It’s no secret that Colorado Springs, Colorado, the state’s second-largest city, was the inspiration for the poem now immortalized in the patriotic favorite, “America the Beautiful”. Mountain majesties like natural landmark, Pikes Peak aside though, there’s more to this flourishing city than just long hikes and strenuous climbs. In fact, with minimal sweat-equity you can catch a clutch of diversionary cultural sights sure to lend perspective to the local waterfalls, rock formations, dramatic gorges and snow-dusted peaks.
For those who like to live on the wild side, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is the obvious first stop, a zoological park that boasts a variety of species definitely not indigenous to the area like giraffes and elephants, as well as more common local species. Our advice? Don’t forget to admire the views from the Will Rogers Shrine to the Sun before venturing back down the mountain to Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Another great family-friendly stop is the Ghost Town Museum. In addition to a glimpse of the Wild West of yore you can also brush up on your gold panning skills during summer months, just the ticket if you’re contemplating a future on the Colorado frontier. With mining on the mind, also plan for a stop at the Western Museum of Mining and Industry, where you can bid burros adieu between educational exhibits.
Looking for a way to fill your evening? In season, get yourself a ticket for a Chuckwagon Supper at the Flying W Ranch. In addition to authentic chuckwagon grub, the price of admission includes access to the Western Village (located in the Garden of the Gods) and a rousing stage show, after you’ve had your fill.
For more local lore, be sure to explore ancient Anasazi history at the Manitou Cliff Dwellings site, nestled in below Pikes Peak. Then put it in context with a visit to the very space-age Cadet Chapel at the United States Air Force Academy; interdenominational services are offered weekly.
With time to spare in your schedule, consider also a side-trip to facilities like the Pioneer Museum, the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center or, for all you numismatic nuts out there, the Money Museum. And while you’re wallet may remain empty, don’t despair. At day’s end, you can’t put a price on sunset views from atop Pikes Peak.