Colorado Springs with Kids: 35 Best Things To Do in Colorado Springs, CO

Be wowed by the majestic rock formations at Garden of the Gods. Photo courtesy of the nature center
Be wowed by the majestic rock formations at Garden of the Gods. Photo courtesy of the nature center

When my Army-officer husband got stationed in Colorado Springs, I wasn't sure how to feel about it at first. I grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and Colorado Springs seemed painfully small and slow-paced to this New York City girl. But I quickly fell in love with the city's majestic mountains, gorgeous hiking trails, historic western neighborhoods, and laid-back vibe.

When our twin boys were born, we discovered that there are also a ton of things to do in Colorado Springs with kids, including amazing parks and playgrounds, a Christmas-themed amusement park, and one of the best zoos in the US. Now that the boys are older and we also have a daughter, we can't wait to go back and experience Colorado Springs again with them.

Here are the 35 best things to do in Colorado Springs with kids, from outdoor adventures and must-visit museums to kid-friendly Colorado Springs hotels and restaurants. For more Colorado family vacation ideas, check out our list of things to do in Denver with kids (other than hiking) and our visitors' guide to Boulder and the Rocky Mountains.


Things To Do in Colorado Springs: Pikes Peak Cog Railway
The Pikes Peak Cogs Railway is a fun and scenic way to get to the top of America's Mountain. Photo courtesy of the railway

Top Attractions in Colorado Springs for Families

1. Pikes Peak

The 14,115-foot Pikes Peak is known as America's Mountain, and you need to see it up close to understand why. Pikes Peak is simply breathtaking. Make a required reservation online to drive to the peak, where you can check out the Visitor Center and be treated to awe-inspiring views. The drive itself is about two hours round-trip and will take you through an alpine wonderland, past mountain reservoirs, and near animals such as bighorn sheep and deer. If you'd rather not drive, ride the Pikes Peak Cog Railway to the summit. The journey takes about three hours total—one hour to get to the top, 40 minutes at the summit, and about 70 minutes to get back down. Don't forget a coat—the temperature is about 30 degrees colder at the top!

2. Garden of the Gods Park

This park at the foot of Pikes Peak, a registered National Natural Landmark, is a true geological wonder. It is known for its massive red rock formations that date back hundreds of millions of years. Start your visit at the Visitor and Nature Center to explore various exhibits, watch a short film, enjoy a healthy bite at the Bean Sprouts Cafe, and get information about the Junior Ranger program. Then stroll along one of the park's easy hiking trails and paved paths to search for the Balanced Rock, the Siamese Twins, the Sleeping Giant, and other uniquely shaped formations. Both the park and the visitor and nature center are free.

3. Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site

At this living-history museum at Garden of the Gods, costumed historical interpreters offer tours, demonstrations, and hands-on learning activities to help families experience the daily lives of the people that lived, worked, hunted, and raised families at Rock Ledge Ranch. Kids can sit inside an authentic tipi, make a traditional corn-husk doll, play Victorian games, see a blacksmith at work, meet farm animals, and much more.

4. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

My boys absolutely loved this zoo, consistently ranked among the top zoos in North America. It's home to a wide variety of animals, including more than 30 endangered species. Families can see hippos, lemurs, mountain lions, and more. Kids can delight in feeding giraffes, elephants, rhinos, goats, and chickens (for an extra fee). Be sure to ride the Mountaineer Sky Ride, an old ski lift, for incredible views of Cheyenne Mountain and the city. There's also a carousel and lots of animal demonstrations. Zoo admission includes access to Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun, a historic monument with a top deck sitting 8,136 feet in the air.

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Things To Do in Colorado Springs: Cave of the Winds
There's so much to explore inside Cave of the Winds, one of the best things to do in Colorado Springs. Photo courtesy of Cave of the Winds

5. Cave of the Winds Mountain Park

Families can take a 45- to 60-minute walking tour of an underground cave, where they'll descend nearly 200 stairs and cross narrow passageways to see gorgeous formations. There's also a 90-minute haunted lantern tour for ages 8 and up that includes scary ghost stories. Outside the cave, there's a three-story obstacle course, an aerial ride through Williams Canyon that reaches nearly 40 miles per hour, a climbing wall, gemstone mining, and other fun activities.

6. United States Air Force Academy

The gorgeous US Air Force Academy is a must-visit for families. The Visitor Center is a good first stop, where various exhibits and a short film teach guests about cadet life. Then it's time to explore the campus, where you can see the iconic Cadet Chapel, the football stadium, a B-52 bomber, and more. There are also free daily shows at the planetarium on weekdays, and if you're lucky, you may even get to see an airplane fly-over or a cadet formation. Print out a fun scavenger hunt to keep the kids engaged.

7. The Broadmoor Seven Falls

There are several waterfalls throughout Colorado Springs, but the most majestic by far is Seven Falls, often called "the grandest mile of scenery in Colorado." The waterfall cascades 181 feet over a series of seven drops, hence its name. Enjoy stunning rock formations, valleys, and golden prairies as you climb 224 steps to the top of the Falls, where you'll find two hiking trails and sparkling streams. The Falls are lit up at night in the summer, making them even more gorgeous.

RELATED: 40 Things To Do in Denver with Kids, Other than Hiking

Things To Do in Colorado Springs: Manitou Cliff Dwellings
Travel back in time to explore 1,000-year-old Pueblo ruins at the Manitou Cliff Dwellings. Photo courtesy of the museum

8. Manitou Cliff Dwellings

The Manitou Cliff Dwellings are comprised of 800- to 1,000-year-old Pueblo ruins that were relocated from a nearby spot between 1904 and 1907, when they were opened to the public. Visitors can actually go inside and touch the dwellings, as well as visit two museums that depict Pueblo life through dioramas and exhibits of pottery, tools, and other artifacts.

9. US Olympic & Paralympic Training Center

Take a guided tour of this facility where US Olympians and Paralympians train. The tour begins with a video presentation, followed by a walk through the training center, where you'll see Olympic and Paralympic athletes and hopefuls train in swimming pools, gymnastics rooms, wrestling arenas, and more. Tours are conducted every hour on the hour on Mondays through Saturdays from 9am-4pm.

10. US Olympic & Paralympic Museum

Learn even more about the Olympic and Paralympic history of Team USA at this immersive, 60,000-square-foot museum, which opened in 2020. Engage virtually with top Olympians and Paralympians in the Hall of Fame, train like an athlete at six interactive sports stations, experience the Parade of Nations in a 360-degree immersive exhibit, see a collection of Olympic medals, and so much more.

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Things To Do in Colorado Springs: North Pole Santa's Workshop
Snow or no snow, it's always Christmas at the North Pole amusement park. Photo courtesy of the park

More Outdoor Things To Do in Colorado Springs with Kids

11. The North Pole - Santa's Workshop

Experience the magic of Christmas from late May through Christmas Eve at this little amusement park at the foot of Pikes Peak. There are nearly 30 kiddie rides here, most of which grown-ups can ride as well, including a sky ride, a 60-foot Ferris wheel, a carousel, and the Candy Cane Coaster. In Santa's Village, families can meet and take photos with Santa, see a show with Elmer the Elf, and watch a glass-blower create custom ornaments. There is no entry free in the summer and fall, so only those getting on rides need to purchase wristbands.

12. Hiking, Hiking, and More Hiking

Naturally, Colorado Springs has no shortage of family-friendly hiking trails through and near the mountains. Hiking is a fun way for families to burn off energy, see animals and gorgeous views, and enjoy the fresh mountain air. Cheyenne Mountain State Park has 28 miles of trails, an archery range, a playground, and a Junior Ranger program. Red Rock Canyon Open Space boasts several kid- and stroller-friendly trails among gorgeous red sandstone rock formations. Or try one of the kid-friendly trails in North Cheyenne Cañon Park, including the short, easy hike to Helen Hunt Falls. My husband and I did all of these hikes while carrying the boys in backpack carriers, and the beauty of the scenery made our aching backs worth it.

13. America the Beautiful Park Fantasy Playground

This downtown playground includes fun features such as hammocks, spinner bowls, and turntables. On one side of the playground there are interactive pieces of art called Quirks, created with the help of nearly 100 students from local elementary schools. On warmer days, kids can splash in the water of the Julie Penrose Fountain. The 40-foot sculpture in the center (called the Continuum) is one of the largest sculptural fountains in the US.

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Things To Do in Colorado Springs: Royal Gorge Bridge
Walk across the highest suspension bridge in the US, the Royal Gorge Bridge. Photo courtesy of the park

14. Royal Gorge Bridge & Park

Royal Gorge Bridge, located nearly 90 minutes from Colorado Springs by car in Cañon City, is absolutely worth the drive. At 956 feet above the Arkansas River, it's America's highest suspension bridge, and families can walk across its 1,257 wooden planks. You can also glide 2,200 feet across the Gorge on an aerial gondola ride, and kids can enjoy a three-story playground with ropes, slides, nets, tunnels, and seasonal activities like a splash pad and a carousel. There's also a climbing course and America's highest zip line (for guests age 10 and older).

15. Hot Springs in Colorado

People flock from all over to visit hot springs in Colorado! While the big hot-springs resorts are all quite a long drive from Colorado Springs, there are a few nearby hot springs to enjoy during your visit. Try SunWater Spa in Manitou Springs (kids must be 14 or older), Indian Hot Springs in Idaho Springs (about a 90-minute drive from Colorado Springs), or Cottonwood Hot Springs in Buena Vista (less than two hours away).

16. Memorial Park

This large park near downtown Colorado Springs has loads of fun amenities for families. There are three playgrounds (including a fully accessible one), an ice-skating center, bike- and roller skate-racing tracks, 30 athletic fields and tennis courts, an indoor recreation center with a pool, and a 2.2-mile jogging trail around the park's perimeter. Memorial Park is also home to Prospect Lake, which allows fishing, paddleboarding, and swimming and is encircled by a 1.25-mile paved trail with fitness stations.

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Things To Do in Colorado Springs: Space Foundation Discovery Center
Learn about all things space at the Space Foundation Discovery Center. Photo courtesy of the center

Best Colorado Springs Museums for Kids

17. Space Foundation Discovery Center

The Space Foundation Discovery Center is the Pikes Peak region's first and only dedicated space, science, and technology center and museum. Visitors can see all sorts of spacecraft and space artifacts, program robotic rovers in the Mars Robotic Laboratory, view the universe on the world's first dynamic spherical projection system, and more. The center also hosts many family events like stargazing nights, STEM lessons and activities for kids, and workshops for tweens and teens.

18. Ghost Town Museum

This Wild West-themed museum created in 1954 lets visitors step inside an indoor western town with authentic buildings and artifacts rescued from the Pikes Peak region. Kids love the hands-on activities like cranking a butter churn, panning for gold in the summer, and playing antique arcade games.

19. Peterson Air & Space Museum

Located on Peterson Space Force Base, this award-winning museum is Colorado's oldest aviation museum, with buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It's open Tuesday through Friday and is free to visit, but visitors without a Department of Defense ID must request an appointment three business days in advance. Visitors can see all kinds of aircraft, missiles, aviation exhibits, and more.

20. Miramont Castle

Built in 1895, this 14,000-square-foot Victorian castle in Manitou Springs has four floors with over 30 rooms to explore. Families can tour the castle to see exhibits of vintage artifacts, artwork, and firefighter and war memorabilia. Scavenger hunts keep kids engaged along the tour. You can also make a reservation to have tea in the Queen's Parlour Tea Room.

21. Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum

This museum shares the cultural history of the Pikes Peak region through interesting exhibits and educational programming. The real draw for families is the interactive Children's Gallery exhibit, where kids ages 2-10 can experience life at Bent's Fort, a multicultural place of trade and exchange along the Santa Fe Trail in the 1830s and 1840s. Children can explore a carpenter's shop, a trade counter, a kitchen, and a Santa Fe Trail wagon.

22. Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center

If you've got a little dino lover, it's worth the 30-minute drive from Colorado Springs to visit this fantastic museum in Woodland Park. Families can see fossil skeletons of dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures on display alongside life-like sculptures, as well as observe a working fossil laboratory. In the children's area, kids can brush off fossils in a dig box, create dinosaur rubbings, read books, and do other hands-on activities.

Best Neighborhoods Near Colorado Springs to Explore with Kids

23. Downtown Colorado Springs

Though not very big, Downtown Colorado Springs has enough unique shops and delicious restaurants to keep families entertained for an afternoon or evening. At the center of it all is Acacia Park, which has a playground, a fountain, and shuffleboard courts. On the first Friday of every month from 5-9pm, enjoy art, live music, and other activities during First Friday Downtown. There are also frequent festivals and other events.

24. Downtown Manitou Springs and the Penny Arcade

This artsy town about 15 minutes from Colorado Springs is known for its mineral springs, mountain landscapes, and hippie vibe. Stroll the downtown area to find quirky shops, tasty restaurants, and loads of special events. Be sure to visit the popular Penny Arcade to play hundreds of old arcade games and pinball machines, some of which still cost only a penny! There are also midway games like horse racing and Skee-Ball, where kids can win tickets to turn in for prizes, as well as a wide variety of small electronic kiddie rides.

25. Old Colorado City

This National Historic District founded in 1859 was the first capital of the Territory of Colorado and the center of early settlement in the Pikes Peak region. Today it's a hub of dining, shopping, and entertainment for families and history buffs alike. Browse the variety of unique boutiques and gift shops, have a delicious meal, or enjoy one of many special events such as the popular Territory Days festival over Memorial Day weekend.

Things To Do in Colorado Springs: Black Bear Diner
Black Bear Diner has something for everyone to love. Photo courtesy of the restaurant

Kid-Friendly Colorado Springs Restaurants

26. Black Bear Diner

This diner chain has two locations in Colorado Springs that serve hearty comfort food (including all-day breakfast) in a bear-themed atmosphere. Kids can order off the Cubs Menu or the Little Less Menu for smaller portions. Whether it's breakfast, lunch, or dinner, you're sure to have a solid meal here.

27. Poor Richard's

This popular downtown spot is really four locations in one—Poor Richard's Restaurant & Pizzeria, Rico's Cafe and Wine Bar, Poor Richard's Books & Gifts, and Little Richard's Toy Store. The restaurant serves up pizza, rice bowls, salads, sandwiches, and more using fresh and often organic ingredients. The book and gift store offers unique gifts for everyone, from locally made art and jewelry to home decor and stationery. And the toy store carries classic, whimsical, and educational toys for kids of all ages, including both recognized brands and unique toys made of recycled materials, natural wood, or organic cotton.

28. The Airplane Restaurant

The centerpiece of this aviation-themed eatery is a fully intact Boeing KC-97 plane that diners can actually eat inside! The rest of the restaurant is very cool too, with hundreds of airplane photos, memorabilia, and rare artifacts. The Airplane Restaurant is open for lunch and dinner and serves burgers, sandwiches, steaks, seafood, and other casual meals.

29. Pizzeria Rustica

Pizzeria Rustica serves up delicious Neapolitan wood-fired pizza in a historic 1889 building in Old Colorado City. Even this New Yorker liked the pizza! Enjoy your meal on the gorgeous patio if the weather is nice.

30. Amy's Donuts

Sure, this donut shop in North Colorado Springs has traditional options like glazed and chocolate-frosted donuts. But if you really want to have your mind blown, try one of Amy's many gourmet donuts such as the Lucky Charms donut, the cotton candy donut, or the humorously named Heart Attack—peanut butter and marshmallow fluff with toasted bacon and hot fudge. The donuts are made fresh daily.

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Best Colorado Springs Hotels: The Broadmoor
Ride a pedal boat around the lake of The Broadmoor, a AAA Five-Diamond resort. Photo courtesy of the resort

Best Colorado Springs Hotels and Resorts for Families

31. The Broadmoor

This AAA Five-Diamond resort in the foothills of Cheyenne Mountain is one of the most famous hotels in the US. The Broadmoor offers breathtaking views, luxurious accommodations ranging from guest rooms to full brownstones, and tons of family activities. There's an 11,000-square foot infinity pool with water slides and a children's pool, a bowling alley, a movie theater, tennis, pickleball, golf, and so much more. In the summer and on select dates between Thanksgiving and Christmas, kids can attend the on-site Bee Bunch Camp, or families can book a Broadmoor Nanny year-round. The Broadmoor is also known for its lavish holiday displays and delicious restaurants. Be sure to eat at the Golden Bee, a 19th-century British pub that was transferred to the Broadmoor panel by panel from the UK. The Golden Bee features nightly sing-along piano music, and kids love when the serves throw tiny bee stickers onto their clothing (we still have ours).

32. Cheyenne Mountain Resort

This luxurious resort features sweeping mountain views and a range of family activities, including five pools, golf, tennis, basketball, and volleyball. There's also a 35-acre lake with a sandy beach, a spa, a fitness center, and two on-site restaurants. Both rooms and suites are available. My family loved the Sunday brunch buffet here!

33. Great Wolf Lodge Colorado Springs

With 20 locations in North America, Great Wolf Lodge made our list of the best family resorts with water parks, and the Colorado Springs location lives up to that honor. The sprawling resort, which opened in 2016, features an indoor/outdoor water park, an arcade, mini golf, a ropes course, a bowling alley, a climbing wall, and many other kid-friendly activities. Spacious suites, including fun themed ones, accommodate families of all sizes, and there are various on-site dining options.

34. Garden of the Gods Resort & Club

There are so many things to do at this fun resort, including several pools (one of which overlooks Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak), tennis, pickleball, golf, a recreation center, a spa and salon, and more. Parents can drop children off at the Kids' Club, where they can enjoy plenty of games and activities. There are also several on-site restaurants, and families can choose to stay in a lodge room, a suite, a cottage, or a casita.

35. Kinship Landing

This boutique hotel in the heart of downtown Colorado Springs offers unique suites and bunkrooms in a variety of sizes and layouts. Families will love the Family Suite, which includes a queen bed, two bunk-bed pods, two bathrooms, a fridge, and a microwave. Or try the Camp Deck, an outdoor room four stories high with a flat turf camping area (bring your own sleeping gear), a private bathroom, a Bluetooth speaker system, and incredible views of Pikes Peak, Cheyenne Mountain, and the Front Range. While there are no on-site amenities, Kinship Landing's aim is to get visitors off the property to enjoy everything Colorado Springs has to offer.

Places featured in this article:

US Olympic & Paralympic Training Center

America the Beautiful Park Fantasy Playground