Garden of the Gods & Zoo in Colorado Springs

Visiting Colorado Springs – Best Things To Do + Where to Stay & Eat!

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There are SO MANY things to do when visiting Colorado Springs! It’s a beautiful place to visit the front range of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. There is something to do for everyone at any time of year. We hope this post convinces you that you should also take a trip here. Watch the video below and then keep reading to learn more about the must-see places for visiting Colorado Springs, Colorado!

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About Colorado Springs, Colorado

Colorado Springs is the second most populated city in Colorado. It is located on the front range of the Rocky Mountains in El Paso County. It is about an hour and a half south of Denver. The city in located at an elevation of 6,035 feet (1,839 m) above sea level, making it higher than the mile high city of Denver.

When To Visit Colorado Springs

Visiting Colorado Springs can be done year round. In the spring and fall you’ll experience milder temperatures, but you can visit anytime. In the fall you can also experience the stunning golden leaves of aspen trees. This is one of our personal favorite things about the area during that time of year. While summer can be busier and hotter, the higher elevation does help some. In the winter, you can enjoy many winter activities as well as snow! Perhaps a bit surprisingly to out of state visitors, unless you’re in the high country the snow down in the city doesn’t tend to stick around too long and here and there throughout the winter you’ll still have some very pleasantly mild days!

How To Get To Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs has its own airport so you can fly directly there. Or fly into the Denver International Airport, rent a care, and drive down about an hour and a half. You could see both cities this way! Public transportation from Denver to Colorado Springs via bus is also possible.

In fact, it’s possible to make just a day trip down from the Denver area when visiting Colorado Springs. This is what we often did when we lived there. You’ll have more time to enjoy and experience more of the sites if you are able to stay in the Colorado Springs area for a few days though.

Things To Do In Colorado Springs

Cheyenne Mountain State Park

In our separate article and video, we gave you a more in-depth tour of Cheyenne Mountain State Park in Colorado Springs. Check out that article for even more info, but this is on our list of the many places that you should check out here for good reason. For starters, it’s a wonderful place to camp. We’ve tested out each of the four camping loops in the park with our RV now and they are all good options.

You can also just check out the park for the day. There is so much to do. There is a visitor center with a store and displays and an amphitheater. Bring a picnic and enjoy one of the 41 picnic sites each with a picnic table and charcoal grill, or the picnic pavilion for a larger event. There are 3 playgrounds for kids. There are 21 hiking trails you can check out for 28 miles of trails. Dogs are allowed on a few of these as well. We enjoyed the Blackmer Loop while visiting. This trail takes you through rock gardens and an interesting sight: a pine growing tall out of the top of a boulder! If you’re ambitious you can even hike all the way to the top of Cheyenne Mountain!

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

The second item on our list is Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. It is so unique because you are not down in the valley in the city. You are up on the mountain. When you arrive at the zoo’s parking lot, you’ll see the mountain right in front of you. From there it just keeps going up and up and up around all the exhibits. It is ranked as one of the best zoos in the country, and it’s also America’s only mountain zoo. They even have a chairlift called the Mountaineer Sky Ride that you can ride up and around for really nice views of the city below.

Another thing about this zoo is that they are very immersive. They have lots of animal demonstrations each day that you can catch, experiences and encounters that you can book ahead, but they also have several throughout the day. And just paying a few dollars you can feed some of them. We were able to feed the giraffes lettuce, give an elephant a cucumber and a carrot, and feed birds (Budgies) from a stick covered in birdseed. Our kids were really excited and it enhanced the experience for all of us. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is worth a visit for the whole family or even if you don’t have kids!

Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods is a very popular very well-known park in Colorado Springs with amazing sandstone fins everywhere. Many are various shades of red and orange; however, not all are these shades. There’s a pretty striking white one to be seen as well. There are 21 miles of hiking trails. If you want to get the main experience and take it fairly easy, we recommend you walk the Central Garden Trail and check out the formations along this path.

This is a nice paved easy walking trail, but all around there are other trails that will take you off and around Garden of the Gods in other directions. There’s also rock climbing here if you get a permit or go through the company that will take you on guided tours. There are jeep and Segway and trolley tours. You can do horseback riding on designated trails. There are e-bike tours and rentals, guided nature walks, a visitor center with exhibits – tons to do as you can tell!

Visiting the Garden of the Gods is also completely free. So there’s really no reason not to make this one of your stops when you’re in the area!

Pikes Peak

You will not miss seeing Pikes Peak while visiting Colorado Springs as it just looms that large above the landscape. Stop to admire it at least, but if you can, drive up to the top of Pikes Peak at over 14,000 feet high! You’ll have amazing views to take in at the top (if it’s not cloudy). Other than the magnificent vista, another thing to do at the top is to make sure you enjoy some of the summit house donuts, yum!

If you’d rather not drive your own vehicle, another option is to ride the Pikes Peak Cog Railway. This is a 9 mile track whose incline is sometimes as steep as 24%. This way you can enjoy the views on the way in a more relaxed manner and via a super fun experience!

Other Things To Do

Here are some additional rapid fire suggestions of things that you should put on your list and try to check out, several of which we have done in the past and can also highly recommend.

  • Cave of the Winds Mountain Park is situated high on a cliffside and is an excellent cave tour to experience, but it also has several other rides and attractions right on the canyon edge for lots of family fun.
  • Nearby Manitou Springs is a cute town to visit, with lots of shops and restaurants.
  • If you’re up for a challenge, in Manitou Springs you can also climb the Manitou Incline, all 2,744 steps to the top.
  • You can also tour the Olympic Training Center and see where elite athletes train.
  • Visit downtown Colorado Springs for plenty of dining, shopping, outdoor art, and museum options.
  • Visit a series of seven cascading waterfalls at the Seven Falls.
  • Walk through the Manitou Cliff Dwellings, a replica of Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings.

Where To Stay in Colorado Springs

There are various options for where you can stay in the area. Since we came with our RV, we got a spot in at Cheyenne Mountain State Park. We’ll tell you about this and other options below.

RV and Camping

Cheyenne Mountain State Park

As mentioned above, we love the campground at Cheyenne Mountain State Park. Each of the four loops, Swift Puma Heights, Raptor Glen, Gobbler Grove, and the Meadows, are great. There are 51 full service campsites along with some tenting sites and cabins also. The views are great both of Cheyenne Mountain itself, and down into the valley below, particularly over the city lights at night.

Garden of the Gods RV Resort

Garden of the Gods RV Resort puts you right in the middle of the action for easily visiting Garden of the Gods. Here you can stay in your RV, a tent, cottages or bunkhouses. It has several amenities included pools, a playground and game room, store, WIFI, and more.

Luxury Accommodations

Family Fun Lodging

Great Wolf Lodge

If you want to add another fun activity when visiting Colorado Springs, you can stay at the Great Wolf Lodge and enjoy the waterpark as well! That along with themed rooms and on-site dining may make you not want to even leave your hotel, but make sure you do so you don’t miss all the other great things in the area!

Other Lodging Options

There are a ton of other options in the area. There are numerous hotels and Airbnb options in Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs for various budgets!

Where To Eat & Drink

German Cuisine

If you’re visiting Colorado Springs, we highly recommend taking advantage of the chance to eat some of the amazing German cuisine that there is in this city. There’s a fairly large German heritage here as far as we understand because there were German immigrants that came to this area in the past. And some of them have started these amazing restaurants and bakeries.

Head to Wimberger’s Old World Bakery, which was actually started by a German family in the 1970s. They have a super loyal following here. The guy who started it was a baker in Germany so it really doesn’t get any more legit than that and the family continues the tradition today. They make amazing traditional crispy brötchen and breads, German style from scratch, along with lots of options at their deli and other imported items from Germany such as coffees, jellies, chocolates and other sweets.

For a full meal, go to Edelweiss German Restaurant which has got to be probably our favorite German restaurant that we’ve found in the U.S. They are family owned and operated and have been around for more than 50 years. The food is delicious and authentic. You can sit outside in their beer garden or inside where the décor is fun and genuinely German.

The kids usually eat a German Wiener Würstchen with some fruit, and most recently we got the Wiener Schnitzel with Bratkartoffeln and vegetables. For dessert we recently had the triple chocolate Torte to share and then the kids got Pinocchio sundaes and with a cookie in the middle. Everything was delicious!

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Dining

At the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, there’s also a pretty wide variety of places to eat. Most of them also come with a really nice view though some of the outdoor seating areas aren’t open in the colder months. There are several dining options, but if we hadn’t brought our own picnic I think we would have checked out either Pizza with a View or Rocky Mountain Wild Barbeque Co.

Dining Options Around The City

There are lots of additional places in the area. Here are some ideas:

  • Numerous breweries at which to enjoy some local brews, some with dining options as well.
  • Denver Biscuit Company / Fat Sully’s Pizza: with several locations around Colorado, you must eat here at some point. Amazing biscuit sandwiches are served in the morning until a certain point in the day, at which time you can enjoy the pizza!
  • Urban Egg: delicious breakfast and brunch spot
  • Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar: get fresh gourmet seafood despite being in a landlocked state!
  • Shuga’s: unique eats from around the world
  • Dos Santos: yummy tacos! Try this or many other places around town for delicious Mexican food
  • Dining at one of the luxury resorts mentioned above. The Broadmoor apparently has one of the best brunches and we would love to try it sometime!
  • The Springs has some great food trucks as well. Keep an eye out for them or check their social media pages!

We hope this gives you several ideas to add to your list of amazing things to do in the area. Check out some of them and you’re sure to have a great time. Let us know if there’s anything else you would add to your list of things to do when visiting Colorado Springs!

Ready To Plan Your Trip To Colorado Springs?

If you’re ready to plan your own trip, download the free Colorado Springs Trip Planner, with all the things to do, places to stay, and where to eat on one easy to reference page. You can print it out, or save it to your phone for when you’re out and about! It even has a link to this blog post and each item mentioned so you can get all the details on the go!

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