This past October, Adam Wilson and Devin Austin drove from their native Oklahoma to Colorado Springs for a short getaway. They did many of the typical tourist things, including visiting Garden of the Gods, where Austin seemed nervous. In fact, Austin had been acting anxious for most of the trip, so as they entered the park, Wilson asked whether he was OK. “I’m fine, I’m fine,” Austin responded. “I just need to take a walk.” It wasn’t until they passed between two of the National Natural Landmark’s famous sandstone rocks that Austin finally cracked. “He’s shaking at this point,” Wilson said. “So I’m like, ‘What’s going on?’  ” That’s when Austin dropped to one knee.

Even five years ago, Austin and Wilson would have been hard-pressed to find an evening venue worthy of celebrating their engagement. While Colorado Springs’ topographical attractions—including “America the Beautiful” muse Pikes Peak—have always been inspiring, its cultural and culinary offerings have long been underwhelming. “What we had was nothing,” says David Yi, who grew up in Colorado Springs in the 1990s. “It was just fast food. I think Colorado Springs had the most fast-food chains in America. [Editor’s note: The Daily Beast ranked the metro area 18th per capita in 2011.] There wasn’t a lot of culture or diversity here, so I was itching to leave.”

After more than a decade of working in New York City as a fashion journalist, however, Yi returned home (where he now runs the lifestyle website Very Good Light and a skincare company called Good Light Cosmetics) and discovered a very different Springs. “I was so surprised,” Yi says. “There are a lot of cool small shops here, cool cafes, and independent bookstores; there are amazing places to work out. I really have come to appreciate the city.”

Colorado Springs’ glow-up—ignited by a diversifying demographic lured to the area by the growing economy, recreational opportunities, and affordable cost of living—has remade the city into a burg that boasts the best of both worlds. Visitors can now plan vacations around venerable tentpoles such as Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods and pad out their itineraries with a slate of innovative restaurants, hip hotels, and other unexpectedly exciting attractions. On the following pages, we highlight fresh spots drawing acclaim from locals and tourists alike plus pay homage to Colorado Springs institutions that continue to deserve your respect (not to mention your patronage).

Jump Ahead:

Best Colorado Springs Lodging

New: Garden of the Gods Resort & Club

Photo courtesy of Garden of the Gods Resort & Club

Founded as a private getaway, this luxury hotel isn’t technically new. In fact, it has occupied the most coveted piece of real estate in Colorado Springs—overlooking the spires of red sandstone in its namesake park—for more than 70 years. But in 2013, locals Brenda Smith and Judy Mackey bought the property. Over the past decade, they’ve spent $40 million to transform what had become a fading relic of midcentury elegance into a rustic yet chic showpiece open to anyone who can afford the nightly rate (from $250 to $600-plus for a suite).

Of particular interest to Mackey, a former health care executive, was ramping up the resort’s wellness offerings with a medical spa, a new fitness center, and freshly paved tennis and pickleball courts. The result is a comprehensive destination whose facilities finally match the healing nature of its surroundings. Use our itinerary to maximize your well-being during a short stay at Garden of the Gods Resort & Club (GGRC).

4 p.m.: Check in to your room as soon as you can, then hit the loo. Seriously. The most recently renovated part of the hotel, the 57 accommodations in the Lodge (GGRC’s main building) feature marble-clad bathrooms the size of efficiency apartments, which means there’s space for waterfall showers and gigantic soaking tubs. Take your time washing away the road—and any residual stress from home.

5:30 p.m.: Every room in the Lodge has a west-facing patio that looks down on Garden of the Gods. In other words: There’s perhaps no better spot in the state to watch a sunset.

7 p.m.: Throw on your Sunday best (collared shirt and slacks required) for dinner at Grand View, GGRC’s main restaurant. There’s no stuffy, country-club vibe, however; just floor-to-ceiling windows and a bar made of onyx imported from Turkey. High-end cuts of beef highlight the menu, but keep your arteries clear by enjoying the dinner-portioned Garden of the Gods signature salad, sprinkled with fruit, nuts, and goat cheese. This is a vacation, though, so don’t shy away from ordering a side of the truffle fries.

9 p.m.: Back in your room, flick a switch to ignite the flames in your recently upgraded fireplace—then catch some z’s.

Spin class at resort
Photo courtesy of Garden of the Gods Resort & Club

8 a.m.: Time to work out. The fitness room is packed with everything from free weights to Pilates reformers, but if you need some guidance, the hotel offers a range of classes, including HIIT, spin, and yoga—most of which are free for guests. Should you require competition, it’s only a short drive to the resort’s recreation center, where six pickleball courts and six tennis courts await.

9:30 a.m.: Grand View also serves breakfast, but we recommend replenishing spent calories with an Avocado Delight smoothie (spinach, avocado, pineapple, and banana) at the cafe inside the on-site Strata Spa, your next destination.

10 a.m.: Strata offers the basic pamperings: massages, manicures, pedicures, and facials. The salon will even cut and color your hair. But it also embraces Ayurvedic-inspired options, such as acupuncture, bamboo deep-tissue massages, and sound-bowl auditory therapy. You want nothing? Strata has that, too: Its dry floatation therapy bed delivers all the benefits of sensory deprivation tanks without requiring you to get wet (think: a heated waterbed).

11 a.m.: Spend your last moments before checkout at noon in the adults-only pool, whose infinity ledge drops off over Garden of the Gods. The balmy waters, heated to the mid-80s, will ensure you depart the resort feeling warm and fuzzy.

ClassicThe Broadmoor

Broadmoor exterior
The Broadmoor. Photo courtesy of Visit Colorado Springs

For almost 106 years, the Broadmoor has been synonymous with the city of Colorado Springs. The resort is akin to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge and New York City’s Empire State Building—except better, because it has a spa, golf courses, swimming pools, and at least a dozen restaurants. Beyond that, the Broadmoor offers hiking, rock climbing, fly-fishing, falconry lessons, and other outdoor adventures, many held in the canyons west of the property.

Then again, lots of people come to the Broadmoor to live how the other half lives indoors. For the most pinkies-out experience, rent the Estate House. The 1920s-era five-bedroom has a library, croquet lawn, and gourmet kitchen.

Quick tip: For those more comfortable in Blundstones than Manolo Blahniks, the resort introduced its all-inclusive Wilderness Experiences—Cloud Camp, the Ranch at Emerald Valley, and Fly Fishing Camp—between 2014 and 2015.

Best Colorado Springs Museums

New: U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum

Archery exhibit at U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum
Photo courtesy of U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum

Like Colorado Springs, museums in general suffer from a reputation for being boring. Also like Colorado Springs, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum shatters that misconception. Opened in 2020 at a cost of $96 million, the 60,000-square-foot facility supplements spellbinding artifacts with emotional and interactive exhibits that give visitors a tangible sense of what it’s like to represent the Red, White, and Blue on the global stage. Here, some highlights.

  • Olympic Torches Exhibit: Every two years, Olympic torch bearers garner global media attention. The torches themselves? Not so much. But lined up together, as they are in the museum’s opening exhibit—from the first, Berlin’s 1936 utilitarian rod, to the latest, Beijing’s 2022 twisting flame—they become works of art.
  • Athlete Training Hall: Does your dad respond to Carl Lewis highlights with a haughty, “I could do that?” Now’s the time to prove it, Pops. In the Athlete Training hall, simulators help guests understand the requirements necessary to master Olympic and Paralympic sports, whether that means making the right strategic decision in a game of sled hockey, balancing on a skeleton as it flies down a chute, or sprinting against virtual competitors such as Jesse Owens.
  • Parade of Nations Exhibit: In the Parade of Nations exhibit, wraparound video screens provide the immersive experience of entering an Olympic stadium surrounded by your teammates as the national anthem echoes through the chamber. Just try not to tear up.
  • John Register Exhibit: Hurdler John Register lost his leg after a training accident ahead of the 1996 Atlanta Games severed an artery, necessitating amputation. Only 18 months later, he competed in Georgia as a member of the U.S. Paralympics Track and Field team; four years after that, he took silver in the long jump in Greece. Today, his stars-and-stripes-bedecked prosthesis stands in the Summer Games hall.
  • Miracle on Ice Exhibit: Before entering the Winter Games collection, make a hard turn to your left. There, seemingly stashed away inside a hospitality space, stands the scoreboard from the Miracle on Ice—when the underdog U.S. men’s hockey team upset the mighty Soviets in 1980. It still reads 4-3 in favor of the good guys.

Classic: The National Museum of WWII Aviation

At only 14 years of age, this homage to the aircraft that were part of what President Franklin D. Roosevelt once called the “arsenal of democracy” during WWII isn’t one of the Springs’ oldest must-see destinations. However, it is one of the most awe-inspiring. On any given day, the museum serves as home hanger for roughly 29 fully restored flying machines, from Grumman F3F Flying Barrels to Brewster F3A Corsairs. And, yes, most are operational following extensive refurbishment, some of which happens at the on-site WestPac facility. WestPac, a private enterprise that lives on the museum’s campus, is an FAA-certified repair shop that, during daily tours, allows guests to eyeball the propeller repair station and full-service metal forming area. Quick tip: Check the museum’s website for upcoming air shows.

Best Colorado Springs Hiking, Biking, and Adventure

New: Pulpit Rock Summit Trail

Pulpit Rock scenic
Intricate Explorer/Unsplash

It’s easy to see why people are drawn to Pulpit Rock. The 66-million-year-old sandstone formation juts high over passersby from the east side of I-25, just north of downtown Colorado Springs, providing the perfect vantage point for admiring the Rocky Mountains. Pulpit Rock is especially beautiful in the morning, when the rising sun lights the peaks to the west in red and yellow while the rest of the town still sleeps in gray.

In fact, the view is so alluring—its siren so hypnotic—that, in the past, hikers did whatever was necessary to reach its summit. A few years ago, the city counted 814 social trails, totaling 27 miles, scattered through Austin Bluffs Open Space, the nearly 600-acre swath of city-owned land in which Pulpit Rock resides, many of them cut specifically to reach the high point. To be fair, the banditry was largely the city’s fault. Austin Bluffs had few designated trails, so people simply blazed their own, sacrificing conservation for convenience.

The city of Colorado Springs responded by building a direct out-and-back path from a formerly illegal parking lot at the south end of Pulpit Rock Park directly to the summit, completing construction in October 2022. Like the Manitou Incline, the one-mile route rises steadily to a scenic overlook. The biggest difference? Pulpit Rock’s trail leisurely gains the 345 feet of elevation necessary to reach the top, switchbacking to the 6,591-foot summit. Although there are a dozen or so steps to be scaled near the top, Pulpit Rock Summit Trail is still far less extreme than Manitou. That just makes the payoff at the pinnacle one of Colorado Springs’ best outdoor recreation bargains.

Classic: Manitou Incline

Person hiking up Incline
Photo courtesy of Visit Colorado Springs

Since 1990, when a rock slide decimated the tracks of what was once a narrow-gauge funicular railway, crazy…er…fitness-crazed people from all over have traveled to Manitou Springs (15 minutes west of Colorado Springs) to climb what locals call the Incline. Ascending more than 2,000 feet in less than one mile, the 2,744-step stairway from hell begins at 6,530 feet in elevation and ends at 8,550 feet. In some spots, the grade reaches 68 percent, a tilt that can induce vertigo as well as what-in-the-*%&$-am-I-doing second thoughts. Yet an estimated 70,000 gluttons for punishment make reservations to hoof it up the wooden flight annually, a feat that does have one reward beyond earning your après-hike beer: the view of Colorado Springs and the plains beyond far below.

Quick tip: Once at the top, you’ll hike three miles back down the Barr Trail. If your quads are fried two-thirds of the way up, though, you can also take the so-called Barr Trail “bailout.” We won’t tell.

New: Daniels Pass Trail System

In 2021, North Cheyenne Cañon Park—located 10 minutes west of downtown—opened roughly seven miles of multiuse paths that allow hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders to traverse thick conifer forests with eye-popping views. Here, two routes worth lacing up for, both of which leave from the Daniels Pass trailhead.

Hiker enjoying view on summit
Photo by Connor Bruson
Daniels Pass Trail to Sweetwater Canyon Trail
  • Distance: 6.02 miles, lollipop loop
  • Elevation gain: 1,000 feet

Although not a particularly difficult hike, the challenge here is making sure you don’t take a wrong turn. You’ll begin at the Daniels Pass trailhead and switchback your way up to an intersection with the Bruin Trail, where you’ll take a left to continue on Daniels Pass Trail. After a half-mile, you’ll summit 7,575-foot Daniels Pass—and could be tricked into taking a left onto Sweetwater Canyon Trail. Don’t. You might also be tempted to go onto Middle Sweetwater Trail another quarter-mile down the path; keep right again. At the next intersection, you’ll finally take that left onto Sweetwater Canyon Trail. From there, you’ll traipse through conifers for two miles. When you see a trail to your left, ignore it. After 0.79 mile, you’ll see a trail leading to the summit of Mt. Muscoco on your right. Unless you’re up for a scramble, stay left. Another 0.27 mile brings you back to Daniels Pass, from which point you’ll switchback down to your car.

Daniels Pass Trail to Mt. Muscoco Trail
  • Distance: 4.25 miles, out and back
  • Elevation gain: 958 feet

Tucked under a canopy of tall pines, this rock-strewn dirt path takes a moderate, switchback-laden route through the park on its way to the summit of 8,020-foot Mt. Muscoco. Although the trail is decidedly up, Coloradans who hike with any regularity will find the trek’s elevation gain eminently doable, if not enjoyable. The final half-mile to the summit, however, does require some scrambling—pay attention to signs for the easiest route—that may not feel comfortable for everyone. If you do clamber to the apex, you’ll be rewarded with 360-degree views that include both cityscapes and mountain vistas. Trekking poles aren’t a bad idea for the return trip.

Classic: Gold Camp Road

Car on Gold Camp Road
Photo courtesy of Lars Leber Photography

Perhaps nowhere is mining history more fun to experience than on Gold Camp Road. This area of what is now Pike-San Isabel National Forests was developed to prop up the Pikes Peak gold rush. Nine tunnels were blasted through the terrain, and tracks were laid so the Short Line could chug between Colorado Springs and Cripple Creek. The railroad became a road and remained that way until 1988, when one of the tunnels collapsed (others have caved in since). Today, you can drive up Lower Gold Camp Road—passing through tunnels 1 and 2—and park in the sizable Upper Gold Camp Road lot. From there, hike, mountain bike, or use your off-highway vehicle to make your way to several other tunnels.

Quick tip: To drive your Jeep from Colorado Springs to Cripple Creek, you can bypass the caved-in tunnels via Old Stage Road (it starts near the Broadmoor) and connect with the latter section of Gold Camp Road.

Best Colorado Springs Food Halls

Since 2013, four well-received marketplaces have repurposed existing Springs spaces to create food-and-beverage hot spots.

Bartender at The Well
The Well. Photo courtesy of Ernest Bordon, Bordon Inc


  • A Long Time Ago… The space at 514 South Tejon Street was a trolley shop
  • But Now It’s A… Food hall called COATI, an acronym that stands for Colorado Automatic Trolley Interchange, with a brewery, two bars, and seven restaurants
  • And You Gotta Try… Sidling up to the bar at Uprise Taproom with an Elephant Rock IPA; tucking into the Fish & Wing Platter at Luchal’s; and savoring an over-the-top fruit-based popsicle at the Paleta Bar

2. The Well

  • A Long Time Ago… The 1907 building at 315 East Pikes Peak Avenue served as an auto repair shop and a bus depot
  • But Now It’s An… Incubator dubbed the Well that wants to help launch up-and-coming restaurant concepts in Colorado Springs
  • And You Gotta Try… Ordering an adult beverage at the Gift Horse’s long, curving front bar and, to give the next day a jolt, grab-and-go breakfast and lunch from its new spinoff, Giddy Up & Go, which will soon be joined by the second outpost of La’au’s Taco Shop, a Hawaiian-inspired spot from the local Blue Star Group
Lazo Empanadas from Ivywild
Photo by Bordon Inc./Courtesy of Blue Star Group

3. Ivywild School

  • A Long Time Ago… The Greek Revival–style edifice at 1604 South Cascade Avenue was an elementary school, originally built in 1916
  • But Now It’s A… Food hall named Ivywild School, where, in 2013, Bristol Brewing Co. co-founder Mike Bristol, Blue Star Group owner Joe Coleman, and architect Jim Fennell of the Fennell Group reimagined the old educational building, turning it into a community gathering space (renovated in 2021) with a brewery, bars, and eateries
  • And You Gotta Try… Grabbing a spicy chicken or mushroom empanada at Lazo Empanadas and quaffing a pint at Bristol Brewing Co.

4. Lincoln Center

  • A Long Time Ago… The 42,327-square-foot, red-brick building at 2727 North Cascade Avenue was an elementary school that opened in 1948
  • But Now It’s A… Food hall and retail spot called Lincoln Center, made in the image of Ivywild School, that opened in 2016 and hosts 14 merchants, including a brewery, a bakery, a coffee roaster, and a barber shop
  • And You Gotta Try… Sipping a brewski from Goat Patch Brewing Co. while your kids get their gymnastics on at Flipshack, which focuses on dynamic movement education

Best Colorado Springs Coffee

It took a long time for good joe to arrive in the Springs. Here, a timeline of newish spots where you can grab a cup.

Photo courtesy of Brenna Skattebo Photography


Brandon DelGrosso’s Switchback Coffee Roasters now has two locations, and in 2023, DelGrosso and co-owner Trista Heileman opened Provisions Bread & Bakery, which serves Switchback coffee.


Wild Goose Meeting House brought to town manual brew methods, single-origin and direct-trade coffees, and traditional espresso.


Opened by six baristas, Loyal Coffee raised the bar for specialty coffee in the area. The same year, Story Coffee Company owners Don and Carissa Niemyer brought their philosophy of simplicity—in life and coffee—to the city and now have two locations.


Frankly Coffee founders Brandon and Kelly Noffsinger brought a multiroaster approach to their west-side cafe.

Best Colorado Springs Restaurants

Opened decades apart, these pairs of restaurants aren’t exactly doppelgängers, but they do exhibit some similar characteristics—authenticity paramount among them.

Tacos from Ephemera
Ephemera’s tacos. Photo courtesy of Roman Pena/Ephemera

If you have long loved: Mountain Shadows, a breakfast favorite in the Old Colorado City neighborhood that’s been doling out biscuits and gravy, green-chile-drenched breakfast burritos, and giant cinnamon rolls since the early 1990s

Then you’ll dig: Nightingale Bread, a born-in-2017 bakery that, from its location inside the Lincoln Center marketplace, offers quiches, croissants, seasonal scones, cookies, and sandwiches from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday

If you have long loved: Shuga’s, a 23-year-old south downtown institution that lives in what was, in 1910, a grocery store and now serves an eclectic menu of soups, sandwiches, bruschetta, and charcuterie boards alongside a well-curated lineup of (strong) cocktails for lunch or dinner

Then you’ll dig: Ephemera, the brick-and-mortar evolution of what had been a pop-up concept from chefs Ian Dedrickson and Adam Ridens, who now bring their experimental brand of cooking—think rack of elk with ratatouille salsa—to a tucked-away room inside the COATI food hall

If you have long loved: The Golden Bee, an authentic 19th-century English pub that arrived, piece by piece, at the Broadmoor in the early 1960s and serves fish and chips, chicken pot pie, and burgers

Then you’ll dig: The Principal’s Office, a dark-woods-and-exposed-brick bar inside the Ivywild School marketplace that’s been pouring clever cocktails and Colorado craft beers since 2013.

Best Colorado Springs Sports Venues

Classic: Falcon Stadium

Paratroopers over Air Force Falcon Field
Photo courtesy of Air Force Athletics

Coach Prime ain’t hard to find, but for a more spectacular show, consider trekking to the Air Force Academy’s football stadium north of Colorado Springs. Not only did the Falcons go 9-4 in 2023, but also the venue’s vibe is second to none in the state. At home games, fans are treated to unmatched rituals: the cadet march-on, where all 40 squadrons strut in unison onto the field and then dash into the stands; the flight of the falcon mascot; and the Wings of Blue parachute team, whose members jump from planes to deliver the American flag and the game ball to the field of play. The most thrilling tradition, however, is the flyover: jets screaming toward the stadium and shooting straight up, leaving everyone inside the venue feeling the heat of their engines.

Quick tip: All home games include a flyover, but the pageantry—and, therefore, the number of planes flying over the stadium—is ratcheted up during reunion (aka homecoming) games.

New: Weidner Field

Switchback fans at Weidner Field
Photo courtesy of Isaiah Downing

The Colorado Rapids have often been criticized for building their stadium, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, in Commerce City—inconveniently far from Denver’s city center. So when it came time for Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, a minor league soccer franchise, to construct a facility of their own, the team didn’t make the same mistake. Opened in 2021, Weidner Field sits at the south end of downtown Colorado Springs, where it has helped revitalize an area of town that had a reputation for being sleepy. As a result, Switchbacks games have become all-day events, where supporters literally party in the streets before cheering the boys in black and blue to victory. We compiled a guide to game day to help you prepare for the team’s home opener on March 16.

  • Weidner Field’s intimate capacity (only 8,023 seats) makes the howling from the team’s supporters’ club, the Trailheads, even more spine-tingling. Get a front-row seat to their coordinated chants and songs by buying tickets in the Trailheads’ dedicated area, section 127. But be warned: These hooligans don’t sit for the entire 90 minutes, so you won’t, either. (If you’re looking for a more laid-back viewing experience, seats in the stadium’s Phil Long, McDivitt, and ClutchBet clubs come with unlimited concessions—including pints.)
  • The Sea of Cyan, aka the Switchbacks’ official tailgate, begins two hours before kickoff when the team shuts down Sahwatch Street. Expect free live music from bands ranging from folk to punk rock, 10 to 12 booths occupied by local vendors, a mini soccer pitch and video game truck for the kids, and face painting provided by the steady hands of the Trailheads, who work exclusively in black and blue.
  • South Tejon Street, one of downtown’s most vibrant thoroughfares, resides two blocks from Weidner. Once there, you can down pregame calories (and enjoy a taste of home) at Denver Biscuit Company or sample from the 32 taps at Uprise Taproom, which features a rooftop patio overlooking the mountains to the west.
  • Trainwreck, which opened a few blocks south of Weidner Field, abutting the tracks, in 2022, is less of a sports bar and more of a sports compound. Outside, the massive facility is home to cornhole sets, bocce ball setups, and four lighted volleyball courts, while the interior features four golf simulators, pool tables, and, at 625 square feet, what’s billed as the largest television in Colorado Springs. Fuel up on familiar but tasty pub fare, from massive soft pretzels served with green chile to sourdough-crust pizza pies.