Five free things to do in Colorado Springs

September 16th, 2019
A photo of Garden of the Gods
Garden of the Gods is spectacular and one of the must-see free attractions in Colorado Springs. Photo by Rick DuVal.

People come from all over the world to visit Colorado Springs. So if you live here, you have no excuse! Get out and enjoy the many attractions in the Pikes Peak region. Best of all, some of them are free. Here are five terrific outings to consider:

Garden of the Gods

This city park is worthy of national recognition, with its stunning red sandstone formations – eruptions, spires and hogbacks – that make a scenic setting for a leisurely (or not) stroll. Stand at a certain point and you’ll see Pikes Peak framed between the Kissing Camels. Stunning, especially when there’s snow on the mountain.

Check out the informative and entertaining visitors’ center for advice on hikes, rock climbing, wildlife encounters and free programs. Ranger-guided talks and wellness walks are among the many offerings. Don’t be surprised to encounter a group of Olympic cyclists spinning by for a daily workout.  Plan to do some walking.

And be aware that wildlife believe the park is theirs. Don’t hike alone, always carry water and please don’t pick the wildflowers.

For more information and current programs, visit https://www.gardenofgods.com/.

U.S. Air Force Academy

This national landmark military institution is open to casual visitors. Drive through the grounds. Visit the architecturally remarkable interdenominational chapel. (Although, right now, it is closed for renovations.)

Stop at the 31,000-sqare-foot visitor’s center and museum to see the exhibits, and maybe even take a short nature hike. Occasionally, the planetarium is open to the public for some stargazing.

For hours and public access information, visit https://www.academyadmissions.com/visit-the-academy/self-guided-tours/visitor-center-information/

Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum

Housed in the beautifully preserved 1903 El Paso County Courthouse, the museum has both a permanent local history collection and fascinating rotating exhibits, which range from art to local cultural icons. The museum also hosts family fun events and sponsors many downtown events, such as the Festival of Lights parade each holiday season. History lectures and other events are posted monthly on its website.

The building is a museum piece in itself. Take time to enjoy the extravagant architecture of another era, including pillars and a vast marble staircase. For current events and exhibits, visit  https://www.cspm.org/

Penrose Heritage Museum

Formerly the El Pomar Carriage House Museum, it is located in The Broadmoor Hotel complex, next to the underground parking garage. This under-visited attraction was started in 1941 by the hotel’s founder, Spencer Penrose, and includes carriages, coaches, wagons and cars that carried local dignitaries and a few U.S. presidents, all dating from the early 20th century.

A permanent Pikes Peak Hill Climb exhibit has been added and features unique cars from the internationally famous race, plus an easy-to-follow set of plaques detailing its sometimes scary history.

For more information, visit http://www.visitcos.com/el-pomar-carriage-house

Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College

This 100-year-old institution features everything from high-end Western art to ultra-contemporary exhibits. The lovely art deco building includes a seamless addition with extensive galleries. OK, it’s not free most of the time. But it does have free days and you should take advantage of them. To find out when they are, visit https://fac.coloradocollege.edu/event/museum-free-day-2/?eventDisplay=all

Get out and explore!

About the author

Linda DuVal is a freelance writer based in Colorado Springs and a regular contributor to UCHealth Today. She has written travel articles for major U.S. newspapers and national, regional and local magazines. She spent 32 years as an award-winning writer, reporter and editor for The Gazette in Colorado Springs.