-year renovation, the Planetarium reopened in March. Be one of the first to visit the venue and experience its state-of-the-art projection technology this summer. Free first-come, first-served shows are open to the public, 12:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. (Another reason to visit campus this summer? The Cadet Chapel, which was supposed to be shut down for renovations at the beginning of the year, and closed for up to four years, is still open through Sept. 1 as the Academy continues to figure out project funding issues.)

Shopping and Fashion

click to enlarge CASEY BRADLEY GENT
  • Casey Bradley Gent

Make these downtown shops a must-stop: Terra Verde, Colorado Co-op, Sparrow Hawk, Mountain Chalet, Escape Velocity Comics and Ladyfingers Letterpress

Tons of stores call downtown home, including the six mentioned above. But there’s one of those six that made a big move just weeks ago. For more than 50 years, Mountain Chalet (mtnchalet.com) has sold outdoor gear from its storefront on Tejon Street across from Acacia Park. On May 20, owners Jim and Elaine Smith packed up and hauled the business one block east and two blocks south to 15 N. Nevada Ave., next to CityROCK Climbing Center. While we loved the coziness of the former space, the new spot’s got an open and airy feel, thanks to high ceilings and exposed metal beams — and a floor that’s 2,000 square feet larger than their previous location, meaning more inventory and more event space. Bonus: free lot parking for shoppers between the new digs and CityROCK.


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