A matter of time 

How to best spend one, three or seven days in and around Colorado Springs

You've got an extra day built into a business trip. You're in town for a weekend wedding. Or you're here on a week of vacation.

Regardless, you've got some time and want to budget wisely. Well, come, take our hand, and let us guide you gently through the myriad decisions that await.

24 hours: What's wrong with you? Leaving yourself only a day ... tsk-tsk. This whirlwind tour will be like sucking the foamy head off a delicious microbrew, only to leave the rest of the beer to your imagination.

Grab an early breakfast in Manitou Springs (manitousprings.org), drop some change at the Manitou Arcade, and then briefly tour and shop the town. If you decide to take the cog up to Pikes Peak (cograilway.com), that will steal a bunch of your time and around $30 (less for kids), but the experience above 14,000 feet is worth it for first-timers.

Afterward, swing through the Garden of the Gods (gardenofgods.com) on your way to Old Colorado City (shopoldcoloradocity.com). Tour and shop that strip, then pick a spot for a late lunch.

Next, head downtown (downtown80903.com) and make a free visit to the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum (springsgov.com). After all, nothin' says fun like a little tuberculosis history — cough, cough. Then head up Tejon Street for more shopping and touring; pause for coffee, booze, ice cream or snacks when needed.

Consider dawdling here until dinner, or pick a special place elsewhere in the city according to your tastes and budget. (Use our restaurant listings in each geographic section of this guide for ideas.) Return to any of the aforementioned areas of town for a nightcap.

You done real good, kid. Come back and see us.

Three days: Let's cram this visit like a tiny suitcase.

After having done all the above, call Day 2 a culture day, spent largely between pretty inexpensive museums and attractions between meals.

Start on the west side again and, after walking around the duck pond at The Broadmoor (broadmoor.com), hit up the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo (cmzoo.org) and/or Seven Falls (sevenfalls.com). Then, if you dig spelunking or relocated archeological remnants (and who doesn't?) choose between Cave of the Winds (caveofthewinds.com) or the Manitou Cliff Dwellings (cliffdwellingsmuseum.com).

Then head downtown to the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center (csfineartscenter.org) to help celebrate its 75th anniversary by taking in the permanent collection and whatever special exhibition is up.

Still not tired? Try the ProRodeo Hall of Fame & Museum of the American Cowboy (prorodeohalloffame.com) on your way north to the famous and architecturally stunning Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel (usafa.af.mil). Fit in the Western Museum of Mining & Industry (wmmi.org) if you still have time. Dine and call it a day.

Strongly consider a daytrip (see the following section) for Day 3. Or just visit the U.S. Olympic Training Center (teamusa.org), then take a guided food tour (coloradospringsfoodtours.com) or brewery tour (brewdogscolorado.com). Or create your own sampling tour.

That'll do it. Except ... wait ... didn't you have a wedding to go to or something?

One week: Already having done the above, check to see if it's possible to catch some Colorado Springs Sky Sox Triple-A baseball (coloradosprings.skysox.milb.com), Air Force football or basketball (goairforcefalcons.com), or Colorado College hockey (cctigers.com).

Otherwise, get out of town. Consider a statewide wine tour to our viticultural areas (coloradowine.com) or a beer tour (beerdrinkersguidetocolorado.com).

If it's winter: Ski or snowshoe. Summer: Bike, hike or raft the Arkansas River. And during any season, you really ought to visit some hot springs and other stunning outdoor destinations, such as Rocky Mountain and the Great Sand Dunes national parks.

Final ideas: Gamble in Cripple Creek or Black Hawk and Central City. Pass through Cañon City to check out the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park (royalgorgebridge.com) and ride the Royal Gorge Route Railroad (royalgorgeroute.com). Tour art galleries in smaller towns like Salida and Buena Vista. Buy Weird Colorado on Amazon and make that a travel guide. Climb a 14er!

Lastly, drop into Pueblo, Denver or Boulder, checking out their museums, eateries and attractions.

If you do even half of what we've suggested, you'll have seen more of our city and state than many locals. Consider yourself not just a champ, but a pioneer.

Click here for a map of Colorado Springs!


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