16 Best Things to do in Manitou Springs, Colorado - Unseen Colorado (2024)

Manitou Springs, Colorado is a charming town located at the foot of Pikes Peak. Steeped in history, it was once a popular destination for those seeking the healing properties of its natural mineral springs. Visitors today can still experience this therapeutic tradition at the historic Mineral Springs Park.

In addition to its healing charm, Manitou Springs is famous for its thriving art scene with numerous galleries and studios. Visitors can also explore the Manitou Cliff Dwellings, a preserved ancient site that offers a glimpse into the lives of the Pueblo Indians that lived there over 700 years ago.

16 Best Things to do in Manitou Springs, Colorado - Unseen Colorado (1)

Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy hiking or biking the nearby trails in Garden of the Gods Park or taking the cog railway up to the summit of Pikes Peak for breathtaking views. Manitou Springs is a must-see destination for any Colorado traveler.

It is the perfect destination to visit on a day trip from downtown Colorado Springs or elsewhere in the Pikes Peak region. Here is an ultimate guide to the best attractions in Manitou Springs, Colorado.

Nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Manitou Springs is a charming town with a rich heritage and plenty of attractions.

Originally home to Native American tribes and later settlers, it became a popular destination in the late 1800s for its healing mineral springs.

Today, visitors can still enjoy the natural springs and explore the town’s unique shops, boutiques, stores, cafes, and restaurants.

Here are the best things to do in Manitou Springs, Colorado.

Explore the business on Manitou Avenue

Manitou Avenue, located in downtown Manitou Springs, is a delight to explore.

Lined with stunningly preserved historic buildings, Manitou Avenue has an array of boutiques, art galleries, and restaurants.

It is the perfect place to search for unique artefacts or locally made crafts or to enjoy the vibrant atmosphere.

As you stroll down the avenue, you’ll notice the abundance of art galleries, each brimming with a diverse collection of works from local artists, spanning various styles and mediums.

This is a testament to the town’s thriving art scene.

The boutiques along Manitou Avenue offer an eclectic mix of merchandise from unique clothing, jewelry, and home goods, which reflects the town’s quirky character.

The architecture on Manitou Avenue is a blend of Victorian charm and Wild West influence, adding an extra layer of intrigue to your exploration.

Each building has a story to tell, and you can feel the history embedded in this area with every step.

Don’t forget to look up and take in the intricate details of the period’s architectural features.

The blend of art, history, and commerce on Manitou Avenue makes it a microcosm of the town’s rich culture.

Take a walking tour of the hot springs in downtown

Manitou Springs is famous for its abundance of naturally occurring hot springs.

Several of the hot springs in historic Manitou Springs are free to visit and can be explored on a self-guided walking tour.

Each spring has its unique mineral content and taste.

The Shoshone Spring, located in the center of downtown by the traffic circle, is often lauded for its strong mineral flavor.

The Twin Spring, found on Ruxton Avenue, is popular for its milder taste and for its two spouts, allowing two people to fill bottles at the same time.

The Cheyenne Spring, located on Canon Avenue, is incorporated into the Manitou Springs Spa Building.

The 7 Minute Spring, located at the entrance of Mansions Hotel, erupts every 7 minutes and is housed in a charming gazebo-like structure.

The Navajo Spring, situated along Manitou Avenue, is known for its high iron content and unique flavor.

The Stratton Spring, also along Manitou Avenue, is named after Winfield Scott Stratton, a local philanthropist and gold miner.

The Iron Spring Geyser is one of the most popular springs in town and visitors love the taste of this natural soda water!

Remember, each of these springs is free to explore and taste, offering a unique experience of Manitou Springs’ healing tradition.

Before you begin, stop by the Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau for an easy to follow map.

You can also get a souvenir cup here which is useful in your water tastings of the town’s mineral springs!

Also Read: 15 Best Hot Springs in Colorado

See the exhibits at the Manitou Springs Heritage Center and Museum

The Manitou Springs Heritage Center and Museum is a treasure box full of local history and culture.

Located in the heart of downtown Manitou Springs, this museum offers a fascinating insight into the rich heritage of the area from its early Native American inhabitants to the present day.

Numerous exhibits showcase a wide range of artifacts, photographs, and ephemera that tell the story of Manitou Springs.

Highlights include exhibits on the town’s healing mineral springs, its early days as a resort town, and the impact of the Colorado Midland Railway.

The museum also hosts various educational programs and events throughout the year that are designed to engage and inform visitors of all ages.

A visit to the Manitou Springs Heritage Center and Museum is a must for anyone interested in the history and culture of the region.

Hike the Manitou Incline Trail

The Manitou Springs Incline Trail is a challenging yet rewarding excursion for hiking enthusiasts visiting Manitou Springs.

This steep trail, once an old cable car track, is renowned for its grueling ascent and breathtaking views at the summit.

Comprising approximately 2,744 steps and climbing over 2,000 feet in elevation in just under a mile, it’s not for the faint-hearted.

Before you embark, plan your parking.

Parking at the base of the Incline is limited and a fee is required.

Alternatively, you can park in downtown Manitou Springs and take the free shuttle to the trailhead, which operates frequently throughout the day.

The hike to the summit generally takes anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour for fit and seasoned hikers.

If you are less accustomed to the altitude and steepness, then you should allow for 2-3 hours.

It’s recommended to take frequent breaks, stay hydrated, and pace yourself according to your comfort and fitness level.

Reaching the top provides a feeling of accomplishment and a panorama that’s worth every step.

Descend via Barr Trail

After making the trek to the top, you’ll descend via the Barr Trail.

This switchback trail is gentler and about three miles long, offering a different perspective and a more comfortable descent.

Remember, going back down the Incline is not permitted and is incredibly hard on the knees.

The whole adventure, ascent, and descent combined, can take anywhere from 2 to 4 hours, depending on your pace and how long you choose to enjoy the view at the top.

Remember, the Manitou Incline is a demanding trail, and every hiker must be aware of their limits.

Always respect trail rules, stay safe, and preserve the environment for everyone to enjoy.

Take a tour of the famous Manitou Cliff Dwellings

The Manitou Cliff Dwellings offer a unique opportunity to explore an authentic Anasazi cliff dwelling right in Manitou Springs.

These fascinating structures are a replica of the famous cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park in Southwest Colorado.

They were meticulously assembled in the early 20th century to provide an immersive experience of Anasazi architecture and lifestyle.

As you navigate through the preserved stone dwellings, you’ll be transported back in time, gaining insights into the culture and history of these ancient Puebloan people.

The site also includes a museum displaying Anasazi artifacts and tools, and a gift shop featuring Southwestern Native American art.

The Manitou Cliff Dwellings promise an enriching and educational experience.

The dwellings are open year-round and much loved by families.

See the spectacular formations of Garden of the Gods Park

Just a short 15-minute drive from Manitou Springs, you will find the famous Garden of the Gods Park near Colorado Springs.

Registered as a National Natural Landmark, this public park is known for its stunning sandstone rock formations.

Some of these reach up to 300 feet high and look spectacular set against the backdrop of the majestic Pikes Peak.

Why visit?

The park is a true geological wonder dating back millions of years and provides a unique opportunity to explore the natural and cultural history of the region.

From the huge Balanced Rock, tall Gateway Rocks, to the unique Siamese Twins formation, the park is a photographer’s dream and a nature lover’s paradise.

Things to do

Garden of the Gods offers a variety of activities for all visitors.

Hikers can explore numerous trails including the Perkins Central Garden Trail, a paved, wheelchair-accessible path winding through the heart of the park’s largest and most scenic red rock formations.

For a more adventurous trek, consider the Siamese Twins Trail, which offers an iconic view of Pikes Peak through a natural window in the rock.

For those who prefer wheels to feet, the scenic drive around the park is just as rewarding.

The Garden Drive is a well-paved, 6-mile loop with plenty of viewpoints and parking areas to stop and absorb the breathtaking scenery.

Visiting Garden of the Gods Park in the winter presents a whole new perspective.

The striking contrast of the red rocks against the white snow is surreal, and the park is often less crowded.

However, do note that some trails may be closed due to icy conditions, so it’s always good to check ahead.

Hike up to Pikes Peak

Rising to an elevation of over 14,000 feet, Pikes Peak is one of Colorado’s most iconic landmarks and a popular hiking destination for those visiting Manitou Springs.

There are a couple of hiking trails that will take you up to Pikes Peak.

Each route provides its own unique views and experiences of the stunning Colorado landscape.

One of the most notable trails is the Barr Trail, which is the same trail you descend on from the Manitou Incline.

This 13-mile trail takes you all the way to the summit of Pikes Peak and is known for its challenging steep stretches and switchbacks.

The trail is well marked, but it requires proper preparation and conditioning due to its length and elevation gain.

Another popular route is the Crags Trail, a slightly less strenuous alternative to the Barr Trail.

This trail is 6.8 miles round trip and offers breathtaking panoramic views.

It’s a great choice for those seeking a somewhat easier, but equally rewarding hike.

Regardless of the trail you choose, reaching the summit of Pikes Peak provides a rewarding sense of accomplishment and awe-inspiring views.

On a clear day, you can see all the way to Denver and beyond.

Remember to dress in layers, carry sufficient water, and start early in the morning to avoid afternoon thunderstorms common in the Rockies.

Always respect the environment and follow the leave no trace principles, ensuring the beauty of Pikes Peak remains for future generations to enjoy.

Enjoy the views on Pikes Peak Drive

Not up for the hike?

No problem! You can still enjoy the breathtaking views by taking a drive up the Pikes Peak Highway.

This 19-mile scenic drive takes you all the way to the summit of Pikes Peak, offering stunning panoramas at every turn.

The highway is well-maintained and suitable for most vehicles, although certain restrictions apply.

Do make sure to check the weather conditions before you set off, as the drive can be challenging in adverse weather.

Once you reach the summit, there’s plenty to do apart from soaking in the sweeping views.

Visit the recently renovated Pikes Peak Summit House where you can learn about the mountain’s history and ecological significance through interpretive exhibits.

If you’re feeling peckish, stop by the Summit House Café for their world-famous Pikes Peak donuts – a treat you can only enjoy at 14,115 feet!

And of course, don’t forget to capture some photos of the stunning landscapes.

Remember, even if you’re driving to the top, it’s still important to be prepared for changing weather conditions – the summit can be significantly colder than at the base.

Dress in layers, bring plenty of water, and most importantly, take your time to acclimate to the high altitude.

Take a scenic ride on the Pikes Peak Cog Railway

Experience the wonders of Pikes Peak without the strain of hiking or driving by taking a scenic ride on the Broadmoor Manitou & Pikes Peak Cog Railway.

This unique railway, the highest in North America, offers an unforgettable journey to the summit of Pikes Peak.

The train ascends over 7,500 feet in elevation during its trip.

From the railway, you get fantastic views of Pikes Peak as well as surrounding mountains.

The Cog Railway takes you through different ecological zones, from lush meadows sprinkled with wildflowers to dense forests and bare, rocky tundra.

Each turn reveals a new vista, culminating in the breathtaking panorama from the 14,115-foot summit.

Along the way, keep an eye out for local wildlife such as mule deer, bighorn sheep, and yellow-bellied marmots.

The railway has been in operation since 1891 and offers a unique glimpse into the history of the region.

The comfortable, modern trains fetaure large windows, ensuring you won’t miss a moment of the spectacular scenery.

An experienced conductor provides insightful commentary about the area’s history, geology, and ecosystem throughout the journey.

At the summit, passengers get ample time to explore, take photos, and even grab a snack at the Summit House before making the return trip.

The Pikes Peak Cog Railway truly offers an unforgettable and effortless way to experience one of Colorado’s most famous natural landmarks.

Go deep underground at Cave of the Winds Mountain Park

Another must-visit attraction near Manitou Springs is the Cave of the Winds Mountain Park.

A hidden gem nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, this park offers an array of experiences that will captivate both nature lovers and thrill-seekers.

Begin your adventure with the Discovery Tour, a guided walking tour that takes you deep into the limestone caves.

Here, you’ll encounter stunning formations, learn about the cave’s history, and maybe even spot some of the bats that call this cave their home.

For a more intense experience, try the Lantern Tour, where you’ll navigate the caves by the light of a handheld lantern, just like the explorers of old.

This tour offers a glimpse into the untouched sections of the cave, and an engaging guide will share eerie folklore and unexplained phenomena tied to the caves.

Above ground, you will find equally fun attractions.

The park features several thrill rides, including the Terror-Dactyl, which launches you at nearly 100 mph into a 200-foot canyon, and the Bat-A-Pult, an aerial ride that gives you a bird’s eye view of the surrounding landscape.

Before you leave, don’t forget to visit the park’s gift shop where you can pick up a unique souvenir to commemorate your visit.

Explore the Beauty of Rainbow Falls

Another unique attraction that Manitou Springs boasts is the Rainbow Falls Historic Site.

Located under the Highway 24 overpass, Rainbow Falls, also known as ‘Graffiti Falls’ due to the artful graffiti on the surrounding rocks, offers a colorful juxtaposition of urban culture and natural beauty.

The water cascades over a cliff of Pikes Peak granite, forming a beautiful waterfall that flows into Fountain Creek.

The name ‘Rainbow Falls’ comes from the stunning rainbows that appear in the mist of the waterfall on sunny afternoons.

The site has undergone significant restoration to preserve its natural beauty and historical significance.

It now includes a trail for easy access to the falls, picnic tables, and informative signage about the ecology and history of the area.

It’s an ideal spot for a leisurely afternoon picnic or a serene nature walk.

Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the mesmerizing views of the falls as well as the graffiti.

Also Read: 23 Best Waterfalls in Colorado to Visit Now

Explore the Rich History at Miramont Castle Museum

Located in Manitou Springs, the Miramont Castle Museum is a significant historical landmark that embodies Victorian-era architecture.

Built in 1895 by Father Jean Baptiste Francolon, a French-born Catholic priest, the castle serves as a testament to the eclectic Victorian design, with a blend of Gothic, Byzantine, and Tudor styles.

It’s famed for its 42 rooms that spread across four stories, each with unique designs and furnishings.

The museum exhibits a range of historical pieces, including antique furniture, vintage clothing, and historical fire department memorabilia.

Miramont Castle and Cliff House is on the National register of Historic Places.

The museum offers guided tours, allowing visitors to delve deeply into the rich history of Manitou Springs and the castle itself.

The castle’s lush and well-maintained gardens are an ideal place for leisurely walks, providing a serene environment to soak in the magnificent views of Pikes Peak and the surrounding area.

Experience Victorian Elegance at the Queen’s Parlour Tearoom

Located within the Miramont Castle Museum, the Queen’s Parlour Tearoom adds to the castle’s charm with its own touch of elegance.

This unique establishment transports visitors to the Victorian era, complete with traditional decor, fine china, and a variety of delicious treats.

The tearoom offers a selection of gourmet teas and a menu teeming with scrumptious delicacies.

If you’re in for a full high tea experience with scones, sandwiches, as well as desserts, the Queen’s Parlour Tearoom is a great relaxing break from your museum exploration.

Remember to make a reservation, as the Tearoom is quite popular among visitors.

Enjoy good food and booze at Manitou Brewing Company

If you’re looking for a great place to grab a drink and unwind after your day of exploring Manitou Springs, the Manitou Brewing Company is an ideal spot.

This craft beer brewery offers a wide variety of beers brewed in-house, ranging from classic IPAs to barrel-aged stouts.

Their famous brews include the Highground IPA and the Manitou Lager. Their fruity beers are also popular.

The brewery also offers pub-style food and live music on most nights.

We especially love their garlic pretzel bites and the truffle fries.

The lively atmosphere makes it a perfect place to relax after burning calories hiking the Manitou Incline!

They also have a small dog-friendly patio.

Take the kids to Manitou Springs Penny Arcade

Step into a nostalgic world of classic amusem*nt at the Manitou Springs Penny Arcade.

A beloved attraction in Manitou Springs, this arcade is a paradise for both kids and adults.

The arcade will take you on a trip down memory lane with its vast collection of vintage arcade games.

The arcade has hundreds of games, including pinball machines, skee-ball lanes, and donkeykong.

You’ll also find a range of modern video games, all within an easy stroll of downtown.

The Penny Arcade is an affordable entertainment option for families, offering both nostalgia and fun.

The video arcade is located at 930 Manitou Ave, Manitou Springs, CO 80829.

Enjoy the day at Manitou Springs Memorial Park

Manitou Springs Memorial Park is located at 502 Manitou Avenue, Manitou Springs, CO 80829.

Surrounded by greenery and a creek, this park is good for leisurely strolls, picnics, and days out in the sun.

It features an open grassy area perfect for lounging or playing games.

Picnic tables and benches, scattered throughout the park, let visitors relax and enjoy the picturesque surroundings.

The park also houses a state-of-the-art playground, which is a hit among younger visitors.

A beautiful gazebo stands at the heart of the park. This is often used for concerts and photoshoots.

Manitou Springs Memorial Park is a delightful retreat, providing a delightful mix of fun, relaxation, as well as natural beauty.

Manitou Springs, Colorado offers an array of attractions that cater to different interests.

It boasts a rich history and captivating charm that draws visitors from near and far.

Cool down in the spray of Rainbow Falls. Admire the architectural elegance of Miramont Castle Museum.

Enjoy high tea at the charming Queen’s Parlour Tearoom. Vibe at the lively Manitou Brewing Company.

Enjoy the views from Pikes Peak. Spend your Colorado Spring break in Manitou Springs.

The city of Manitou Springs is a great weekend destination for families as well as couples.

What are your favorite things to do in Manitou Springs, Colorado? Let us know below.

16 Best Things to do in Manitou Springs, Colorado - Unseen Colorado (2024)


What is special about Manitou Springs? ›

There are numerous natural mineral springs dotted throughout Historic Manitou Springs and are still available to the public. The native tribes considered the eruption of bubbles in the mineral water the breath of the Great Spirit “Manitou.” The first westerner to discover the healing waters was Dr. Edwin James.

Does Manitou Springs have a downtown? ›

This section of Manitou Springs, which runs along Manitou Avenue and Fountain Creek, offers a variety of shops and restaurants for locals and visitors alike. It is our goal to make it as easy as possible for you to access all of our amazing businesses.

Is Manitou Springs expensive? ›

Manitou Springs's housing expenses are 28% higher than the national average and the utility prices are 4% higher than the national average. Transportation expenses like bus fares and gas prices are 1% higher than the national average. Manitou Springs has grocery prices that are 1% lower than the national average.

What is the closest town to Pikes Peak? ›

Pikes Peak National Landmark - Just outside of Manitou Springs off Highway 24. Rising 14,110 feet above sea level, this mountain inspired the song "America the Beautiful." See why by climbing, driving or riding the cog railroad to the top of the mountain for breathtaking views and historic information.

Is Manitou Springs a hippie town? ›

Manitou Springs

As one of the most authentic hippie towns in Colorado, even the mayor has been seen wearing tie dye.

Can you drink from the springs in Manitou Springs? ›

Enjoy a tour of Manitou Springs' famous cold-water mineral drinking springs. Sip the water that brought Native Americans and early settlers to the valley of the “boiling” water.

Can you soak in the Manitou Springs? ›

Does Manitou have hot springs? I have good news and bad news: Manitou Springs has cold-water mineral drinking springs. If you're looking to take a dip in town, SunWater Spa heats up the mineral water in cedar tubs perfect for a soak.

What are the cons about Colorado Springs? ›

One of the challenges of living in Colorado Springs is its high altitude. At over 6,000 feet above sea level, the city can pose health challenges for newcomers, such as altitude sickness. This can manifest as headaches, nausea, and shortness of breath, particularly for those who are not accustomed to such elevations.

What is the richest area of Colorado Springs? ›

Garden of the Gods

With a median home price of $749,382 and a median rent of $1,201, Garden of the Gods is the most expensive neighborhood on our list. Based on the growth in home prices in Garden of the Gods over the last 3 years, it ranks No. 1 among all the neighborhoods in Colorado Springs.

How much does it cost to drive up Pikes Peak? ›

Tollgate Fees
DescriptionMay 1 to Nov. 30Dec 1 to April 30
Per Person (ages 16 & older)$15$10
Per Person (ages 6-15)$5$5
Family Plan (up to 5 passengers)$50 per vehicle$35 per vehicle
Jul 1, 2023

How long is the ride up to Pikes Peak? ›

It takes 1 hour and 10 minutes to reach the summit, with 40 minutes on top and then 1 hour and 10 minutes back to the Depot. The round trip is approximately 3 hours.

Is Pikes Peak worth it? ›

The trip up to Pikes Peak provides many beautiful views and several white knuckle curves and hills. Be prepared to do a lot of shifting and braking. That being said it was an awsome experience. The air at the top is crisp and clear.

What famous people went to Manitou Springs? ›

Barnum, Thomas Edison, Theodore Roosevelt, Charles Dickens, Buffalo Bill Cody and J. Paul Getty. This Who's Who of the Golden Era came to partake of Manitou's famous healing mineral springs, nine in total.

Is Manitou Springs worth it? ›

Home to hippies, healing water, and the best yerba mate west of the Mississippi — Manitou Springs is unlike any other place and most definitely worth a stay! It might be only a 15 minute drive west of Downtown Colorado Springs, but Manitou Springs feels like a different world entirely.

What are the coffin races in Manitou Springs? ›

The History of Emma Crawford

Many years later, heavy rainfall caused Emma's coffin to dislodge, and it came racing down the mountain, inspiring the Coffin Races — the first such races in the nation. Emma supposedly still haunts Red Mountain today.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Carmelo Roob

Last Updated:

Views: 6100

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (45 voted)

Reviews: 92% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Carmelo Roob

Birthday: 1995-01-09

Address: Apt. 915 481 Sipes Cliff, New Gonzalobury, CO 80176

Phone: +6773780339780

Job: Sales Executive

Hobby: Gaming, Jogging, Rugby, Video gaming, Handball, Ice skating, Web surfing

Introduction: My name is Carmelo Roob, I am a modern, handsome, delightful, comfortable, attractive, vast, good person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.