Top 12 Free Things to Do in Colorado Springs

Last Updated on February 6, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Blessed with astounding natural beauty and an abundance of open spaces, Colorado Springs spoiled visitors with stunning attractions available gratis. Many top sites like Garden of the Gods Park, Cave of the Winds and the U.S. Air Force Academy offer free access letting you tailor find exciting activities matching interests without draining wallets.

ActivityBrief Description
Garden of the GodsStunning park with iconic red rock formations and trails.
America’s Only All-Free ZooCheyenne Mountain Zoo, with diverse animals and exhibits.
U.S. Air Force AcademyOffers self-guided tours of its expansive grounds.
Broadmoor Resort’s OverlookScenic views of Colorado Springs from a luxury hotel.
Seven FallsAccessible trails leading to a series of waterfalls.
Cave of the WindsUnderground tours showcasing natural formations.
Photo Op with a Bronze HorseIconic bronze statues reflecting Colorado’s Wild West past.
Ute Indian MuseumCultural exhibits on the Ute tribe’s history and traditions.
Happy Apple FarmOpportunity to pick your own produce seasonally.
Territory Days FestivalAnnual event celebrating pioneer heritage with activities.
Hunt for Street Art MuralsDiscover vibrant murals by local artists across the city.
Visit Broadmoor’s Seven FallsEnjoy the natural beauty and waterfalls at Seven Falls.

Outdoor enthusiasts find happy trails galore crisscrossing mountain vistas through evergreen forests with rewarding peeks at local wildlife. Arts aficionados browse through galleries packed with regional creativity before catching unbeatable views from overlooks like the Broadmoor’s Seven Falls. And numerous festivals promising live music, local eats and kid-friendly fun further enhance free options in the Springs all year long. Use this list of 12 top free things to do when planning budget-friendly itineraries sure to reveal Colorado magic without costing a pretty penny.

Behold Towering Red Rock Formations at Garden of the Gods

Name and Location: Garden of the Gods Park is a public park located in Colorado Springs, CO that features dramatic red sandstone rock formations, towering mountain peaks and panoramic vistas.

History and Significance: Named for its unique geological formations and natural beauty, the area has been a revered site for thousands of years. In 1879 it was designated a park for the public to enjoy these stunning natural wonders across over 1,300 acres of preserved open spaces.

What to Expect: Visitors can hike or bike 15 miles of scenic trails taking them around the park’s most iconic formations and towering pikes like the Gateway Rocks and Balanced Rock, with opportunities to rock climb, enjoy nature and behold majestic views.

Visitor Information: Garden of the Gods is open year-round from dawn until dusk daily with no admission fee. Free public parking is available at the Visitor & Nature Center to access trailheads and view park maps.

Ranking among America’s most visited (and photographed) parks, the expansive Garden of the Gods stuns with 300ft sandstone rock formations, hills blanketed in pines and prairie grasses plus panoramic Pikes Peak views—all absolutely free. Follow hiking and biking trails to capture that perfect shot of the iconic Kissing Camels before scrambling up the stairs traversing the underside of Balanced Rock. Make sure to explore the visitor center’s interactive museum detailing the park’s unique geology and history.

Visit America’s Only All-Free Zoo

Name and Location: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is located on the slopes of Cheyenne Mountain just southwest of downtown Colorado Springs, spanning 140 acres and housing 750 animals across exhibits.

History and Significance: Since its 1926 origins displaying a small herd of deer and goats, the zoo has grown into America’s only free admission zoological park featuring many endangered species through thoughtfully immersive habitats and exemplary animal care focused on conservation.

What to Expect: Guests encounter endangered Amur tigers, playful lemurs, mighty grizzlies, dazzling birds and more while traversing the zoo’s epic grounds via chairlift rides and winding pathways with stellar sweeping city views among애 alpine scenery.

Visitor Information: Open daily except Christmas Day. Free parking on-site along with dining options and gift shops. Stroller/wheelchair rentals available. Special events and premium experience tours offered seasonally for added fees.

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo made headlines as the nation’s only free zoo thanks to robust community support and smart pay-for-extras model funding world-class exhibits and animal encounters without charging admission. Hop the complimentary shuttle linking exhibits to get acquainted with nearly 750 diverse residents, from monkeys and meerkats to majestic grizzlies and playful penguins on your own or via keeper chats and feeding demos cultivating in-depth understanding of species.

Tour the Grounds of the U.S. Air Force Academy

Name and Location: The United States Air Force Academy campus sprawls 18,500 acres along the Rampart Range foothills just north of Colorado Springs off I-25 showcasing a nationally renowned higher education institution that develops officers.

History and Significance: Graduating resilient leaders across 70 years since established in 1954 through rigorous military, academic, athletic and character training, the Academy’s striking grounds are open to visitors as America’s youngest service academy yet most visited site in the state.

What to Expect: Guests can embark on self-guided tours to admire the striking, sleek architecture capped by mountain peaks while also visiting the airfield, sports centers, chapels and museum to better understand cadet life and Air Force traditions.

Visitor Information: The Visitor Center offers orientation plus souvenirs daily 9AM-5PM. Guided tours or weeklong encampments can be specially scheduled online as well year-round for nominal fees covering enclave access.

One of Colorado’s most visited attractions happens to come cost-free in the form of self-guided driving tours around the acclaimed United States Air Force Academy. Cruise along the Information Highway loop road glimpsing jets overhead and cadets prepping for future military service amid soaring modern architecture fused with aviation symbols lining the 18,000 pristine acres. Stop into the Visitor Center to browse cadet history exhibits and huge planes on display without any entry fees.

Savor Elevated Views from the Broadmoor Resort’s Overlook

Name and Location: The Broadmoor hotel’s scenic overlook perches along the winding road leading to the landmark five-star resort nestled against the base of Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs.

History and Significance: Providing sweeping vistas across the lush grounds and surrounding peaks since first unveiled for the 1918 hotel, the overlook captures the full majesty of the storied estate through an elevated perspective showcasing the picturesque landscape designs.

What to Expect: Visitors can take in the breadth of the vast property and its regal Georgian pink architecture bordered by the azure mountain-fed lake and greenery arranged on the foothills’ contours, glimpsing closer at a distance its myriad luxe amenities.

Visitor Information: Accessible from the entry drive past the guard house, open overlooking scenic pull-offs offer optimal viewing aside designated hotel guest parking areas. Consider timing with sunset colors!

High on a bluff overlooking Colorado Spring’s picturesque valley, The Broadmoor hotel’s scenic overlook treats everyone to sweeping views for free through floor-to-ceiling windows at the stylish Summit Restaurant and Bar. Ordering cocktails or seasonal cuisine guarantees coveted window tables but buy nothing and take in the same Pikes Peak panoramas spanning the city’s twinkling lights below and the rustic Rocky Mountains surrounding this five-star historic property.

Experience the Magic of Seven Falls

Name and Location: Seven Falls is a series of seven cascading waterfalls located in South Cheyenne Cañon west of downtown Colorado Springs, CO within the protected white granite walls of a 181-foot cliff.

History and Significance: Formed by South Cheyenne Creek cutting through Seven Falls Canyon over eons, the dramatic natural water feature has been a revered oasis attracting visitors to its windswept pools and thundering rushes since the late 1800s.

What to Expect: Visitors ascend stairways to viewpoints taking them past each vivid falls culminating at the canyon rim with photo ops inside an observation platform cut through the adjacent cliffside – a truly amazing landscape!

Visitor Information: Seven Falls is open seasonally with tickets required May through October. Trailhead parking off of Hwy 24 provides easiest access. Concessions & gift shop on site.

A series of steep waterfalls pouring down a 181-foot cliff, stunning Seven Falls ranks among the most beloved natural attractions around Colorado Springs thanks to easily accessible canyon trails open daily free of charge. Follow meandering paths and crossing pedestrian bridges over gushing channels ending at a thundering cascade sending rainbow mists heavenward. Venture a little farther up to glimpse relic foundations marking the site of the original 1880s resort long since destroyed by floods.

Explore Underground Caverns at Cave of the Winds

Name and Location: Cave of the Winds is a cave system and underground attraction located just west of Colorado Springs, CO along Highway 24 offering modified cavern tours and lantern-lit experiences.

History and Significance: Formed over 400 million years ago beneath the slopes of Pikes Peak, the caves have invited curious visitors to descend into their ancient hollowed chambers decorated with guardian formations since first opened to the public in 1881.

What to Expect: Tours like the Family Cave Expedition or Flashlight Adventure journey guests of all ages through winding subterranean trails and passageways filled with geological wonders aglow from unique lighting designs for inspiring guided explorations.

Visitor Information: Cave tours offered daily on first-come basis or via online ticketing. Arrive 30 minutes prior to tour time. Light jacket & solid shoes recommended as interior cave temperature maintained around 54°F year-round.

Discover an underground world mysteriously sculpted by nature at Cave of the Winds where hour-long walking tours reveal millions of years of geologic history and strange formations without any admission fees. Gaze up at the crazed ceiling of Temple of Silence, the towering stalagmites crowning the Tower of Babel and mineral deposits creating the mystical Buddhist Temple where guides extinguish lanterns allowing visitors moments to experience absolute darkness.

Saddle Up for a Photo Op with a Bronze Horse

Name and Location: At the Colorado Springs Visitor Center downtown, a life-size bronze horse sculpture with shiny gold leaf detailing stands nobly overlooking the building’s stone patio as a popular photo-op site.

History and Significance: Unveiled in 2005 above engraved lettering that reads “Colorful Colorado” as the Pikes Peak region’s official state slogan, the stoic steed was commissioned locally by sculptor George Lundeen and quickly become a favorite fixture.

What to Expect: Passersby can hop onto the horse’s saddle and steady themselves atop the sturdy base to pose for pictures alongside the distinctive Downtown Partnership structure as memorabilia from their City of Champions adventures.

Visitor Information: The 360-degree access sculpture stands on Pikes Peak Ave’s pedestrian area 24/7. Enjoy photo fun then explore inside the building’s regional trip-planning center after.

Pay homage to Colorado’s Wild West past via larger-than-life bronze statues scattered around downtown Colorado Springs perfect for posing family vacation photos. Favorites include Running Mustangs with four galloping steeds in mid-action leaping across a median strip on Nevada Avenue or Next Stop! featuring a bucking horse throwing its hapless rider nearby on Tejon Street. Or admire the artistic equine beauty of A Thousand Peaks and Quiet Thunder arranged on street corners as colorful tributes to the region’s frontier heritage.

Explore Ute Indian Museum

Name and Location: The Ute Indian Museum resides south of Colorado Springs on the grounds of the Pikes Peak Highway along US Route 24 near Cascade showcasing artifacts of Colorado’s earliest native inhabitants.

History and Significance: Founded in 1956 to preserve Southern Ute cultural heritage through tools, jewelry & clothing acquired locally by donor Enos Mills in the early 1900s, the trailblazing museum honors ancient indigenous lifeways of Ute tribes native to the towering peaks region.

What to Expect: Inside the stone-hewn “igloo”, visitors gaze upon authentic Ute relics plus murals and dioramas depicting sanctified traditions of these ancestral mountain dwellers across changing seasons now gone yet still cherished.

Visitor Information: Free admittance from May to October (weekends only), the alpine museum lies along Pikes Peak Highway midway between Cascade and Colorado Springs.

Delve into Southern Colorado’s first inhabitants at the History Colorado Center’s Ute Indian Museum dedicated entirely to tribal culture with displays spanning artifacts like weapons and tools, clothing plus recreated homes inside its expansive galleries near Montrose. Knowledgeable historians and Ute tribe members themselves share songs, dance, cooking skills and lore during special programs included with free admission. Marvel over intricate beadwork styles and try your hand at traditional skills from fire-building techniques to grinding corn meal.

Pick Your Own Produce at Happy Apple Farm

Name and Location: Happy Apple Farm is a beloved family-owned u-pick apple orchard and pumpkin patch located in Penrose, CO open seasonally for visitors to gather tree-ripened fruit and gourds among lively rural farmscapes.

History and Significance: Run by 5th generation native Coloradans after founding amid post-WWII revival toward wholesome outdoor recreation, the farm radiates charm and warmth befitting its moniker through tours plus baked and handmade specialty goods.

What to Expect: Groups can rumble out to the High Meadow hideaway and roam freely down neat rows plucking bushels of McIntosh, Gala and heirloom apple varieties as well as picking perfect pumpkins for all ages to enjoy fresh-from-the-source regional harvest fare.

Visitor Information: Happy Apple’s rustic market and activities operate August through October. Peak dates often sell out so booking online early secures entry plus ensures preferred harvest access.

Enjoy bucolic farm scenery and fill baskets with fresh-from-the-orchard produce choosing from rows of ripe apples, peaches or pumpkins available for affordable pick-your-own harvesting at family-friendly Happy Apple Farm. Depending on the season and crop yields, certain items may come free with nominal basket and entrance fees (under $5) waived as well. Kids find FREE fun roaming the animal barn housing goats, chickens and ponies eager for visitors and brushes.

Join the Party at Territory Days Festival

Name and Location: Territory Days is Colorado Springs’ biggest and best annual street festival held downtown celebrating frontier heritage as live music and rowdy fun invigorate historic Old Colorado City each Memorial Day weekend.

History and Significance: The free event commemorating wild western roots with crowds numbering near 140,000 commenced in 1959 as a pioneer pride parade but has morphed into a mammoth multi-day bash spanning 30 city blocks with amusement rides and lively libations continuing the party till midnight.

What to Expect: Festooned with Old Glory flags befitting its patriotic timing alongside colorful banners strewn overhead, guests eat sweet shaved ice or saucy turkey legs while perusing handmade crafts from over 300 artisans alongside rip-roaring entertainment options.

Visitor Information: Event maps help navigate the sprawling footprint easily accessed via bike or shuttle. Canopies provide shade so lather on sunscreen and wear comfy closed-toed shoes for full day fun!

Celebrating colorful pioneer heritage with jam-packed entertainment for all ages, the lively annual Territory Days summer festival held over Memorial Day weekend provides a budget-friendly blast. Shop local artisans’ handmade goods or get your face painted while listening to live bands rock free concerts from morning until night. Watch Old West reenactments like gunfights staged on the streets or tour the museum to glimpse antique toys and historic attractions—all completely free.

Hunt for Street Art Murals

Name and Location: Colorado Springs boasts an impressive collection of vibrant large-scale street art murals springing up on the sides of buildings across downtown and surrounding districts as whimsical touches.

History and Significance: Grassroots campaigns to beautify blank urban canvases while celebrating hometown pride and talent has resulted in over forty eye-catching murals by local artists materializing as funky focal points showcasing imagination plus adding outdoor galleries.

What to Expect: Camera or phone in hand, visitors can traverse blocks capturing selfies against popular pieces like “Greetings from Colorado Springs” with its mountain landscape, vintage postcard look and uplifting message exemplifying the city’s essence and arts movement.

Visitor Information: Free online mural maps pinpoint attractions with downtown concentrations found near legacy institutions like The Gillett historic hotel ripe for exploring street art gems on foot.

Over 50 vibrant large-scale murals by local artists splash color transforming drab buildings into stunning canvases free for all to admire. Grab a street art guide from the Visitors Center or join mural-spotting tours via bike, segway or scooter to scope out favorites like the five-story Gaze depicting a mystical woman’s face or Radiant Child’s cosmic deer. Snap selfies posing with imaginative pieces like LOVE spelled with tools or the uplifting Celebrate on Tejon Street where new works rotate regularly.

Conclusion

The best things in life come free holds true thanks to Colorado Springs collecting a wealth of sites granting gratis access to all comers. Nature lovers soak up epic mountain-framed views from the Broadmoor and Seven Falls while culture vultures find inspiration browsing diners and Ute Indian history. Whimsical public art installations encourage exploration across downtown neighborhoods capped by annual festivals promising live entertainment and family fun. With this list in hand, visitors unlock 12 top attractions accessible absolutely free in Colorado Springs.

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