Top 12 Attractions in Colorado Springs

Last Updated on February 6, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Nestled at the foothills of majestic Pikes Peak, lively Colorado Springs wows with an incredible diversity of attractions pleasing nature lovers, culture aficionados and adventure seekers alike. Some top finds honor the city’s military roots, like the Air Force Academy and Olympic Training Center. Adrenaline addicts zipline over gorges, climb towering rocks and test courage on epic hiking trails with staggering Rocky Mountain views as their reward. And free attractions like richly hued Garden of the Gods Park and the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum leave all visitors enchanted.

AttractionDescription
Garden of the GodsFamous for its stunning red rock formations against a backdrop of snow-capped peaks.
Pikes PeakIconic summit offering breathtaking views, accessible by road or cog railway.
US Air Force AcademyOffers insight into the training of future pilots and leaders, with free tours.
Fine Arts CenterHome to a vast collection of modernist masterpieces and art deco architecture.
Gold Camp RoadA scenic drive offering views of historic mining ruins and natural beauty.
Olympic City USA MuseumCelebrates the achievements of American Olympians with interactive exhibits.
Broadmoor’s SummitOffers panoramic views of Colorado Springs and its surrounding natural beauty.
Cheyenne Mountain ZooA unique mountain zoo offering close encounters with a wide range of animals.
Ivywild SchoolA community hub housed in a former school, featuring local beer and crafts.
Manitou Cliff DwellingsPreserved Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings offering a glimpse into ancient lives.
Wildlife Refuge at Nature CenterA sanctuary for rescued wildlife, offering close encounters and educational tours.

Don’t miss must-see sites from retro cars to contemporary art when planning your Colorado Springs sightseeing. This list of the 12 best attractions provides enticing options guaranteed to fill your days with Rocky Mountain magic and lifetime memories.

Admire Red Rock Formations at Garden of the Gods

Name and Location: Garden of the Gods Park is a public park located in western Colorado Springs, spanning over 1,300 acres known for stunning red sandstone rock formations that frame Pikes Peak.

History and Significance: First set aside in 1879 and designated a National Natural Landmark, this free public park allows visitors to immerse themselves among soaring 300-foot cliffs, spires, monoliths and sculpted formations that reveal the power of geological forces and time.

What to Expect: Visitors explore the park by foot, bike or vehicle; stopping at iconic sites like Balanced Rock and Kissing Camels while surrounded by nature’s architectural splendor carved over millennia that inspired this pocket of the Front Range.

Visitor Information: The park stays open year-round from 5am-9pm in summer and 5am-7pm during winter months. No admission fees and free public parking areas inside. Leashed pets welcome.

Famous for towering sandstone and limestone formations jutting 300 feet skyward against snow-capped peaks, exquisite 1,358-acre Garden of the Gods stands out as Colorado’s most photographed (and free!) attraction. Follow trails like the gentle 1.5-mile Perkins Central Garden where cyclists, hikers and horseback riders share jaw-dropping views of the park’s signature red rock ridges, towers and balanced rocks. Don’t miss photo ops of the iconic Kissing Camels peak. At the visitor center, browse exhibits explaining the geology and history behind Garden of the Gods’ grandeur.

Ride to the Top of Pikes Peak

Name and Location: Pikes Peak stands as an iconic 14,115-foot fourteener mountain dominating Colorado Springs skylines from the east, accessible by highway, railway and trail.

History and Significance: First summited in 1806 by American explorer Zebulon Pike who declared it unclimbable, today visitors reach its peak from Manitou Springs along the 19-mile Pikes Peak Highway completed in 1916 or aboard the Broadmoor Pikes Peak Cog Railway unveiled in 1891.

What to Expect: Road trips winding or railcars chugging to Pikes Peak’s apex at over 14,000 feet elevation are rewarded by panoramic views spanning snow-capped Front Range peaks that stretch behind quintessential purple mountain majesties fringed by colorful wildflowers in warmer months.

Visitor Information: The Highway opens seasonally while the Cog Railway runs year-round. Advance online tickets required for shuttles to the Summit House visitor complex housing cafe and gift shop.

No visit to Colorado Springs is complete without embarking on the Pikes Peak Highway twisting 19 miles to the stunning 14,115-foot summit overlooking purple mountain majesties. Board the Pikes Peak Cog Railway for a relaxing steam-powered journey to the top skirting forested hillsides and cascading waterfalls. Adrenaline junkies prefer conquering the peak on marathon runs or dizzying downhill bike races. Dress warmly to admire views stretching 100 miles—on clear days, you can glimpse five different states!

Explore the US Air Force Academy

Name and Location: The United States Air Force Academy campus spreads across 18,500 acres along the Rampart Range foothills just north of Colorado Springs off I-25.

History and Significance: Completed in 1962 after site selection in 1954, this flagship officer training college for the Air Force continues developing cadets through its landmark Cadet Chapel, academic halls, sports and military training facilities framed by soaring peaks.

What to Expect: Free guided walking tours showcase the Honor Court flanked by academic buildings plus the iconic modernist aluminum, glass and steel Cadet Chapel. Visitors may also observe cadets marching or training in the Field House gym.

Visitor Information: The Academy Visitor Center offers tours daily on a first come, first served basis. Only USA citizen adults can enter the Academy with valid photo ID after vehicle inspection.

One of Colorado Springs’ most popular free attractions, the acclaimed United States Air Force Academy offers incredible access into life and training for elite future pilots and leaders. Join free walking tours or simply roam the expansive 18,000-acre campus to glimpse cadets marching in formation across sprawling fields lined by soaring aviation-themed chapel and class buildings. Don’t miss the sky-high parachute team demonstrations or inspiring air shows guaranteed to rouse patriotic pride in Americans of all ages.

Uncover New Exhibits at the Fine Arts Center

Name and Location: The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center resides downtown in a landmark 1936 building filled with galleries and performing arts venues at 30 W. Dale St.

History and Significance: Founded in 1936, this multidisciplinary arts hub evolved from the Broadmoor Art Academy while its unique southwestern Pueblo Revival architecture style echoes the terrain, welcoming visitors to immerse themselves in quality visual arts presentations and live performances.

What to Expect: Patrons explore this creative crown jewel’s galleries of contemporary works and artifacts interwoven with performances on multiple stages, taking in rotating exhibits, student shows, commissioned installations, theatre, dance and music programming.

Visitor Information: The FAC remains open Tuesdays–Sundays with varying hours. Admission is $5-$15 depending on current special exhibitions. Member passes allow unlimited entry.

Dating back to 1936, Colorado Springs’ Fine Arts Center counts among the nation’s oldest and most esteemed multidisciplinary arts complexes. Beyond temporary blockbuster exhibits, marvel at one of America’s largest collections of mid 20th-century modernist masterpieces showcasing works by acclaimed artists like Degas, Calder and O’Keefe. Lovely landscaped grounds feature towering dancing sculptures by renowned artist Lawrence Argent. Sign up for monthly docent-led architectural tours revealing secrets behind the FAC’s stunning art deco façade.

Drive Scenic Gold Camp Road

Name and Location: The Old Gold Camp Road National Scenic Byway follows a 25-mile route linking Victor, Cripple Creek and Colorado Springs winding through high country southwest of Pikes Peak.

History and Significance: This curvy ribbon of asphalt carved into the slopes of Battle Mountain traces Gold Rush origins as a former 1800s stagecoach route accessing once boomtown mining districts, today luring sightseers with a backdoor vista-packed journey to mountain hamlets.

What to Expect: One-lane paved sections, sheer drop-offs without guardrails, unexpected wildlife encounters and possible mechanical peril punctuate the breath-stealing vistas revealing the glory of Colorado’s geologic splendor from this storied byway.

Visitor Information: Drive carefully year-round dusk til dawn; allow 90+ minutes one way. High-clearance vehicles better for the gravel. Watch for ATV and mining trucks around blind curves.

This narrow ribbon of crumbling asphalt twists 25 miles linking Victor with Colorado Springs while providing jaw-dropping vistas alongside mine ruins harkening to the area’s gold rush era. The graded dirt road makes for bumpy but thrilling rides in rugged vehicles with sightings of historic tunnels, abandoned mines, a cascading waterfall and panoramic mountain peaks rewarding intrepid drivers. Outdoorsy types can hike and bike along the gentle downhill route lined by wildflowers in summer and fiery fall foliage in autumn.

Cheer on the Olympic City USA Museum

Name and Location: The Colorado Springs Olympic & Paralympic Museum illuminates athlete journeys at 200 S. Sierra Madre St. downtown.

History and Significance: Open since summer 2020, this 60,000 square-foot modern interactive venue in America’s Olympic City spotlights the legacy, spirit and emotion behind the global Olympic & Paralympic Movements from Ancient Greece up through inspiring contemporary games.

What to Expect: Hands-on exhibits let visitors virtually compete against Team USA greats, test performance limits in a sensory 4D theater, and get motivated by athlete stories celebrating the pinnacle of human achievement across both Olympic and Paralympic events new and old.

Visitor Information: Timed entry tickets run $24+ for ages 13+. Open Wednesdays–Sundays 10AM–5PM. Valid government photo ID required for entry by visitors ages 18+.

As proud home to the United States Olympic Committee, the Colorado Springs U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum beautifully immerses visitors into the soaring victories and crushing defeats of America’s elite athletes. Get inspired reliving stories of perseverance through 12 immersive galleries packed with artifacts and media replaying some of the most iconic sporting moments. Simulators let you test bobsled speeds and parallel giant slalom races against world champions. The gorgeous glass and steel exterior even references athlete podium stands.

Drink in Views from the Broadmoor’s Summit

Name and Location: The Broadmoor hotel’s scenic overlook patio called The Summit sits framed between the main building’s iconic pink Georgian-style towers in Colorado Springs.

History and Significance: Unveiled in 1918 shortly after its opening by original Broadmoor owner Spencer Penrose to entertain elite guests like Amelia Earhart or Oscar winner Julie Andrews decades later, the ornate domed stone gazebo crowns estate views.

What to Expect: Reached by walking up a regal Italian marble staircase inside the lobby or riding its original brass elevator, visitors stepping onto the exclusive Summit balcony soak up sweeping resort and Cheyenne Lake vistas under the Colorado big sky.

Visitor Information: Access limited to hotel guests only. Open seasonally, weather permitting. Upscale Sunday brunches served al fresco require reservations for non-guest diners.

The grand historic Broadmoor resort’s popular scenic overlook perches visitors alongside granite cliffs rewarding with superlative vistas spanning the entire city nestled below. Gaze out in wonder picking out landmarks strewn around Colorado Springs’ valley location embraced by epic mountain peaks. Sunrise and sundown paints the sky in spectacular hues. Stop first for classic cocktails or rustic alpine fare at the adjacent Summit restaurant—their expansive patio maximizes Pikes Peak viewing.

Drive through the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Name and Location: The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo spreads over 140 acres just southwest of downtown Colorado Springs at 4250 Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Road.

History and Significance: Founded 1926 at its picturesque mountain base location, this pioneering zoo ascends 975 feet in elevation between exhibit spaces offering intimate views of exotic and endangered wildlife against scenic backdrops.

What to Expect: State-of-the-art habitats like the custom Lemur Walk transport visitors nose-to-nose with primates, big cats, hippos, bears, twisting mountain goats and more roaming amid thoughtfully integrated botanic displays along the Zoo’s winding uphill roads.

Visitor Information: Open daily except Christmas from 9AM to 5PM. Timed entry tickets required during peak seasons. Parking fee $5-10. Wheelchair and stroller rentals available at entry.

The only American zoo founded atop a mountain, this acclaimed zoo’s exhibits spill across the mountainside linked by a winding road perfect for leisurely taking in elevated views at every twist and turn. Don’t just stare at animals; feed giraffes, pet stingrays and chat with keepers during special animal encounters elevating your experience. The elaborate new gondola lift transports between levels packed with everything from free-roaming monkeys to majestic bald eagles in habitats mimicking natural dwellings.

Tap into Local Beer at Ivywild School

Name and Location: The Ivywild School transformed into a brewery and restaurant hub at 1604 S Cascade Ave retaining its historic 1916 schoolhouse architecture.

History and Significance: Closed in 2009 after decades educating local kids, leaky empty classrooms found new life as boutique businesses like Bristol Brewing, Principal’s Office pub, and Ivywild School restaurant anchored this rebirth as a community-oriented gathering place.

What to Expect: Patrons sample handcrafted local brews inside old schoolrooms or out on the lawn ringed by mature trees and vine-wrapped stone walls before dining at the Teacher’s Lounge amid this unique campus oozing with nostalgic character.

Visitor Information: The historic school turned brewery landmark stays open daily offering free parking. Leashed dogs allowed on outdoor grounds. Access the playground equipment too!

Colorado boasts more microbreweries than any state, with dozens located right around Colorado Springs. But only Ivywild School transformed an abandoned 1916 elementary school into a funky Olde World village-style brewery and restaurant complex centered around an airy, light-filled atrium. Sip handcrafted European beers or creative cocktails fireside before browsing artisan butchers, bake shops and boutiques ensconced in former classrooms. Everything from antiques to ice cream and even a barber shop stands ready for local discovery.

Ascend the Manitou Cliff Dwellings

Name and Location: The Manitou Cliff Dwellings museum reconstructs Ancestral Puebloan ruins at 10 Cliff Dwellings Road in Manitou Springs.

History and Significance: Preserved near Garden of the Gods since builders relocated ruins from SW Colorado Mesa Verde cliffs 700 years after original indigenous habitation, these reproductions interpret mystifying ancient architectural achievements.

What to Expect: Visitors ascending steps reach an intricate complex set into the cliff face educating about Native American history through intricate basketry, pottery shards and stones echoing intricate construction techniques linking spiritual and sustainable living.

Visitor Information: The Cliff Dwellings stay open year-round apart from major holidays. Admission runs $14 for adults and includes the native plant Trail Walk below.

Just five miles outside Colorado Springs, access the protected ruins of Ancestral Puebloan cliffside log homes and ceremonial kivas abandoned over 700 years ago. Choose from two self-guided tours taking about an hour winding through the remarkably preserved stone masonry villages secreted underneath an imposing cliff overhang. Marvel over original artifacts and tools imagining just how native tribes originally called these staggering natural fortresses carved into solid rock home over 10,000 feet above sea level.

Drive Through Wildlife Refuge at Nature Center

Name and Location: The Fountain Creek Nature Center encompasses over 300 acres of wetlands, forests, and grasslands tucked into east Colorado Springs at 320 Pepper Grass Lane just off Highway 85/87.

History and Significance: Saved from development by citizens in the 1990s and expanded recently thanks to another successful public fundraising campaign, this oasis sanctuary provides environmental education connecting people to wildlife.

What to Expect: Miles of nature trails traverse the property’s diverse ecosystems —including ponds, an arboretum and raptor flight cage— allowing visitors to spot birds and urban deer while learning about local conservation efforts supporting native species.

Visitor Information: The Nature Center offers free access daily from dawn through dusk while the Interpretive Center stays open Monday–Saturday 9AM–4PM.

Boasting 884 acres of wildlife rehabilitation grounds, this nature center 15 minutes from downtown Colorado Springs doubles as tranquil respite for urbanites needing an easy nature escape. Encounter orphaned black bears, mountain lions, coyote, bobcats, owls and other rescued residents unable to survive alone in the wild during the drive-thru Wildlife Viewing loop before hiking nearly 3 miles of trails to observe native flora and fauna up close. Rangers provide narration during weekend Discovery Cart tours revealing insider nature secrets.

Conclusion

With attractions ranging from an underground cave city and abandoned gold mines to an epic 14,000-foot mountain peak ascent, Colorado Springs delivers memorable adventures guaranteed to thrill. Have your breath taken away communing with nature’s artistry at Garden of the Gods before attempting to spot peaks in five different states from America’s mountain—Pikes Peak. Tap into foamy homegrown beer culture, glimpse tomorrow’s military protectors training at the Air Force Academy campus or wander halls evoking Colorado’s star Olympic legends and athletes. Blending urban delights with natural wonders, the Springs provides the best of all Colorado worlds.

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