Manitou Springs#3 in Best Things To Do in Colorado Springs
- 4.5Food Scene
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.
Consider spending at least two hours wandering around town or stretching your legs along the nearby hiking trails. Recent visitors also insisted that you stop by the Manitou Springs Penny Arcade (also known as Arcade Amusements, Inc.). Located in the heart of town, this arcade has roughly 400 old-fashioned gaming machines – all still priced by the penny as they originally were. Recent visitors said that this is a great place for a trip down memory lane, and one that young kids will enjoy as well.
Manitou Springs is located on Highway 24; many visitors pass through on their way to Pikes Peak. But travelers say that spending a few hours exploring this unique mountain town is a must. For more information on what to see and do here, check out the Manitou Springs website.
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#1 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.
Because there is no admission fee if you are exploring the Garden of the Gods on your own; previous visitors recommended returning to the park throughout your time in Colorado Springs to see the rocks at different times of day. They also offered high praise for the knowledgeable staff at the visitor and nature center. Others were pleased to find out that many of the trails are paved – meaning those using strollers and wheelchairs can still access the park. If you don't want to deal with the landmark's heavy crowds, plan to arrive before 10 a.m. on a weekday.
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