Take a Staycation: Free and Budget Things to do in Colorado Springs

Things to do in Colorado Springs

Having been born and raised Colorado Springs, I wanted to share with you the Free and Budget Things to do in Colorado Springs.

This list is intended for anyone who lives here and who might be taking a “Staycation” instead of a vacation this year. Or, if you are planning a trip to the area, I’d love to introduce to you all the free and budget things you can do in my hometown of Colorado Springs.

For your convenience, the attractions are arranged by area of town.

Garden of the Gods

The Garden of the Gods

Spend a day touring the rock formations at The Garden of the Gods. The visitor and nature center is free to explore and the park offers free guided tours and nature presentations. Explore the trails, enjoy a picnic, and try to find the Balancing Rock formation and the Kissing Camels.

Rock Ledge Ranch

Rock Ledge Ranch offers hands-on demonstrations, tours, and exhibits that bring history to life. Learn about the American Indians in the Central Front Range and about pioneer settlement in the Pikes Peak Region.

The ranch is situated across the street from the Garden of the Gods visitor center. Children 5 and under are free but adults are charged an $8 entrance fee.

Downtown

uncle wilber fountain

Uncle Wilbur’s Fountain

If you are looking for a place to cool off and enjoy some water play, Uncle Wilbur’s Fountain is located in Acacia Park in downtown Colorado Springs. This sculpture has over 52 jets and unpredictable streams as well as music.

Pioneer’s Museum

Also located in Downtown Colorado Springs, the Pioneer’s Museum is free. Let the kids dress up as Pioneers and take pictures and don’t miss the Snoopy in Space exhibit.

ANA Money Museum

You don’t need to be a coin collector to enjoy this museum. The museum has set up a a scavenger hunt for kids that helps them stay interested and focused. There is an entrance fee to this museum but if your kids do the scavenger hunt and turn in their answers, they get a free coin!

Olympic Training Center

Visiting the Olympic Training Center is free, but there are limited places you can go on the grounds. Free tours are often given by Olympic hopefuls and you might get to see some of the training that takes place.

North Cheyenne Canon

cheyenne canon

North Cheyenne Canon Park offers wonderful scenery, excellent hiking trails, and lots of wildlife. Trail maps are available at the Starsmore center (see more info below). Bring a picnic as there are plentiful picnic spots with BBQ grills. The creek that runs through the canon offers hours of entertainment for little ones. Chances are good you will see a deer or two.

Helen Hunt Falls

Helen Hunt Falls are at the top of the drive up North Cheyenne Canon. There is plenty of parking at the base of the falls as well as a newly remodeled visitor’s center. You can enjoy the view of the falls from the bottom, or choose to hike up along the falls and get the view from the top. Benches are located along the way for resting. It’s a great activity for hot days.

Starsmore Center

The Starsmore Center sits at the entrance to North Cheyenne Canon. It is small but provides interesting history on the canon and it’s wildlife. Stop in to get a free trail map and to enjoy the wildflowers and humming birds.

Star Kempf

Starr Kempf Sculptures

You’ll find Starr Kempf’s sculptures in the yard of his home at the base of North Cheyenne Canon. The exact address is 2067 Pine Grove. They are unique and whimsical pieces that never fail to fascinate. When the wind blows, several of the pieces come to life.

Bear Creek Nature Center

Not far from North Cheyenne Canon is the Bear Creek Nature Center. This is one of my favorite places to visit. Inside the nature center is a working bee hive in plexiglass that allows you to view the bees coming and going. It also provides information on the wildlife in the area.

Old Colorado City

The main attraction to Old Colorado City is the old buildings filled with unique, local businesses. If you have the kids with you, the Colorado Creamery is the perfect place to stop for ice cream.

Simpich Showcase and Puppet Theater

Perhaps the best place in Old Colorado City to bring the kids is the Simpich Showcase. Handmade marionettes and dolls are on display. If you have the time/money, attend one of the marionette shows. They are unique and entertaining.

Focus on the Family Visitor Center

First, you need to know that Focus on the Family is a Christian organization but all faiths are welcome. The two-story slide, recording studio, and ice cream parlor can add up to hours of free fun for your family.

United States Air Force Academy

The grounds to the Academy are extensive so you’ll want to focus on getting to the Visitor’s Center to get a brief history, then hike over to the beautiful chapel.

 Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Giraffe at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Entrance to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is not free, but it is perhaps the best value for your money. I simply love our zoo.  By far our family favorite is to feed the giraffes. We also love the Rocky Mountain exhibit. Helpful hint: the zoo is on a hill and there is lots of walking. Wear comfortable shoes!

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Comments

  1. michele f says:

    Your Focus on the Family “Christian warning” is offensive.

  2. Michele, I apologize if Christian warning came off as offensive. I am a Christian. I live in Colorado Springs. It really upsets me when I see the protests at Focus, the “Focus on Your Own Family” bumper stickers, the editorials and so forth regarding Focus on the Family. My intent was to say – it is Christian. Love it or zip it about my including it. Andrea

  3. leeann diamond says:

    Am I missing something, because I didn’t find the post offensive at all, just more of an FYI. Why do people get upset so easily these days??

  4. Thank you Leeann. I appreciate your weighing in as I never ever meant to be offensive about my own faith! Andrea

  5. Thanks for this great list! Looking forward to exploring this area, since we are new to CO. By the way, I didn’t find your info on Focus on the Family offensive. Like the other reader, I knew it was more of a FYI. Blessings!

  6. Steven Hall says:

    Thanks for posting the information! I’m from the KC area & am planning to visit Colorado Springs around Labor Day weekend. Planning to take some expensive train trips earlier in the trip so free activities sound good.

  7. Steven, I hope you enjoy your visit. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask! Andrea

  8. Joy, Welcome to CO! I’m happy to answer any questions or make more recommendations. I can’t brag on our zoo enough and I do love Bear Creek Nature Center too. Andrea

  9. you should check out America the Beautiful park at the south end of downtown near the Interstate. a beautiful park with a cool play ground, but the main attraction is an interesting water fountain/concrete water area for kids to play in. it looks like a huge 20 ft tall loop. it is a big hit with my kids.

  10. Thanks for the suggestions Dorit! I do love America the Beautiful Park but it just didn’t make this list. My hope is people will read the comments and take everyone’s suggestions. Andrea

  11. We took a vacation there a couple years ago and loved it! One place we went, that I did not see on your list was the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center. While it is in Woodland park, and there is an entrance fee, my kids absolutely loved it! A museum where they get to play and dig was a blast. Even the 2 year old (at the time) loved it! I would recommend this stop to anyone!

  12. Faith, Thanks for the Dinosaur Resource Center recommend! It is a great place to visit that both my girls have enjoyed. I would second your recommendation! Andrea

  13. Beverley says:

    Thanks for pointing it these great locations. We are hoping to head to the zoo this year. Not sure how your post was offensive you were just pointing it out so people know what to expect. I swear some just want to be negative in life. Thanks again. Great Pin.

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