Check out the region's Old West charm, amazing natural splendor and scenic drives, while being pampered in style.
Nature’s greatest triumphs and deepest mysteries fuel the beautiful natural aura of Colorado Springs and Pikes Peak country — so much so that Katherine Lee Bates, enraptured by the “purple mountains majesty” of nearby Pikes Peak penned “America the Beautiful” here over a century ago. The luxury Broadmoor resort nearby, with its unique appeal for families and children of all ages, is the perfect base for road trips around the region.
Colorado Springs’ dry climate, clear cool mountain air and Wild West ambience have been luring families year-round since the turn of the 19th century. If you’re craving some summertime fun in cool, crisp fresh air and sunshine, the area provides a rich network of paths and trails designed for walking, hiking, mountain climbing and biking, while the rivers and lakes lure kayakers, boaters, river-rafters and fishers.
A Truly Grand, Grand Hotel
The Broadmoor, cradled at the foot of the dazzling Cheyenne Mountains, was built in 1917 on the 440-acre site of the original Broadmoor Dairy Farm by the blue-green Lake Cheyenne waters. For almost a century, the timeless charm and modern amenities of the resort’s spacious 700 rooms and suites have provided a relaxing and luxurious ambience. Picture windows and private balconies offer front-row seats to spectacular scenery, glorious sunrises and fiery sunsets.
Something magical happens when the generations gather to enjoy the resort’s full range of activities. For adults, championship golf ranks as the favorite recreational pursuit, and golf lovers can start their day taking a swing at the awesome new Nicklaus Design Mountain course, the West course, or the East course where golf history took place when the Broadmoor hosted the 2008 US Senior Open Championship.
For tennis buffs, the tennis complex features seven plexi-cushioned courts, all under the direction of Hall of Famer Dennis Ralston. Work out to your heart’s content at the fitness center using the Cybex resistance and weight training machines, and then indulge yourself at the full-service Spa and salon with over 100 varieties of massage, energy and body therapies. Special children and teen services are also available including an “extreme” massage, manicures, pedicures and facials.
Designed with kids and adults in mind, families are in for fun at the new water complex open in summer. The zero-entry infinity swimming pool and waterslides designed like a mountain range are guaranteed to hold kids interest for quite some time. Just for child’s play is the Bee Bunch Children’s Program, an interactive summer camp for ages 3-12. Grouped together are the 3 to 6-year-olds as the Explorer Bees and the 7 to 12-year-olds as the Adventure Bees. Full and half-day programs and evening programs are available for additional costs.
Choices for dining at The Broadmoor run the gamut from fine dining to casual, and everything in between. The newest venue is The Summit, a freestanding restaurant designed by Adam D. Tihany, with a menu featuring American Brasserie with the hint of a French “accent.” Spruced up Charles Court offers families their choice of dining in the relaxed interior or al fresco, looking out across the lake. The friendly wait staff interacts well with children’s special requests from the wide selection of contemporary Colorado fare. For a romantic adults night out, the newly enhanced Penrose Room continues to present its service and amenities well rooted in old word charm. The mouthwatering signature Chef’s tasting menu is highly recommended and can be ordered alone or with wine pairings especially selected by wine director Tim Baldwin. Be sure to check out the enclosed private dining room and demonstration kitchen that has a 16 seat Chef’s Table for interacting with Executive Chef Bertrand Bouqin.
Browsing at the elegant Shops at the Broadmoor is a treat. For a new shopping high, stop by the “village” reminiscent of the finest small European piazzas. Here you can sit by the cascading waterfall, enjoy a refreshing gelato from the cart, or stroll the promenade and visit the eight new specialty boutiques that include designer fashions, cosmetics, books, unique time pieces, luxurious bedding, one of a kind artwork and jewelry, flowers and garden items, and a full service bridal store.
The Broadmoor is located at One Lake Avenue in Colorado Springs. Visit their site or call 866/837-9520 for reservations and information on special Escape Packages for families, romantic getaways, holiday celebrations and galas. And whether you’re visiting in summer, winter, spring or fall, count on renting a car to explore the beguiling beauty of the region.
Family Fun in The Springs & Pikes Peak
Pikes Peak, the star attraction that brings families to the area, was sighted by Zebulon Pike back in 1806, but it wasn’t until the late 1850s that attention was focused on this symbol of the American frontier. The slogan “Pikes Peak or Bust” became a rallying cry during the gold mining boom, when the landmark was used as a beacon for prospectors. Today, the awe-inspiring Pikes Peak is the crown jewel of the Pike National Forest.
From the gateway at 7,400 feet to the 14,110-foot summit, it is accessible via a 12-mile hike up the Barr Trail, a 19-mile scenic journey by car, or on Pikes Peak Cog Railway (719/685-5401) a thrilling experience for the whole family that has been in service since 1891. The world’s highest cog railroad has taken millions of people, when weather permits, on an unforgettable trip from the depot in Manitou Springs to the 14,110-foot summit of America’s mountain, in comfort and safety. Check the website for seasonal schedules and to make advance reservations.
Spend another day at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo (719/633-9925), famous for its diverse and exotic collection of more than 650 animals from around the world. All your favorites from elephants to lions and monkeys, hippos and bears are here. Several interactive exhibits like getting to feed the famous giraffe herd their favorite crackers compete for the family’s attention. It’s also a rare opportunity to come nose to nose with lions and great apes and get to see more than 30 endangered species including the Amur tiger, Mexican wolf, and black-footed ferret. The zoo is a hit with kids and adults alike.
Old Colorado City, the state’s first territorial capital in 1859, will fascinate history buffs with its nostalgia from the days of the gold rush and oil boom, featuring parlor houses and saloons. Stroll the sidewalks along Colorado Avenue and experience the ambience of 100-year old buildings, modern art galleries and an exciting mix of cafes and restaurants, boutiques and specialty shops.
Where can you see wildlife including hummingbirds, rainbow trout and the rare American dipper — that nests beneath waterfalls? Seven Falls is located in a natural box canyon that terminates dramatically at a 181-foot waterfall cascading down seven distinct steps of a sheer granite cliff. The falls are best viewed in spring and summer from the Eagle’s Nest Observation platform, accessed by the 224-step stairway or mountain elevator.
Natural Attractions Around Manitou Springs
Manitou Springs is a charming Victorian town located 4 miles west of Colorado Springs. It’s a National Historic District, and the gateway to the following popular attractions:
Garden of the Gods, set in a 1300-acre park at the foot of Pikes Peak, is surrounded by 20 spectacular towering red sandstone formations. There are 8 miles of trails to hike, bike, or ride horseback, leading to scenic views, nature walks and places to settle in for a family picnic. Everyone will enjoy viewing the fast-paced, 12-minute, multi-media adventure using time lapse photography and four screens, culminating with the spine-tingling finale of “America the Beautiful” sung by the U.S. Air Force Cadet Choir.
Canon City is where you board the Royal Gorge Route Railroad (303/569-1000) for a fascinating two-hour train ride that follows the most famous portion of the old Denver & Rio Grande Western line. Roundtrip to Parkdale, ride through the “Grand Canyon of the Arkansas,” and under the famous Hanging Bridge which clings precariously to the steep granite walls of the Royal Gorge towering 1,000 feet above. From the train you’ll thrill to the awesome scenery, wildlife, red-tailed hawks and eagles, and get to watch the rafters riding in the churning Arkansas River. You’ll have a choice of Coach, Club-Class, and Gourmet Lunch or Dinner cars riding through the Royal Gorge in style.
Olympic hopefuls and future gold medalists in the family will especially enjoy the U.S. Olympic Training Complex, that houses the Olympic Hall of Fame display, the Olympic Pathway and the U.S. Olympic Spirit Store.
Visit the U.S. Figure Skating World Hall of Fame & Museum (719/635-5200), located adjacent to The Broadmoor, where a beautiful collection of world figure skating costumes, Olympic medals and pins, history of inductees and skating memorabilia are on display.
Colorado Springs World Arena & Ice Hall is a nationally recognized facility for USA figure skating, ice hockey and short track speed skating, and is home to the Colorado College hockey team. Kids and adult alike can get to demonstrate their skills at the Ice Hall (719/477-2150) where public skating is available everyday.
Welcome to America the Beautiful.
In Southern Colorado, a family road trip means less time in the car, and more time to explore and enjoy the sights, attractions and areas of the region. With free and affordable activities for various budgets, families will discover the open road in Colorado leads to high-flying adventures, sweet-tasting confections and life-changing experiences. Below are two ideas to add on to your visit to Colorado Springs.
Canon City, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
From Colorado Springs it is 183 miles to this region. Head south on Interstate 25 and merge with U.S. Highway 50 in Pueblo. Here you can stop at the historic Pueblo Zoo which has some 350 animals and features several native sandstone buildings that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Continue for a little over 38 miles to Canon City, and the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park – home to the world’s highest Suspension Bridge, world’s longest single-span Aerial Tram, world’s steepest Incline Railway and the newest thrill ride, the world’s highest Skycoaster®. The park also includes a carousel, burro and mule team wagon rides, along with a petting zoo.
After this adrenaline rush, relax and unwind on the way to the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, located about two hours to the south. Set among a high mountain valley, the park features the tallest dunes in North America, as well as geological and biological wonders. Open year-round, camp out among the stars at Pinyon Flats Campground, one-mile from the visitor center.
A bison tour and hayride takes place every Saturday on Nature Conservancy lands within national park boundaries. View herds from more than 1,000 bison that roam the grasslands and wetlands west of the Great Sand Dunes. This hayride takes place in parts of the park that few visitors get to see. Reservations are recommended by calling 719/378-6022 and for more information and directions, please call the Visitor Center at 719-378-6399.
Local Spots: Just west of the Sand Dunes, take a dip in the natural artesian water (heated between 98-100 degrees) at the Sand Dunes Pool and RV Park. Located twenty minutes from the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, the town of Alamosa offers plenty of additional dining and lodging options.
About 150 miles west of the Sand Dunes, Durango, the largest city in Southwest Colorado, beckons with various family-friendly attractions. For a delectable stroll in the historic downtown area, head to the original Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory (970/259-1408) where more than 300 varieties of chocolate are hand-made, and factory tours take place through Labor Day. Throughout the year, special family themes also are planned aboard the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad (970/247-2733) including the Pumpkin Patch Express in October, and the Polar Express in December. For hands-on learning, the Children’s Museum of Durango (970/259-9234) features crafts, exhibits and events.
Local Hot Spots: Walk, hike or bike the Animas River Trail. This is a casual favorite connecting both ends of town right along the river. Don’t miss the swinging bridge!
Road trip information courtesy of Colorado Tourism.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.