Woodland Park is located near the geographic center of the state of Colorado in Teller County.
The town had a population of about 7,500 residents at the time of the last survey, and it was founded in 1891.
Woodland Park lies just west of Interstate 25 between Denver to the north and Colorado Springs to the south. It’s set amidst some of the state’s largest national parks that offer nature lovers an abundance of year-round activity options.
Below are 15 things to do in and around Woodland Park that rank highly with both visitors and locals.
1. Manitou Park Lake
Manitou Park Lake resides within the massive Pike National Forest, and for those visiting Woodland Park, it’s a convenient outdoor recreation attraction.
The lake is a big draw for regional anglers in search of feisty game fish like trout, bass, and pike, and during the warm months, it’s popular with swimmers, kayakers, and paddleboarders.
From the park’s network of trails, it’s common to see lots of wildlife, and for bird watchers, there are hundreds of species to spot, including bald eagles, hawks, waterfowl, and woodpeckers.
Though the park is most crowded on warm, sunny days, the fishing is often best during periods of wind, clouds, and a falling barometer.
2. Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center
The Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center was founded nearly two decades ago, and it’s a big hit with those of almost all ages and interests.
The center is located on South Fairview Street in Woodland Park and features an impressive collection of remnants of prehistoric creatures like dinosaurs, fish, and mammals.
Many visitors choose to take advantage of one of the center’s regularly scheduled guided tours; those who do will get unique insights into the interactive exhibits, as well as a behind the scenes look at how the professionals prepare fossils before they’re put on display.
There’s a nice gift shop full of interesting knickknacks you won’t find elsewhere too.
3. Cafe Leo
Coffee junkies need not leave town limits to get their fix when visiting Woodland Park, and for those who prefer independent coffee shops over national chains, Café Leo may be just what the doctor ordered.
Café Leo is located on West Midland Avenue and features tons of coffee options, as well as tasty breakfast and lunch fare like yogurt, bagels, and sandwiches.
Previous guests have noted that their bagels are as good as those found in NYC and that their portion sizes were large and their prices reasonable.
They’re open daily from early to mid-afternoon, but hours vary by day, so check their schedule before heading out.
4. Shining Mountain Golf Course
During the spring and summer, the weather in most of Colorado is absolutely perfect for golfers. For many first-time visitors, the majestic mountain vistas and blue skies are nothing short of breathtaking.
Shining Mountain Golf Course is considered by many savvy golfers to be one of the region’s best values and it’s open to both locals and visitors during the season.
There are also two on-site disc golf courses for those who’d like to try something new, as well as a pro shop, practice areas, and a full-service bar and grill. The course is located on Shining Mountain Lane in Woodland Park.
5. Mountain Arts Festival
For nearly three decades, the Mountain Arts Festival has been a much-anticipated art and social event that’s held in August when the weather is perfect for being outdoors.
The festival draws creative types and art lovers from all over the country. For novices and aspiring artists, it’s the perfect place to mingle with established artists, pick up a few tips, and get a little inspiration.
The event includes works in a variety of mediums, like paintings, blown glass, jewelry, contemporary photographs, and sculptures, and there are always plenty of food and drink options for those of all ages and tastes.
6. Fiesta Mexicana Family Restaurant
The American west has always been influenced by Mexican food and culture, and for lovers of cuisine from south of the border, there are plenty of dining options.
Fiesta Mexicana Family Restaurant is the perfect spot for a casual meal and features bright colors and authentic décor, like vibrant blankets and hand-carved furniture.
Their most popular menu items include carnitas, tacos, chimichangas, and fajitas; they even offer options for the gluten intolerant and those counting calories.
Fiesta also has a special kid’s menu, and in addition to tasty food, regulars appreciate their prompt service, reasonable prices, and ample portion sizes.
7. Colorado Wolf Adventures
For centuries, all over the world, wolves have been much maligned and hunted to extinction or near extinction.
Colorado Wolf Adventures is dedicated to protecting wolves and preserving their habitats and reversing the stereotypes that have largely led to their decimation.
Colorado Wolf’s staff offer a variety of programs that focus on education, and there are options available for nearly every age.
Offsite activity options must be booked in advance, such as photography and walking tours of local wolf habitat in the vicinity of Pike’s Peak. Guests will have access to hundreds of photos of their trip to take with them as mementos.
8. Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument
Much of Colorado is littered with the fossilized remains of amazing and exotic creatures that once crawled, swam, ran, and flew through what’s now the Rocky Mountain State.
Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument is one of the state’s premier destinations for dinosaur enthusiasts and rock hounds. It’s most well-known for its shale and sandstone, which contains tons of fossilized plants and invertebrates that lived millions of years ago.
There are also petrified tree stumps, some of which have diameters nearly 15 feet across.
The monument area is open year-round though hours may vary, and they’re closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.
9. Rainbow Falls Historic Site
Located on Colorado Route 67 just outside Woodland Park town limits, Rainbow Falls Historic Site is one of the area’s most historically significant attractions and a must-visit for lovers of history and Native American culture.
A number of Native American peoples lived in the area and frequented the falls for water and fish long before the region was settled by those of European descent.
The majestic rainbow falls are beautiful year-round but are especially so during the spring thaw when the creeks and rivers in the area swell with snowmelt.
The site’s amenities include trails, viewing areas, covered seating, and informative exhibits describing the things you’re seeing.
10. Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum
Though it’s not large by contemporary museum standards, the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum is a popular attraction for history-minded visitors interested in conserving valuable vacation resources and getting in-depth insights into the city’s past.
The museum is located in the old El Paso County Courthouse that’s nearly a century old; it’s full of interesting exhibits that include historically significant artifacts, memorabilia, and photographs.
Most visitors spend between an hour and two on-site, and it’s near other Colorado Springs attractions that are worth checking out as well.
It’s a free attraction and is open from Tuesday through Saturday from 10 AM to 5 PM.
11. Garden of the Gods
Colorado Springs’ Garden of the Gods is a truly unique natural attraction, and for many visitors, it’s one of the most memorable of their vacation.
The garden is comprised of more than 1,300 acres and includes majestic spires and monoliths that have been carved into the vibrant red rock over countless eons by the forces of wind and water.
Most guests choose to visit the park during the peak season, which typically lasts from the end of May through the end of August. Especially for first-timers, it’s a good idea to stop at the visitor center first to get an overview of the layout, attractions, and tour options.
12. Glen Eyrie Castle
America isn’t exactly known as a world-leading attraction for lovers of castles, but Glen Eyrie Castle in Colorado Springs is one of the area’s most unique attractions and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The castle was built in 1871 by the man who founded Colorado Springs, and its sprawling grounds include nearly 800 acres.
Though modest by European castle standards, Glen Eyrie features impressive Tudor architecture and more than 20 opulent rooms. Guided tours are the best way to get the most bang for your buck.
There are also plenty of seasonal activities, particularly during the summer and holiday season.
13. Pikes Peak
Pikes Peak is one of the most well-known mountains in North America. Though it’s not the tallest, at more than 14,000 feet tall, it’s pretty close.
The peak is accessible by car, and for those looking for something more dramatic and romantic, the Pikes Peak Cog Railway is the perfect option.
The Cog Railway journey sets off from Manitou Springs, and the Barr Trail is an option for fit and fearless hikers who aren’t intimidated by a 13-mile trek.
From the vista points along the way, it’s possible to see notable attractions like Colorado Springs’ skyline, the Rocky Mountains, and the Continental Divide.
14. Penrose Heritage Museum
The Penrose Heritage Museum is located on Lake Avenue in Colorado Springs and is home to an impressive collection of antique carriages that were once owned by a prominent local family.
The museum has been around for more than seven decades and includes more than 30 horse-drawn conveyances as well as some vintage automobiles that were built in the early years of the 20th century.
The collection’s centerpieces are a stretched Cadillac from the ‘20s and two presidential carriages that once belonged to obscure US Presidents Chester Arthur and William Henry Harrison.
Admission is inexpensive, and most guests spend an hour or so on-site.
15. The United States Air Force Academy
The United States Air Force Academy has always been located in Colorado Springs and is a popular destination for lovers of aviation and military history.
Though much of the academy is off-limits to visitors, there’s an impressive visitor center that includes exhibits detailing the academy’s history, as well as that of military aviation in general.
The center is open daily and is spread across more than 30,000 square feet. Additional amenities include a theater, chapel, and athletic center, which are accessible by those who choose to sign up for a guided tour.
There’s an open hiking trail too, from which it’s common to see jet-powered war birds blasting through the sky.