Colorado Springs is a great place to go if you want to travel but don’t want to spend a lot. This city is in the beautiful middle of Colorado and offers a plethora of free things to do that will make your trip unforgettable. From exploring the historic charm of Manitou Springs to immersing yourself in the natural beauty of the area, Colorado Springs has something for everyone, making it a perfect destination for budget-conscious travelers.
10 great, free places to visit in Colorado Springs
1. Garden of the Gods: Where Rocks Tell Stories
The famous Garden of the Gods is the best free thing to do. This geological wonder is a group of tall sandstone formations that have been fascinating people for hundreds of years. As you walk into the park, you’ll see awe-inspiring red rock monoliths sticking out of the ground dramatically against the blue Colorado sky.
Garden of the Gods is not only a beautiful place to look at, but it also has a network of hiking trails for people of all skill levels. There are trails for both experienced hikers and people who just want to take a walk. Bring your camera so you can take pictures of the beautiful landscapes and breathtaking views you’ll see everywhere.
2. Red Rock Canyon Open Space: A Playground for Adventurers
The Red Rock Canyon Open Space is only a few steps away from Garden of the Gods. This rough park is a great place for people who love the outdoors and want to see the raw beauty of nature. The trails in the park go through red rock formations and give people a chance to hike, mountain bike, and climb.
Variety is what makes Red Rock Canyon Open Space really stand out. There are easy trails that are good for families and more difficult trails that take you up steep hills and give you great views of Colorado Springs and the area around it. The dog park in the park makes sure that even your four-legged friends can join in the fun.
3. North Cheyenne Canon Park and Starsmore Discovery Center: A Journey Through Time
North Cheyenne Canon Park is a great place to learn more about the area’s natural history. This park is a quiet place to get away from the noise and chaos of the city. It has over 1,600 acres of untouched wilderness. The park’s winding trails take you through pine forests, quiet creeks, and many different kinds of ecosystems.
Don’t forget to stop by the Starsmore Discovery Center as you explore the park. This learning center has information about the park’s geology, ecology, and history. Learn about the local plants and animals, and you’ll be able to appreciate the natural beauty around you more.
4. Manitou Cliff Dwellings: A Glimpse into the Past
Step back in time at the Manitou Cliff Dwellings, an archaeological site that gives a unique look into the lives of the Ancestral Puebloans who once lived in this area. Nestled into the red rock cliffs, these amazingly well-preserved homes give you a real sense of what life was like in the past. Wander through the intricate stone structures and try to picture what life was like for the people who lived here hundreds of years ago.
5. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo: Roaming Amongst Wildlife
Most of the time, there is a fee to get into the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. However, sometimes the zoo has “Zoo Free Days,” when visitors can look at the animal exhibits without paying an entrance fee. This is a great chance to get up close and personal with a wide range of animals, both wild and from other places.
The zoo is on the slopes of Cheyenne Mountain and has both interesting animals and beautiful views of Colorado Springs below. It’s a great way to learn about nature, have fun, and learn something new at the same time.
6. Palmer Park: Nature’s Playground
Palmer Park is an oasis in the middle of a city, where nature and fun activities come together. The Park is a haven for hikers, trail runners, and horseback riders because it has miles of trails that wind through its large area. Climb up to the park’s lookout point for a stunning view of the city and the mountains beyond.
7. Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site: Stepping into History
The Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site is a must-see for anyone interested in history. This living history museum takes you back to when the first people moved to the Pikes Peak area. Explore buildings that have been saved, talk to people dressed up as people from the area’s past, and learn about how they lived.
8. The Broadmoor Seven Falls: Nature’s Symphony
At the Broadmoor Seven Falls, a series of seven cascading waterfalls set in lush vegetation, you can see how powerful nature can be. Even though there is usually a fee to get in, the falls sometimes let people in for free at certain times, usually in the off-season. Watch in amazement as the water crashes down the rough cliffs, making a beautiful symphony of sound and sight.
9. The Broadmoor: Elegance and Beauty
The Broadmoor is mostly known as a luxury resort, but the grounds can be explored by anyone. The carefully designed gardens, peaceful lakes, and beautiful buildings make for a lovely walk. As you walk through this elegant retreat, you can take in the beautiful views of Cheyenne Mountain and the area around it.
10. Pike National Forest: Nature’s Playground Extended
The Pike National Forest has a lot to offer outdoor enthusiasts who want to go a little further from home. With its many forests, mountains, and trails, the national forest has lots of places to hike, camp, fish, and look for wildlife. It’s more of the beautiful nature that surrounds Colorado Springs.
Manitou Springs: A Haven of Free Delights
Manitou Springs, a stone’s throw away from Colorado Springs, is a treasure trove of budget-friendly activities that will immerse you in its unique charm and history. Here are five must-try free activities to add to your itinerary:
1. Stroll Through the Heart of Town
The best way to soak in the ambiance of Manitou Springs is by taking a leisurely stroll through its charming streets. Admire the historic architecture that graces the town and indulge in some people-watching at the local boutiques and art galleries. With the backdrop of the majestic Rocky Mountains, every step is a delight.
2. Step Back in Time at the Manitou Springs Penny Arcade
For a taste of nostalgia, head to the Manitou Springs Penny Arcade. While some games may require a few coins, the retro atmosphere and vintage game machines are worth the visit alone. Let the bells and whistles of the arcade transport you to a bygone era.
3. Discover the Manitou Springs Heritage Center
Unveil the rich history and culture of Manitou Springs at the Manitou Springs Heritage Center. Through interactive exhibits and engaging displays, you’ll gain insights into the town’s origins, development, and the stories that have shaped its unique identity. It’s a journey through time you won’t want to miss.
4. Embark on the Manitou Incline Adventure
For the adventurers at heart, the Manitou Incline offers a thrilling challenge. This steep hike rewards your efforts with sweeping panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, making it an Instagram-worthy experience. Lace up your hiking boots and conquer the incline for an unforgettable memory.
5. Explore the Enchanting Miramont Castle Museum
Step into the Victorian era at the Miramont Castle Museum. While some guided tours may have a fee, exploring the gardens and the exterior of this historic castle is free. Marvel at the architecture and immerse yourself in the tales of local legends that surround this enchanting landmark.
Venturing Beyond Manitou Springs
While Manitou Springs captivates with its free offerings, there’s a world of exploration waiting beyond its borders. Here are five more activities to consider:
1. Garden of the Gods: Nature’s Masterpiece
Just a short drive from Manitou Springs, the Garden of the Gods is a natural wonderland that won’t cost you a dime to explore. Towering red rock formations create a breathtaking backdrop for hiking, rock climbing, and photography. Follow the trails and witness the magic of nature up close.
2. Downtown Colorado Springs: A Vibrant Urban Experience
Downtown Colorado Springs is a hub of activity, boasting an array of art installations, boutiques, and local shops. Stroll along its streets, indulge in retail therapy, and enjoy the vibrant street art that adds an extra layer of charm to this cityscape.
3. Old Colorado City: A Slice of History
Delve into history at Old Colorado City, a historic district brimming with character. Discover unique shops, cozy cafes, and art galleries that showcase the creative spirit of the area. The friendly atmosphere invites you to explore at your leisure.
4. Bear Creek Nature Center: Nature’s Oasis
For a serene escape, head to the Bear Creek Nature Center. The center offers free access to its trails, where you can revel in the tranquility of the natural environment. Keep an eye out for local wildlife and take advantage of the educational exhibits that provide insights into the local ecosystem.
5. Cheyenne Mountain State Park: Wilderness Delights
Embrace the great outdoors at Cheyenne Mountain State Park. Hike through the diverse landscapes, from forests to prairies, and enjoy stunning vistas of the surrounding area. This free park offers a chance to reconnect with nature and unwind.
Tips and Planning for a Budget-Friendly Visit
As you plan your budget-friendly adventure to Colorado Springs, keep these tips in mind:
Check Event Calendars:
Stay updated on the city’s calendar of events to discover free festivals, outdoor concerts, and community gatherings. These events provide an opportunity to engage with the local culture and create lasting memories.
Pack a Picnic:
Save on dining costs by preparing a delicious picnic to enjoy in one of Colorado Springs’ many parks. Savor your meal while soaking in the scenic beauty that surrounds you.
Capture the Moment:
Ensure your camera or smartphone is at the ready to capture the breathtaking landscapes, unique landmarks, and candid moments that will make your trip memorable.
Utilize Free Guided Tours:
Some attractions in the area offer complimentary guided tours that provide deeper insights into the history, culture, and significance of the sites. Take advantage of these opportunities to enhance your experience.
Explore Local Libraries:
Local libraries often host free events, workshops, and talks that provide a unique way to engage with the local community and learn about the area’s cultural offerings.
Embracing the spirit of adventure without breaking the bank is entirely possible in Colorado Springs. From the historic allure of Manitou Springs to the captivating beauty of its natural landscapes, this city and its surroundings have countless free experiences to offer. Whether you’re drawn to history, nature, or the vibrant urban scene, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.