Colorado Springs and the surrounding Pikes Peak region is known of its beautiful mountain scenery and red rock formations. There are a wide variety of free things to do, ranging from parks and nature centers to museums and festivals. There is also the famous Manitou Incline, one of the most challenging hikes in existence. Some attractions are free only on certain days – please check before you go.
1.Free Museum Day
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Every September, the Smithsonian Institution partners with the numerous national museums to provide people with a day of free admission to museum. This day provides people throughout the country with a fun and frugal way to explore a favorite museum or one that they have never stepped foot in before. There are six museum in the Colorado Springs area that visitors and locals alike can visit for free on Free Museum Day. These museums are the Western Museum of Mining & Industry, Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum, Museum of Colorado Prisons, ProRodeo Hall of Fame, Victor Lowell Thomas Museum, and John May Natural History Museum.
2.The Penrose Heritage Museum
© The Penrose Heritage Museum
The Penrose Heritage Museum is home to an extensive collection of thirteen motorized vehicles and thirty-one horse-drawn carriages. A large number of the carriages on display belonged to Spencer and Julie Penrose. The collection includes a 1906 Renault, a 1928 Cadillac limousine, and three 1920’s cars from the Pike Peak Auto Hill Climb race. Among the several exhibits at the museum are two of the presidential carriages used by William Henry Harrison and Chester A. Arthur. Exhibits at the Penrose Heritage Museum also include Native American artifacts; vintage riding saddles, stirrups, and harnesses; and antique firearms.
11 Lake Ave, Colorado Springs, CO 80906, Phone: 719-577-7065
3.The Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame
© The Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame
The Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame features a collection of more than seventy-five fully-restored, original examples of antique and vintage Triumph, Panther, Cushman, Honda, BSA, Mustang, Ariel, Excelsior, Harley-Davidson, and Indians, dating all the way back to 1913 up to 1983. The educational and non-profit museum was established in 1992, focusing on people rather than companies and brands, and is run entirely by volunteers. Biographies and photographs within the museum capture the contributions, faces, and names of motorcycling pioneers. The memorabilia displays allow visitors to explore the history of motorcycling in America.
5867 North Nevada Ave, Colorado Springs, CO 80918, Phone: 719-487-8005
4.Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center
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The Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center lets visitors explore the paradise of Colorado Springs in just one stop. The Garden of the Gods Park is listed as a National Natural Landmark. The park features sandstone rock formations towering three hundred feet tall, dramatic views, and a backdrop of bright blue skies and the snow-capped Pikes Peak. The Visitors and Nature Center houses interactive exhibits, a terrace that overlooks the park, and a glass-enclosed eatery. Both the Garden of the Gods park and the Visitors Center are open to visitors free of charge.
1805 N. 30th St, Colorado Springs, CO 80904, Phone: 719-634-6666
5.History of Money Museum
© History of Money Museum
The History of Money Museum in Colorado Springs offers visitors and locals a chance to discover more about the history and other topics about the money they use, and is the largest museum in the United States dedicated to money, numismatics. The Money Museum explores the science, history, art, and more around money and promotes the diverse nature of currency and other related items. There are three main exhibit galleries in the museum that display the history of money in America and other parts of the world, as well as fascinating rarities. Free admission is offered on the third Saturday of the month.
818 N. Cascade Ave, Colorado Springs, CO 80903, Phone: 719-482-9834
6.America the Beautiful Park
© America the Beautiful Park
The America the Beautiful Park Fantasy Playground features spinner bowls, hammocks, and turntables, offering fun for everyone. “Quirks,” which are are the interactive pieces of art on the property, are situated one on side of this interesting playground. Nearly one hundred students from local schools created the Quirks. Amenities at America the Beautiful Park include the playground, restrooms, a picnic pavilion, walking paths, and access to the Pikes Peak Greenway Trail and the Midland Trail. The Julie Penrose Fountain, designed by Bill Burgess and David Barber, is representative of water’s movement between the earth and the atmosphere.
126 Cimino Dr, Colorado Springs, CO 80903, Phone: 719-385-2489
7.Bear Creek Regional Park and Nature Center
© Bear Creek Regional Park and Nature Center
At the Bear Creek Regional Park and Nature Center, visitors can explore Bear Creek, try to catch a glimpse of mule deer and other wildlife, hike through the foothills, and more. Media presentations, self-guided and guided tours, special events, and interpretive programs are offered at the nature center and park throughout the year. Nature trails in the park do not allow pets and are only meant for foot traffic. Regional trails are open to horseback riding, leashed pets, and hiking. Bear Creek Regional Park and Nature Center is open from 9:00am until 4:00pm, Tuesday to Saturday.
245 Bear Creek Road, Colorado Springs, CO 80906, Phone: 719-520-6387
8.Cripple Creek Heritage Center
© Cripple Creek Heritage Center
The Cripple Creek Heritage Center explores the story of the fortune seekers during the latter part of the 1800’s who journeyed out to the area of Pikes Peak during the Gold Rush. Over a hundred years later, visitors can make discoveries of their own at the informational resource and travel center. The Heritage Center overlooks Cripple Creek, offering a great view of the town below. Several interactive exhibits let guests immerse themselves in the heyday of the “Greatest Gold Camp in the World.” Other exhibits display fauna and flora, geology, and recreation opportunities in the Cripple Creek area.
9283 CO-67, Cripple Creek, CO 80813, Phone: 719-689-3315
9.Dr. Lester L Williams Fire Museum
© Dr. Lester L Williams Fire Museum
The Dr. Lester L Williams Fire Museum is housed within the Fire Operations Training Center in Colorado Springs. Artifacts and equipment from throughout the history of firefighting are on display in the museum, open to visitors from Monday to Friday. There is no cost for admission and the museum is open beginning at 8:00am until 5:00pm. Among the various items on display in the Dr. Lester L Williams Fire Museum is a combination hose wagon from 1896, an Ahrens-Fox Pumper vehicle from 1926, and numerous historic documents and photographs. The museum also features rotating exhibits.
375 Printers Pkwy, Colorado Springs, CO 80910, Phone: 719-385-5950
10.Starsmore Visitor and Nature Center
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The Starsmore Visitor and Nature Center has been a beloved local landmark of the residents of Colorado Springs for several years. The stone structure was formerly the residence of the area’s Starsmore family. The house was moved in 1992 to its current location after being bought by the city. The visitor center provides a great introduction to the Cheyenne Cañon, along with its rock formations, beautiful waterfalls, wildlife, and wildflowers. The Starsmore Visitor and Nature Center offers a window for birdwatching, free maps of Cheyenne Cañon, information about the region, interactive nature exhibit, interesting dioramas, and more.
2120 North Cheyenne Cañon Rd, Colorado Springs, CO 80906, Phone: 719-385-6086
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The Pioneers Museum in the city of Colorado Springs is the only facility in the region of Pikes Peak dedicated to the research, collection, and interpretation of the rich history of the area of Colorado Springs. The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday, from 10:00am until 5:00pm. There is no admission fee to visit the museum, but you may have to pay for parking. Free parking spots may be open on Vermijo Avenue. Exhibits in the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum tells the history of the region, and rotating galleries highlight particular topics of historical importance.
215 S. Tejon St, Colorado Springs, CO 80903, Phone: 719-385-5990
12.Red Rock Canyon
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Visitors can explore the Red Rock Canyon dawn to dusk. Horses, bicycles, and dogs are permitted on the majority of the trails. Activities that guests can enjoy at Red Rock Canyon include hiking, biking, climbing, skiing during the snowy season, and paragliding among a few others. For people who plan on visiting with their dogs, the Lower and Upper Dog Loops provide an off-leash area. There is also a free-ride bike park on the east side of the site’s first parking area. Several trails around Red Rock Canyon are good for cross-country skiing when there is snow.
South of U.S. 24 near 31st St, Colorado Springs, CO 80904
13.Emma Crawford Coffin Races and Festival
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The Emma Crawford Coffin Races and Festival have been an annual local tradition in the town of Manitou Springs since the year 1995. This event takes place in honor of one of the community’s beloved former residents, Emma Crawford. Crawford’s arrived in 1889 in Manitou Springs and later died in 1891 from illness. Being buried at the summit of Red Mountain was her dying wish. It took twelve people, including her fiance, to carry her coffin to the top of the mountain at 7,200 feet. In 1929, her coffin came sliding back down the mountain.
354 Manitou Ave, Manitou Springs, CO 80829, Phone: 719-685-5089
14.Fountain Creek Nature Center
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The a short distance from the downtown area of Colorado Springs is the Fountain Creek Nature Center. Visitors can explore Fountain Creek, look for blue herons, and walk through the wetlands among other activities. The center provides a unique glimpse at the Cattail Marsh Wildlife Area. It also serves as the entrance to an array of fund and interesting discovery experiences. The exhibits housed inside the Fountain Creek Nature Center include topics like life in the wetlands, climate and weather, wildlife, and plants. Open Tuesday through Saturday, the nature center also offers group tours, special events, and interpretive programs.
320 Pepper Grass Lane, Fountain, CO 80817, Phone: 719-520-6745
15.Manitou Springs Heritage Center
© Manitou Springs Heritage Center
The Manitou Springs Heritage Center is a non-profit, educational center located at the base Pikes Peak. It is focused on the collection, preservation, research, and interpretation of the culture and history of the town of Manitou Springs, as well as the surrounding Pikes Peak area. The Manitou Springs Heritage Center is open from 11:30am until 4:30pm, Wednesday through Sunday. There are several exhibits on display within the center for visitors and local residents alike to learn about Manitou Springs and Pikes Peak. The heritage center also offers haunted walking tours during the Emma Crawford Festival each year.
517 Manitou Ave, Manitou Springs, CO 80829, Phone: 719-685-1454
16.Old Colorado City Farmer’s Market
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The Old Colorado City Farmer’s Market is a long-standing tradition in Colorado Springs. For over twenty year, the farmers market has been happening on the streets of the quaint town. There are twenty-four vendors at the market full-time and many other temporary booths that take up shop at the Old Colorado City Farmer’s Market every Saturday. The market takes place every Saturday between the months of June and October from 7:00am until 1:00pm. Visitors can find all kinds of local fresh produce; such as fresh herbs, cantaloupe, squash, and corn; along with bread, cheese, honey, salsas, and more.
Colorado Ave & 24th St, Colorado Springs, CO 80944, Phone: 719-574-1283
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17.Peterson Air & Space Museum
© Peterson Air & Space Museum
The Peterson Air and Space Museum is open to visitors free of charge on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. The museum first opened in 1982, originally called the NORAD Visitor Center. In 1996, all of the original building of the Municipal Airport were designated on the country’s National Register of Historic Places. Colorado decided to create a historic district out of the area of building, which is where the museum is situated today at the center of the district at the Peterson Air Force Base. All of the museum’s heritage items are a part of the Heritage collection of the U.S. Air Force.
150 E. Ent Ave, Peterson AFB, CO 80914, Phone: 719-556-4915
18.Pikes Peak Birding & Nature Festival
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The Pikes Peak Birding and Nature Festival typically takes place during a weekend in May every year. The Fountain Creek Nature Center serves as the primary venue for the annual festival. Guests can join a memorable guided birding experience during the festival, led by an experienced birding field trip guide. During these excursions take people through the area’s higher elevations, foothills, and prairies for a chance to see a wide array of birds. These field trips are available only to people who are registered for the Pikes Peak Birding and Nature Festival. Sign up for the field trips are first-come, first-served.
320 Pepper Grass Ln, Fountain, CO 80817, Phone: 719-520-6745
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19.Self Guided Tours Air Force Academy
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Visitors to the Pikes Peak Region can take a self-guided tour of the Air Force Academy to see the beautiful campus’ iconic sights. Guests can explore part of the campus along the Nature Trail, heading towards the Cadet Chapel. The paved, but still somewhat strenuous, path is about a third of a mile in length and winds through one of the most iconic areas of the Air Force Academy. The walk back to the Visitor Center is largely uphill. Visitors can see the Cadet Chapel, Arnold Hall, Honor Court, the Field House, and the Falcon Athletic Center.
2304 Cadet Dr, USAF Academy, CO 80840, Phone: 719-333-2025
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20.Territory Days in Colorado Springs
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Territory Days in the town of Colorado Springs takes place within the historic district between 27th Street and 23rd Street. The district comes alive for families and friends with entertainment, fun, food, and live music. The event is one of the largest craft fairs in the state of Colorado and features a variety of different activities, such as pony rides, a petting zoo, a play area for children, toy train rides, gunfight re-enactments, gold panning, and more. Territory Days first started in 1975. The name of the event was chosen in honor of “Colorado City,” the Colorado Territory’s first capital.
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21.The Manitou Springs Incline
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The Manitou Springs Incline is a cable car track turned into a heart-pounding workout. The incline is considered to be an advanced hike and an extreme trail, gaining an elevation of almost two thousand feet in less than just one mile. It is not a hiking trail to be take likely, and is possibly one of the most challenging and unique trails in America, drawing hiking enthusiasts, Olympic athletes, military, and runner from all over the world. The Manitou Incline is known for providing a people with a rather tough workout. The incline features a total of 2,744 steps.
Manitou Springs, CO
22.Walking Tour Mineral Springs
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The Walking Tour Mineral Springs starts at the Depot at the Eleanor Bliss Center for the Arts. For the average person, the walking tour will take around two hours to complete. Among the places visitors will pass during the walking tour of the town are the Steamboat Spring, the Black Sulphur Spring, the Soda Spring, the Lithia Spring, the Sulphur Spring, the Iron Spring, the Heart Spring, and the Sulphur Cave. Visitors to Manitou Springs and the surrounding Pikes Peak region can explore the mystery behind many springs in town and their curative properties and how Steamboat became a world-class destination.
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23.Woodland Music Series
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The Woodland Music Series in Woodland Park, Colorado, not too far from Colorado Springs, is an annual concert series that is free for everyone to attend and listen to music presented by a wide variety of artists. The Woodland Music Series takes place during the months of June, July, and August. These outdoor concerts are performed at the Midland Pavilion “On the Green,” next to Woodland Park’s Ute Pass Cultural Center. The outdoor concert series aims to provide both visitors and locals alike with live music during the summer season, as well as promote talent and community involvement.
210 E. Midland Ave. Woodland Park, CO 80863, Phone: 719-687-5284
24.Ute Pass Trail
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The Ute Pass Trail travels through a forested area on the north side of Colorado’s Pikes Peak. The four-mile trail is used primarily for hiking, but visitors can also use the moderate trail for horseback riding, running, and biking. Dogs are also permitted on the Ute Pass Trail. Hiking the trail is best between the months of May and September. The trailhead of Ute Pass can be found near the parking lot of Pikes Peak Cog Railway. The Ute Pass Trail is thought to have originally a buffalo trail, then a wagon road in the 1860’s, and also used by Ute Indians.
Manitou Springs, CO 80829, Phone: 719-685-5089
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25.Artwalks Old Colorado City
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The First Friday ArtWalk in the history Old Colorado City is a free event that takes place on the first Friday of each month, beginning in April and running until December. The ArtWalk happens along West Colorado Avenue, between 23rd Street and 27th Street, in the art district of Colorado Springs. The self-guided art tour features more than four hundred artists, open artist studios, and art galleries. There are often up to one hundred original works of art available for sale in a single location along West Colorado Avenue. Guests can also meet some of the artists, and view demonstrations.
W. Colorado Ave between 23 St and 27 St, Colorado Springs, CO
25 Best Free Things to Do in Colorado Springs
- Free Museum Day, Photo: Courtesy of Kit Leong - Fotolia.com
- The Penrose Heritage Museum, Photo: The Penrose Heritage Museum
- The Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame, Photo: The Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame
- Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center, Photo: Courtesy of doncon402 - Fotolia.com
- History of Money Museum, Photo: History of Money Museum
- America the Beautiful Park, Photo: America the Beautiful Park
- Bear Creek Regional Park and Nature Center, Photo: Bear Creek Regional Park and Nature Center
- Cripple Creek Heritage Center, Photo: Cripple Creek Heritage Center
- Dr. Lester L Williams Fire Museum, Photo: Dr. Lester L Williams Fire Museum
- Starsmore Visitor and Nature Center, Photo: Courtesy of Brian - Fotolia.com
- Pioneers Museum, Photo: Courtesy of Kit Leong - Fotolia.com
- Red Rock Canyon, Photo: Courtesy of Pearl - Fotolia.com
- Emma Crawford Coffin Races and Festival, Photo: Courtesy of fabioderby - Fotolia.com
- Fountain Creek Nature Center, Photo: Courtesy of Mb_creation - Fotolia.com
- Manitou Springs Heritage Center, Photo: Manitou Springs Heritage Center
- Old Colorado City Farmer’s Market, Photo: Courtesy of Maria Sbytova - Fotolia.com
- Peterson Air & Space Museum, Photo: Peterson Air & Space Museum
- Pikes Peak Birding & Nature Festival, Photo: Courtesy of Evdoha - Fotolia.com
- Self Guided Tours Air Force Academy, Photo: Courtesy of McCarthys_PhotoWorks - Fotolia.com
- Territory Days in Colorado Springs, Photo: Courtesy of Dmytro - Fotolia.com
- The Manitou Springs Incline, Photo: Courtesy of yobab - Fotolia.com
- Walking Tour Mineral Springs, Photo: Courtesy of ablokhin - Fotolia.com
- Woodland Music Series, Photo: Courtesy of Minerva Studio - Fotolia.com
- Ute Pass Trail, Photo: Courtesy of blas - Fotolia.com
- Artwalks Old Colorado City, Photo: Courtesy of Shelley - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Neil - Fotolia.com