The Military Family’s Guide to Colorado Springs (part 1)
Note: I may earn money or products from the companies, products, or links mentioned in this post.
If you are a military family, there is a good chance you could be stationed in Colorado. There are many bases here in Colorado, the majority being in Colorado Springs. These bases include The Air Force Academy, Peterson Air Force Base, Schriever Air Force Base, Fort Carson, Buckley Air Force Base, and Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station (NORAD).
Our family PCS’d here a little over a year ago when my husband got accepted for a special assignment at The Air Force Academy. We see Colorado Springs as one of the most beautiful cities we’ve ever been to and while we have only been here a short time, we have come to love it as our home.
Since so many military families get stationed here or come through to visit, here is my guide for all the places you must see, things you must do. Enjoy your stay in Colorado Springs!
Colorado Springs: Places to See
1. Garden of the Gods
Hands down, this is the most beautiful place in Colorado Springs, and my absolute favorite! If there is only one thing you do in Colorado Springs, you must see Garden of the gods. There are paved places for walking around, hiking trails, horseback riding and more.
We have been several times, and we still have not seen everything. Each of the rock formations have their own name and the history you learn along the way is incredible. Even if you don’t have time to get out and hike, you can take a drive around the park and see everything from your car in about 5-10 minutes.
One of the many things I love about Garden of the gods is the rock climbing they offer. I am amazed at how professionals climb these rock formations and it’s hard not to watch as there are people rock climbing almost everytime we go.
Before you leave, be sure to check out the Garden of the gods gift shop! Voted “Best in Colorado Springs,” you will want to go back over and over to eat in the cafe and look at all the books, pottery, jewelry, and more!
2. Pikes Peak
“Pikes Peak is the highest summit of the southern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains of North America. The summit is higher than any point in the United States east of its longitude. In July 1893, Katharine Lee Bates wrote the song ‘America the Beautiful’, after having admired the view from the top of Pikes Peak. A plaque commemorating the words to the song was placed at the summit.” – Wikipedia
When we first arrived in Colorado Springs, I couldn’t imagine people being able to drive here. All I wanted to do is stare at the beautiful mountains and take pictures. Even now, after a year, I still love to look at Pikes Peak and take pictures of it.
The peak can be seen pretty much anywhere in the Springs and while over 14,000 feet in elevation is still one of the most popular attractions here. There are many hiking trails, but it takes hours to get to the top. There are also many roads leading up, many of which can be dangerous due to the steepness.
While my family has not been to the top of Pikes Peak yet, it’s on our to-do list. When we do, we plan on taking the Pikes Peak Cog Railway up as this helps people acclimate to the elevation more slowly. Below is a photo of the top of Pikes Peak and the train. The photo was used with permission and taken by Whitney Cornelison of beautyinthemess.com.
3. Seven Falls
This is another place that is on our list to see. I hear it’s absolutely beautiful and my goal is to one day see their winter light show where they light up the waterfalls.
4. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is a zoo that is up on the side of a mountain. The view alone is enough reason to visit, but the animals and setup of the zoo make it a must-see for the whole family! While there, be sure to ride the carousel, feed the giraffes, and ask about their military discount.
5. Will Rogers Shrine
If you go to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo be sure to check out the Will Rogers Shrine which is included in your zoo admission.
“This historic monument is only 1.4 miles from the Zoo entrance. Built by Spencer Penrose between 1934 and 1937, it stands dedicated to Will Rogers who died in a plane crash in 1935. The elevation of the shrine is 8,136 feet on the top deck and provides breathtaking views of Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak Region.”
6. The Air Force Academy Chapel
One of the most beautiful pieces of structure and history in Colorado Springs is the Air Force Academy chapel. It is named as a National Historic Landmark and many people travel to see it. Inside, there several different chapels for different faiths. The organ in the main part of the chapel is one of the largest I have ever seen and is absolutely breathtaking.
When you enter the chapel, it’s almost instantly a peaceful feeling. The hushed tones of those visiting and the beauty inside make it a great place to sit and pray. The rows of reserved seating for prisoners of war and those missing in action are a beautiful and humbling thing to see.
7. Red Rock Canyon
We have not been out to see Red Rock Canyon yet, but I hear it is almost as beautiful as Garden of the gods!
8. Cave of the Winds
Another place that’s on our to-do list is Cave of the Winds. We hear these caves are beautiful and there are many different things to see there including a summertime Laser Light Show!
9. Historic Old Colorado City
Founded in 1859, during the gold rush, Old Colorado City is quite the piece of history! Now, it offers a wide variety of shopping and dining options with over 100 stores, restaurants, and attractions. We’ve enjoyed strolling down the streets, wandering in and out of the shops there, and finding new places to eat!
10. Manitou Springs
Okay so this is not technically in Colorado Springs, but it’s in the same area so it might as well be!
“Manitou Springs has been the quintessential tourist town since the 1870s, when visitors discovered the healing waters the Ute Indians had been drinking for years. Many of the town’s mineral springs still function today and the water is free.” – Wikipedia
Like Old Colorado City, Manitou Springs has much to do. There are many shops, many places to stop and read about the history, and many places to eat. Even if you don’t get out, the drive through town is worth the look.
11. The Manitou Incline
The Manitou Incline is a popular hiking trail rising above Manitou Springs that gains over 2,000 feet of elevation in less than a mile. We haven’t tried this out yet because I hear it can be pretty dangerous if you’re not in shape, but I’d love to be able to say I did this someday.
“It’s not for the faint of heart, but people from all walks of life have given it a go. It is, perhaps, the most unique and challenging trail in the country, attracting runners, Olympic athletes and cyclists from around the world. The trail is also used by military personnel and even soccer moms. More than anything, the Manitou Incline is famous for dishing out a tough workout.” – visitcos.com
14. Glen Eyrie Castle
Glen Eyrie is an English Tudor-style castle built in 1903. We have not been yet, but I am so excited to see this castle after hearing so many great things about it! They have many events there including English and Victorian teas, banquets, retreats, conferences, and more. You can also stay overnight in one of the castle’s several guest rooms. Sure to be a treat for any family, so be ready to be treated like royalty!
15. North Pole: Santa’s Workshop
A Christmas-themed amusement park that’s open most of the year. We went here last year with my son and we had a lot of fun. You can even see Santa and get your picture taken with him! A great place to take the whole family if you’re in town.
16. U.S. Olympic Training Center
The Olympic Training Center is home to athletes and coaches while they train for the Olympic Games. The center offers year-round tours and I hear it’s an amazing place to visit. We hope to go there soon!
17. Focus on the Family
The Focus on the Family Welcome Center is one of the many places people choose to visit. It has had more than three million guests walk through its doors since it opened in 1994. The center lives up to its name as a wonderful place for family with attractions such as a three-story slide, Soda Shoppe and Coffee Bar, and the Discovery Emporium which is complete with a puppet stage, reading area, KYDS’ Radio Studio, two birthday party rooms, an indoor playground area for toddlers and a Narnia Adventure Room.
Access to everything listed is free, and we have been there several times to hang out, play, and attend events. They also have a large bookstore that holds many wonderful books, gifts, and more! I have spent a lot of time there wandering around and just relaxing in the peaceful atmosphere.
Colorado Springs: Climate & Seasons
When we were first researching about moving here, we were told that the climate can be hard to get used to. You have to drink a lot of water and since the climate is dry here, you really have to take care of your body, hair, and skin. I recommend products like Sauve‘s Hydrating Rush for men, the Hydrating Line from Simple Skin Care, Dove‘s Cream Oil Shea Butter Body Lotion, or Vaseline‘s Lip Therapy line to help combat dryness.
With such a dry climate here, weather can be tough. Winters are beautiful, and the snow here melts very fast. Spring can be warm or cool depending on the year, we had a bit of both this year with temperatures rising to 70 and then having snow again in May!
During the fall, the temperatures are mainly in the 70’s and rarely go above 85. Depending on how dry the summer is, there are many areas around here that are prone to fire. If you look for a house in the springs, be sure to research and find areas that are not prone to fires.
Despite the dryness, the weather here is beautiful. Colorado is also known for the many rainbows that appear during and after rainstorms. Many times double rainbows can be seen throughout Colorado Springs, and many people will stop to take pictures even after seeing so many.
If I had to guess, I would say Colorado is one of the most beautiful states in the country. If you are a military family who gets stationed here or you just plan on visiting on your way through to somewhere else, be sure to stop in and stay a bit. You may just never want to leave!
What about YOU? Have you ever been to Colorado? Have you seen any of the places or tourist attractions mentioned above? What did you think?
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of MSB New Media & Unilever. The opinions and text are all mine.
I did a work project at Schriever a few years back and loved Colorado Springs. Garden of the Gods was uh-mazing!