I realize some of the appeal to military life is the experience of a new station, but Colorado Springs is a particularly hard station to leave. If you’re familiar with ‘the Springs,’ you, too, know its uniqueness. After spending more than 35 years there, I am aware of its many treasures, and now that I don’t live there, I miss them terribly!
Here, find a list of some of my absolute favorite parts about Colorado Springs:
The Great Outdoors
With an average high of 62 and an average low of 35, Colorado Springs has a lovely temperature the majority of the time. It does get cold, but it doesn’t linger long, and if it’s too frigid, just pile on adorable scarfs, winter coats and boots. In a warmer climate, naked isn’t an option I’m apt to embrace! I find that I dress warm in the hottest of climates attempting to trick the weather into its proper season.
For a hike, not for the faint of heart, check out the Manitou Incline, but don’t hesitate to take the bail out loop. You’ll still log 2.2 miles at 1100 vertical feet, which, let’s be honest, is a pretty great workout. Reward yourself with an infamous margarita at The Loop (do get nice and hydrated prior though, those altitude headaches can be beastly). Side note: The Loop has the best spicy green chili stew served with warm tortillas. Spicy!!!
If you take the time to make the trek up the mountain, Woodland Park is the place to go. It’s a short scenic drive to The Donut Mill for some homemade monstrous doughnuts and award-winning biscuits and gravy.
Colorado Springs is also known for its many days of sunshine. There is so much you can do outside to stay active and healthy- hiking, biking; even the tourist attractions quite literally (thank you elevation 6,035′) take your breath away, as does the scenery. You can’t really beat the backdrop of Pikes Peak, which also will serve as your directional guide. Check out the tourist attractions link for many of the local favorites!
About those Tourist Attractions – Did you know Colorado Springs has the only zoo in America that sits on the side of a mountain? Be sure to wear your walking shoes! When your children are small, the zoo membership is very cost effective. Avoid the crowds by going mid-day in the fall, just be sure to take a hoodie. October also is a great time to see the animals and catch Boo at the Zoo!
The Holidays are full of many fairs and events. The annual Holiday Food & Gift Festival is coming soon and offers a military discount. It’s better if you are a people person for this event as the crowds can be quite large.
For more Christmas fun, take a trip to the Broadmoor Hotel. The site itself is sheer elegance with snuggly indoor and outdoor fires. Take a walk by the lake where glimpses of cascading lights offer a beautiful winter- wonderland reflection. It’s simply breathtaking!
Every year, the hotel has charming concoctions to feast your eyes on, from gingerbread house competitions crafted by their exquisite chefs to a life-size gingerbread house! All activities mentioned above do not require a night’s stay, but one look through the corridors and you’ll want to find a way to make a reservation.
Royal Crest Dairy
One Word: Royal Crest Dairy. OK, three words. I remember enjoying its milk as a child but it never seemed as epic to me as it has as an adult (ironically, I am now a patron)! When I first saw my hubs chatting it up with the sales gal, I quickly did the internal headshake. You know, the newly married, “What are you doing, we can’t afford that” headshake. He announced he’d signed us up. “You what”? But I think it was one of the best things about grocery shopping. It decreased my frequency to the market since all the basics can be delivered weekly (bread, milk, eggs, butter, etc.). Royal Crest ALWAYS delivers, no matter the weather. And let’s be honest, on those cold snowy days, who doesn’t want the basics delivered? The products are fresh, delicious and far better than anything you will get at the nearby grocery store. And did I mention coupons? So. Many. Coupons.
Coffee Houses, Breweries, Wineries, Oh My!
COS has some of the best places to chill while enjoying your beverage of choice. If you are anything like me, you can spend hours enjoying a charming coffee house and COS has many to offer. Kawa coffee holds a special place in my heart. It serves the most mouthwatering build a salad (get it with pesto) and breakfast burrito (get it with avocado). Its lattes are carefully crafted tasty expressions of art in a cup. Mmmm I long for this place more than any other cafe in the Springs.
There are so many lovely places to enjoy a glass of wine or the latest local brew, but these are some of my personal favs for food and drink: Alchemy, Makenzie’s happy hour, Margarita at Pine Creek, Hacienda Colorado with its infamous Sangria Margarita, Phantom Canyon Brewing Company, Wines of Colorado for some creek-side dining, and The Sweet Elephant where you can paint and dine (call to schedule).
If money can’t buy happiness, pizza can! But seriously, COS has some of the best pizza joints for kids. Who am I kidding? It’s for me and it’s not just about the pizza. COS has found many ways to keep the littles engaged while dining. Fargo’s pizza will be a family favorite with its player piano,Victorian architecture, and playroom. Just don’t go into it expecting traditional pizza. It happens to have one of the best salad bars in town, second to Leon Gessi’s. If you head to Lean Gessie’s, stop by BJ’s Velvet Freeze (home of my first job) for a Boston Shake. Enjoy those many delicious calories, and meet my dear friend and owner, Corey Houger. He’s taken over dad’s business and has done an excellent job. We visit every time we are in town.
There is a huge Military Presence in COS: Fort Carson, Peterson AFB, Air Force Academy, Schriever. Keep your eyes peeled for the Fly Over event as part of the Air Force Academy graduation in the Spring/Summer. Grab a seat or park a car anywhere north on Voyager and enjoy the show!
And Don’t Miss …
Be sure to make a stop for the kids at the Penny Arcade or Santa’s Workshop where it’s currently Military Appreciation Month! You’ll enjoy a discounted rate of $9.00 per person. It’s such a fantastic deal and the kids can even get their photograph with Santa (which you can take on your mobile device).
Inevitably someone like me, who LOVES COS will read this and think, but she missed Fill-in-the-Blank…