Getting to Know the Quirks of Manitou Springs, Colorado: A Traveler’s Guide - Visit Colorado Peaks (2024)

At the foot of Pikes Peak, Manitou Springs is a vibrant town known for its scenic beauty, healing mineral springs, and rich history.

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This guide will take you through the best of Manitou Springs, as we cover everything from outdoor adventures and lodging options to festivals and events that make this Colorado town a must-visit destination.

Manitou Springs is a quaint yet lively community, and it offers a blend of natural wonders, cultural heritage, and modern-day festivities.

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, history buff, or a festival-goer, Manitou Springs promises an unforgettable experience with its own style of unique attractions and welcoming atmosphere, so let’s jump in.

Activities in Manitou Springs, Colorado

Explore the Great Outdoors

Hiking the Manitou Incline

For those in the mood for a serious challenge, the Manitou Incline is an extremely difficult (yet rewarding) endeavor. This steep trail is not for the faint-hearted, as it has an elevation gain of over 2,000 feet in less than a mile.

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As you ascend, each step offers an increasingly impressive view of Manitou Springs, Colorado Springs, and the vast Eastern Plains.

The effort is rewarded at the summit, where breathtaking panoramic views provide a spectacular reward. After conquering the incline, hikers can take the Barr Trail down, which offers a less strenuous descent back down and it still has picturesque scenery.

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Pikes Peak: America’s Mountain

Pikes Peak, known as “America’s Mountain,” is a beacon for explorers, artists, and dreamers. Standing at 14,115 feet, it dominates the local Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs landscape.

There are various ways to reach its summit. The adventurous often hike the Barr Trail, which is a challenging yet scenic route. Those looking for a more leisurely trip can drive the Pikes Peak Highway or board the Pikes Peak Cog Railway, which recently reopened with new trains and tracks.

The summit provides awe-inspiring views that stretch as far as the eye can see, making it a must-do experience in the Manitou Springs area. Plus, it’s an especially unique place to explore since reports of Bigfoot sightings aren’t uncommon in these parts.

Garden of the Gods: A Geological Marvel

Just a short drive from Manitou Springs, the Garden of the Gods awaits with its towering sandstone rock formations, all set against a backdrop of snow-capped peaks. This national natural landmark is a geological marvel that has captivated visitors for centuries.

The park offers numerous hiking trails, rock climbing routes, and a scenic drive. The Visitor & Nature Center provides educational exhibits about the area’s geology, wildlife, and history. Whether you’re exploring the towering formations of Kissing Camels and Balanced Rock or enjoying a picnic with a view, Garden of the Gods is a place where nature’s artistry is on full display.

These attractions only scratch the surface of what Manitou Springs and its surroundings offer. Beyond the incline, Pikes Peak, and Garden of the Gods, the area is rich in history, from the ancient Anasazi cliff dwellings at Manitou Cliff Dwellings Museum to the historic streets of Manitou Springs itself.

There are countless boutique shops, art galleries, and cozy café that line the streets of downtown Manitou Springs. The town also has natural mineral springs, each with its unique taste and purported health benefits, that provide a connection to the area’s original inhabitants and early settlers.

Taste the Mineral Springs

One of the most unique and refreshing experiences in Manitou Springs is to take a Mineral Springs Tasting Tour. This unique adventure brings visitors on a journey through the town’s historic springs, each known for its specific mineral content and associated health benefits.

The natural mineral springs, which have attracted health seekers to Manitou Springs since the 1800s, emerge from the ground at various locations around town, offering a direct link to the area’s geological and cultural heritage.

As you visit from spring to spring, you can taste the naturally carbonated waters, which vary in flavor and mineral composition. From the slightly sweet taste of Cheyenne Spring to the more robust flavor of Iron Spring, each stop provides a glimpse into the earth’s subterranean wonders.

The Mineral Springs Tasting Tour not only offers a delightful sensory experience but also a chance to learn about the history and legends surrounding each spring. Informative plaques and guided tours are available to explain the significance of the springs to the Native American tribes who first discovered them, as well as to the early settlers who developed the area as a health resort.

Sipping the mineral-rich waters as you learn about their potential healing properties and the geological forces that created them adds a layer of wonder to the exploration of Manitou Springs. If you’re a health enthusiast, a history buff, or just in search of a unique way to connect with nature, the Mineral Springs Tasting Tour is a must-do activity that captures the essence of Manitou Springs’ allure.

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Adventure and Recreation

Cave of the Winds Mountain Park

Cave of the Winds Mountain Park in Manitou Springs is an adventure seeker’s paradise, offering a unique blend of natural wonder and thrilling experiences. Visitors can embark on a journey through the ancient underground caves, exploring the intricate formations and hidden chambers that were naturally sculpted.

Guided tours reveal the history, geology, and myths of these captivating caverns, making it an educational as well as an exploratory endeavor. For those craving a rush of adrenaline, the Wind Walker Challenge Course awaits.

Perched on the edge of a 600-foot cliff, this outdoor attraction tests your balance and bravery with rope bridges, beams, and obstacles, all while offering breathtaking views of Williams Canyon and beyond. If you’re diving deep into the earth or navigating the heights above, Cave of the Winds Mountain Park provides an unforgettable adventure in the heart of Manitou Springs.

Manitou Cliff Dwellings

The Manitou Cliff Dwellings present a one-of-a-kind glimpse into the lives of the Ancestral Puebloans who lived in the Southwest over 700 years ago. Located in the red sandstone formations of Manitou Springs, these carefully preserved structures allow visitors to walk through ancient rooms, explore passageways, and stand in ceremonial kivas, offering a tangible connection to the past.

The museum on-site enriches the experience with artifacts and exhibits that detail the daily lives, cultures, and histories of the original inhabitants. This attraction not only educates but also captivates the imagination, transporting visitors back in time to appreciate the ingenuity and spirit of the Ancestral Puebloans.

Zip Lining

Zip lining in Manitou Springs offers an exhilarating way to experience the stunning landscape of Colorado from an entirely new perspective. Located in the scenic beauty of the Rocky Mountains, Adventures Out West offers zip lining in Manitou Springs for thrill-seekers looking for a heart-pounding ride through the air.

Glide over canyons, through towering trees, and across expansive mountainside that showcase the natural splendor of the area. Since the operators are professionally guided zip line tours, they ensure safety while maximizing fun.

These experiences not only offer an adrenaline rush but also provide unique views of the region’s geological formations and lush vegetation, making zip lining in Manitou Springs a must-do activity for visitors seeking adventure and an intimate connection with nature’s grandeur.

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Indoor Activities

Miramont Castle Museum

Miramont Castle Museum, an enchanting Victorian-era mansion, stands as a testament to the eclectic architecture and history of Manitou Springs. Built in 1895 by Father Jean Baptist Francolon, the castle features a blend of architectural styles, including Gothic, Romanesque, and Tudor, making it a fascinating structure to explore.

Each room in the castle tells a different story, adorned with period furnishings and artifacts that reflect the rich history of the region. The museum also hosts the Queen’s Parlour Tea Room, where visitors can enjoy traditional high tea in an elegant setting, offering a serene break amidst the exploration of Manitou Springs’ historical treasures.

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Manitou Springs Heritage Center

The Manitou Springs Heritage Center is dedicated to preserving and sharing the vibrant history of Manitou Springs and the Pikes Peak region. Through a variety of exhibits, photographs, and artifacts, the center tells the stories of the area’s early settlers, indigenous cultures, and the development of Manitou Springs as a health resort famed for its mineral springs.

Visitors can learn more about the town’s fascinating past, from the height of the grand hotels to the quirky events that shape its present-day community. The Heritage Center not only educates but also inspires a deeper appreciation for the unique cultural tapestry of Manitou Springs.

The Iron Springs Chateau Melodrama Theater

The Iron Springs Chateau Melodrama Theater offers a unique entertainment experience in Manitou Springs, combining lively performances with a slice of local history. Established in the late 19th century, the theater continues to delight audiences with its melodramatic plays, vaudeville-style comedy, and musical acts, all encouraging audience participation with boos, hisses, and cheers.

The theater is housed in a historic building that once served as a health spa, adding to its charm. Dining is available before the show, allowing guests to enjoy a complete evening of entertainment and laughter in one of Manitou Springs’ most cherished venues.

Lodging in Manitou Springs, Colorado

Cozy Bed & Breakfasts

Manitou Springs, Colorado, is a haven for travelers seeking a blend of adventure, relaxation, and the warm, personalized touch of cozy bed and breakfast accommodations. Among the charming options, a few stand out for their unique character, exceptional service, and prime locations that allow guests to fully immerse themselves in the beauty and tranquility of the area.

Avenue Hotel Bed and Breakfast

Nestled in the heart of Manitou Springs, the Avenue Hotel Bed and Breakfast is housed in a beautifully restored 1886 building, making it the oldest B&B in the area. Each room is uniquely decorated, combining antique charm with modern comforts.

Guests can enjoy a gourmet breakfast each morning, featuring homemade pastries and locally sourced ingredients. The spacious veranda and garden provide serene spots to unwind after a day of exploring the nearby natural attractions.

Blue Skies Inn

Blue Skies Inn is a delightful retreat set at the base of Pikes Peak, offering guests a colorful and artistic escape. This B&B is known for its individually themed suites, each decorated with hand-painted murals and custom furnishings, creating an enchanting atmosphere.

The inn is situated on spacious grounds, with lush gardens and a gentle stream that adds to the peaceful ambiance. Mornings here start with a freshly prepared breakfast delivered to your suite in a picnic basket, adding a quaint touch to your stay.

Other Notable Mentions

  • Onaledge Historic Inn: This charming inn offers guests a glimpse into the past, with its rustic architecture and stunning views of the surrounding mountains. The cozy rooms and friendly atmosphere make it a perfect getaway for those looking to connect with nature and history.
  • Red Crags Estates: An elegant option for travelers, this historic estate combines luxury with the tranquility of its natural surroundings. The beautifully appointed rooms, attentive service, and gourmet breakfast make it an ideal choice for a romantic escape or a peaceful retreat.
  • Agate Hill Inn: Near the foothills of Pikes Peak, Agate Hill Inn offers cottages and suites that provide a comfortable and quaint base for exploring Manitou Springs. The inn’s close proximity to hiking trails and downtown attractions, along with its cozy accommodations, makes it a favored choice among visitors.

Manitou Springs’ bed and breakfasts are more than just places to stay; they are gateways to experiencing the charm and beauty of this enchanting Colorado town.

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Unique Hotels and Inns

Manitou Springs hotels give visitors a great way to experience the charm of the city for a night or more. From well-known chain hotels offering the comfort and consistency travelers may appreciate to smaller, boutique options that capture the essence of Manitou Springs’ eclectic and artistic vibe, there’s a lodging choice to suit every preference and budget.

Each hotel provides a gateway to exploring the city’s scenic landscapes, soothing mineral springs, and bustling downtown area, ensuring your stay is as relaxing as it is memorable.

The Cliff House at Pikes Peak

The Cliff House hotel, a distinguished member of Historic Hotels of America, is a testament to Manitou Springs’ rich history and elegance. Dating back to 1873, this luxury hotel seamlessly blends its Victorian heritage with modern amenities and services.

Guests can choose from a variety of rooms and suites, some of which feature gas fireplaces, heated toilet seats, and spa tubs. The dining experience at The Cliff House is unparalleled, with award-winning cuisine that can be enjoyed alongside stunning views of Pikes Peak. The hotel’s prime location also makes it an ideal base for exploring the nearby attractions.

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Magnuson Grand Pikes Peak

Just minutes away from the heart of Manitou Springs, the Magnuson Grand Pikes Peak offers comfortable and convenient accommodations with breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. Known for its friendly service and well-appointed rooms, this hotel ensures a pleasant stay for all its guests.

Amenities include an indoor pool, hot tub, and a complimentary breakfast, making it a great choice for families and leisure travelers alike. Its proximity to outdoor activities and local sights like Garden of the Gods and the Manitou Incline makes it a favored option for those looking to experience all that the area has to offer.

Festivals and Events in Manitou Springs, Colorado

January: Great Fruitcake Toss

The Great Fruitcake Toss is one of the most unique and entertaining events in Manitou Springs, Colorado’s, held every January to give the much-maligned holiday fruitcake a moment of glory.

Participants and spectators gather for this whimsical competition that transforms fruitcakes into projectiles in a variety of contests. With categories ranging from traditional throws to mechanized launches, the event adds a fun and competitive twist to the concept of fruitcake.

Ingenious devices and creative techniques are on full display as competitors aim to achieve the longest distance or the most accurate throw, all in good spirits. Beyond the tossing, the event fosters a sense of community and laughter, making it a must-attend for those looking to start the new year with joy and light-heartedness in the picturesque setting of Manitou Springs.

June: Manitou Springs Colorado Wine Festival

The Manitou Springs Colorado Wine Festival, celebrated every June in Memorial Park, is a vibrant showcase of the state’s wine industry, offering attendees the chance to sample a wide array of Colorado wines amidst the natural beauty of Manitou Springs.

This event brings together local wineries, each presenting their best selections, against a backdrop of live music and artisan vendors selling gourmet foods, crafts, and more. Along with wine tastings, the festival provides educational sessions on wine appreciation, making it a perfect blend of enjoyment and learning for wine enthusiasts of all levels.

It’s an opportunity to explore diverse wine styles, connect with the community, and enjoy the festive atmosphere, making the Manitou Springs Colorado Wine Festival a must-visit event for anyone looking to indulge in Colorado’s rich wine culture.

August: Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon

The Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon is held every August in Manitou Springs, Colorado. This race stands as one of the most grueling and exhilarating racing events in the world. This challenging competition invites runners to push their limits in a race to the summit of Pikes Peak and back.

Competitors cover distances that test the stamina, strength, and spirit of every participant. The Ascent, a half-marathon, and the Marathon, a full 26.2 miles, both offer breathtaking views of the surrounding wilderness, providing a spectacular backdrop to the physical and mental challenge.

Runners from around the globe gather in Manitou Springs for the chance to conquer the mountain’s steep inclines and unpredictable weather, making it a revered event in the running community. If you’re thinking of joining as a competitor or cheering from the sidelines, the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon is a testament to human endurance and the inspiring beauty of the Colorado landscape.

October: Emma Crawford Coffin Races

The Emma Crawford Coffin Races in Manitou Springs, Colorado, is a wildly entertaining event held every October, paying homage to one of the town’s legends. This unique festival celebrates the life of Emma Crawford, a local who, after her death, became famous when her coffin slid down the mountainside.

In her honor, participants form teams to race hand-decorated coffins—each with an “Emma” inside—down Manitou Avenue. The event is not only a race but a spectacle of creativity and community spirit, with teams dressed in thematic costumes, adding a vibrant and humorous twist to the local folklore.

Spectators line the streets, cheering on their favorite teams and marveling at the elaborate coffin designs and the lively atmosphere. The Emma Crawford Coffin Races epitomize the quirky charm of Manitou Springs, offering a blend of history, humor, and spirited competition that captures the imagination of all who attend.

Dining and Nightlife in Manitou Springs, Colorado

Manitou Springs, Colorado, offers a vibrant dining and nightlife scene. It reflects the eclectic and artistic spirit of this mountain town. From cozy cafes and gourmet restaurants to lively bars and quaint pubs, Manitou Springs caters to a variety of tastes and preferences.

Visitors and locals can indulge their culinary cravings or enjoy a night out on the town. The dining experience in Manitou Springs is diverse, with options ranging from casual, family-friendly eateries to upscale dining establishments.

Many restaurants pride themselves on sourcing ingredients locally, providing fresh, farm-to-table meals that highlight Colorado’s rich agricultural bounty. If you’re in the mood for hearty American comfort food, authentic international cuisine, or innovative fusion dishes, Manitou Springs’ culinary scene is sure to satisfy.

Notable favorites include savory crepes from a European-inspired cafe, spicy delights from a Mexican cantina, and gourmet pizzas from wood-fired ovens.

As the sun sets, Manitou Springs’ nightlife comes alive with a variety of venues offering entertainment and relaxation. Local breweries and distilleries showcase Colorado’s craft beer and spirits, often featuring live music and tasting events that draw a lively crowd. For those looking for entertainment, several venues host live bands, open mic nights, and karaoke, offering a chance to experience the local music scene and perhaps even dance the night away.

Manitou Springs’ dining and nightlife embody the town’s unique blend of natural beauty, artistic flair, and community warmth. Whether you’re seeking a memorable meal, a cozy spot for a nightcap, or a lively venue to enjoy music and entertainment, Manitou Springs offers an inviting atmosphere that makes every evening out something special.

Shopping and Souvenirs in Manitou Springs, Colorado

Shopping in Manitou Springs, Colorado, offers a delightful experience that mirrors the town’s eclectic and artistic vibe, making it the perfect place to find unique souvenirs and gifts.

The charming historic downtown area is lined with a variety of shops, from boutique stores and art galleries to specialty shops and outdoor markets, ensuring that visitors can find something special to remember their trip or to gift to loved ones.

Art and Culture

Art enthusiasts will appreciate the local galleries showcasing works by Colorado artists, including paintings, sculptures, and handmade jewelry, reflecting the rich artistic culture of the region.

For those interested in the mystical and spiritual, Manitou Springs hosts several shops offering crystals, gemstones, and metaphysical books and supplies, catering to the town’s historic reputation as a spiritual retreat.

Souvenirs and History

Souvenir hunters will find plenty of options, from traditional keepsakes like postcards and T-shirts featuring iconic Manitou Springs imagery to more unique items such as handcrafted pottery, artisanal foods, and locally produced honey and sauces.

The town’s Native American heritage is also celebrated in several stores that sell authentic crafts, including pottery, dream catchers, and woven blankets.

Outdoor Shops

For outdoor enthusiasts, there are shops dedicated to hiking, biking, and camping gear, offering both equipment and expert advice on how to best explore the natural beauty surrounding Manitou Springs.

Additionally, the town’s mineral springs have inspired a range of spa and wellness products, allowing visitors to take home a bit of Manitou’s healing waters in the form of bath salts, soaps, and lotions.

Shopping in Manitou Springs is more than just a transaction; it’s an exploration of the town’s diverse culture and creativity. Each purchase supports local artisans and business owners, making it a meaningful way to remember your journey to this unique Colorado destination.

FAQs about Manitou Springs, Colorado

What is Manitou Springs known for?

Manitou Springs is famous for its natural mineral springs, vibrant arts scene, and proximity to the Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak.

How can I access the mineral springs?

The mineral springs are free and open to the public. There are several spring locations around the town, each with unique tastes.

What are popular activities in Manitou Springs?

Visitors enjoy hiking the Manitou Incline, exploring the Cave of the Winds, visiting the Manitou Cliff Dwellings, and shopping in the historic downtown area.

Are there family-friendly attractions?

Yes, the Manitou Springs Penny Arcade, Miramont Castle, and the Manitou Springs Heritage Center are great for families.

What is the best time to visit Manitou Springs?

The best time to visit is from late spring to early fall when the weather is ideal for outdoor activities.

Is Manitou Springs pet-friendly?

Yes, many areas and trails in Manitou Springs are pet-friendly, but always check local guidelines and leash laws.

How do I get to Manitou Springs?

Manitou Springs is located about 6 miles west of Colorado Springs and can be accessed via US-24 West. The nearest airport is Colorado Springs Airport.

Getting to Know the Quirks of Manitou Springs, Colorado: A Traveler’s Guide - Visit Colorado Peaks (10)

Manitou Springs, with its eclectic mix of natural beauty, historical sites, and vibrant community events, offers something for every traveler. If you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or cultural experiences, this charming town delivers in abundance. As you plan your trip, let this guide be your roadmap to the many treasures Manitou Springs has to offer.

Getting to Know the Quirks of Manitou Springs, Colorado: A Traveler’s Guide - Visit Colorado Peaks (2024)
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