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Why Colorado Springs is an Adventurous Family's Dream Vacation

Take the kids on an unforgettable journey past inspiring mountains, striking red rocks and more.

U.S. News & World Report

Why Colorado Springs is an Adventurous Family's Dream Vacation

Long perspective view down the side of Pike Peak and Manitou Springs Cog Train. Overlooking Pike Nation Forest outside of Colorado Springs, Colorado

Whether you and the kiddos want to get your blood pumping on a rigorous hike or explore an ancient cave, Colorado Springs offers plenty of outdoor splendors to pique all family members' interests.(Getty Images)

If you're looking for a family-friendly destination that is not just warm, but filled with opportunities to stay active and seek out adventure, consider Colorado Springs. There's a reason why Olympic athletes train in this city, which is often touted as one of the healthiest U.S. cities. With mild temperatures year-round and low humidity (even in winter, snow doesn't stick around long), plus more than 300 days of sunshine, Colorado Springs beckons visitors to embrace the great outdoors. Set amid majestic mountains, and conveniently located within driving distance of Denver International Airport, Colorado's second largest city has more than 55 major attractions for families to explore. Here are a few standout spots not to miss on your Colorado Springs adventure, along with enticing reasons to plan a trip.

Pikes Peak

Towering over Colorado City, Pikes Peak is one of Colorado's fourteeners, or peaks that reach more than 14,000 feet. Nicknamed America's mountain, as it was the inspiration for the song "America the Beautiful," this purple mountain majesty is a bucket list item for many Americans. You can reach the 14,000-foot summit via the highest and oldest cog railway in the world dating to 1891 as you climb nearly 9 miles through forests and past waterfalls across five states. The elevation may make you feel a bit dizzy and short of breath, so take it easy. At the top of the mountain, make sure you race to the line for homemade doughnuts, as you have limited time to spend at the summit. You can also drive a winding, hair-raising highway up the mountain or even try to hike to the top. The nearby Manitou Incline, originally built for cable cars to carry materials up Pikes Peak, dares extreme athletes to make the one-mile trek up 2,000 vertical feet. Rumor has it you'll be alongside Olympic athletes anytime you attempt this incredible climb.

Garden of the Gods

Close to Pikes Peak in the Manitou Springs area, Garden of the Gods is a 1,300-acre National Natural Landmark of dramatic red rocks that stand sharply in contrast against the surrounding mountains and bright blue Colorado sky. Wander among these monoliths of sandstone, watching rock climbers make their way up and marveling at their size and varying formations. Best of all for frugal families, this park is entirely free of charge and offers both longer and shorter trails to tackle, depending on the ages of kids in tow; alternatively, you can opt for a jeep or Segway tour. Kids can see if they can spot the shapes that give each rock their nickname, such as Kissing Camels and Sleeping Giant.

Cave of the Winds

Not only can you explore a 500-million-year-old cave at a more than 6,000-foot-high elevation at Cave of the Winds Mountain Park, you can get in a thrill, too. Step inside the ancient cave discovered by two adventurous boys in the late 1800s on the 45-minute Discovery Tour. The tour offers an overview that is not too long or scary for young children, squeezing past tight formations and viewing plenty of stalactites and stalagmites along the way. Afterward, head outdoors for fantastic views over a vast gorge, trying the Ropes Course, which dangles over the edge or soaring along over the canyon in the Bat-a-Pult, a seated ride similar to a zip line that's perfect for a parent and child to ride together.

The Broadmoor Seven Falls

Get in some hiking in Colorado Springs at one of many area parks and trails, or check out the newly opened Broadmoor Seven Falls, a series of seven cascading waterfalls in a box canyon located just 1 mile from The Broadmoor Resort. Climb 224 steps to the top where you can explore even more trails or just soak in the views of the falls from on high. There's also a zip line over the falls with rope bridges and rappelling and a restaurant.

Where to Stay

Active families can keep their adrenaline pumping at Cheyenne Mountain Resort, which offers plenty of on-site recreation opportunities and picturesque views of Cheyenne Mountain. The resort has a private 35-acre lake with kayaking and boating, indoor and outdoor tennis and pickleball (a hybrid of pingpong and tennis). Plus, the resort features an 18-hole Pete Dye designed golf course at the base of the mountain, a variety of pools, including an Olympic-size pool and a water area for kids. Meanwhile, parents can work out at the full-size fitness center and take advantage complimentary child care or dart into the on-site spa for some relaxation. The resort is designed to optimize the outdoor views with ample outdoor seating for relaxing, dining and working.

A unique accommodation close to Garden of the Gods is Glen Eyrie Castle, the original English Tudor-style 800-acre estate of General William Jackson Palmer, who founded Colorado Springs. Dating back to the 1800s, the castle offers 17 rooms, a beautiful outdoor terrace, frequent herds of bighorn sheep, wild turkey and deer grazing, a bookstore in the former carriage house and elegant decor. There are also lodges throughout the property to house larger families.

Whether you choose to visit Pikes Peak or simply enjoy a meandering hike in the gorgeous weather, there's no shortage of adventure to be had in Colorado Springs.

About En Route

Practical advice on the art of traveling smarter with tips, tricks and intel from En Route's panel of experts.

Contributors have experience in areas ranging from family travel, adventure travel, experiential travel and budget travel to hotels, cruises and travel rewards and include Amy Whitley, Claire Volkman, Holly Johnson, Marsha Dubrow, Lyn Mettler, Sery Kim, Kyle McCarthy, Erica Lamberg, Jess Moss, Sheryl Nance-Nash, Sherry Laskin, Katie Jackson, Erin Gifford, Roger Sands, Steve Larese, Gwen Pratesi, Erin Block, Dave Parfitt, Kacey Mya, Kimberly Wilson, Susan Portnoy, Donna Tabbert Long and Kitty Bean Yancey.

Edited by Liz Weiss.

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