By Regina Lynch Hudson
Once named the “City of Millionaires” from the riches discovered in the nearby mining town of Cripple Creek, this Rocky Mountain retreat hasn’t lost its rich history. Founded in 1871 as a resort destination, the city still caters to the five million plus tourists and proves to be an ideal vacation spot for a ‘back to nature’ gal like me. The city is home to Pikes Peak-America’s Mountain. The splendor of this natural attraction inspired the “purple mountain majesty” line of Katharine Lee Bates’ poem “America the Beautiful.”
With more than 55 attractions and activities in the area, it’s hard to narrow down where to go. Not to mention countless hidden gems, like the El Pomar Carriage House Museum, Interpretive Paint Mines Park and Michael Garman Gallery.
Lodging options run the gamut from quaint mountain properties to the famous AAA Five Star, Five Diamond Broadmoor hotel — also known as the “Grand Dame of the Rockies” due to its rich history, beauty and offerings. Enjoy homemade chocolates after a turndown service, the 18 onsite dining options, infinity pool, AAA Five Diamond Spa and award-winning golf courses. The hotel also welcomes many a furry friend with their “pitty pat” club tailored to pets. It is the longest consecutively running Five Star, Five Diamond property in the country. www.broadmoor.com
The Power Palette
Colorado Springs is bursting with a variety of flavors. MacKenzie’s Chophouse is a definite lunch or dinner choice for carnivores out there. Locals swear that the Chophouse yields the best cuts of steak and seafood in the city. The ambient lighting sets the tone for a tasty dining experience in the heart of downtown Colorado Springs. The heated patio makes for a nice setting to smoke a cigar or enjoy its “premier happy hour.” The Sunbird Restaurant offers an amazing view atop the town. With an award-winning brunch buffet complete with bubbly.
For a bit of international flare, enjoy some schnitzel and awesome apple strudel at Edelweiss German restaurant. The European feel is infused with live accordion performances and authentic German-speaking staff. The night isn’t complete without an overflowing stein of its extensive beer selection.
Footloose & Fancy Free
Many people know the area for natural landmarks like Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods Park. It is also home base for the U.S. Air Force Academy, and U.S. Olympic Committee and Olympic Training Center. In addition to these, the area showcases more than 55 attractions ranging from western heritage to an intriguing Fine Arts Center. Historical markers like Rock Ledge Ranch offer a glimpse into life of Victorian times. This “living” museum shows visitors what it was like in the house, on the farm and even in the blacksmith shop during this era.
Other off-the-beaten-path locales include Interpretive Paint Mines Park, Ghost Town Museum and Miramont Castle. Colorado Springs is home to ample outdoor recreation with guided and self-guided hikes and education programs. Many offer family days and even Junior Ranger programs to get more acquainted with the outdoors. An area favorite is Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. Home to the largest captive reticulated giraffe herd, guests can interact with these vertically-blessed creatures by hand-feeding them lettuce and crackers. The Rocky Mountain Wild exhibit displays the indigenous animals of Colorado with sea otters, a moose and more. Their newest exhibit, Encounter Africa is a massive $13 million project that will be fully opened this spring.
Those seeking an adrenaline rush will have no problem finding it. Raft down the white waters of the Arkansas River, take a balloon ride and watch the gorgeous hues of a Colorado sunrise or balance 600 feet above Williams Canyon on the Wind Walker Challenge Course.
Thanks to our friends at the Colorado Springs CVB for providing helpful and fun facts for this article. www.visitcos.com