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On a recent trip to Colorado, we stayed in Colorado Springs for a few days. The city is located outside of Denver and it is the home of the U.S. Olympic Complex- the flagship training center for the U.S. Olympic Committee and the Olympic Training Center programs. While you will hear a lot about Pikes Peak, there is plenty more to do than ride the cog train up the mountain.

1. Dining at Springs Orleans

One of our favorite restaurants was Springs Orleans. Don’t get put off by how big this place is- the beer and bar selection is awesome and the New Orleans cuisine is solid. We tasted all sorts of delicious bites, like shrimp and grits, fried chicken with red beans and rice, and the pecan torte. On the weekends, they also bring in a very cool piano player, who just plays his tunes with no sheet music. My husband kept begging to eat here- it was that good!

2. Wandering through the Manitou Springs Cliff Dwellings

This is kind of a neat half day trip. Manitou Springs Cliff Dwellings are an authentic Anasazi cliff dwelling that were lived in for over 800 years. It is located about 10 minutes from downtown Colorado Springs. You can walk in and out of the Cliff Dwellings and learn a bit about living in such close quarters.

3. Hiking at Garden of the Gods

Also located about 10 minutes from Colorado Springs is “Garden of the Gods”, a majestic space with tons of hiking trails. One tip is to get there and start your hike early. You’ll get a better parking spot and the hike will be more bearable. There is also a cafe and substantial gift shop located on the grounds. Grab a map in the gift shop and pick a trail. Pack lots of water and sunscreen.

4. Lunch at TAPAteria

Old Colorado City is located near the Garden of the Gods park. We drove through on the way home and hoped to find a spot to eat. When I spotted the Catalan flag waving outside of this place, I made my hubby pull over immediately!! A great place for lunch, and I’m sure for dinner, the TAPAteria is all about tapas. The place has a substantial menu of tapas- we ordered about 6, and wine, beer and sangria. I got the sangria of the day, which was made with plum wine. I wish I had spotted the wine flights sooner, but I wouldn’t have known which flight selection to choose- they had 5 different flight options! I wish we had another night to try this place for dinner and I really wish this place was located in Buffalo. 🙁

5. Drinks at The Rabbit Hole

As someone who adores Alice in Wonderland, this place was on my list to eat at before arriving. This place is hard to find if you are following a map. It says it is located at the corner of one street, but it is really off of a side street. The entrance looks like a subway entrance. You go down the stairs and there is a packed funky bar and restaurant- all Alice in Wonderland themed, but for adults. They have awesome cocktails, but I selected a nice wine to go with the ‘Butcher Block for 2″. It is not just for 2, you probably need 4 people to finish this food-coma inducing block. It featured a piece of every meat on the menu. Holy cow! Tip: When I say packed, I mean it. Call for reservations!

Have you stayed in Colorado Springs? What did I miss?