Over fall break I got to visit Colorado Springs for the first time. It was a quick, spontaneous trip, but definitely a blast. Two weeks before leaving I requested off work and we booked the Airbnb. (which is, by the way, a MUCH better option than a hotel. $60 a night – just sayin’)
We left Wednesday night when I got off work so we wouldn’t lose the entire day Thursday to driving.
**I’m including links to all of the places we visited, services we used, and restaurants we ate at! Just click the on the name!**
We couldn’t check into Elizabeth’s Cottage until 3 pm on Thursday, but ended up rolling into town around 11 am. We grabbed a quick lunch and decided to drive into Manitou Springs to check out the area. It’s a cute little town with a touristy, but cozy feel. There are historical homes, cafes, gift shops, bars, you name it. The winding roads throughout the town provide an interesting walk and beautiful views.
We spent the majority of the afternoon in Manitou Springs and exploring the area around our cottage. After checking in… we took a nap. We were tired okay?!
We woke up feeling refreshed and STARVING. Being the tourists we are, we relied on our friend, Yelp! to pick our first dinner spot. Phantom Canyon Brewery was a short 6 minute drive from our cottage. Perfect. After splitting some pulled pork sliders and sweet potato tots, we decided to grab drinks at a couple of popular spots in the Springs.
One of the coolest spots we visited was The Rabbit Hole. It’s a tiny, underground bar in downtown Colorado Springs. The way you enter the bar is through a free-standing, phone booth type of structure in the middle of the sidewalk. The inside is warm with dim lighting and swanky vibes. 15C is a classy little cigar and martini lounge with absolutely no signage or advertising other than the blue light and address. We almost didn’t find it because the entrance is just this door (pictured above) down an alley way. I indulged in an exquisite lemon drop martini and Pierce claims his Old Fashioned was the best he’s ever had. I highly recommend grabbing a drink at both spots if you visit the area.
Ah, my favorite day. After dining and drinking Thursday night we went to bed early for a big day of hiking on Friday. We woke up before 7 am and grabbed breakfast at Over Easy to prepare us for our full day. Our first stop would be the Garden of the Gods. The Garden of the Gods has incredible views and a variety of hiking trails to accommodate any age or skill level. It is one of the tourist attraction’s that anyone visiting Colorado Springs must do. We started about 9 am and hiked in the area for a couple of hours. It was still chilly when we arrived, but the sunshine combined with cool air made for the perfect morning hike.
After a couple hours spent exploring the Garden of the Gods we drove back to our favorite little town, Manitou Springs, for a bite to eat. We stopped at Red Dog Coffee for a fresh sandwich and tried some homemade ice-cream at Pikes Peak Chocolate & Icecream on Main Street. I decided to go with Almond Joy, and Pierce got a double scoop of Oatmeal Cookie. They were both DELICIOUS. Obviously I had to try his too. Sharing is caring.
After lunch, ice-cream and some light shopping… it was time to conquer the beast. The MANITOU INCLINE. You can spot the incline from just about anywhere driving around the city.
Although the incline is only a mile long, it consists of over 2,700 wooden steps and reaches an elevation of 2 miles! We prepared with water, snacks, and a whole lot of encouragement from each other. By this time it was about 3 pm and we were as ready as we were going to be. I exercise regularly and so does Pierce. I like to think that although we are not the most athletic people, we are pretty physically fit. But I have to admit that for me personally, this was probably one of the most physically challenging feats that I have conquered. It took us 1 hour and 8 min to complete – with about 5 breaks for photo ops and catching our breath along the way. The average elevation in Oklahoma is around 1,500 ft. At the top of the the Manitou Incline you are standing at above 8,000 ft. so the breathing itself plays a big part in the physical challenge. Reaching the top together was such a rewarding feeling, though. Your adrenaline is rushing and the views are amazing. If you are up for some serious physical activity, the Manitou Incline is a perfect place to challenge yourself in Colorado Springs. Bring a boyfriend/girlfriend/bestfriend for moral support, you’ll be glad you did.
After taking in the views, grubbing on some granola bars and catching our breath at the top, we decided to take the Barr Trail back down. We heard from some kid it was about 2 miles and a pretty hike. So eh, why not? Much to our surprise the trail was over 4 miles and not quite as easy-peasy as we were expecting. By the time we got back to the car we had walked over 10 miles, taken more than 24,000 steps and climbed a total of 175 flights. Needless to say, we were exhausted. A shower followed by a tasty dinner at Shuga’s was about all we could handle. We fell asleep watching Netflix by 8 pm. #oldpeople
In the morning, after a much needed night of sleep, we drove a few blocks over to Detz Cafe. Detz isn’t a trendy hipster brunch spot. It’s an old-style, comfort food breakfast diner that your grandparents go to every Saturday morning. It did not disappoint. After killing some breakfast, we killed some time at the cottage and got ready for another busy day. Old Colorado City is another close-by area that’s a lot of fun. On Saturday they were hosting a local farmer’s market with samples galore. A pumpkin weighing contest and a fall festival made for an exciting morning. It felt like Halloween Town.
Obviously I needed a pic with the “Mason Jar” 😉
We did some browsing and some buying. I had shoppers remorse until yesterday about a pair of overpriced (BUT SO CUTE) boots that I splurged on. After that horrendous purchase, Pierce quickly ushered me out of the boutique to meet our friends for lunch at Bristol Brewing Company. Bristol brews their own beer and serves up a mean lunch menu. They’re located inside an old schoolhouse which provides a fun and unique atmosphere.
After visiting with our friends, we did some last minute exploring in Colorado Springs. We took another nap. A homeless man told us about a giant deer hanging out behind the cottage. Then we decided we should probably start packing for our drive home the next morning. We had the chance to meet up with one of my old, adolescent-hood best friends at Storybook Brewing. They allowed dogs!!! in the spot (I pet at least 10), hosted a local food truck and provided a great selection of beer with unique storybook inspired names. The Last Straw Berry and Cinderella’s Pimped Out Pumpkin were two of my favorites. We spent a few hours there laughing, catching up and eating, and split ways to head back to the cottage for our last night before heading home.
It was time to go home. We finished packing up our things, cleared the cottage one last time, and loaded up the car. Because we are old people and enjoy comfort food and diner breakfasts, we went back to Detz Cafe as our last stop in Colorado Springs. Once again, we were not disappointed.
With full bellies and heavy hearts, we hit the road. And just like that, our fall break had come and gone.
5 Things I learned on my first trip to Colorado
1. For the most enjoyable experience possible, go with someone who enjoys doing the same things that you do. If you plan on hiking, make sure the other person is cool with that too. If you’re driving, you should also be able to sit in the car with that person for 9-10 hours. I’m lucky I had a good travel buddy who likes doing the same things that I do and lets me listen to the Tina Fey audiobook over the car speakers.
2. There are so many incredible sights I have yet to see out in the world. We were consistently amazed at the views in Colorado. Heck, even the local Walmart parking lot had beautiful scenery.
3. There are endless things you can find to do, for FREE. You can explore a new town, pet animals, experience desktop wallpaper-worthy views, and climb a mountain for free. The only thing we spent money on was food and drinks. (Oh and those boots. *gulp* I can feel the guilt coming back…)
4. Have a plan, but be flexible. It’s perfectly reasonable to have a list of attractions you want to visit and things you want to do, I love lists. But don’t be afraid to veer off the path if something fun comes up or if the plans have to change!
5. You’re not going to have enough time to do everything. Unless you move there. We spent 3 full days in the Springs and there were still so many trails I wanted to hike, places I wanted to visit and restaurants I wanted to try. Next time I go, I want to plan on AT LEAST a full week.
Colorado is beautiful and I can’t wait for my next trip! Don’t forget to subscribe! And for a discount on your first trip using Airbnb comment below, and I will personally send you a link! Thanks for reading! And as always…
That’s what’s in my jar.