Downtown Colorado Springs skyline on a clear day

Downtown Colorado Springs on a clear day. (Photo: Getty Images)

Weekend Getaways

A Relaxing Long Weekend in Colorado Springs: Wellness, Outdoor Adventure and More

Colorado Springs is home to incredible (and accessible!) hiking trails, tons of opportunities to commune with nature, a culture of wellness and some pretty sensational breweries.

Often overlooked by the capital city of Denver, this scenic town, just 12 miles from Pikes Peak, is a still under-the-radar travel destination. But that won’t last. Throw in a vibrant arts community and an unexpectedly world-class dining scene and “the Springs,” as it’s called, is attracting the attention it deserves.

As always, check for travel restrictions and closures before planning your trip.

Friday: Soak Up Some Culture, Colorado-Style

Start your day with a cup of coffee at Story Coffee Company or Loyal Coffee and do some shopping on Tejon Street (be sure to check out the locally-made goodies at Eclectic Co.). Or pay a visit to Ivywild School, an elementary school originally built in 1916 that has since been transformed into a community center with a brewery, a whiskey distillery, gardens, a space for live music, a bakery and a restaurant.

Another favorite multi-purpose gathering place is the Carter Payne Chapel. In 1897, it was built as an African Methodist Episcopal Church. Eventually, the congregation outgrew the space and built a new church outside of town. In the time since, a brewery, wine bar, cocktail lounge and an eatery have moved in, all sharing the footprint.

Other downtown points of interest include the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, which features rotating and permanent exhibits, the Ent Center for the Arts and the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum.

Downtown was named one of the 26 Certified Colorado Creative Districts, so if you’re there on the first Friday of the month, you can participate in the First Friday Art Walk, dropping in to participating galleries — with standouts including Art111 Gallery and All In Good Spirits Art Gallery (don’t worry, they are also open most other days, too).

Person holding slice of wood fired pizza
Dine on delectable pizza. (Photo: Getty Images)

For dinner, there are too many fabulous options to choose from. A few local favorites: Four by Brother Luck, Odyssey Gastropub, The Rabbit Holeand Bambino’s Urban Pizza. Wrap the night with drinks at the Shame & Regret speakeasy or at a brewery (Pikes Peak Brewing Company and Mash Mechanix are great options).

Saturday: Explore the Great Outdoors (and Then Some)

People walking through Garden of the Gods
Take in the incredible rock formations. (Photo: Getty Images)

You might not notice Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center, if not for the line of cars trying to get in. Tucked just off a main thoroughfare on the west side of the city, this park is one of the busiest attractions in Colorado Springs.

If you want to beat the crowds, plan on getting there early. The National Natural Landmark features sandstone rock formations (some over 300 feet tall). There are oodles of ways to explore the park, including scenic drives, Segways and hiking.

If you’re feeling spry, a popular hike nearby is the Manitou Incline. Word of warning: it’s not for the faint of heart — or those who haven’t yet acclimated to the high elevation of Colorado Springs. For a more leisurely hike, the Red Rocks Open Space is a short drive away.

Next, it’s time to ward off muscle soreness. Schedule a session at the Manitou Springs SunWater Spa and spend a few hours getting pampered with one (or more!) of the various massage treatments and facials on the menu.

Continue to unwind at Winery at Pike Peak, Cerberus Brewing Company, Colorado Mountain Brewing or any of the other popular drinking establishments in the area. For dinner, you won’t regret getting a table at Swirl, Sahara Cafe, Savelli’s or Adam’s Mountain Cafe.

Sunday: Meet the Icons

Going to Colorado Springs and not visiting Pikes Peak would be like going to Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower. It’s the city’s most well-known landmark. And at 14,115 feet, it’s hard to miss.

You have a handful of options for getting atop it. If you’re daring and don’t mind a leg- and lung-burning workout, you can hike (trail options include Barr Trail, Crags Trail and Devil’s Playground and generally take a full day or longer).

You can drive (or bike up) the Pikes Peak Highway. Just be sure to drive carefully: the 19-mile road has 156 twists and turns. If you’d rather put the wheel in more practiced hands, check out tour operators Adventures Out West and Pikes Peak Tour by Gray Line.

Finally, you can buy a ticket for The Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway. The cherry-red locomotive reopened in 2021 with new trains, tracks and a revamped depot.

Whichever path you choose, be sure to keep an eye out for marmots, migratory birds, sparkling lakes and, if you can, try to count the seven biomes you pass through en route. At the Summit Visitors Center you can enjoy sweeping views of Colorado Springs and beyond, read about the mountain’s storied history in a small museum and try the sugar-coated donuts in the dining area.

Afterward, spend the afternoon noodling around Manitou Springs or Old City Colorado, both home to charming boutiques, world-class restaurants and breweries to keep you busy. If you haven’t had your fill of natural sights, you can hike the Seven Falls trail, visit the Manitou Cliff Dwellings or golf at the Broadmoor.

Friends doing a cheers with white wine
Cheers to a great trip! (Photo: Getty Images)

Once you’re ready for dinner, you’ve got more than a few options. Treat yourself to authentic Italian food at either Paravicini’s Italian Bistro or Pizzeria Rustica, both along West Colorado Avenue, then toast a weekend well spent at the nearby Upstairs Wine Bar or Trails End Taproom.