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Top Rated Attractions in Colorado Springs

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Garden of the Gods

The Garden of the Gods is a public park and United States National Natural Landmark that was deemed a "fit place for the gods to assemble" by Rufus Cable, one of the two surveyors tasked with identifying a site for Colorado City in 1859. With its towering spires of red sandstone pitted against the incongruous greenery of its surrounds, Cable's inspired choice of name is an apt summary of the wonders that it contains. The jagged pinnacles, mammoth needles, and precariously balanced rocks strewn across the landscape are glorious monuments thrust upward, sideways and slanted by tectonic undercurrents, subsequently whipped by the wind into curious shapes. From the biological perspective, the Garden of the Gods is a remarkable merger of the vegetation typical of both highlands and lowlands creating a kind of chronicle of the evolution of planet earth. The land was bequeathed to the City of Colorado Springs by the children of Charles Elliott Perkins who originally owned this parcel of land. The only stipulation was that it must remain “free to the entire world.” Riddled with nature trails and hiking paths, the Garden of the Gods is a popular spot for outdoor activities like horseback riding, rock climbing and hiking that is always free, in keeping with Perkins' wishes.

Peterson Air & Space Museum

Anyone with an interest in mechanical things that leave the ground will enjoy this museum. It is located in the original art deco-styled Colorado Springs Passenger Terminal Building. With its military setting, it looks exactly like one of those buildings used in 1950s sci-fi movies when horrible, giant ants terrorized man. The focus of the museum is on early aviation history, with an emphasis on World War II. Since it is inside Peterson Air Force base, you will need identification to enter and access is restricted. Entry to the museum is free.

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Spend a day at America's only mountainside zoo. The zoo features endangered species in mountain exhibits that resemble their natural habitat. You can walk the hilly terrain or catch the tram at one of seven stops. Hands-on contact with animals is permitted in front of the Aquatics building - giraffes will literally eat from your hand, and zoo crackers can be purchased at the entrance. Mountain weather changes rapidly, so bring a light jacket.

United States Air Force Academy

This scenic pine filled campus with a Rocky Mountain backdrop is home to America's future Air Force officers. Enter Colorado's third most popular attraction at the North Gate for a glimpse of a B-52 bomber. Travel six miles to the visitor center, chock-full of exhibits, short films and a gift shop. Tour the stunning Cadet Chapel with 17 magnificent spires reaching 150 feet into the sky. Or check out Falcon Stadium where the Air Force Falcons Football team plays, and keep an eye above where the skies are colored with cadets practicing parachuting and flying Thunderbird jets.

Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun

After a day at the The Broadmoor, take a scenic 1.4-mile drive up the narrow mountain road for a self-guided tour of this popular shrine. Built in the 1930s in honor of the American actor, writer and humorist Will Rogers, the shrine is full of historic information and colorful artwork painted on the walls, taking you back in time. Climb several winding flights of stairs to the top floor of the shrine, located at an elevation of 8136 feet, for a breathtaking view of the city and the surrounding mountains. Admission is included with zoo ticket purchase.

Palmer Park

If you lack the time to wander into the mountains for a hike, this city park provides a quick and surprisingly bucolic alternative. Hiking, biking and horseback riding trails fan throughout the park's foliage-thick hills and bluffs. Some portions of the trails yield little hint that downtown is just minutes away. In addition, there are plenty of baseball, softball and soccer fields, as well as volleyball courts. Picnic shelters and restrooms make it conducive for summer gatherings.

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