Downtown Colorado Springs proximity to Pikes Peak and the Rocky Mountains make it the ideal base for outdoor activities. Though the district’s geographical location, at over six thousand feet above sea-level, means it’s advisable to take the first day of any stay there at a steady, relaxed pace because of the high altitude.
While the natural beauty of the area is difficult to compete with, Downtown Colorado Springs manages to do it and with style. So much so, Downtown Colorado Springs is a designated Colorado Creative District, and there are incredible public artworks on almost every street.
View them all then go underground to tour impressive caverns at the base of Pikes Peak, watch Olympic athletes train, take a horse ride through the mountains or visit a museum dedicated to the first settlers. There’s so much to do in Downtown Colorado Springs; the choice is as dizzying as the altitude. Do all of these fifteen best things to do in Downtown Colorado Springs, and you’ll be guaranteed an enjoyable and well-balanced stay.
1. Downtown Art Walk
Adjust to the high altitude by taking a sedate stroll around Downtown Colorado Springs on a Downtown Art Walk and discover the fifty pieces of amazing public artwork which are on permanent display.
Download an app from the official Colorado Springs website to locate all of the sculptures and plan a route, then enjoy them and the district at a leisurely pace.
Downtown Colorado Springs also hosts temporary sculptures throughout the year for the Art On The Streets project. Guided tours of the project pieces are available during the summer months.
2. Sunrise Balloon Flight
Get collected from Downtown Colorado Springs and driven to a nearby take-off site. After a short briefing, climb into the gondola of a hot air balloon for a majestic flight over Aspen and Snowmass.
When seen from above, the Colorado landscape is awe-inspiring and there are frequent sightings of wild bears, deer, elk and raptors during the flight so taking a pair of binoculars is a good idea.
Balloon flights last for around an hour depending on climate and wind conditions. All aeronauts are rewarded with an after-flight champagne brunch and souvenir certificate.
3. Pioneers Museum
The Pioneers Museum on South Tejon Street in Downtown Colorado Springs is dedicated to keeping alive the history of the district and the state of Colorado.
The museum houses fascinating collections totalling over sixty thousand articles pertinent to the city and the influence the first settlers in the region had on its development.
There is an in-house store offering snacks and gift-style merchandise reflecting the museum’s exhibitions.
4. Colorado Farm & Art Market
The Colorado Farm and Art Market is a lively produce and handicraft market held in the grounds of the Pioneers Museum in Downtown Colorado Springs.
At the weekly market, it’s possible to find everything from home-baked bread to bubbling Buddha soaps; artisan created pottery and Italian ice cream. There are various pop-up food stalls offering tamales and other regular snack food options.
5. Pikes Peak Highway Tour
Board a Gray Line bus at the Pikes Peak Gift Shop on South Sierra Street in Downtown Colorado Springs for a guided tour to the summit of Pikes Peak.
The tour takes a stunningly scenic route through the Ute Pass and alongside the Crystal Reservoir before continuing to the observation point at the top of the mountain from where there are incredible panoramic views of Colorado.
The tour takes around four hours, covers a distance of sixty miles and reaches an altitude of over fourteen thousand feet.
6. US Olympic Training Center
Visit the US Olympic Training Center while in Downtown Colorado Springs to see first hand how hard the athletes work to achieve success in their chosen sport.
The training center in Olympic Plaza is just five minutes outside of the downtown district and is an installation with both residential and recreational facilities for over five hundred people.
After arriving at the Olympic Training Center visitors are shown a short film presentation before being accompanied on a forty-five minute walk around the complex. Don’t miss seeing the US Olympic Hall Of Fame Rotunda or stopping off at the US Olympic store.
7. Garden of the Gods Horse Ride
Forget motorized transport when in Downtown Colorado Springs and saddle up for a horseback ride through the Garden of the Gods national park.
The Academy Riding Stables, located on El Paso Drive, is a few minutes drive from Downtown. Once there, meet up with an authentic cowboy guide, get to know your mount, then hit the trails for a ride through the park’s spectacular rock formations.
No previous equestrian experience is necessary for either the one or two-hour trek on horseback.
8. The Rabbit Hole
For dinner with a difference in Downtown Colorado Springs, find the street-level entrance then take the stairs down into the Rabbit Hole.
The stone-walled subterranean restaurant on North Tejon Street, loosely themed on Alice in Wonderland and the white rabbit, serve a simple but well-executed menu. Popular delicacies include rabbit pie, maple-glazed Brussels sprouts, and cherry-braised buffalo ribs.
Save room for dessert. The super tasty German chocolate cake and the Moon Pie defy description.
9. Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center
The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center may appear to be a gray, and uninteresting block of cement from the outside, but once inside, that impression soon dissipates.
The center has numerous galleries housing expositions of twenty thousand pieces of American art in all its genres, a theater with a seating capacity for over four hundred and a performing arts venue hosting dramas, comedies, and musicals.
The Deco Lounge is the FAC’s in-house cocktail bar, and for pre-show dinners, there is the Taste restaurant which has superb views of Pikes Peak. Art-orientated gifts and souvenirs are available in the museum shop.
10. Phantom Canyon Brewing Company
Investigate Downtown Colorado Springs craft beer scene with a visit to the Phantom Canyon Brewing Company on East Pikes Avenue.
The brewery-restaurant-bar occupies three floors of the historic Cheyenne Building and has dark wood, pub-style décor throughout.
The Phantom Canyon Brewing Company is a great place to hang out in Downtown Colorado Springs any day of the week. Taste a few of the twenty craft beers on tap while playing a game of billiards or enjoying the mountain views from the terraces before tucking into a tasty Phantom burger or some pork mole tacos.
11. 4×4 Adventure Out West
Head into the hills for an exciting on and off-road adventure in an open top jeep. The 4×4 tour starts when you’re collected in Downtown Colorado Springs by Adventures Out West and driven into the Colorado wilderness to explore the Garden of the Gods, Cheyenne Canyon, and the Manitou Springs.
The jeep safaris last for around two and a half hours, but for even more outdoor diversion, the drive can be combined with a horseback ride or for the serious adrenaline thrill seeker, white water rafting in Phantom Canyon.
12. Ghost Town Museum
Delve into the history of Colorado Springs gold mining past at the Ghost Town Museum. The museum houses the preserved relics of an abandoned Wild West town complete with original timber buildings full of equipment and artifacts relating to gold mining and everyday frontier life.
The museum on South 21st Street has several interactive exhibits which include panning for real gold and a rifle shooting range. For a true taste of those bygone days, don’t miss trying a refreshing sarsaparilla drink in the saloon bar.
13. Pikes Peak Greenway Trail
Walk or cycle the scenic Pikes Peak Greenway Trail for a leg stretch and breath of fresh air in Downtown Colorado Springs.
The paved trail runs through the one hundred and fifty acre Monument Valley Park along the side of Monument Creek.
Bicycles are available for hire from the PikeRide cycle share scheme, and there are over twenty bike hubs for picking up and dropping off cycles distributed throughout the downtown district.
14. Gasoline Alley
There’s nowhere better for a night out in Downtown Colorado Springs than Gasoline Alley on North Tejon Street.
The super cool bar has beer taps like mini gasoline pumps, a classic bare-brick, and wood décor plus more tvs than an electronics store.
Gasoline Alley hosts live music from local artists every night on their fire-pit heated outdoor patio and have a rock and roll-themed snack menu.
15. Cave Of The Winds Mountain Park
For endless fun above and below ground, the Cave Of The Winds Mountain Park is a must-do when visiting Downtown Colorado Springs. The park has both natural wonders to explore and some great amusements too.
Take a Discovery Tour into underground caverns full of stalagmites and stalactites or a spooky Lantern Tour of the caves complete with added scary folklore tales. They’re both great caving experiences for novice cavers.
Above ground, ride the Bat-a-Pult, a one kilometer plus long zip line which runs around Williams Canyon or take the Wind Walker Challenge by crossing the labyrinth of beams six-hundred feet in the air. For the ultimate thrill, feel the g-force of the Terror-dactyl canyon swing after dropping two hundred feet at a hundred miles an hour. It’s beyond awesome – just like Downtown Colorado Springs.