Fun places to visit in Colorado Springs

A few weeks ago, my kids and I traveled to Colorado Springs for a Compassion conference (which I plan to share about soon!). While we were there, we visited quite a few Colorado Springs attractions, and most of them had free admission which made up for the one pricey thing we did do.

Pike's Peak Cog Railway - This was the one thing we paid admission for. It ended up being a really nice way to see a lot of scenery on the way up to the top of Pike's Peak. Our tour guide shared a lot of interesting and witty information with us on the trip to the top of the mountain.

 Our Cog Railway train at the top of Pike's Peak

Our Cog Railway train at the top of Pike's Peak

 Can you say you have been at this elevation?

Can you say you have been at this elevation?

Next time I find myself in Colorado Springs, I would love to drive up to the top of Pike's Peak. As much as I enjoyed the ride up on the Cog Railway, we sure didn't have a lot of time to roam around the summit once we arrived there. After standing in line for the restroom and getting the world famous hot donuts (both of which are a must!), there was really only time for a few photos, then it was time to load back onto the train for the trip down.

So, now onto the free stuff!

Focus on the Family Welcome Center - Even though my kids are older, I knew we needed to stop here to visit Whit's End and go down the three story slide. 

 That three story slide is pretty cool!

That three story slide is pretty cool!

 Kelsey was pretty excited when she found Narnia!

Kelsey was pretty excited when she found Narnia!

While we were here, we went on the guided tour, roamed around Whit's End, and explored the Kid's Korner. We were hoping to do a taping at the KYDS Radio, but we didn't realize you needed to make a reservation. If you have young children, I could see families spending a lot of time exploring Whit's End and the Kid's Korner.

Compassion Global Ministry Center Tour - Even though I have been on a tour of Compassion's Global Ministry Center before, I enjoy hearing different tour guides share their stories on the tour. And this time we had a very special tour guide and a special visitor on our tour!

 Our friend, Rebecca, with my son, Matthew, and Sean, our trip leader from our Mexico sponsor tour

Our friend, Rebecca, with my son, Matthew, and Sean, our trip leader from our Mexico sponsor tour

 Satish telling us the first time he saw this, he thought the garbage was too clean!

Satish telling us the first time he saw this, he thought the garbage was too clean!

We were surprised to learn that Sean, our trip leader from our Compassion Mexico Sponsor Trip, was our tour guide for the building tour. What a fun surprise!

And Satish, a formerly sponsored Compassion child, joined us for a part of the building tour. Once we got to this point of the tour, Satish shared with us that before he was enrolled into the Compassion program, he used to help his father sort through garbage to find things to sell at the market in India where he grew up.

Want to know what my favorite parts of the building tour are? Peeking at the mail center where all of our Compassion letters are processed and made ready for delivery, and visiting the replica Child Development Center, which is just missing real children ready to give you hugs.

Helen Hunt Falls - A friend of ours told us about the trails in this area.

 This is quite a short hike at Helen Hunt Falls

This is quite a short hike at Helen Hunt Falls

Even though this is a relatively short trail up to the top of the trailhead, the elevation change and the overall high altitude made this hike just a bit challenging for us. But it was definitely worth the sweat and frequent stops along the way! If we had planned this day a little better, we could have hiked a couple of other trials while we were in this area. Next time...

U.S. Olympic Training Center - this was a favorite for both of my kids on this trip.

 Waiting for their medals

Waiting for their medals

 Michael Phelps trained in this pool!

Michael Phelps trained in this pool!

On this free guided tour, we saw different training areas and learned how long some of the athletes train here. We were told it takes four to six weeks for the athletes to acclimate to the high altitude of Colorado Springs (makes me not feel so bad that the hike up Helen Hunt Falls was a bit of a challenge for us!) 

Garden of the Gods - a trip to Colorado Springs almost requires a visit here!

 Garden of the Gods rock formations

Garden of the Gods rock formations

While these rock formations are no comparison to what we saw at Bryce Canyon a couple of summers ago, they are definitely worth the visit. There are paved trails in the main area of the park (which is where we stayed for this visit), but there are many other trails to explore (which we will have to explore on another visit!)

U.S. Air Force Academy - Our last stop before heading to the airport was to the U.S. Air Force Academy.

 U.S. Air Force Academy Chapel

U.S. Air Force Academy Chapel

When visiting here, make sure you enter at the right gate (yes, we went to the wrong gate!). Once you make your way to the main visitor's center, you will find a building filled with history, a lot of information about what it takes to attend the academy, and what is required of the students at this academy.

No visit here is complete without making the short walk over to the chapel. What an amazing building! This is a building that should be seen in person, pictures just don't do it justice.

Well, that sums up all the places we were able to visit on our trip to Colorado Springs! And like I said, everything but the cog railway up to Pike's Peak was free!  Do you have a favorite place to visit in Colorado Springs?