Things to do on a budget this summer in Colorado Springs


Nestled high in the Rocky Mountains, Colorado Springs is an enticing summer destination with its mix of city living and sublime natural scenery.

Red rock formations at the Garden of The Gods (Photo: Lee Coursey via Flickr / CC BY 2.0)

With abundant sunshine and deep blue skies, the beautiful city attracts large numbers of visitors during the summer months. While many come to enjoy the area’s array of incredible natural attractions, there’s also plenty to see and do in the city itself at this time of year. If you’re coming to Colorado Springs this summer and would like to pack your itinerary with some great sites and activities to enjoy that fit into your budget, we’ve picked out 10 affordable summer highlights.

Garden of the Gods

Among the glut of majestic natural scenery in and around Colorado Springs, the Garden of the Gods represent not only some of the most visually arresting but also, arguably, the most sacred. Down the ages, several tribes were known to travel the vast public park, lending the area a deep reverence that endures to this day. Nowadays, most visitors come here to enjoy the magnificent surroundings while partaking in energetic activities such as climbing, hiking, cycling and even horseback riding, being sure to stop at regular intervals and take snaps of the park’s stunning red rock formations that adorn so many postcards.

Rocky Mountain State Games

A child is thrust into the action at a Rocky Mountain State Games event (Photo: Rocky Mountain State Games)

Colorado’s largest multi-sport festival for athletes of all ages and athletic abilities, the Rocky Mountain State Games are held over two action-packed weekends each July. Olympic-style events including figure skating, Taekwondo, swimming, tennis and lacrosse take place at several venues across the Pikes Peak region. Spectators can watch from the sidelines for a daily admission fee, or those who want to really get involved can register to participate in events of their choosing, for prices starting at $15 (plus $40 for registration).

Venues across Pikes Peak / Each July

May Natural History Museum

Located at the base of the Rocky Mountains in-between Colorado Springs and Canon City, the May Natural History Museum houses one of the largest private displays of tropical bugs anywhere in the world and is the perfect family attraction for those keen to escape the area’s summer heat. Everything from giant tropical insects, squishy beetles and gigantic spiders to colourful butterflies, moths and deadly scorpions can be found here, making it a hugely fun place for bug enthusiasts, scientists and anybody wanting to explore the creepy and crawly. Entrance is $12 for adults and $9 for kids.

710 Rock Creek Canyon Road / Mon-Sun 9am-6pm

Pikes Peak Cog Railway

The scenic Pikes Peak Cog Railway chugs along (Photo: Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious via Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Pikes Peak, known as America’s Mountain, is the star attraction, but the journey along the way is full of show-stopping moments on the Pikes Peak Cog Railway, which lays claim to being the world’s highest cog railroad. While not the cheapest experience on this list, embarking on the 3.5-hour round-trip adventure is nothing short of retracing the footsteps of history, combining stunning scenery with an evocative taste of the region’s industrial past. The ride costs $58 for adults and $48 for children.

‘Eiko Otake: I Invited Myself, vol. II’ exhibition

(Photo: Eiko Otake, A Body on Wall Street, 2016. Photo by William Johnston)

After growing up in post-World War II Japan, artist Eiko Otake studied dance and performance in Europe before moving to New York in 1976. For more than four decades, she was part of a collaborative that created performance, choreography, visual design, sound, videos, and texts. Since 2014, Otake has worked as a soloist, directing her own projects in collaboration with other artists. This exhibition foregrounds the artist’s video and media, which have developed alongside her dance, choreography, and performance installations. It presents new and recent media that feature a body as it moves in and through various spaces, including the urban infrastructure of Tokyo and New York and the vast landscapes of Wyoming and California. Museum admission is $10, with kids under 12 going free.

Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center / Through 30 July 2023

ArtWalks in Old Colorado City

From April through December, the historic Colorado Springs neighbourhood of Old Colorado City plays host to a popular Art Walk. On the first Friday evening of each month, art enthusiasts can enjoy self-guided tours of the district’s famously huge array of art galleries and open artist studios along Colorado Avenue between 23rd and 27th streets. There’s also the chance to purchase some of the art pieces you encounter along the way. The event is free to the public.

West Colorado Avenue between 23 Street and 27 Street / Every first Friday from April through December 

Broadmoor Seven Falls

Cascading water at Broadmoor Seven Falls (Photo: Michael Mangin via Flickr / CC BY 2.0)

Set in a natural box canyon, the Broadmoor Seven Falls is a series of seven cascading waterfalls and is perhaps at its most visually stunning when set against the glistening summer sunshine. Visitors can view the scenic wonder from either the top of a 224-step staircase or from the Eagle’s Nest viewing platform, which can be accessed via elevator. Throughout the canyon, there are several exhibits which form part of a guided audio tour. During summer evenings, the falls stay open until 10.30pm and are illuminated by colourful lighting. The attraction is free to visit.

1045 Lower Gold Camp Road / Fri-Sat 10am-8pm Sun-Mon 10am-6pm Closed Tues-Thurs

‘Pioneering the Field: Women in Mining’ exhibition

Situated on the growing north side of Colorado Springs, just across from the US Air Force Academy, the Western Museum of Mining and Industry was created to preserve the rich mining history of Colorado and the American West. Through a wide range of artefacts, this special exhibition that runs through summer 2023 and beyond recognises the influential women who have made positive changes in the field of mining over the decades, chronicling many of their stories, their sacrifices, their challenges and their successes. Admission to the museum is £12.

Western Museum of Mining and Industry, 225 North Gate Boulevard / Through summer 2023

Pikes Peak Pride

Crowds at Pikes Peak Pride (Photo: Pikes Peak Pride)

Pikes Peak Pride is a community event expected to gather thousands of visitors from across the state into downtown Colorado Springs this June. There will be two full days of vendor booths, food trucks, drinks lounge and high-energy entertainment to include a fabulous parade on Sunday. Pikes Peak Pride honours the active and diverse achievements of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. On November 19, 2022, five beautiful souls were taken from the community in the tragedy at Club Q. This event will be a celebration and commemoration of those fallen friends and what it means to be LGBTQIA+ in southern Colorado. Admission is free.

Downtown Colorado Springs / 10-11 June 2023

Palmer Park

Large boulders in Palmer Park (Photo: brando via Flickr / CC BY 2.0)

Sprawling over 692 acres in the dense northern suburbs of Colorado Springs, Palmer Park is officially a municipal park – but that would barely do it justice. The vast expanse is more akin to a wilderness preserve and attracts visitors who come to enjoy its 25 miles of trails, including both single- and double-tracks for mountain biking, hiking, and horseback riding. There are also baseball fields, volleyball courts, and a soccer field, as well as a playground and picnic grounds, all set against spectacular views of the city, prairie, and mountain surrounding. The park is free of charge and in the summer months stays open until 10pm.

U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum

Through a wide range of interactive exhibits and displays, the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum celebrates the long and illustrious history of the Olympic Games. Among its most popular areas is the Summer Games gallery, which is dedicated to telling stories of summer sports through historically significant artefacts. Highlights include the scrunchie worn by legendary US gymnast Shannon Miller for every major competition during the peak of her career, and the running prosthesis of John Register, a two-sport Paralympian, who won the silver medal at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games. Admission is $19.95 for adults and $11.95 for children.

200 South Sierra Madre Street / Thurs-Fri 10am-5pm & Sun-Mon Sat 9am-6pm Closed Tues-Weds

Cave of the Winds Mountain Park

Located just west of Colorado Springs on U.S. Highway 24 in Colorado’s Pikes Peak region, the mysteries of these underground caverns date back to 1881 when they were first discovered by a team of explorers. In the years since, they have become a hugely popular attraction among visitors who can join daily tours of the complex of caves and their stalactites, stalagmites and other unique geological features. There’s plenty to do above ground, too, including zipwires and an exhilarating climbing activity through spectacular mountain terrain.

100 Cave of the Winds Rd, Manitou Springs / Mon-Sun 10am-5pm

By Paul Joseph