Travel With Kids: Colorado Springs

Travel With Kids: Colorado Springs 1

Colorado Springs is a city of nuances - both dry and lush, desert landscape coupled with friendly evergreens and an impressive, snow-capped mountain peak.

The humble city, with a population of just shy of 475,000, lies very near the heart of the state of Colorado - perhaps a bit more east than west.

With an elevation of 6,035 feet, the city is dotted with greenery and trees, while also maintaining a desert sisterhood with neighboring states: New Mexico and Arizona.

Because of the dryer climate, you'll find fewer bugs in the summer - which means you can spend hours out of doors - on picnics, hikes, or bike rides around town.

Indeed, Colorado Springs is well-known for being a mecca for outdoorsy people. Walkers, bikers, hikers, runners, and climbers all can easily find a place here.

WEATHER

Colorado Springs offers a full four-season experience with temperatures to match. Even in the winter, however, you can still expect sunshine to occasionally splash on your cheeks. On average, Colorado Springs has 243 days of sunshine per year, which is more than the national average of 205 days.

Be sure to check the forecast before you go, but you can use the below temperature averages as a general guideline.

  • Winter: 40s highs, high teens lows
  • Spring: 50-70 highs, 20-40 lows
  • Summer: 80 highs, 50 lows
  • Fall: 50-70 highs, 25-48 lows

WHERE TO STAY

The northern side of Colorado Springs is decidedly more beautiful, but you can stay anywhere and get almost everywhere.

Consider one of these highly rated hotels:

  • Drury Inn & Suites Colorado Springs (free breakfast, free evening appetizers & beverages, great location in north Colorado Springs)
  • Garden of the Gods Resort & Club (luxury suites and cottages, recreation center, kids club, golf, tennis)
  • Hilton Garden Inn - Colorado Springs (cooked-to-order breakfast, located in northern Colorado springs)

THINGS TO DO

Focus on the Family Welcome Center

Focus on the Family's Welcome Center could easily be described as a "hidden gem" in Colorado Springs. The building may look somewhat nondescript from the outside, but walk through the doors and you will enter a children's wonderland. The decor is masterfully done (with quality comparable to what you might see at Disney's parks) and your children will be enthralled as they round every new corner.

If your kids have listened to Adventures in Odyssey, an engaging and exceptional audio drama for kids, they will feel like they are stepping right into their favorite episodes.

Never heard of Whit, Connie, or Eugene? No worries! Your kids will fall in love with this place all the same. We dare you to take your little ones here and have it not end up as one of their favorite parts of your trip. After all, what child wouldn't want to glide down a 3-story slide, try on costumes and perform on-stage, play inside an airplane, or enjoy a milkshake at a thematic soda shoppe?

Worried about a steep pricetag? Don't be! Admission is FREE. Focus on the Family offers an incredible kid's playspace - in an uplifting environment - at no cost. There are only two (optional!) places to spend money: the soda shoppe (which has affordable pricing) and the bookstore (which is unobtrusive).

The Soda Shoppe sells standard amusement park style foods, but at better prices. Sundaes, floats, smoothies, and milkshakes are $4. Ice cream in a cup or cone is $1.75. Hungry for lunch? Hot dogs, grilled cheese, or individual pizzas run from $2.95-$5.00. There is even a gluten-friendly cauliflower crust pizza for $7, which we hear is divine.

GOOD TO KNOW:

  • Focus on the Family has two (super cool!) birthday party rooms, which are available to reserve for FREE. No catch. Call 719-531-3400 to book a time and day.
  • KYDS Radio sessions can be reserved in person on the day of the recording. They are scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • If you have a toddler or preschooler, take a break in the Camp What-A-Nut playroom, which has soft floors to soften any falls.
  • Mothers with infants: There is a private nursing room available for use. Changing tables are also conveniently located in both the men's and the women's restrooms.
  • You can pick up free copies of Focus on the Family's magazines for kids while you are at the welcome center: Clubhouse Jr. (ages 3-7), Clubhouse (ages 8-12), and Brio (teen girls).
  • If you are on a tight budget, but would still like to get your child(ren) a treat, you can order a kiddie kone or an itty biddy sundae for $1.00.

GENERAL INFORMATION:

  • HOURS: The Welcome Center is typically open on Monday-Friday from 9:00am to 5:00pm and on Saturdays from 9:00am to 4:00pm - with slightly shortened hours for the slide and soda shoppe.
  • COST: Free Admission & Parking
  • LEARN MORE

Garden of the Gods

Without a doubt, Garden of the Gods is Colorado Spring's most recognizable hiking destination. This 1,300-acre park is well-known for its beautiful red rock formations. Admission to the park and visitor center is free and parking is complimentary at any of the 336 spots at the visitor center and throughout the park.

The Visitor & Nature Center is a great place to begin your adventure at Garden of the Gods. Inside, you can learn more about the park, pick up a FREE full-color trail map, purchase a souvenir, or get a bite to eat at Bean Sprouts ("a hip & healthy cafe" - view the menu).

GOOD TO KNOW:

  • Take only pictures. Rocks, plants, and animals are the property of the park and may not be removed by visitors.
  • Children, ages 7 to 12, can pay $2 to obtain a junior ranger activity book. Upon completion of the included activities (which should take 1-2 hours), he or she will receive a badge and certificate.
  • Pets are permitted, but they must be leashed. Please clean up after your pet.
  • There are areas inside the park that are ideal for rock climbing, rappelling, and bouldering. Note that you must have a climbing permit (you can be fined up to $500 if you do not have one).
  • No overnight camping is permitted at Garden of the Gods.
  • Drones are not allowed at Garden of the Gods.
  • There are large parking spots for buses and RVs at the Visitor & Nature Center right outside of the park, but note that Garden of the Gods stays pretty busy most of the year and all parking areas can get crowded.

GENERAL INFORMATION:

  • HOURS: The park is open from 5:00am to 9:00pm daily. The visitor center is open from 9:00am to 5:00pm in the winter and from 8:00am to 7:00pm during the rest of the year.
  • COST: Free Admission and Free Parking
  • LEARN MORE

Miramont Castle Museum

Miramont Castle Museum is actually located in Manitou Springs (an eccentric suburb of Colorado Springs). Built in 1895, this four-story home is filled with eclectic items from bygone eras. There is not a specific story or family that you learn about as you wander from floor-to-floor. In fact, some areas seem quite random in nature. The basement, for example, is full of vintage firefighting items (helmets, medals, etc).

If you enjoy antiques, history, and tea or if visiting a historic building that looks like a castle appeals to you, Miramont Castle will likely intrigue you.

GOOD TO KNOW:

  • There are four floors with four sets of stairs. As such, this attraction is not a good choice for wheelchairs, strollers, or people with limited mobility.
  • Tours are self-guided and your time in the castle will likely only be 45-60 minutes.
  • Parking is limited and streets can be tight. RVs not recommended.
  • Tea is served on most days of the week. Cost: $30-$40/person. A Prince/Princess tea is also offered for $25 for children 12 and under.

GENERAL INFORMATION:

  • HOURS: Open seven days per week during the summer, 9:00am-5:00pm. Hours are reduced during the off-season.
  • COST: $8 for children (ages 4-12), $11 for seniors (ages 60+), $12 for adults (ages 13+), free for children 3 and under, free for active duty military and fire fighters
  • LEARN MORE

Seven Falls at the Broadmoor

Seven Falls is majestic and enchanting - with Zion-like boulders and greenery. It is also PRICEY. At $16 per adult (ages 13+) and $10 per child (ages 2-12), the cost for a family is quite steep. This admission fee will cover your shuttle from a parking lot up closer to the falls and then your walk up to the falls.

The shuttle is a van or bus and your ride from a dirt parking lot will take approximately 15 minutes.

After you arrive at the entrance, you pay for your tickets and walk 0.8 miles on a paved road toward the falls. If you prefer not to walk, you can pay an additional $2 per person to take a tram, which will take you right up to the falls.

GOOD TO KNOW:

  • The best way to take in the views and to see the falls is to climb up two rather steep sets of stairs. Prepare to hold tightly on to the hands of little ones in your party. An elevator is available for those who are unable to walk.
  • Dogs are allowed at Seven Falls, but they must be on a leash at all times.
  • Seven Falls is owned and operated by The Broadmoor Resort, thus the steep price tag. If you are reluctant to spend the money, note that there are many beautiful waterfalls in the area (St. Mary's Falls, Helen Hunt Falls, and Catamount Falls) - which are free to visit.
  • Your Seven Falls Park ticket is good for entry and re-entry any time during the day of purchase.

GENERAL INFORMATION:

  • HOURS: Thursday-Monday, 10:00am-6:00pm. Closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
  • COST: $10 for children (ages 2-12), $13.25 for seniors and military with ID, $16 for adults (ages 13+), children under 2 are free, optional $2/person tram
  • LEARN MORE

SHORT DAY TRIPS FROM COLORADO SPRINGS

If you are using Colorado Springs as your "vacation base," but have several days to explore the area, you may want to plan day trips to the following neighboring cities and attractions:

  • Cripple Creek, CO (1hour away)
  • Denver, CO (1hour, 20min away)
  • Royal Gorge Bridge & Park (1hour, 20in away)
  • Rocky Mountain National Park (2hours, 35min away)

OUR NEXT TRIP TO COLORADO SPRINGS

When we drove away from Colorado Springs and said our good-byes, our whole family agreed that we would like to come back to the area in the future.

When we do, we have the following attractions on our list: Cave of the Winds Mountain Park, Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum, Compassion International Headquarters, Glen Eyrie, Magic Town, North Cheyenne CaƱon Park (including Helen Hunt Falls), Pike's Peak, and the US Olympic & Paralympic Training Center.

HAVE FUN IN COLORADO SPRINGS!

Watch this page for continued updates and top tips for planning your next trip to Colorado Springs.

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