By Gina Cronin, Gina.Cronin@Gazette.com
Colorado Springs is a wonderful place. When I first moved here from New York in December 2015, there were a few spots I already knew about and checked out within the first couple days (Garden of the Gods, Manitou Springs, Pikes Peak); and there were a handful of other spots that took me months to find. This sample weekend will be dotted with the less obvious choices, which are sure to delight.
We’ll stick to the north side of town for Saturday. Start the morning early with a nice cup of coffee at Jives Coffee Lounge. They have a location in Old Colorado City, but have an equally charming location at 5865 North Nevada, Colorado Springs, 80918, as well. Enjoy a White Tiger, made with the café’s signature white espresso; a black sea, made with mocha, caramel and Mediterranean sea salt; a delicious chai; or a simple but solid cup of joe. If caffeine isn’t your thing, enjoy an herbal tea or fruit smoothie.
After your morning coffee, hit the New Santa Fe Trail for a refreshing bike ride, run or walk. I live in the Briargate area so I like to park at the Edmonson Trail Head located just off East Woodmen Road. The trail features beautiful views, average terrain and creek surroundings. I like to take it north from the trailhead for its more secluded, rural feel.
Next, round up family or new friends and grab some breakfast. There are many nice spots but I like Modern Market for its super healthy yet totally delicious selections. The Colorado Springs location is located right in The Promenade Shops at Briargate. The farm fresh eatery serves up cage-free eggs, all-natural and nitrate-free meats and scratch-made aiolis. A few items include bacon and egg sandwich, chili and eggs, sausage kale scramble, southwest tofu scramble or apple pear waffles with pure maple syrup.
Since you’re already at The Promenade Shops, it’s a good time to browse around. Retail shops include Athleta, Lululemon, Banana Republic, Charming Charlie, Express, Victoria’s Secret, Anthropologie, Jos. A. Bank, Francesca’s, Bath and Body Works, Origins, Sephora, Yankee Candle, Pier 1 Imports, The Apple Store and much more.
Keep the momentum going by heading over to Pulpit Rock for a spectacular view of the Front Range. The 4.4 mile lightly trafficked loop follows gorgeous wild flowers before reaching the moderate climb. At the ridgeline, breathe in the stunning vistas of your new city.
The afternoon is really up to you. There are many options to choose from. If you’d like to have a festive day of magic and history, head over to the Colorado Renaissance Festival in Larkspur, if you want to continue some similar pulpit-rock style hiking visit Palmer Park in the heart of the Springs, or if you want to enjoy a more forest-like setting with play areas, ponds and grills, head over to Fox Run Regional park.
The sun is setting, the air is getting that nice evening cool and your belly is growling for more delicious Colorado food. Continue that healthy, farm-fresh pattern by heading over to Till Kitchen. The restaurant sources from farms and purveyors who share their commitment to sustainable practices. Choose from fresh sushi, a grass-fed burger, wild mushroom risotto, sourdough pizza, oak-grilled trout and much more; and don’t forget to wash it down with a local crafted cocktail, scratch soda or Colorado beer.
Sunday will be dedicated to the south side of town. Enjoy a nice leisurely morning, then head out to get some coffee and breakfast. Check out the quaint and lovely Switchback Coffee Roasters at 330 North Institute Street. The sweet little locale features sustainably sourced coffee and mindfully prepared bites. Menu offerings include avocado toast, breakfast sandwiches, vanilla short stack, Colorado granola and more. Make sure to try one of their house-made syrups – like lavender or brown sugar – in your espresso drink.
Now that you’re all fueled up, it’s time for another hike. Head on over to North Cheyenne Cañon Park at the southwest side of town and enjoy one of the many fabulous trails. You’ll love this park for its stunning canyons, rugged terrain, breathtaking city vistas, pleasant streams and relaxing waterfalls. Some popular spots within the park are Helen Hunt Falls, Mt. Muscoco, Stratton Open Space, and – my personal favorite – Seven Bridges.
After a nice dose of nature, check out the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center for a burst of arts. Check out the galleries, art studios, library and museum shop within the concrete pueblo structure that integrates southwestern, art deco and classic architectural elements. If you like it, be sure to check back on their calendar that’s chock-full of performances and events.
If you’re in need of an afternoon pick-me-up, I know just the spot. Ola Juice Bar. This special little juice bar features cold-pressed fresh juices, smoothies, salads, wraps, acai bowls, daily house-made soup and treats. You can eat your food in the uplifting interior with local art or take your smoothie to go and enjoy a stroll around the Downtown area. Check out the boutique shops and attractions – then relax in the shade of Acacia Park.
If you’d like to show your support for Team USA check out the Olympic Training Center at 1 Olympic Plaza, Colorado Springs, 80909. The last tour on Sunday departs at 4 p.m. Tours begin with a video presentation, followed by a walking tour of the complex (wheelchair and stroller accessible). If you’re feeling patriotic, be sure to purchase some Team USA merchandise.
The night is winding down and you may have work in the morning, so let’s cut to dinner time. Downtown Colorado Springs and Old Colorado City have some amazing options, so I’ll offer a few of my favorites. If you want to try something different and satisfying, check out Uchenna Ethiopian Restaurant; for some fantastic Italian try Paravicini’s Italian Bistro; if you’re in the mood for sushi, visit the stellar Fujiyama’s; or if you’d like some American fare, microbrews and a billiards hall, check out the fabulous Phantom Canyon Brewing Co.
Life is good in Colorado Springs. Enjoy weekend after weekend of new adventures.