An Affordable 7-Day Colorado Springs Itinerary for Active Adults

Advisor - Ann Pappas
Curated By

Ann Pappas

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  • USA

  • Colorado

  • Food & Wine

  • Adventure Travel

  • Outdoor & Nature

  • Active Travel

scenic road amid a red-rock mountain range
Curator’s statement

Colorado Springs is well known for their outdoor activities such as hiking and biking, but there is so much more. I lived here for 12 years. There are trails throughout the city and surrounding areas. In this Colorado Springs itinerary, I will be sharing scenic trails and my favorite affordable things to do. After your daytime activities, try some of the locally-made beer, gin and moonshine.

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Where to stay

The Lodge at Flying Horse

A comfortable Colorado Springs resort with a beautiful golf course and elegant, Tuscan-style rooms.

Garden of the Gods Resort and Club

Complete with ample wellness offerings, this mountain escape in Colorado Springs is the ideal home base from which to explore the surrounding natural playground.

The Antlers, A Wyndham Hotel

A centrally-located, dog-friendly stay in Colorado Springs especially well-suited for business travel.

Advisor - Ann Pappas

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Day 1: Start your Colorado Springs itinerary with a hike and craft liquor

up-close shot of a whiskey cocktail garnished with a dried orange slice and herbs

We are going to start north of Colorado Springs, in the small towns of Monument and Palmer Lake. There are up to 18 hiking trails just in this area.

Begin your day with breakfast in Palmer Lake at Speedtrap Bistro. That's where the locals like to go. It's a cozy restaurant, and in the summer they have a few outdoor tables so you can bring your dog before or after your hike. Even though it is small inside, it has a full bar and homemade breads and pastries. Pick up pastries and have a picnic on your hike. Some of my favorites on the menu are their quiche and crêpes, and you absolutely must try the cheddar potatoes. SO Yummy!

After breakfast, it's time to walk off your food. Palmer Lake Reservoir is a challenging uphill route. There are lakes for fishing on this path. It's 4.1 miles longs and takes about two hours to complete. Dogs are not allowed on this trail. The best time is in the summer, as the trail can get icy. And yes, it has snowed in May.

If you prefer an easy hike after breakfast, cross the road and walk the dog-friendly Palmer Lake loop, which takes about 15 minutes. It is also popular for fishing and paddle boarding.

After your hike, I recommend lunch in downtown Monument, just five minutes away. One of my favorite places is Black Forest Foods for their deli sandwiches and homemade soups. They use grass-fed beef and fresh ingredients, and everything is made from scratch.

If you have a taste for Mexican food, go to Alrene's Beans. The family that runs the business is very sweet and of course the food is always fresh and amazing.

Drive five minutes to Jasmine Garden for delicious Chinese food. You will get a lot of food for your money!

If you are around for dinner, stop by the Lee Spirits Company tasting room and try their lavender gin, or some of their cocktails. Just down the street is 3 Hundred Days Distilling, for moonshine. Take home a jar of 40-proof Strawberry Lemonade, or my favorite flavor, 40-proof Apple Pie Moonshine. If traveling by car, you can bring home their premade jars like the 100-proof Firebomb. Check out their website for drink recipes.

Day 2: Splurge day

woman in a sun hat sitting on the edge of an outdoor pool

No Colorado Spring itinerary would be complete without some time to relax. Golf, play tennis, lounge by the pool or buy a spa package for the day.

Enjoy a dinner at The Steakhouse at Flying Horse. They are the winner of Wine Spectator's Award of Excellence. Also try their happy hour, from 4-6. I especially recommend the steak bites or the deli board of fresh meats and cheeses.

Day 3: Tour the Air Force Academy (a must on any Colorado Springs itinerary)

army aircraft flying in unison in a cloudy sky

Go on a self-guided tour of the Air Force Academy, which is set in the mountains. Start at the northgate entrance, where they will check your license. Begin at the Visitor Center so they can direct you where to go. Visit the Cadet Chapel, designated for all faiths. It has 17 spires that reach 150 feet. It is also the most visited manmade tourist site in Colorado.

If you're lucky enough to attend a game, you can witness aircraft fly overhead and watch the Wings of Blue parachute team jump out of the planes and onto the field.

Day 4: Explore Garden of the Gods

winding path amid towering red rocks

Garden of the Gods is registered as a National Natural Landmark. On this nature-based day of your Colorado Springs itinerary, take in breathtaking views on scenic trails within the red rocks. Stop the by Visitor & Nature Center for maps. They offer guided natural walks, but you can also take the 1909 Trolly tour, which is about 45 minutes.

If you prefer to hike, there are many trails to explore. If you are more adventurous, try rock climbing. Other options include e-bike tours, which last between 1.5 to 2.5 hours, and off-road Jeep tours.

Day 5: Continue your Colorado Springs itinerary with a trip to Pikes Peak

red-rock mountain perch overlooking a lush valley

On any Colorado Springs itinerary, you must visit Pikes Peak! Check for weather conditions before you go; there may be snow in the summer time. You will want a jacket, and make sure to drink a lot of water. You may become light-headed, as you will be at an altitude of 14,115 feet. Also bring your chapstick.

You can get there via the newly renovated cog railway or by car. If you opt for the latter, enjoy the stunning views as you drive the paved, winding road, where you will pass by fishing lakes and wildlife such as bighorn sheep, elk and deer. The journey can take two to three hours if you drive. There are driving instructions when you get to the entrance.

Pikes Peak is a 19 miles going up! From May 27th through September 30th, they are requiring reservations. If you drive, make sure your tank is full, as there are no gas stations.

When you get to the top you will see the most beautiful views in all directions. At the top, try the famous donuts using high-altitude ingredients. It has been said that they make 6000 donuts a day!

Day 6: Animals, sweets and local beer

up-close bakery counter with tarts and cake

Head to Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, voted the fourth best zoo in North America. You can feed the giraffes, budgies and chickens. Ride the Mountaineer Sky Ride for aerial views of the zoo. Also check out the elephant and rhino snack time.

Visit downtown for breakfast and dinner. For breakfast, try Denver Biscuit Company. The cinnamon rolls are a favorite among the locals. They're huge, so you may want to share. The restaurant is so popular that there is almost always a wait to get in on the weekends. You can pre-order and then pick your goodies up at their pickup window.

Next door is the ice cram shop Frozen Gold. They have unique flavors like The Silly Rabbit (vanilla and rainbow cereal milk) and Gone Campin' (chocolate soft serve with candied nuts, chocolate-covered Graham crackers and toasted marshmallow fluff).

If ice cream is not your thing, around the corner is Pikes Peak Brewing Company, with a rooftop patio for a local beer. Be careful: they can be very strong.

Day 7: End your Colorado Springs itinerary with a challenging hike and a refreshing beer

person walking up a steep set of stairs

If you think you can handle it, on the final day of your Colorado Springs itinerary, hike the steep Manitou Incline. It is one of the most well-known and challenging hiking trails in Colorado Springs. you'll gain over 2000 feet in elevation in less than one mile. There are 2,744 steps to the top.

Honestly, although I lived in the Springs for 12 years, I was never brave enough to try it. I do hear that when you get to the top the views are amazing, so give yourself a pat on the back for making it to the top! I hear going down is just as challenging. At the end, people will be impressed you did it! If you're not from Colorado, the altitude may make it even more challenging. Drink lots of water!

After that challenging hike, head to Manitou Springs and visit the shops and restaurants. Try the highly rated Pizzeria Rustica, walk down to Manitou Brewing Company to try some local beer and visit the shops and local artists.

Need to Know

Looking for more travel tips? Check out Fora Advisor Claire Herzog's summer guide to visiting Aspen, Colorado.

Advisor - Ann Pappas

Travel Advisor

Ann Pappas

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Colorado.