Colorado Springs epitomizes everything that is spectacular and thrilling about the Mountain States: brisk, fresh air, as well as tons of sunshine, mild winters, and cinematic landscapes. The majestic Rocky Mountains are just minutes from Colorado Springs’ vibrant downtown scene. The highest summit — Pikes Peak — is a main draw for visitors and locals. Colorado Springs vacation rentals let you have easy access to endless exciting opportunities for fun and adventure. Here are 15 standout things to get you started.

1. Ride the Rails to Pikes Peak

Start your vacation on a high note, so to speak, by summiting Pikes Peak. No time spent in Colorado Springs is complete without tackling the area’s greatest attraction in style. The Pikes Peak Cog Railway, the world’s highest cog railway, takes you along the scenic route from Pikes Peak’s base to its summit. Along the way, snap photos of aspen and pine forests, gushing streams, and the peak’s colorful wildlife and landmarks.

2. Stroll Divine Pathways in the Garden of the Gods

Tucked into the foothills of Pikes Peak is the Garden of the Gods, a city park chock-full of enormous red rock formations. The park also boasts 15 miles of trails encompassing kid-friendly loops and longer three-mile pathways. There are 30-minute tours to partake of, jeep and Segway tours, horseback riding, a gift shop, and local cafes.

3. Discover Masters of Contemporary Art

The Downtown Colorado Springs Creative District is your family’s doorway into an internationally renowned, inviting local arts scene. During First Friday gallery openings, local artists become tour guides, ushering you on a trip to several local galleries while illuminating the arts scene, works, and artists. The entire district is itself an outdoor gallery, with permanent Art on the Streets sculpture exhibits available to admire at any time.

4. Dig Up Colorado Springs’ Western Roots at the COS Rodeo

If your vacation rental dates overlap with any part of summer, check out the seasonal rodeo championships at COS Rodeo. The Western Wednesdays program includes a wagon dinner, bucking horses, bull riding, and barrel racing. A concert series, chuck wagon dinner, and a western art series bring rodeo enthusiasts together under one roof for roaring, down-home, family-friendly festivities and eats worth checking out.

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5. “Fall In” at The U.S. Air Force Academy

Ever wanted to peek inside an elite military training academy? Now’s your chance. The U.S. Air Force Academy welcomes tourists and first-timers, from the curious to the future cadet. The academy encourages self-guided tours of the cadet chapel, Arnold Hall, the field house, and the Falcon Athletic Center. Picturesque biking and hiking trails in and around campus are open to the public daily. Mix with actual cadets at any number of on-campus eateries, offering varieties from Mediterranean cuisine to standard contemporary American bar/grill fare.

6. Traverse the Seven Falls: America’s Most Scenic Mile

Fed by watershed from Pikes Peak, the Seven Falls are seven waterfalls within the vicinity of the Broadmoor Resort, Colorado Springs. Monopolizing a 1,250-foot box canyon that spans the Pillars of Hercules, the Seven Falls feature two hiking trails that wind through mountainous landscape bursting with local flora, fauna, and wildlife.

7. See Australian and African Wildlife at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Hand-feed giraffes, or go on a Mountaineer Sky Ride at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, home to more than 30 species of endangered animals. Animal exhibits showcase creatures from several major continents, including Australia and Africa. Between exhibits, there are rides and attractions to enjoy, such as the carousel, Animal Encounters, and My Big Backyard, an interactive learning experience providing hands-on exposure to amphibians, tortoises, rabbits, and chickens. Park admission covers access to the Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun.

8. Cheer on Olympic Hopefuls

Colorado Springs is home to the flagship training center for the U.S. Olympic Training Committee and Olympic Training Center programs. The center, open to the public, offers up to 15 tours daily (seasonal). Tours travel through most of the center’s 35-acre campus, giving you an insider’s look into the support services and facilities for Olympic athletes.

9. Step Into the Past at the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum

See how Colorado’s predecessors triumphed over the Colorado desert wilderness at the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum. The museum displays the history of the Pikes Peak Region through permanent and temporary exhibits. The exhibits address every facet of the frontier experience as well as Plains and Pueblo Indian culture. Located inside the restored downtown El Paso County Courthouse, the museum’s very home is an ode to this region’s rich past.

10. Maintain Your Retro Vibe in Old Colorado City

Old Colorado City is where miners purchased supplies during the Gold Rush. Today, locals and vacationers hit up Old Colorado City for its galleries and open-air studios where you can watch sculptors and jewelers at work in broad daylight. Opportunities for retail therapy abound up and down the city’s tree-lined blocks at unique, specialty shops, such as Thunder Mountain Trading Company and Everest Tibet Imports.

11. Enjoy High Tea at Glen Eyrie Castle

Escape the city’s bustle at Glen Eyrie Castle, a Tudor-style castle constructed in 1871 by General William Jackson Palmer. Today, the castle straddles 700 private acres, hosting daily tours and teas. There are special event teas and daily morning and afternoon teas. The seasonal tea menu contains mostly locally sourced ingredients, and there are gluten-free selections. You’re also welcome to peruse titles at the castle bookstore.

12. Meet the Neighbors at Ivywild School

Formerly an elementary school, Ivywild School is now a mix-use edifice containing gardens, local art, gathering spaces, eateries, and places to shop. The marketplace’s businesses echo the school’s past with names like the Old School Bakery, where you can pick up artisan breads and pastries, a latte, sandwich, or daily soup.

13. Bond and Build Problem-Solving Skills at Escaped in Time

Escaped in Time is one of Colorado Springs’ premier escape room facilities, in which you solve clues and perform simple tasks to escape a locked room. The rooms’ themes change periodically, but most rooms accommodate up to eight players or as little at two, and emphasize team-building activities. Average escape game time is 90 minutes.

14. Make it a Family Fishing Day

Colorado Friends and Family Fishing specializes in boat fishing and trolling at Eleven Mile Reservoir and the Rampart Reservoir. Colorado Friends and Family Fishing supplies the fully-equipped boat, rods, reels, tackle, bait, life vests, and expert guidance.

15. Go on a Rocky Mountain Adventure

Founded in 1973, Adventures Out West provides family-oriented Rocky Mountain adventures, including zipline, Segways, jeeps, and hot air balloons. Get a bird’s-eye view of the Rocky Mountains in a family hot air balloon tour, or zip between peaks with a family night campfire and s’mores zipline adventure.

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