When: First Week in October
Where: Guest House on VRBO
Weather: Highs in the 70’s, Lows in the 60’s
Wear: (see What to Wear – Colorado in October)
Itinerary (continued from Estes Park Post)
- Day Four
- Garden of the Gods
- Manitou Springs
- Day Five
- Day Six
- Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center
- Drive back to Denver for afternoon flight
Garden of the Gods
We arrived in Colorado Springs around 3pm and went straight to Garden of the Gods – which is the most popular attraction in Colorado Springs. We stopped at the visitors center upon entry to get a map (which I recommend doing), and then drove around the loop to get a good view of the beautiful red rocks that surrounded us. We were going to stop at the Perkins Central Garden Trail first, as it seemed the logical first choice as it was paved, popular and went through the center of the park, but the parking lot was full so we stopped at South Garden Parking Lot and hiked the Ridge Trail. The trail is easily walkable with minor elevation climbs. We enjoyed being off the main loop as there are less people, and the kids actually enjoyed “climbing” more than just a paved sidewalk.
We got in the car and drove to parking P14 for our second hike, the Siamese Twins trail (you can see why its called Siamese Twins by the rock formation below). This hike is not to be missed! It is a little bit longer, but a 5 year old conquered it no problem. This trail offers breathtaking views and lots of room to “boulder” (climb on the rocks) and explore. My daughter had no fear and like to venture out to the edge, but made me nervous and thrilled to see her sense of adventure grow.
It was about 5:30pm by the time we had finished all of our hikes, so we headed into Manitou Springs for dinner. Manitou Springs didn’t have the charm I was expecting – it was more tourist-y than I thought. We ate at Creekside Cuisine, which was your average bar restaurant, but we enjoyed sitting outside and being close to the huge outdoor arcade. It was convenient as the kids played some games while we waiting for our meal.
After dinner we finally headed to our place which was about 10 minutes away, in Cascade-Chipita Park. The VRBO we rented was a guesthouse on a property with some acreage. While close to the main house, we still felt like we had a lot of privacy, and we enjoyed being more removed from a city with nice views. The guesthouse was very charming, clean and well equipped. Our kids loved the sandbox on property which we took full advantage of, the board games in the cupboard, and I loved how they provided a high chair! The kids bedroom had bunks which was perfect, and although very tiny, it didn’t seem to bother them. I would definitely recommend this place.
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
The next morning I took the kids to America’s only mountain zoo, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, which is the most personal and interactive zoo we have ever been too – with the most amazing views! Not only do you get to witness several animals – elephants, lions, zebras, moose, turtles, bald eagles, monkeys, goats and many more – but they have a chairlift, carasoul and playground for kids activities.
Right after entering,we headed to the largest giraffe herd exhibit. where the kids were able to feed the giraffe’s some lettuce – which blew their minds! Equally unique was the chance to walk around in the Australia Walkabout, which was an un-caged area where the kangaroos are, giv
ing my kids the opportunity to walk directly up to one and pet it. There is a lot of walking around so bring comfy shoes. We spent our entire morning here and could have stayed longer with all there is to see and do, but I definitely plan on coming back!
Dinosaur Resource Center
It was our last day in Colorado and we had a few hours before we needed to head to the airport, so I took the kids to the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center. (Before we headed there, we stop by the Donut Mill to grab some breakfast to go – the donuts were delicious and worth the stop!)
The RMDRC was empty when we went – we were the only ones there – and after our visit I cannot say I am totally surprised. I read online about their kid area, which included a “digging for bones” space. Turns out its a tiny box that they have to stick their hands inside to dig – mine had no interest. While they have a few dinosaurs constructed to view, there wasn’t much for the kids to do and they lost interest very quickly. I think I stretched the trip out to about 30 minutes. The staff was very friendly and tried to engage my children which I appreciated, but I am not sure I would recommend stopping here unless you had a dinosaur fanatic in your group.
After our visit we picked my husband back up, made the 2 hour drive back to Denver, returned our rental car, said goodbye to the mountains, and boarded our plane back for Tennessee. We left a little bit of our hearts in Colorado, and are considering moving here – that’s how much we fell in love with it!