By Paige Keyser, Air Force Spouse
If you live or have visited Colorado Springs you know that there are many awesome things to see and do. You’ve probably been to Garden of the Gods, driven or taken the Cog Railway up to the top of Pikes Peak, taken a tour of the United States Olympic Training Center, trekked around the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and seen the chapel at the United States Air Force Academy. What’s next? If you are looking for some quirky, unusual, off the beaten path things to do on a Sunday afternoon, or something to do when your relatives or friends come into town, check out this out! Here is PCSgrades’ Colorado Springs Bucket List of “once in a lifetime” things to do and places to see.
The Simpich Showcase
This family-owned conservatory is divided into the Simpich Character Doll Museum, the Simpich Showcase Theatre, and the Simpich Fine Art Gallery. The museum is home to a collection of dolls created by Jan and Bob Simpich, who ran their doll-crafting business from 1953 to 2007. The collection consists of nearly 500 character dolls displayed in dioramas as well as ‘A Gallery on Strings’, a large display of performing marionettes from the Simpich repertoire of string-puppet productions. The Simpich Fine Art Gallery has a collection of Bob Simpich’s original oil paintings. You can also take in a marionette show at the Simpich Showcase Theatre, one of the United States’ only performance facilities dedicated to presenting year-round string-puppet productions.
Michael Garman’s Magic Town is a 3,000 square-foot miniature city that transports you back to the mid to late 20th century. It is a 1/6th scale miniaturized urban neighborhood, complete with dozens of handcrafted buildings, alleyways, and sidewalks that is a combination of hundreds of intricately detailed sculptures and cityscapes. The city scene includes holograms and other visual and sound effects. A truly unique experience located in Old Colorado City.
Located southwest of Colorado Springs in Rye, Colorado is Bishop Castle. Jim Bishop started building the castle in 1969 and continues to work on it today. It is an impressive stone and iron structure with tall towers and very unique architecture. It has three stories, a grand ballroom with stained glass, bridges, towers and even a fire-breathing dragon. The Bishop Castle is free to tour and open 24 hours a day seven days a week. Try to catch Jim working on the weekend and he might give you a guided tour!
May Natural History Museum
The May Natural History Museum has one of the world’s largest private collections of butterflies, moths, bizarre beetles, giant spiders, deadly scorpions and other interesting creatures! For over 80 years, the museum founder James May traveled the world finding over 100,000 specimens of bugs, insects and other creepy crawlies. The “Bug Museum” is a fun place to visit for both kids and adults. Be sure to wave hi to “Herkimer”, the giant-sized West Indian Hercules beetle, who marks the entrance to the museum off of Highway 115.
Miramont Castle Museum
Miramont Castle was completed in 1896 as a private residence for Father Jean Baptist Francolon, a French-born Catholic priest. The castle is a fine architectural example of the Victorian Era with a variety of architectural styles from Byzantine to Tudor. You can visit 30 rooms of the castle which are furnished with Victorian era furniture or you can have tea and other culinary treats in the Queen’s Parlour Tea Room. The castle is said to be haunted with various apparitions and unexplained phenomenon as reported by visitors and staff. Spooky!
North Pole Home of Santa’s Workshop
A Colorado Springs Bucket List would not be complete without Santa’s Workshop, a Christmas themed amusement park with over 25 rides and attractions. Enjoy your day by visiting Santa and his elves, browsing the gift shops or taking in a magic show at Santa’s Show House. The kids (and you) will have a jolly good time!
Starr Kempf’s Kinetic Sculptures
These towering steel works of art by Starr Kempf are amazing to see! Star Kempf took his own life in 1995 but a few of his sculptural works still remain in the yard of his former home. The sculptures can be viewed from the street and range from fantastical birds to undulating spires. If you are on the west side of town visiting the Broadmoor, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Seven Falls or North Cheyenne Canon it’s worth a drive-by to see these impressive works of art.
Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center
Take a fun and educational one hour walking tour through the wolf sanctuary. They guarantee an up-close view of the beautiful, majestic and elusive wolf. There are several different tours to choose from and they also offer special themed tours throughout the year. Their focus is conservation, education and preservation.
Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine
Travel deep underground and experience America’s only 1,000 foot vertical shaft gold mine tour. The Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine, or ‘Mollie’, is located in Cripple Creek and has been producing gold since 1891. See real, exposed gold veins, experience what life was like for the early miners and learn about the evolution of mining techniques from 1891 to now. While in Cripple Creek you can also check out the casinos, the Cripple Creek and Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad, the Cripple Creek Jail Museum and the Cripple Creek District Museum.
Manitou Springs ‘Penny Arcade’
The Arcade Amusements in Manitou, or the ‘Penny Arcade’, is a great place to visit for people of all ages. The Arcade features many games, some dating as far back as the 1940’s, that still only cost a penny or nickel. It also has many modern day arcade favorites. Skee-ball, Sharp Shooting, Pinball, Fortune Teller as well as coin operated kiddie rides can be found. Bring your loose change and reminisce while playing Pac-Man, Space Invaders or Tron at the Penny Arcade!
If you have anything to add to our Colorado Springs Bucket List, we would love to hear about it! Please comment below. For all your PCS needs, check out PCSgrades.com for reviews of on-base housing, local neighborhoods, moving companies, realtors, and mortgage lenders.
Author: Paige Keyser is a proud military spouse who currently lives in northern Virginia with her Air Force husband and their two boys. After living in the same small town in southern Virginia her entire childhood, the last 20 years have been spent exploring the world and United States courtesy of the U.S. Air Force. She has lived in Japan and nine different states, to include Colorado, on this crazy journey!