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Free Things To Do in Colorado Springs

If you have extra time, United States Olympic Training Center is worthwhile.

#1

#1 in Colorado Springs

Free
It's easy to see how this natural landmark earned such an ethereal title: These magnificent red rock formations look as though deities themselves could've carved them. However, the sandstone pillars are, in fact, the work of geological activity along a natural fault line, as well as rainfall over millennia. You can learn about the garden's formations at the visitor and nature center, which houses numerous informative displays and hosts daily nature presentations. You are welcome to explore the park on your own time (either on foot or by bike); the visitor and nature center also offers guided hikes, as well as bike, Jeep, trolley and Segway tours (prices vary by vehicle and tour length). Or, if you're looking for a more authentic "Wild West" experience, you can reserve your spot on a guided horseback tour offered by Academy Riding Stables.
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Hiking Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Garden of the Gods
It's easy to see how this natural landmark earned such an ethereal title: These magnificent red rock formations look as though deities themselves could've carved them. However, the sandstone pillars are, in fact, the work of geological activity along a natural fault line, as well as rainfall over millennia. You can learn about the garden's formations at the visitor and nature center, which houses numerous informative displays and hosts daily nature presentations. You are welcome to explore the park on your own time (either on foot or by bike); the visitor and nature center also offers guided hikes, as well as bike, Jeep, trolley and Segway tours (prices vary by vehicle and tour length). Or, if you're looking for a more authentic "Wild West" experience, you can reserve your spot on a guided horseback tour offered by Academy Riding Stables.
... more

#3

#3 in Colorado Springs

Free
Let's get one thing straight: Manitou Springs is not a part of Colorado Springs, and residents here won't hesitate to remind you of that. Unlike its much larger neighbor, this small town in the Rocky Mountain foothills (about 6 miles northwest of central Colorado Springs) has rejected urbanization. Instead, Manitou Springs – now a National Historic District – remains a charming hippie-era haven filled with art galleries, funky boutiques and outdoor cafes.
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Neighborhood/Area Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Manitou Springs
Let's get one thing straight: Manitou Springs is not a part of Colorado Springs, and residents here won't hesitate to remind you of that. Unlike its much larger neighbor, this small town in the Rocky Mountain foothills (about 6 miles northwest of central Colorado Springs) has rejected urbanization. Instead, Manitou Springs – now a National Historic District – remains a charming hippie-era haven filled with art galleries, funky boutiques and outdoor cafes.
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#4

#4 in Colorado Springs

Free
This facility in Colorado Springs is the flagship training center of the U.S. Olympic team and the active headquarters of the U.S. Olympic Committee. The 35-acre complex houses two Olympic-size swimming pools, as well as practice facilities for a variety of competitive sports, including fencing, gymnastics, weightlifting and wrestling. In addition to the athletes who live and train here, the center welcomes roughly 130,000 visitors each year and offers 15 guided tours each day during the summer months. Start your trip to the U.S. Olympic Training Center at the Visitors Center, where you'll find detailed information about the complex. From there, you can make your way to the massive Hall of Fame, which honors some of the most spectacular athletes in U.S. Olympic history. In 2019, the city will open the U.S. Olympic Museum. Sitting on nearly 2 acres of land in the city's Southwest Downtown Urban Renewal District, the museum will boast interactive exhibit space, a theater, a gift shop, a cafe and a broadcast studio.
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Sightseeing Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
United States Olympic Training Center
This facility in Colorado Springs is the flagship training center of the U.S. Olympic team and the active headquarters of the U.S. Olympic Committee. The 35-acre complex houses two Olympic-size swimming pools, as well as practice facilities for a variety of competitive sports, including fencing, gymnastics, weightlifting and wrestling. In addition to the athletes who live and train here, the center welcomes roughly 130,000 visitors each year and offers 15 guided tours each day during the summer months. Start your trip to the U.S. Olympic Training Center at the Visitors Center, where you'll find detailed information about the complex. From there, you can make your way to the massive Hall of Fame, which honors some of the most spectacular athletes in U.S. Olympic history. In 2019, the city will open the U.S. Olympic Museum. Sitting on nearly 2 acres of land in the city's Southwest Downtown Urban Renewal District, the museum will boast interactive exhibit space, a theater, a gift shop, a cafe and a broadcast studio.
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#5

#5 in Colorado Springs

Free
If you're visiting Colorado Springs during the summer, consider spending a day at North Cheyenne Cañon Park, located about 6 miles southwest of town. This park comprises more than 1,600 acres at the bottom of a 1,000-foot-deep canyon; the park's differing altitudes can support a vast array of wildlife, including deer, mountain lions and black bears. In addition to miles of hiking trails, you'll also find part of the North Cheyenne Creek – a popular place to swim in the warmer months.
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Parks and Gardens Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
North Cheyenne Cañon Park
If you're visiting Colorado Springs during the summer, consider spending a day at North Cheyenne Cañon Park, located about 6 miles southwest of town. This park comprises more than 1,600 acres at the bottom of a 1,000-foot-deep canyon; the park's differing altitudes can support a vast array of wildlife, including deer, mountain lions and black bears. In addition to miles of hiking trails, you'll also find part of the North Cheyenne Creek – a popular place to swim in the warmer months.
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#6

#6 in Colorado Springs

Free
If you feel a need for speed, then plan a visit to the U.S. Air Force Academy. Not only is the academy a must for any lover of the movie "Top Gun" who'd like to see the impressive plane maneuvers first-hand, it's also a functioning educational institution for future pilots. Your first stop should be the Visitor Center, which offers a brief yet informative introduction to the academy and self-guided maps. From there, you're free to explore areas like the Cadet Chapel, the Honor Court and Falcon Stadium.
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Museums Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
United States Air Force Academy
If you feel a need for speed, then plan a visit to the U.S. Air Force Academy. Not only is the academy a must for any lover of the movie "Top Gun" who'd like to see the impressive plane maneuvers first-hand, it's also a functioning educational institution for future pilots. Your first stop should be the Visitor Center, which offers a brief yet informative introduction to the academy and self-guided maps. From there, you're free to explore areas like the Cadet Chapel, the Honor Court and Falcon Stadium.
... more

#8

#8 in Colorado Springs

Free
Sitting just west of the downtown area is Old Colorado City, the original capital of the Colorado Territory. Founded back in 1859, this area was once a hotbed of activity, overflowing with farmers, miners, ranchers and other settlers seeking a piece of their own Manifest Destiny. In 1917, Colorado City was annexed by a fast-growing new settlement: neighboring Colorado Springs. Although it is no longer its own town, the Old Colorado City Historic District maintains its 19th-century "Wild West" feel with a few modifications: the area's buildings now house locally owned art galleries, quaint shops and mom and pop restaurants.
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Sightseeing Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Old Colorado City
Sitting just west of the downtown area is Old Colorado City, the original capital of the Colorado Territory. Founded back in 1859, this area was once a hotbed of activity, overflowing with farmers, miners, ranchers and other settlers seeking a piece of their own Manifest Destiny. In 1917, Colorado City was annexed by a fast-growing new settlement: neighboring Colorado Springs. Although it is no longer its own town, the Old Colorado City Historic District maintains its 19th-century "Wild West" feel with a few modifications: the area's buildings now house locally owned art galleries, quaint shops and mom and pop restaurants.
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#9

#9 in Colorado Springs

Free
Arizona and Utah aren't the only states that boast rust-colored rocks – Colorado has them, too. And you don't have to stray too far from Colorado Springs to get a good look at them from a hiking or biking trail. Sitting about 4 miles northwest of downtown along Highway 24 (right before you reach Manitou Springs), Red Rock Canyon has contributed to the area's scenic landscape since 7000 B.C. In the 1800s, the desert landscape was used to refine the ore that came from the gold mines in nearby Cripple Creek. During the 20th century, Red Rock Canyon was owned by the Bock family, who had plans to transform the land into a vacation haven, complete with a resort hotel and a golf course. In 2003, the city of Colorado Springs purchased the land and used its striking red cliffs to punctuate miles of new hiking and biking trails.
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Hiking Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Red Rock Canyon
Arizona and Utah aren't the only states that boast rust-colored rocks – Colorado has them, too. And you don't have to stray too far from Colorado Springs to get a good look at them from a hiking or biking trail. Sitting about 4 miles northwest of downtown along Highway 24 (right before you reach Manitou Springs), Red Rock Canyon has contributed to the area's scenic landscape since 7000 B.C. In the 1800s, the desert landscape was used to refine the ore that came from the gold mines in nearby Cripple Creek. During the 20th century, Red Rock Canyon was owned by the Bock family, who had plans to transform the land into a vacation haven, complete with a resort hotel and a golf course. In 2003, the city of Colorado Springs purchased the land and used its striking red cliffs to punctuate miles of new hiking and biking trails.
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#11

#11 in Colorado Springs

Free
After you've toured the historic streets of Old Colorado City, consider making a stop at the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum. Housed in what was once the early 20th-century El Paso County Courthouse, this museum is filled with old photographs and artifacts that recount the city's story. Visitors can trace Colorado Springs' evolution from a mining town to a popular tourist destination.
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Museums Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum
After you've toured the historic streets of Old Colorado City, consider making a stop at the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum. Housed in what was once the early 20th-century El Paso County Courthouse, this museum is filled with old photographs and artifacts that recount the city's story. Visitors can trace Colorado Springs' evolution from a mining town to a popular tourist destination.
... more
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