Under Colorado’s bluebird skies, families feel a little closer, kids’ smiles are bigger, and memories shine brighter. For adventure-seeking families, Colorado Springs and the surrounding communities, including the art-centric Manitou Springs and historic Cripple Creek, offer a crowd-pleasing playground for all ages. With a plethora of kid-approved activities and plenty to keep grownups entertained alike--from interactive museums to golf courses and whiskey distilleries--you’ll balance the fun for all.
Itinerary / 6 DAYSPLAN YOUR TRIP
DAY 1Colorado Springs
On your first morning, get the day started with breakfast at a local favorite, Denver Biscuit Company, then take your vacation experience to the next level with a scenic ride on the Pikes Peak Cogway that climbs to 14,115 feet where you can explore the Summit Visitor Center, the most sustainable high-altitude structure in the country, and savor one of the famous donuts made on premises along with 360-degree views, interpretive exhibits on the history of the mountain, as well as a revamped gift shop.
For lunch head to CO.A.T.I. food hall for a wide array of street food-style vendors, serving up everything from soulful seafood to Korean eats. Once fueled, see one of the most-photographed views in the area at the Garden of the Gods. This 1,367-acre National Natural Landmark has 300-foot sandstone rock formations, a mountain forest, and colorful wildlife, all providing a feast for the senses. You’ll enjoy a cultural feast at the Flying W Ranch Chuckwagon Dinner and Show this evening. You’ll get caught up in three-part harmonies of the open range with an authentic Old West experience that combines a Chuckwagon spread of smoked meats and all the fixings and a stage show starring the Flying W Wranglers, the world’s second-longest-running Western performance band.
DAY 2Sports Glory and Local Gems
From there, walk across the bridge to America the Beautiful Park. Joining the Pikes Peak Greenway Trail, it’s a community space honoring the natural beauty of the city—which is also known as Olympic City, USA—with mountains in the backdrop and a four-story sculptural fountain in the shape of a ring.
Next, take a lunch break and enjoy the community atmosphere at the food hall Ivywild Kitchen. Located in a former elementary school, it’s a gathering space for food and culture. Grab a meal and take it out to the patio of Axe and the Oak distillery (one of Colorado Springs’ first whiskey distilleries) to soak up the fresh air and bright mountain sun.
Take the rest of the afternoon to play golf with the kids at The Broadmoor and enjoy its sweeping views. Or browse local shops or visit another museum like the community-built Pikes Peak Children’s Museum. When the day winds down, have dinner at Rasta Pasta for Caribbean-meets-Italian fare.
DAY 3Manitou Springs
Visit the Cave of the Winds Mountain Park, where you’ll find cave tours, spectacular scenery, rides, and attractions ranging “from mild to wild.” Get an adrenaline rush on a zip line, challenge course, and more. For outdoor climbing fun, the Via Ferrata features vertical canyon walls, dual zip lines, and amazing views. Explore the awe-inspiring architecture of the ancient Anasazi at the Manitou Cliff Dwellings for thrills of a different kind, the fascinating history of ancestral Puebloan homes, seen in preserved cliff-dwellings that you can also walk through, replicas, and exhibits.
On the way out of town, have a picnic at Red Rock Canyon Open Space, known for its sculpted canyons and ridges. And end your day in Green Mountain Falls by checking into The Little Beaver Inn, a hotel that pairs contemporary design with creature comforts, a rustic vibe, artistic touches, and a location that neighbors Pike National Forest in a picturesque valley.
DAY 4Cripple Creek and Victor
Stop by Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument to check out fossils from an ancient ecosystem, including some of the world’s largest petrified redwood tree stumps and detailed insect and leaf fossils etched in stone, dating back 34 million years.
Dig deeper into the more recent past at Cripple Creek and descend 1,000 feet underground on the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine Tour, one mile north of town. Continue to neighboring Victor, a well-preserved mining town five miles down the road and situated at nearly 10,000 feet on the southwest slope of Pikes Peak. Here, you won’t get stuck in traffic or a stoplight because there aren’t any. See structures dating back to the 1890s and visit the Victor’s Gold Camp AG & Mining Museum to see antique farm implements and vintage equipment.
Ease into the evening with a drive that’s among the most scenic and historic in Colorado along Phantom Canyon Road. On arrival in Cañon City, check into Royal Gorge Cabins at Echo Canyon, a collection of vacation cabins and glamping for letting the outdoors in. After an action-packed day, grab dinner at 8 Mile Bar & Grille, a local favorite in Cañon City.
DAY 5Royal Gorge
Keep the momentum going and explore Royal Gorge Bridge & Park, home of the highest suspension bridge (it hangs 956 feet above the Arkansas River) and zipline in the U.S. You’ll also find gondola rides, a Via Ferrata (a guided climbing experience) and what some have called the world’s scariest skycoaster. For something more lowkey, visit the Royal Gorge Dino Experience. And follow it on a high note with a cruise on Skyline Drive, a 2.6-mile scenic route on the top of a razorback ridge.
DAY 6Return to Colorado Springs
Head back to Colorado Springs to visit Cheyenne Mountain Zoo to spot hippos, giraffes, penguins, otters, and elephants—and go “way beyond watching” through interactive experiences including giraffe feeding, rhino and elephant snack time, and goat and grizzly bear encounters. Then have lunch at Birdcall in Colorado Springs, famous for its all-natural, crispy chicken sandwiches.