48 Hour Guide to Colorado Springs
Jeremy grew up in Colorado, and while he hasn’t lived here in over 15 years, he still considers Colorado his home. While we enjoyed Denver’s lively downtown area, busy nightlife, and bountiful restaurants, Jeremy and I were both drawn to the slower pace of Colorado Springs. It is here that Jeremy spent some of his happiest memories with his family, hiking Garden of the Gods, touring Cave of the Winds, and visiting the Air Force Academy. I was eager to get to know the places that helped define and influence my husband at such a young age.
Garden of the Gods
It was a divine treat to witness the magnificent rust-colored rock formations at Garden of the Gods. I believe that anyone who wants to experience Colorado needs to touch and walk amongst these giants to truly understand why people love this place. The best part: The park is family accessible and free!
Cave of the winds
I expected Cave of the Winds to be like every other cave tour and I was so wrong. What makes this cave system so memorable is that while they do have the traditional cave tour, they also have a special lantern tour for the adventure seekers and a breathtaking view of the canyon below.
As we were standing at the counter deciding on which tour to take, Jeremy talked me into the lantern tour, saying “you’ll be fine. It’s not THAT bad”.
Our guide, self-named “the hippie”, was a tall, lean, middle-aged man with long, grey hair. He spoke to our group explaining in a cavalier manner that this tour was not for the faint of heart and that he will not end a tour for anyone who freaks out. I felt my anxiety begin to creep across my skin, my stomach doing flips, and I look at Jeremy with pleading eyes to withdraw and change for the easier tour. He knowingly looks back at me with reassurance and squeezes my hand for good measure. I would not be getting out of this.
We walked up a short hill listening to the beginnings of a ghost story about the founders of the cave. The hippie took our picture, claiming he needed visual proof of everyone in case someone goes missing, another ruse to get us feeling like we are about to recklessly endanger our lives. It was working. He handed us thin metal buckets with a hole pierced in the bottom and shoved a small glass vial of liquid in the hole. As he continued his story he lit the wick sticking out of the vials and directed us to start walking. The first 5 minutes were the most terrifying as our eyes hadn’t adjusted to the darkness yet and the lamps were too dim to help. We shuffled along single-file night-blind and bent over at the waist, holding our pathetic little lamps out in front of us. The ground was slick and the air was cold and stale. We weren’t allowed to touch any of the cave walls for support as it damages the delicate system. Our guide directed us to stop once we reached a chamber tall enough to stand up in. From there, he continued his tale of the founders and all the odd occurrences that happened in this cave.
An hour later, we walked out so glad we took the chance and stuck it out. It was such an amazing experience to walk around in the dark like that, somewhat terrified of falling into a hole. The hippie was amazing and truly brought the cave to life.
Even if you don’t like caves or darkness, Cave of the Winds is worth visiting just to see the view of the canyon below in the lobby.
Jeremy’s nostalgia list couldn’t be complete without a trip to Pike’s Peak. As a kid, he and his family would camp here and there was no way we were leaving Colorado Springs without spending some time at the summit. We originally intended to park a few miles from the top and hike up the rest, but after having such a hard time with the elevation just walking through Garden of the Gods, I knew I wouldn’t be able to hike up anything. So we drove and as we climbed higher, the world fell away and the air grew thinner. My breathing became difficult and my anxiety took over.
This is my “Get me OUT of here” face
When we reached the top at 14,000 feet of elevation, Jeremy hopped out of the car eager to walk around. I could barely go a few steps before stopping, sick with dizziness. I truly hated it and my anxiety was mounting. I couldn’t even enjoy the view because all I could think about was getting down and being able to breathe easier. Jeremy walked off to take some photos and I headed toward the gift shop to stay warm. We were there all of 20 minutes before I insisted we headed back down.
After a morning full of hiking and nature, we recommend eating lunch and walking around in Manitou springs. This small little town has so much charm. It has that “old town” vibe with some unique surprises.
Located on the main street of Manitou springs, this beautiful 3-dimensional sculpted map depicted the surrounding attractions.
We came across what we thought was just a small outdoor arcade area but then realized that this arcade spanned several shops. It was the largest collection of new and vintage arcade games I had ever seen. It was even larger than the collection at Musée Méchanique, one of our favorite places at the Fishermans Wharf in San Francisco.
One other memorable MUST visit place in Colorado Springs is Magic Town, the museum and art exhibit of the sculptor, Micheal Garman. It appears to be just a magic shop on the outside, but it is something else entirely. It’s hard to describe other than it is a room full of buildings and sculptures set at scale set in an urban city. The level of detail and stories being told could keep you here for hours. We highly recommend a visit to marvel and take in this funky experience.
This leg of the trip was so special to the both of us. Jeremy loved sharing with me the places that helped shape his childhood and seeing them made me feel even closer to him. I know this isn’t the last time we’ll visit Colorado Springs, and hopefully one day we’ll take our kids here as well.