Put on your most comfortable shoes, pack your sense of adventure, and let's explore some of the best things to do in Colorado Springs, Colorado, that won't cost you a penny!
Hike the Garden of the Gods Park
Every morning, I lace up my boots, grab my hat, and step out for my daily hike in the mystical Garden of the Gods Park.
Living next to this gem in Colorado Springs is like having a personal gateway to Mother Nature's artistry.
Each day, I am greeted by the majestically rugged red, pink, and white sandstone formations that tower against the backdrop of the azure sky.
Strolling through the well-paved trails, I encounter formations that seem alien yet familiar.
Each rock narrates its own tale, sculpted by time and elements over millions of years.
One moment, you are looking at the Sleeping Giant, the next, you are marveling at the Kissing Camels.
Garden of the Gods Park never ceases to amaze me.
Despite the park's serene ambiance, I have to be mindful of the Colorado sun.
It can get intense, especially during the summer.
Even for someone like me, who is used to the arid conditions and high altitude, a hat, sunscreen, and plenty of water are a must.
The best part about the park is that it's not just for us hiking enthusiasts.
The strategically planned scenic drive makes it accessible for everyone.
From the comfort of your vehicle, you can take in the breathtaking vistas and the grandeur of this geological wonder.
Go Trekking at the Seven Bridges Trail
Every time I lace up my hiking boots, I’m drawn to the untamed allure of Seven Bridges Trail.
This trail isn't just a pathway, it's a journey that traverses through forests, across bridges, and alongside a cascading mountain stream.
Here, morning hikes are a ritual, and the moderate hikes on sloping terrain are my therapeutic escape.
As my boots crunch along the trail, the meandering river is my constant companion, whispering tales as we navigate the undulating landscape.
Each of the seven bridges I cross is a milestone, each a checkpoint, rewarding me with a different perspective of nature’s grandeur.
The beauty of the trail isn't merely in its winding path but in the life that thrives within its heart.
I am welcomed by a throng of big, healthy trees, their towering presence providing a comforting shade.
The sight of stoic boulders, the symphony of the river’s flow, and the imposing mountainsides make each visit a grand spectacle.
There are hidden gems for those who crave a little bit of adventure - off-trail spots that are perfect for scrambling or climbing.
And if you ever feel like resting your feet, a picnic amid the boulders, with the river's symphony as your background, is an experience you wouldn't want to miss.
And as you ascend, be mindful of your footing and remember to extend courtesies to fellow hikers and their furry companions.
For those who brave the Seven Bridges Trail, especially during the colder months, always remember to wear sturdy hiking shoes with good traction, as the trail might ice over, being mostly shaded.
Always bring water, and snacks, and layer your clothing.
As you approach the end of the trail, you may not find a marker indicating that you have crossed all seven bridges.
But don't let that deter you. Instead, take it as an invitation for an epic adventure, much like your own Lord of the Rings saga.
And when you finally reach the end, take a moment to savor the breathtaking views - the commanding mountains, the valley beneath, and the sheer expanse of the wild, open spaces.
Take in the Views of Red Rock Canyon Open Space
I cannot count how many times I've been to Red Rock Canyon Open Space. It's my happy place when I need some fresh air and a taste of nature.
I enjoy starting my morning, at the break of dawn, with a refreshing walk along the marked trails.
The trails are clearly marked and vary in difficulty, which is perfect for an easy stroll or a more challenging hike.
I've walked the length and breadth of the preserve, discovering new scenic views each time.
If you're an early bird like me, the farthest left trail that you can reach after driving all the way is wide and perfect for easy walking.
It's a simple trail surrounded by beautiful scenery that you can relish while enjoying a morning jog or an evening walk.
Also, the loops offer an adventurous touch.
On my first visit, I was stunned by the beauty of the red-rock formations, a unique sight that is worth the trip itself.
I remember feeling the red clay dirt under my fingers, a natural exfoliate contributing to the unique landscape.
I find it therapeutic to clean up after my walks, respecting and preserving the natural beauty of the place.
As a seasoned hiker, I recommend Red Rock Canyon Open Space for its network of trails linking to other major trails.
One of these trails connects to the Section 16 trail, which can take you either uphill for a full circuit or downhill to the Bear Creek trails.
If you're up for a challenge, these trails offer hikes of medium difficulty spanning 2-4 miles.
The convenience of its location is another advantage.
Most parts of the Springs area are within a convenient distance, making it an ideal spot for both locals and tourists.
You'll be treated to beautiful views of the Garden of the Gods and scenic hills and mountains while enjoying your hike.
Red Rock Canyon Open Space offers great vertical rock climbing opportunities, provided you have the right experience and equipment.
Journey through History at Penrose Heritage Museum
Every time I pass by the Penrose Heritage Museum, a wave of nostalgia hits me.
It's like stepping into a different era, a world of vintage carriages, race cars, and Western artifacts.
The museum is an homage to the legacy of our town's generous philanthropist, Spencer Penrose.
One of the things that captivates me most is the remarkable collection of the Penrose family carriages.
Immaculately preserved, they range from luxurious full-sized conveyances to quaint carts designed for donkeys or llamas.
There's something mesmerizing about imagining these vintage vehicles bustling through the streets in the yesteryears.
To balance the tranquility of the carriage displays, the roar of the Pikes Peak Hill Climb race history makes my heart race.
This event has been a highlight of our community for over a century, barring the world war years.
The museum houses several cars and motorcycles that have partaken in this iconic race.
Video clips play alongside the exhibits, giving visitors an intimate glimpse into the event's past.
The stories of the daring racers and their thrilling escapades infuse life into the static display.
Even though the museum isn't large, it's easy to lose track of time exploring its treasures.
Topping it off, it's free to enter! Just a quick tip - remember to get a barcode sticker when you sign in to save $9 on parking.
As a racing lover, the Penrose Heritage Museum is like a 'pit stop' that I can't resist visiting.
Discover the City's History at Old Colorado City Historical Society & History Center
Well, it was another beautiful Colorado day and I just couldn't resist taking a leisurely stroll through the charming streets of Old Colorado City.
Though I've passed by many times, today was different. The Old Colorado City Historical Society & History Center caught my eye, and I decided to dive into our town's rich history.
There's no admission fee, something rare these days, but they do accept donations.
I think contributing a few dollars is a small price to pay for preserving our history. I stepped inside and was instantly transported back in time.
The air seemed to vibrate with the whispers of our city's past.
The friendly volunteers, who manage this museum, really know their stuff.
The exhibits were fascinating, detailing lesser-known facts and interesting anecdotes about our city.
One of my favorite stories was about railroad workers who used to slide down the Cog Railway on their bottoms to get home faster.
I’d heard this story from my granddad.
Apparently, it led to some interesting innovations and, unfortunately, a few injuries too.
The Old Colorado City Historical Society & History Center also host annual walking tours and historic home visits, something I’ll definitely join in next time.
And would you believe it, they even had a working .01 gumball machine.
I couldn’t resist trying it out. I also got to ring the church bell, and for a moment, I felt like I was part of the town's history.
Have Picnic by Helen Hunt Falls
There's nothing quite like the serene beauty of Helen Hunt Falls.
Nestled in Cheyenne Creek, this small waterfall embodies the tranquility that the outdoors of this region offers.
It's not the tallest or most thundering waterfall you'll ever see, but its charm lies in its simplicity.
Being regularly visited, parking isn't much of a hassle.
The falls are easily accessible from the parking lot, making it convenient for a quick stopover or a leisurely picnic.
In fact, it's one of my favorite spots to take a book and spend a quiet afternoon, surrounded by the calming sounds of the water and birds.
The real delight, however, is the hiking trail that extends beyond the falls. It's a great trailhead to the old railbed trail.
Every time I'm up for a little adventure, I take a hike up this trail.
It's not too strenuous, and the scenic views and cool mountain air always make the effort worthwhile.
The trail is generously adorned with a myriad of wildflowers, and the occasional sightings of wildlife add to the thrill of the journey.
Now, it's important to note that Helen Hunt Falls isn't just a local favorite.
It's a place that attracts tourists from all around. The falls are a perfect backdrop for a family photo or even a selfie if you're visiting solo.
Revel in the Rugged Splendor of North Cheyenne Cañon Park
Every time I wander through the deep granite cuts of North Cheyenne Cañon Park, it feels like stepping back into another era.
Perhaps it's the ancient rock formations echoing with history or the sight of the local wildlife going about their daily routines. Either way, it never gets old.
The trails here are excellent, always well maintained, even though some of the gravelly switchbacks can be prone to washouts.
I love having the freedom to choose my own adventure, whether I start near the visitor center, drive to the entrancing Helen Hunt Falls, or trek further up to the Seven Bridges Trailhead.
It's hard to believe that all of this is completely free to explore.
The most popular trail, leading to Helen Hunt Falls, is a favorite of mine.
My family, who can't manage hiking enjoy the scenic drive and always find the short stroll up to the bridge manageable.
But my personal go-to is a mile or two into Jack's Trail – the view from there is just sublime! I prefer hiking it during winter to avoid the mountain bikers, though.
Apart from the trails, what makes North Cheyenne Cañon Park truly special are the additional offerings.
The nature and visitor center is a must-visit before you set off on your hike.
They have information on new trails, some of which aren't even on AllTrails yet. There's always something new to discover here.
On a sunny day, the park buzzes with people lounging around the creek, making use of the picnic spots and immersing themselves in the beauty of nature.
Despite this, there are quieter corners to seek solitude if you wish.
Whether you're a seasoned hiker, a nature enthusiast, or simply looking for a free, fun day out in Colorado Springs, North Cheyenne Cañon Park is the place to be.
See Stunning Bikes at the Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum
There's no place that ignites my love for vintage two-wheelers quite like the Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum.
I still recall the first time I climbed the stairs to the second floor, my heart thumping with anticipation.
I was met with an astounding collection of over 75 bikes, some popular, some rare, but each one carefully restored to its original glory.
As I strolled through the hallways, the gleam of chrome and the smell of antiquity mingled with the stories hanging from the walls, transporting me back in time.
Each motorcycle came with its own tale to tell, turning my casual outing into a history lesson.
Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum also doubles up as a hall of fame, honoring the legends of the biker world.
It's awe-inspiring to be in such close proximity to the machines that these famous riders once roared across the roads.
What astonished me the most was the aura of the place.
Despite housing such a priceless collection, the museum maintains a welcoming vibe.
It’s free to enter, though they do accept donations for the upkeep of the bikes.
I've often forgotten to take photos, so absorbed by the sights and stories around me.
The museum isn’t the only attraction in the building.
Below, the 'Tejon Eatery' serves up a feast for your taste buds, offering a range of cuisines at surprisingly reasonable prices.
The staff are continuously attentive, ensuring all my needs are met.
Bond with Your Fido at Bear Creek Dog Park
There's nothing quite like spending a warm, sun-soaked day at the Bear Creek Dog Park with my four-legged friends.
This fenced-in, 10-acre park located in El Paso County is more than just a dog park - it's a fantastic place where both you and your canine companions can have an absolute ball.
The moment you step into the park, you'll notice the well-thought-out layout.
There's a separate area for smaller dogs, ensuring those little terriers or chihuahuas aren't overwhelmed by bigger breeds.
And for the larger canines, there's ample space to romp and roam to their heart's content.
Don't forget to take advantage of the off-leash hiking trail - it's a great way for both you and your furry friend to get some much-needed exercise.
Now, if your dog is anything like mine and loves water, you'll appreciate the clean, safe river access that Bear Creek Dog Park provides.
Watching my retriever splash around, and chase after floating sticks is one of the highlights of our visits.
The park also offers waste bags and water bowls, a thoughtful service that comes in handy, especially during those busy summer days when the park is bustling with energetic dogs and their owners.
One of my favorite features of this park, however, has to be the agility training course.
It's a fantastic way to keep my dogs mentally stimulated and physically fit.
Plus, it's a lot of fun to watch them navigate through the obstacles!
Explore History at the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum
Every time I step into the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum, I feel like I'm taking a step back in time.
The grand old courthouse building, where the museum is housed, is a piece of history itself.
Riding the ancient Otis birdcage elevator is a unique experience.
You'll feel the thrill of nostalgia as the rusty doors creak open and transport you to the second floor.
Walking through the exhibits is like flipping through the past's pages.
The "Old West" street exhibit is a particular highlight.
Whether you're an adult or a child, you can't resist looking at the buggies and peeking into the replicas of old business fronts.
Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum constantly surprises by its vast regional history and rotating exhibits, ranging from art to Native American culture.
The newer exhibit, which showcases a unique historical artifact for each of the 150 years that Colorado Springs has existed, is a feast for the eyes and the mind.
The artifacts have stories to tell, tales of how our lovely city has evolved and grown.
What's more, the experience is free! Although they do appreciate a donation, it's not mandatory.
The teen volunteers are a delightful bunch, always ready with a smile and extra tidbits of information.
Get Inspired by Local Talents at Cottonwood Center for the Arts
Delving into the vibrant world of art at the Cottonwood Center for the Arts has become one of my favorite pastimes.
This isn't just a place, it's a community of artists where creativity oozes from every corner, igniting inspiration and passion in me.
I remember the first time I walked through the doors.
I was simply curious, much like many other visitors.
But what I found inside was a treasure trove of artistic brilliance.
I found myself surrounded by all kinds of artwork, from pottery to paintings.
The mixed media art and the Native American art, in particular, caught my eye.
I was mesmerized by the colors, the forms, the stories that each piece was quietly whispering.
Being a part of the stained glass beginner class was an unforgettable experience.
The instructor was genuinely invested in each of us, guiding us through the techniques and providing support whenever needed.
And the best part? I got to take my artwork home, a beautiful memento of an enriching experience.
It was a journey that taught me not just how to create something beautiful but also how to appreciate the process of creation.
Another aspect that makes my visits to the Cottonwood Center for the Artsspecial is the camaraderie I share with the other artists.
Everyone is so friendly and outgoing, always ready to share their experiences and learnings.
It always feels like I'm part of a tribe, a unique bond that only art can create.
Have a Family Day at Palmer Park
When the hustle and bustle of city life gets to me, I find solace and rejuvenation within the tranquil confines of Palmer Park.
I frequently visit this 737-acre wildlife preserve, which is conveniently nestled on a mesa with a scenic overview of the city.
A typical day at Palmer Park starts at the playground.
I often spend a good part of the morning there, observing the innocent play of children on the swings and play areas.
The place has ample seating areas for parents and guardians and plenty of parking space, making it a truly family-friendly spot.
As an outdoor enthusiast, I love the park's maze of trails. I often find myself drawn to the tree-lined paths, where I can take a long, leisurely walk.
Even after a spell of rain, these trails remain walkable, though you might encounter a few muddy spots here and there.
It's not uncommon to cross paths with biking groups enjoying the trails as well.
What sets Palmer Park apart for me is its dog-friendly atmosphere.
Even though I don't own a dog, I can't help but share in the joy of the four-legged friends frolicking off-leash, making new friends, and simply having the time of their lives.
The park also offers a fenced-in dog park, where dogs can socialize under the watchful eyes of their humans.
For a more adventurous experience, I sometimes drive up to Lot 12 to climb the rocks.
The view from the top is simply breathtaking, as if you're in the heart of the wilderness, miles away from civilization.
Soak Up the Sun at Pulpit Rock Park
My childhood home was just a stone's throw away from a wonder known as Pulpit Rock Park.
It was an undiscovered gem for most of my youth, but exploring it in my adult years has been an absolute delight.
This massive open space, with its 500 acres of untamed land, offers both paved and unpaved trails, providing a beautiful blend of city and mountain views.
Exploring Colorado's landscapes has always been a favorite of mine, and rediscovering these treasures in my hometown felt like a pilgrimage back to my roots.
The park is a haven of winding trails, leading you past towering rock formations, through clusters of hardy scrub pines, and amidst a thriving sprawl of high grasses and bushes, basking under the mountain sunlight.
One of my favorite parts of the park is the rock formations, composed of a beautiful mix of mud and sandstones.
Situated in El Paso County, Colorado Springs, it offers a fairly easy hike.
The 4.2-mile trail takes you through grasslands and dense vegetation, leading you to the park's summit.
The view from there is simply breathtaking, and I recommend making this hike either early morning or in the evening to witness the color play of the sunrise or sunset.
One of my go-to endeavors when I'm there is taking the Pulpit Rock summit trail, a moderately strenuous hike that takes about 30 minutes from the parking lot to the top.
There, you'll find 180-degree panoramic views of Pikes Peak, the Garden of the Gods, and the surrounding mountain range.
I often string up my hammock on the west side of the cliff and soak in the sun for hours.
Be prepared, though, as it can get very windy up there.
The park also offers ample hammocking opportunities or you can simply lounge and soak in the views.
But remember, parking can be an issue during peak times. But don’t let that stop you from experiencing the awe-inspiring beauty of Pulpit Rock Park.
Discoverthe Magic of Starr Kempf's Kinetic Sculptures
Just a short stroll away from my home, tucked away in a peaceful neighborhood, is a sight that never fails to amaze me - Starr Kempf's Kinetic Sculptures.
These intricate pieces are a silent testimony to a man's brilliance, his overflowing talent, and his love for art.
Every time I walk past these sculptures, I take a moment to admire them.
The craftsmanship is nothing short of astounding.
It's as if talent flowed freely from Starr's fingertips, shaping metal into forms that seem to dance with the wind.
The rustling of the wind is like the sculptures' secret language, a language that only they can understand.
I often find myself standing there, just watching them, getting lost in their mechanical ballet.
One of the charms of living in this neighborhood is the opportunity to share Starr Kempf's Kinetic Sculptures with visitors.
I can't count the number of times I've recommended friends and family to drop by and see these marvels.
The delight on their faces as they snap pictures and marvel at the details is a sight to behold.
Starr might have left this world, but his legacy lives on in every metallic curve and swirl of his creations.
Go Camping at Cheyenne Mountain State Park
Being in the heart of Colorado, I can tell you we're blessed with great outdoor spaces, and Cheyenne Mountain State Park is one of them. I always find myself returning to its vast landscape.
It's not just a state park; it's a diverse arena of outdoor activities, including biking, hiking, and camping.
The campsites are an absolute steal for what they offer.
With clean showers and bathrooms just a brief walk away from the campground, they've made sure that convenience is at the forefront.
Talking about convenience, there's running water adjacent to each site – a small but significant detail that makes a world of difference during camping.
The hiking trails are hands down my favorite part of Cheyenne Mountain State Park.
There's a trail for every kind of hiker, from the novices to the seasoned pros.
Each trail offers a different view, a different challenge, and a different adventure.
The best part? All of them boast stunning views!
The park also has an array of picnic spots where you can sit back and soak in the scenic beauty.
From time to time, I find myself driving up to these spots with a basket packed with food and books.
Overlooking the city, these spots are perfect for watching the sunrise while sipping on a cup of hot coffee.
To top it all, there's a visitor's center where you can pick up mementos or souvenirs to remember your journey.
Get Active at Memorial Park
I've been living in Colorado Springs for so long that I've lost count of the sunny afternoons spent at Memorial Park.
The park is nothing short of a breath of fresh air, with its vast lakeside view that offers a multitude of activities, from swimming to boating.
It's a paradise for sports enthusiasts as well, boasting facilities for a variety of sports, including a unique velodrome and tennis courts.
What I love the most about Memorial Park is the walk around the lake.
It's a serene experience, and the path is dotted with bodyweight exercise stops, which adds a dash of fitness routine to my leisurely walks.
The open space is perfect for any sport you fancy, so it’s not unusual for me to have impromptu soccer games with friends there.
The park isn't just a sports and fitness hub, it's a family-friendly location, perfect for a day out with the kids.
The last time I took my children to the park, they spent more time near the water than at the playground.
The lakeside has been brimming, thanks to recent rains, attracting quite a few fishing enthusiasts.
The kids were thrilled to see a flock of mallards and a couple of pelicans, a pleasant surprise even for me.
The variety of bird species in the park made for an exciting bird-watching session for the little ones.
The playground itself is a hit with the kids. The equipment is kept in good shape and caters to children of all ages.
And if the kids do trip or fall, the ground is made of a soft, pliant material that cushions the impact.
There are also numerous picnic tables and benches around the playground, which come in handy for snack breaks or just to sit back and relax.
The lake walk also features workout stations, each with detailed instructions on how to use them.
The benches around the lake make for perfect rest spots, and the bench swings are my favorite spot to wind down and enjoy the view.
Have Fun Learning at Edward J. Peterson Air and Space Museum
In the heart of Colorado Springs lies an awe-inspiring sight. I find myself getting goosebumps every time I set foot inside the Edward J. Peterson Air and Space Museum.
The atmosphere is electrifying, and the docents there are absolutely wonderful, each one more knowledgeable and friendly than the last.
Whenever my schedule allows, I make sure to plan a visit at least three days ahead so I can gain access to this military base and dive headfirst into the world of aviation and space exploration.
The marvelous airplanes on display at Edward J. Peterson Air and Space Museum never fail to amaze me.
My absolute favorite is the one you can actually tour inside, it's a unique and unforgettable experience.
The visitor center, too, is a sight to behold.
It's not only the airplanes that are captivating but also the array of unique items that provide a fascinating insight into our history.
The weekends are my favorite time to visit, as I love seeing families with their kids, exploring, and learning together.
We learned so much more than we would have by just walking around and reading signs.
Apart from the exhibits, there's a wonderful gift shop that I usually end up spending too much time in.
They sell a variety of unique and interesting merchandise, and the staff members are always ready for a chat.
They're just as passionate about the museum and its exhibits as the docents, and their enthusiasm is infectious.
Other Things to Do Nearby
Ascend The Incline
I've never known mountainsides quite like the ones we have here in Colorado.
The Incline, in particular, is a part of my everyday landscape that never fails to amaze me.
I've been running this trail since my teens, and it's this steep mountain path that keeps me fit and fills my spirit with an adrenaline rush unlike any other.
Originally the site of a former railway, The Incline is now a popular trail for those brave enough to take on the challenge.
Don't let the panoramic city views deceive you - this trail isn't for the faint-hearted.
But once you reach the top, I promise you, the struggle is so worth it.
When you begin your journey at the base, you might underestimate the challenge ahead. But as you start to climb, you'll understand what I'm talking about.
The trail quickly gets steep, and those 2,744 steps are anything but easy.
Along the way, there are false summits that play tricks on your tired mind and body, making you believe you've reached the top... until you see there's more to climb.
But that's what The Incline is about - it's a challenge you willingly take on because of the reward it promises.
As I get higher and higher, the views of Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs begin to unfold.
The view from the top is something you'll want to pause for. It's a sight that makes you forget your burning muscles and the sweat trickling down your face.
I enjoy my moments alone at the top, catching my breath and looking around at the breathtaking view.
It's in these moments that I feel so small in this vast, beautiful world.
Then I make my way back down Barr Trail, with the satisfaction of having conquered The Incline once again.
Living in Colorado Springs is like being on a permanent vacation with an infinite number of possibilities for enjoyment without spending a dime.
From the awe-inspiring red rock formations at Garden of the Gods and Red Rock Canyon Open Space to the fascinating exhibits at the Penrose Heritage Museum or the Pioneers Museum, every day is an opportunity to learn something new and immerse yourself in the natural beauty that surrounds us.
Here, every adventure is a step closer to discovering the essence of this remarkable city and the spirit of those who call it home.