Monument is a town of about 6,500 residents in Colorado’s El Paso County that’s experienced double-digit population growth in the last few decades.
It’s located along the Interstate 25 corridor between Denver to the north and Colorado Springs to the south, and it’s surrounded by vast plains to the east, and an abundance of state and national parks, majestic mountains, and world-class ski resorts to the west.
The town was incorporated in 1879 and was then strategically placed along the Rio Grande Railroad.
Below are 15 fun, educational, and exhilarating things to do in and around Monument, Colorado.
1. Rim Rock Drive
For lovers of amazing scenic vistas and dramatic western skylines, there’s no beating Rim Rock Drive.
Rim Rock Drive stretches for more than 20 miles through an impressive diversity of natural environments. For first-time visitors to the Rocky Mountain State, it’s usually one of the most memorable experiences of their trip.
Along the way, there are more than a dozen viewing areas with ample parking, and for those interested in exploring on foot, there are a number of trails in the area as well.
The roads are steep and narrow in places, so it’s wise to drive slowly and watch for walkers and cyclists on the roadside.
2. Hike to Monument Rock
Hiking is one of Colorado’s most popular outdoor recreation activities. Though many visitors choose to explore the large parks west of Monument, there are ample options for those who’d rather stay closer to home as well.
The town of Monument boasts more than 30 miles of trails that range from relatively flat and short to steep and precarious, so there’s something for nearly everyone regardless of age or level of physical ability.
The hike to Monument Rock is ever-popular largely because it’s dog-friendly, conveniently located, and easy enough for children and those not in tip-top shape.
3. The Coffee Cup Cafe
Located on Front Street in Monument, The Coffee Cup Café is open daily from 6 AM until 3 PM. In addition to their full selection of coffee, tea, and juice, they’ve got a great food selection as well.
Since The Coffee Cup Café opens at the crack of dawn, it’s a great first stop for those who’ve risen early to make the most of their limited vacation time, and a few of their breakfast favorites include eggs benedict, burritos, French toast, and yogurt.
They’ve also got several gluten-free options for those with dietary restrictions, and their prices are very reasonable.
4. Monument Ice Rinks
Monument Ice Rinks is actually two rinks in one. Though the facility often hosts youth and adult hockey leagues, it’s also open to figure and casual skaters, and it’s also a popular venue for special events like birthday parties.
The rink has programs available for three-years-old and above that include both basic skating and hockey lessons. For those who’d rather not risk life and limb on the slippery ice, it’s possible to hang out and catch a game or just watch energetic kids enjoying themselves.
Monument Ice Rinks is open year-round, and skates and other equipment are available to rent on-site.
5. Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument
The Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument is located west of Monument in Teller County and is one of the region’s most well-preserved tracts of plant and invertebrate fossil beds.
The prehistoric plant and animal remains are set in sedimentary rock like shale and sandstone. Though many similar specimens are commonly seen in museums, there’s something truly unique about experiencing them in nature.
The park is open year-round with slightly reduced hours during the winter, and is only closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.
Additional amenities include an indoor visitor’s center, outdoor interpretive area, abundant hiking trails, and restrooms.
6. Back East Bar & Grill
Back East Bar & Grill is located on Cipriani Loop in Monument. In addition to its hearty and traditional American fare, it’s known for its all-around chill atmosphere that brings many regulars back again and again.
Ribs, pizza, burgers, and barbecue are perennial favorites at Back East, and they also offer a variety of pasta dishes, salads, appetizers, and homemade soups like French onion and New England clam chowder.
Back East is proud to be a family-friendly restaurant, and though the bar area is often abuzz, previous guests have noted that they didn’t feel out of place dining with kids.
7. Pikes Peak Brewing Company
Despite its rugged and rural nature, a hefty percentage of Colorado towns have at least one local brewing company, and for those staying in or passing through Monument, Pikes Peak Brewing Company is a must-visit.
Their brews run the gamut from fruit-infused IPAs to dark stouts, and unlike many bars that get too loud to have a conversation, the atmosphere in Pikes Peak is generally pleasant and low-key.
It’s common for food trucks to take up residence in the parking lot, and the taproom offers rotating and seasonal beers, so there’s almost always something to tempt even the most finicky taste buds.
8. Outlets at Castle Rock
Located on Factory Shops Boulevard, the Outlets at Castle Rock have been consistently ranked as the state’s number 1 outlet center over the last few years.
The outlet mall is anchored by many internationally known retailers like Ralph Lauren, Coach, and the North Face. It’s the perfect attraction for those who need a break from the often harsh Colorado elements.
The outlet’s stores tend to be on the upper end of the swank and price spectrum, but remember they’re not traditional retail stores, so for savvy shoppers with patience, there are usually great deals to be had.
9. Dirty Woman Creek Park
Though its name may be a bit of a put-off for those traveling with children, Dirty Woman Creek Park isn’t so named because it’s usually overrun with women of ill repute; instead, it was named after a woman who lived in a dilapidated shack with farm animals decades ago.
The park is conveniently located just a few minutes from downtown and offers visitors an array of recreation options that are free to enjoy.
Park amenities include baseball and softball fields, horseshoe tossing pits, covered picnic areas with tables, built-in barbecue grills, and restrooms.
Dirty Woman Creek Park is open daily and has plenty of on-site parking.
10. Red Hawk Ridge Golf Course
At just slightly shorter than 7,000 yards, Red Hawk Ridge Golf Course on Red Hawk Ridge Drive in Castle Rock is longer than most of its contemporaries.
The course was designed by a nationally renowned golf course designer and has been officially open to the public since 1999.
It’s particularly well-known for its undulating fairways, scenic vistas, and native trees and grasses, and it features a variety of tee box options that make it appropriate for seniors, women, and children.
There are number practice areas, a fully stocked pro shop, and a grill-style restaurant that’s open for lunch and dinner as well.
11. Theatre of Dreams
Theatre of Dreams is also located in nearby Castle Rock and is one of the country’s premier magic show attractions.
The center has been open for nearly two decades and was founded by a big-time husband and wife magician team who’ve performed at ritzy venues in Vegas and California.
The theater is relatively small and quaint and gives visitors an up-close-and-personal experience that’s just not possible at bigger venues.
They’re open year-round, and acts include circus performers, comedians, and mind-readers. For those looking to learn the trade, the staff offer youth and adult workshops.
12. Garden of the Gods
The Garden of the Gods is located in Colorado Springs and features hundreds of individual geological formations that have been carved from the rock by the forces of wind and water over countless eons.
The park’s stunning formations include pointy spires, monoliths, and narrow canyons, and the area is relatively easy to explore via the network of trails that lead to each area.
Garden of the Gods is free to visit. Though it’s always majestic, previous guests have noted that it’s particularly so when the sun is rising and setting, as the light reflects off the rock and makes amazing contrasts between shaded and illuminated areas.
13. United States Air Force Academy
Visiting the United States Air Force Academy just outside Colorado Springs is another free activity that ranks highly on many Colorado visitors’ itineraries.
It’s a good idea to stop at the welcome center first because it’s been designed to give guests an overview of the facility’s history and layout, as well as the things that are available to see and do.
Pick up a map if you plan on showing yourself around the academy’s public areas, and listen carefully and point your eyes to the skies periodically, because it’s common to see a variety of sleek military aircraft throughout the day.
14. North Cheyenne Cañon Park
Comprised of more than 1,500 acres, North Cheyenne Cañon Park’s centerpiece is the impressive gorge that stretches nearly 1,000 feet into the red rock below.
Depending on the ages and physical ability levels of those you’re traveling with, it’s possible to see the park’s dramatic structures from a number of viewing areas along the trails adjacent to the canyon.
Most guests stop in at the visitor and nature centers near the park entrance before setting out to explore, and there are several waterfalls that are relatively easy to reach as well.
The park is open daily from 9 to 5, with slightly reduced hours in the spring and fall.
15. Pike National Forest
Pike National Forest is comprised of more than one million acres west of Monument, along the Rocky Mountain’s Front Range.
The forest stretches through a variety of natural landscapes and six counties and offers plentiful year-round activities that are perfect for backpackers and all-around lovers of the great outdoors.
Previous guests have mentioned that while hiking along the forest’s trails, they saw an abundance of wildlife including fox, elk, and birds like hawks, owls, hummingbirds, and woodpeckers. Camping is also popular with those who prefer cool breezes and distant stars to musty hotel rooms and continental breakfasts.