Are you planning a visit to the Rocky Mountains? One of the best day trips is to the city of Colorado Springs. It is full of outdoor activities, restaurants/bars, shops, and museums. And the Pikes Peak Region is a place you will never forget with its amazing views. Use this one day in Colorado Springs Itinerary to build a memorable day!
Experience both the city life and the mountains.
While you can easily spend a long weekend here, one day is a great experience if it fits into your overall Colorado trip! Below you will find plenty of options for the morning, afternoon, evening, and night to create the perfect day based on your interests. First, a few questions to answer…
How to Get to Colorado Springs
There is a Colorado Springs Airport which is just a 20-minute drive from downtown Colorado Springs. It is a smaller airport so you might find increased prices and fewer direct flights. But it makes for an easy day trip when you fly right into the city!
Your other option is Denver International Airport which is an (easy) 1.5-hour drive from Colorado Springs. This is a great option if you want cheap and direct flights, and/or are visiting a few different cities during your Colorado visit. Obviously, you will need to rent a car.
When Should I Visit Colorado Springs?
Any time is a great time in the mountains! You can’t go wrong in March-May or September-October with the fantastic weather. Plus, you avoid the huge crowds which the summer months bring. That said, don’t shy away from a summer day in COS—there’s a fun buzz wherever you go! And the winter is absolutely beautiful with snow-capped mountains.
One Day in Colorado Springs Itinerary – Build Your Adventure
You know how and when you are getting to Colorado Springs. Now, what should you do!? Here are all of my top recommendations in COS. Choose your own route and enjoy your day!
MORNING: ONE DAY IN COLORADO SPRINGS
Start your one day in Colorado Springs early because there is a LOT to do! Whether you are waking up in the area or driving from another location, do your best to be there before 9:00 AM in order to get in a quick breakfast before your adventure. Here are a few great options:
Fast. Casual. Healthy. This is EXACTLY what you need to begin the day. Ola Juice Bar offers a variety of fresh smoothies, bowls, and juices with a menu everyone will find something to enjoy. Everything they serve is flavorful without any of the junk that makes you feel sluggish. Energize yourself with an acai bowl or (my personal favorite) the Reviver smoothie. Ola Juice Bar is conveniently located right in downtown Colorado Springs.
Looking for something more hearty—not to mention, popular in the area? That can be accomplished at Denver Biscuit Company. This is one of the best places to grab a freshly made, buttermilk biscuit breakfast sandwich loaded with creative toppings. They offer a fun and hip atmosphere and an outdoor patio with mountain views if it’s a nice day. My go-to order is The Tomahawk.
TIP: Your next adventure is a hike. Either share a meal here OR come afterward. You don’t want to be stuffed to the brim!
There are a ton of local coffee shops to choose from if that’s the most convenient way to start your one day in Colorado Springs. Here are a few places to try:
- Switchback Coffee Roasters: welcoming shop full of greenery and an outdoor patio.
- Loyal Coffee: airy, new-age setting that features its own beans.
- Story Coffee Company: cute tiny house turned coffee shop.
Time For a Hike
There are numerous hiking trails to choose from in Colorado Springs. And you will most definitely want to incorporate one into your one day in Colorado Springs! The views are pretty great from 6,000 feet above sea level. And no matter age and abilities, there is something for everyone.
Beginner: Garden of the Gods
The most popular trails in Colorado Springs are at Garden of the Gods Park. And if you have never been before, it is worth a trip. A unique and beautiful area, you’ll see red sandstone rock formations and glimpses of Pikes Peak as you meander the trails. And an added bonus—it’s free!
The best place to start is Central Gardens Trail which is a convenient one-mile loop that gives you the highlights of the red rock. And is perfect when you have limited time. Also, make sure to incorporate Siamese Twins where you’ll get the cool hole-in-the-rock picture. There are also guided tours if that’s something you’re interested in!
NOTE: This will be VERY busy in the summer. A few other nearby easy trails to consider are at Red Rock Canyon Open Space and Paint Mines Interpretive Park. They are also popular attractions, but not as crazy as GOTG.
Intermediate: Iron Mountain (Via Intemann Trail)
Looking for more of a good workout? And panoramic views, of course. Try Iron Mountain via Intemann Trail which is 4.3-miles, out and back, and takes around 2 hours. It does gain 951 ft. in elevation so you will run into some inclines—but you gotta earn your beers, right!?
It’s a beautiful area with mountain views, Garden of the Gods sitings from afar, pine trees, and rocky trails. This is also a popular mountain biking trail if you’d like to tackle it that way! I recommend this one if you are looking for a little quieter area with seclusion.
Difficult: The Manitou Incline
Maybe it’s on your Bucket List. Or maybe you’re just feeling up for a challenge? Technically in Manitou Springs, just a short drive (5-10 minutes) from Colorado Springs, is The Incline. How difficult is it? You will climb 2,768 steps—and gain 2,000 feet in elevation in just ONE mile. It’s tough but very rewarding with pretty great views. Read The Incline for all of the details.
-OR-More Options for Your Morning:
If hiking isn’t really your thing, don’t worry! There are plenty of other fun ways to explore the area.
You can reach the top of Pikes Peak which is at 14,115 feet (and it doesn’t involve any steps! Lol.) You’ll start at the base of Pikes Peak and take the scenic drive all the way up. There are incredible views throughout and the summit features a Visitor Center with a gift shop, exhibits, and a cafe (with famous donuts!)
The drive itself isn’t too scary but does involve some guardrail-less switchbacks! Read Driving Pikes Peak for all the details including cost, hours, and tips.
Don’t want to drive? Look into taking the Pikes Peak Cog Railway.
Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center offers art galleries and studios, music rooms, libraries, and performances. You will get a Santa Fe vibe with its art and architecture.
AFTERNOON: ONE DAY IN COLORADO SPRINGS
Your morning will be memorable. Let’s keep that rolling for the afternoon. And after a hike (or drive up to 14,115 feet!), you have worked up an appetite! (If not, just swap the two afternoon plans below.)
Every hike calls for a post-hike reward! Let’s make it a margarita! And a great place to do so is at Dos Santos. This is a fun and creative, new-age taco joint that offers a brick-walled interior space with pops of color or a string-lit outdoor patio with large tables and mountain views. (I recommend the latter if it’s a nice day!)
All of their cocktails are delightful, but the House Tommy’s Margarita will never disappoint. Pair it with the Salsa Flight app (4 different fresh salsas and chips) and choose 1-2 of your favorite tacos. They are small but STUFFED with meat.
Dos Santos is located on E Moreno Ave, which is just one block in from S Tejo St…
Walk Along Tejon Street
In the heart of Downtown Colorado Springs is Tejon St which acts as the main street, plus the heart and soul of the area. You will find plenty of local shops, restaurants, historic buildings, art, and parks. One of the best things to do in the area is to stroll the street and see where it takes you! There are plenty of places to find souvenirs and gifts from your trip to Colorado Springs.
-OR-More Options for Your Afternoon:
If you have extra time or are looking for something different, here are a couple of other fun options for your afternoon.
The ONLY mountainside zoo in the United States! The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has over 950 animals and is a great option if you have kid companions. It has been ranked as the 4th best zoo in the nation and they offer plenty of exhibits to explore. Plus, you can feed the giraffes!
This is conveniently located right on Tejon St. And the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum is all things Pikes Peak region! The museum’s collection has 60,000+ cultural and historic objects including those from Native American collections and the mining industry.
EVENING: ONE DAY IN COLORADO SPRINGS
It’s that time again: food and drinks! And you won’t want to miss…
Happy Hour & Dinner
Colorado loves breweries. Like, LOVES. And while I am a simple Coors Light drinker myself, I enjoy one or two craft beers while checking out each brewery’s unique vibe. A few to check out:
- Bristol Brewing Company: A lively spot in what used to be a school.
- Smiling Toad Brewery: No-frills, just some good beer!
- Phantom Canyon Brewing Company: Three stories! A historic building and place that serves solid beer—and food!
This is my favorite place to eat in Colorado Springs (so far!) White Pie combines rustic and chic with authentic Italian pizza. The pies are (intentionally) a unique shape with a charred and crispy crust and creative toppings. And their app selections are impossible to ignore! Sit inside in their airy, open space, or head outside to their string-lit patio complete with fireplaces.
It’s pretty impossible to go wrong with your order here, but do not visit without ordering the Burrata. I dream of it. And the Ava Angelini Pizza will not let you down! Choose your favorite cocktail and you will have one memorable meal!
NOTE: Their happy hour is from 3 PM-6 PM.
NIGHT: ONE DAY IN COLORADO SPRINGS
It’s been a day of food and drink, but can you resist an ice cream cone when exploring a new city? Of course not! Hit up Josh & John’s for locally sourced and hand-churned in Colorado. Grab your favorite flavor and walk around Tejon St. some more. They have flavors like Cookies & Cream, Almond Joy, Oatmeal Cookie, and Mocha Java Jolt.
Time to Party
Do you have drinks on the brain instead? (I would, too lol.) Here are a few places to go to have a good time.
This is new in 2022, Lumen8 Rooftop Social in the new Marriott Hotel. And it’s a beauty! Comfy couches, firepits, mountain views, come on! Make sure to stop here for a cocktail. It’s right near White Pie!
This is a fun, unique, and upscale Whiskey bar (that also serves a wide variety of other drinks.) Cask and Cork offers a huge, elegant bar and awesome outdoor patio complete with firepits and mountain views. You will love the decor and vibe of this place that will have you feeling luxurious.
Local craft beer and distilled spirits on a large outdoor patio in downtown Colorado Springs. The inside is gorgeous with creations from local artists. And the outside is a blast with large wooden tables, string lights, and a food truck.
TIP: They also do early morning breakfast and coffee! Stop in tomorrow morning as well. The Garden has daily yoga, coffee, breakfast burritos, and treats.
If you’re looking for something no-frills and fun with cold beer, head over to Jack Quinn’s. This typical pub will have you singing and dancing in no time.
One Day in Colorado Springs Itinerary
That’s a wrap! Though you won’t get EVERYTHING done in COS, you can surely have a fun, memorable day and check off a few things you want to do most in this wonderful place. It’s a perfect place to stop if you’re exploring Colorado—the BEST of the mountains in North America.
Do you have some more time…
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More Places to Explore Near Colorado Springs
The surrounding area is PACKED with more Colorado things to do. Venture a little bit out of Colorado Springs and experience:
- Cave of the Winds: a fun tourist attraction in the mountains for the whole family that includes zip lines and other adventures.
- Old Colorado City: a quaint little town only about 10-15 minutes from COS that offers cute shops and restaurants.
- Woodland Park: a little farther up the mountain and into Pike National Forest is another cute small town. Read about Woodland Parks hikes (amazing!) and Woodland Park restaurants.
- Cripple Creek: a town FULL of casinos—there are 9 in only a small area.
- Rocky Mountain National Park: Estes Park is about 2.5 hours north. But if you have a longer trip, this is a MUST! Drive Trail Ridge Road and check out the moose, elk, and bighorn sheep. And of course, some of the most amazing views you’ll ever see!