We visited my daughter and her family in Colorado Springs this summer. It was my first trip to the area. I mean we’ve been to Dinosaur National Monument on the Colorado, Utah border, but that was just for a day. It’s an awesome park and well worth the visit if you’re in the area, but it hardly counts as a trip to Colorado, and neither do the times I’ve had to switch planes in Denver, I never left the airport.
So this summer we flew in to Denver for a week long visit with Jaime, Joel, and Jett. Our grandsons Dion and Devon were with us. Let me tell you, a week wasn’t enough! We all loved Colorado Springs! It’s very family friendly with so many things to do and places to go!
During our very busy week we explored Cave of the Winds Mountain Park, spent a day at Elitch Gardens, Denver’s Water & Theme Parks, wandered around the Garden of the Gods, and trekked thru the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. But that’s not all! Most of the places we visited charged admission, except for the Garden of the Gods. But we visited a few places that were absolutely free and the kids had just as much fun!
So here are 9 free things and places you can go in and around Colorado Springs!
America the Beautiful Park in downtown Colorado Springs is a great place to spend the day.
There’s plenty of free parking at this large park.
There’s lots to do here. There’s a great playground with slides, spinner bowls, and artwork called Quirks that provide kids “out of this world fun.”
The park also has walking paths where you can walk and even ride bikes. You can also access to Midland Trail and Pikes Peak Greenway Trail from the park. And there are plenty of wide green spaces for kids to run around in and grownups to relax on. Pokemon Go fanatics, like my grandsons, can run around safely catching Pokemon. I’m told there are many lurking in the park just waiting to be captured!
Park facilities include a picnic pavillion (there was a party going on when we went) and clean restrooms.
But the piece de resistance is the Julie Penrose Fountain.
It’s a sculptural fountain designed by David Barber and Bill Burgess to represent the movement of water between the atmosphere and the earth. The large sculpture rotates!
On a hot summer day kids, and adults can splash in this fountain, just don’t play on the sculpture and its platform.
The kids had a great time! I was pretty impressed with the fact that there was a lifeguard on duty!
While we were there an enterprising fellow set up a tent ans was selling snow cones. I don’t think this is park sanctioned, but no one seemed to mind and it was very welcome on a hot day![spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]
If you visit America the Beautiful Park on a Sunday you can combine it with a trip to the Colorado Springs Sunday Market Downtown.
The market is open from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm in Acacia Park in the middle of downtown. There are lots of vendors selling Colorado grown produce and farm goods, yummy pies, gourmet lemonade, fresh tamales, and more.
The kids can play in the playground while you browse the market’s goodies. The playground also has a splash zone if you want to get wet! We passed on this, we’d just dried the kids off from their frolic in the Julie Penrose Fountain.
If you’re looking for entertainment a band plays from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm. You can listen to the band while munching on tamales and sipping cool lavender lemonade under a tree! That’s what we did!
By the way, the lemonade is sold in pint size mason jars for about $5, you can bring the jar back anytime for a $1 refill. They have several flavors to choose from including lavender and jalapeno.
For dessert we picked up some yummy mini pies and handmade chocolates.
Ok, I know this isn’t really Free if you add in what you will buy at the market. But entrance to the park is free as is listening to the band, so I think it qualifies. It’s up to you what you spend at the market, but you had to have lunch anyway, right? I think we paid about $6 or $7 for 6 chicken tamales, not a bad deal at all. Did I mention they were delish? The vendor provides forks and napkins if you’re going to eat your tamales at the park. But go early, he sells out!
Street parking is free if you can find a spot. We did, right by the park entrance. Don’t worry there’s plenty of street parking, you may just have to walk a block or two if you go during the busy times.
Not to be missed is the Garden of the Gods. This amazing park is located in Colorado Springs. It features beautiful rock formations. There’s lots of things to do and see both at the park and its visitor center across the street from the main entrance.
If you’re a rock climber then this is the place for you! Just remember to get a climbing permit before you go!
Click here for more park info!
Again for the Pokemon hunters there’s a Poke Stop in the middle of the park and lots of wild Pokemon to capture too!
Try visiting the park at sunset, it’s gorgeous!
Another fun park to visit is Aga Park in Fountain Colorado. It’s a short drive from Colorado Springs to visit the City of Fountain.
This is the oldest park in the City of Fountain, and it’s not very big, just 4 acres. But the kids love the splash area so it’s definitely worth the half hour drive on a hot summer day![spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]
If you’re up for a drive to Denver pay a visit to Hammond’s Candies and satisfy your sweet tooth. They have free factory tours every half hour from Monday – Saturday.
You get to see how they make their delicious candies and have a great time too.
Click here to book your tour and get more info!
I know the tour is free, but the candy shop sure is tempting! We picked up a few sweets to take home, who can resist?
While you’re in Denver you can also take a free tour of the United States Mint. Learn how our coins are made and a bit of history too!
There are 4 mints in the US, only 2, Denver and Philadelphia, have tours. Only coins are minted in these facilities. If you want to see them print paper money you will have to visit the US Treasury in Washington DC.
Reservations are required, so book ahead!
Click here for more info and bookings!
Talk a walk in a local neighborhood and visit a neighborhood park. Believe me just about every neighborhood has one! Most of them are equipped with cool playground equipment, a playing field, and a shaded pavillion. The kids loved playing in them!
They’re free and not crowded at all. You’ll have the park to yourself on weekday mornings and afternoons. [spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]
Take a stroll along Manitou Springs’ quaint main street. Lots of shops, cafes, and restaurants.
Sooner or later you’ll run into the Penny Arcade. It’s an indoor arcade with kiddie rides and games. My grandson Jett loves that place! [spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]
Visit Library 21c in Colorado Springs. This ultra modern public library is probably the Pikes Peak Library District’s crown jewel. The multi-leveled building has lots of bright comfy spaces for reading and is even home to a cafe.
There are children and teen programs such as Baby Time and Story Time, and even a Teen Writing Group.
It is arguably the best library I’ve ever been to! It’s a great place to be on a rainy afternoon.