This remarkable 1,360-acre park is so full of weird and surreal red sandstone rock formations that it looks like Mother Nature teamed with Salvador Dali in forming it. Numerous well-maintained nature trails, some of which are paved, fan through the park and offer great photo opportunities. Educational markers are numerous and enhance your understanding of the who, what, where and why of these one-of-a-kind formations. Garden of the Gods Visitor Center, located across the street from the north entrance, offers hands-on exhibits, tours, a cafe and more. Admission is free. For more info click here.
2. Pikes Peak
Towering 14,110 feet above Colorado Springs, this mountain serves as one of the nation’s most famous landmarks. Access to the summit can be obtained via the Pike’s Peak Cog Railway , or by driving the Pikes Peak Highway which winds through stands of pine and aspen before cresting above treeline. Katherine Lee Bates was so moved by her visit to the summit that it inspired her to pen “America the Beautiful.” Bring a jacket as the temperature is about 20 degrees cooler up top. For more info click here.
3. US Air Force Academy
This scenic pine filled campus with a Rocky Mountain backdrop, is home to America’s future Air Force officers. Enter Colorado’s third most popular attraction at the North Gate for a glimpse of a B-52 bomber. Travel six miles to the visitor center, chock-full of exhibits, short films and a gift shop. Tour the stunning Cadet Chapel with 17 magnificent spires reaching 150 feet into the sky. Or check out Falcon stadium where the Air Force Falcons Football team plays, and keep an eye above where the skies are colored with cadets practicing parachuting and flying Thunderbird jets. For more info click here.
4. Old Colorado City Historic District
This three-block historic district of restored brick buildings once served as Colorado’s original capitol back in 1861. Today it is both a shopping and dining magnet. Old brick buildings and thick towering trees hem both sides of Colorado Avenue to create a visually appealing throwback feel, without relying upon touristy gimmicks and campy decorations. The district is jammed with 113 shops, galleries and restaurants that all have the refreshing distinction of not being chains. Special events such as Territory Days draw big crowds. For more info click here.
5. Cheyenne Montain Zoo
Spend a day at America’s only mountainside zoo. It features endangered species in mountain exhibits that resemble their natural habitat. You can walk the hilly terrain or catch the tram at one of seven stops. Hands-on contact with animals is permitted in front of the Aquatics building – giraffes will literally eat from your hand and zoo crackers can be purchased at the entrance. Mountain weather changes rapidly, so bring a light jacket. For more info click here.