Colorado Springs

a safe and satisfying escape

In these times of difficult ravel to far-off places, it is a delight that here in Colorado, we have a wealth of variety in sites across our state to visit. Recently, we explored the Colorado Springs region - a quick 2 ½ hour or less drive
from Fort Collins. With so much to do and see, we felt chagrined at our measly three days. In fact, the New York Times ranked Colorado Springs #13 in the world of its list of “Places to go in 2020.” Colorado Springs is known as “Olympic City USA,” being home to the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee Headquarters, 24 National Governing Bodies of Sport, more than 50 National Sport Organizations, the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic
Training Site and now, the truly awesome U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum, which opened in late July to the public. The Museum contains exhibits detailing the history, culture, and aspirations of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, from Ancient Olympia to the Modern Games.  The Museum, designed to be pandemic-safe, aims to be one of the most accessible and inclusive museums in the world.

Even those who know little about sports in general (myself included!) are fascinated and delighted by this  creative and immersive experience. Indeed, we stayed for over five hours, and could have stayed longer if we had the time. We took a break to have lunch at the surprisingly superb Flame, the museum cafe -
everything was excellent, but the pizzas are exceptional! Note that at this time, reservations are required and ticket prices range from $19.95- $24.95 and can be purchased at

The Museum has taken extensive measures to provide a safe and contactless environment for staff and guests.  It was so much fun to simulate the six athlete experiences, as I “raced” Jesse Owens (he won by a LOT) and played Goalball (a paralympic game designed for sight-challenged and blind players) and felt terrified during a skeleton headfirst bobsled run. Whoops and cheers and “Oh, no’s” are heard throughout as others try the immersive activities. This is a museum which anyone would love - children, adults, seniors, history
buffs, and those with special needs or accessibility issues. Best of all, the Museum’s “Digital Locker” records these experiences from the digital card which all visitors have hanging from their necks in the museum. The videos are sent via email to each participant afterwards, along with scores and other tips and observations.

The Museum emphasizes throughout the core principles of the Olympics - including respect, determination, friendship, excellence, courage and treating others as one would wish to be treated, and inspirational quotes and signage are everywhere. The collection of Olympic torches from the Crawford Family U.S. Olympic & Paralympic
Archives, a full set from 1936 when the first torch relay was held, was mesmerizing and inspiring, as was the Medal Collection, also from the Crawford Family.

Trying to keep to COVID protocols, we opted to do as much outdoors as possible, and the Colorado Springs region does not disappoint in options. After the museum, we strolled the downtown streets, several of which are closed off to vehicles, with expanded space for lively dining patios and decorated with pretty white lights strung above, giving a festive flair. Jose Muldoon’s had delicious offerings, which we opted to do as takeout and ate in the park right across the street while watching kids play ball. The next morning, we drove to the northeast end of town to take in a picturesque hike in 730-acre Palmer Park, which won Best Urban Park in Elevation Outdoors Magazine’s Best of the Rockies 2017 list.

With over 25 miles of trails, we were astounded in the sweeping views reached in just about 45 minutes of hiking past gorgeous rock formations and lovely autumnal vegetation. While there are signs warning of rattlesnakes, we saw none. On to Old Colorado City and Manitou Springs - small towns just moments away from Colorado Springs, but with very different vibes. Old Colorado City is home to a “feels like New York” Italian bistro, Paravicini’s, where we safely dined in a semi-enclosed patio (just to break the chilly wind) on eggplant and chicken parmigiana and a sublime chocolate torte. As we were leaving, the hostess lured us into the memorabilia room, lined with fabulous black and white’s of Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Marilyn Monroe, Sammy Davis Jr. ,Joe DiMaggio and many more of that era. 

Just 10 minutes from downtown Colorado Springs, Old Colorado City feels like a small mountain town. With Wild West roots, this historic area is full of cute bistros and charming shops filled with unique gift items. On our day there, we enjoyed an outdoor concert at the shady town park. A bit farther on Highway 24, Manitou Springs, a registered “Creative District,” is even more like a mountain town, situated right at the base of renowned Pikes Peak. Here, you might spot elk, deer, even a bear or bobcat while strolling the hilly residential streets
above the town’s center, filled with boutiques, galleries and restaurants.

Manitou hosts a wealth of festivals and events, such as the famed Emma Crawford Coffin Races, a Mardi Gras Carnivale and the whimsical post holiday Fruitcake Toss. Again, just 15 minutes or less from Manitou or Colorado City, there is a definite don’t miss - and free of charge! Garden of the Gods is an otherworldly spot, a place of which one could never tire.

With towering formations and rock pinnacles of every shade of red and orange, this public park fills its parking lots early, so be prepared on weekends to wait for a space. Trails of all hiking abilities are there, as well as an acclaimed visitors’ center and trading post, Colorado’s largest and oldest gift shop and art gallery. There is so much more to do and see … outdoors, check out Pikes Peak, Cave of the Winds Mountain Park, Seven Falls, the grounds of the renowned Broadmoor Resort, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, the Manitou Cliff Dwellings, to name but a few. Indoors, there are many more options/ But take it from us - two days just barely scratches the surface! (ask for the Visitor Guide)

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