Colorado Springs is famous for its breathtaking natural beauty, stunning scenery and the countless outdoor activities and adventures that await. Every visitor already knows about Pike’s Peak and the Garden of the Gods, and they already have them on their to-do list.
Unfortunately when one destination becomes so well-known for just a couple of its amazing outdoor activities, visitors tend to overlook many of the other unique, intriguing, and offbeat Colorado Springs activities. The next time you find yourself in Colorado Springs, be sure not to miss out on the following sights and activities.
May Natural History Museum
Don’t let the name fool you. This is a bug and butterfly museum. Home to over 7,000 species of insects, it is the world’s largest private insect collection. The museum’s founder traveled the world for 80 years collecting rare and beautiful insects, and this is the end result for all to see. Butterflies, beetles, moths, spiders even scorpions, they are all here — and thankfully all dead. Equal parts cool and creepy, but it did kind of make me wish that all these years I’ve been traveling, I had been collecting something (anything) besides memories and photographs…
Space Foundation Discovery Center
For all the great parks, beautiful nature and outdoor adventures in Colorado Springs, our planet is still just a marble compared to the rest of the universe. (Actually, much less than that.) The sole purpose of the Space Foundation Discovery Center is to educate and inspire. Perhaps the coolest thing here is the fulldome — a spherical video projection system that displays hundreds of maps in 3D on a giant sphere. Not just maps of Earth either but even other planets as well.
Colorado is home to more than 50 “Fourteeners” — mountains with an elevation 14,000 feet or higher. Although Pike’s Peak, also known as America’s Mountain, is the most popular of the mountains around Colorado Springs, it is not the most beautiful. At least not in my opinion. That award goes to Raspberry Mountain because of the jaw-dropping scenery encountered every step of the way, including breathtaking views of Pike’s Peak from the summit 10,605 feet up.
More Overlooked Mountains Summit These Five Lesser Known Colorado Mountains
All that hiking and the nonstop outdoor adventures around Colorado Springs can really exhaust you after a few days. Reward yourself with a trip to Phantom Canyon Brewing. This combination brewery and restaurant has mastered both their craft beer recipes and their food recipes. Slowly savor a delicious meal while you enjoy two (or four) craft beers from Phantom Canyon’s ever-changing list of current brews. The best part is all that separates guests from the brewery is a clear glass window so you can watch all the hops in action while you eat.
ANA Money Museum
Who doesn’t like money, right? Of all unique and offbeat museums in Colorado Springs, this is one of my favorites. This massive collection of paper currency and coins spanning hundreds of years and countless countries, not just the United States, although US currency is the primary attraction. Learning about the history of money was interesting, however seeing single coins and old paper currency worth millions of dollars each was simply mind-boggling. I don’t collect coins and have no special interest in them, however I still really enjoyed the museum. Plus now I know that a coin collector is called a ‘numismatist’.
Adrenaline? Yes, Please!
When hiking, exploring, photographing and soaking up that spectacular Colorado Springs scenery just is not enough, it is time to get adventurous. Try something new that you have never done before, such as getting a little water in your life on a standing kayak trip. Or how about a white water rafting experience down Royal Gorge? Better yet, take a drive up to the summit of Pike’s Peak. Doesn’t sound adventurous? You haven’t seen the narrow winding switchback road that it takes to get to the top — conveniently guardrail-free so that your pictures turn out perfect. Since 1918 the annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb has been held here. Dangerous as it may be, there have only been five race-related fatalities in its 100-year existence.
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No trip to Colorado Springs is complete without a visit to Pike’s Peak — and in order to get there you have to drive past the historic Miramont Castle Museum. This Victorian-era 30-room masterpiece of architecture is complete with authentic furnishings. Stroll the gorgeous garden grounds and wander back in time through the rooms by yourself or join one of the guided tours for a more detailed history.
Tea enthusiasts be sure not to miss out on one of the highlights of Miramont Castle, the Queen’s Parlour Tea Room. (Please note that the tea room is only open during lunchtime hours and requires a reservation, although you may get lucky if they are not at capacity.)
Unleash your inner kid and spend an hour or two playing all the classic arcade games. From Pac-Man to Skee-Ball to the big old basketball game that lets you practice your free throw, Arcade Amusements has it all. A couple of the games here are over 100 years old! Although the retro sign out front says ‘Penny Arcade’ most of these machines actually take quarters — but what else can you get with a quarter nowadays? Nothing. So go have some fun!
This article was sponsored in part by Colorado Springs CVB, however all opinions and views are entirely my own. Colorado Springs is one of my favorite cities in the United States, but that should be no surprise given all of my previous Colorado posts and travel guides.