Colorado Springs, Colorado, sits at the eastern foothills of the Rocky Mountains about 70 miles south of Denver. It's also the second largest city in the state, behind Denver. Due to its proximity to the mountains, the city is known for its outdoor lifestyle. If you're thinking about moving to Colorado Springs, you'll want to know more information about the city. This helpful guide will cover everything from the best places to eat to the top neighborhoods in Colorado Springs.
Living in Colorado Springs
Locals in Colorado Springs give the city two nicknames. You may hear people refer to the city as The Springs, which is simply a shortened nickname. You may also overhear some refer to Colorado Springs as Olympic City. This name is given because the city is home to the United States Olympic Training Center, United States Olympic Committee, and the Olympic Museum. So many members of Team USA call Colorado Springs home; at any given time, you may be walking down the street next to some famous Olympic athletes.
Part of the reason athletes choose to live in Colorado Springs is because of the thin mountain air. The city is at just more than 6,000 feet above sea level. If you're moving to Colorado Springs from a lower elevation, you'll want to take it easy for the first few weeks as your body adjusts to the thinner air. If you overdo it, you may experience shortness of breath or lightheadedness, especially if you suffer from breathing disorders, such as asthma.
As with other cities that promote an outdoor lifestyle, the dress code in Colorado Springs is casual. Unless you're working in an office that requires business wear, you can easily get away with jeans and T-shirt as your everyday wardrobe. In fact, it's not unusual to see people dressed like they're on a hike. Of course, this wardrobe choice could also be because they're getting ready to head out on one of the many trails around the city.
Weather in Colorado Springs
Although many people think of Colorado Springs as a mountain city, it's actually situated in the high desert. This location means the area can experience significant temperature swings in the course of one day. However, you should enjoy snow if you're thinking about moving to Colorado Springs.
Winter will bring plenty of snowy and cold weather to the area. In fact, Colorado Springs receives about 38 inches of snow each season. Since many residents love winter sports, they easily make the most of every snowfall. Along with downhill skiing, you'll also find plenty of opportunities for snowshoeing, sledding, and ice hockey.
Late winter and early spring are the snowiest seasons in Colorado Springs, with March being the snowiest month of all. In fact, eight of the 10 heaviest snowfalls to occur in the region during a 24-hour period happened between March and May. Spring is also the season that has the largest temperature fluctuations; don't forget to grab a jacket when you head out in the morning.
Although residents love winter sports, they also take full advantage of the mild weather during summer. Summers in Colorado Springs are typically warm, with average highs in the upper 70s to low 80s Fahrenheit. July is the warmest month of the year and has average highs in the mid- to upper 80s. However, because of the city's high elevation, the nights are usually still cool. While summer is mostly dry, thunderstorms in the afternoon are common, especially during July and August.
Fall comes early in Colorado Springs, and temperatures start to drop quickly. You can expect the first autumn freeze in the beginning of October, and the first measurable snowfall usually occurs in mid-October. Of course, the crisp air helps the leaves change into some vibrant colors. You'll find fall is a popular season for locals to get out on the hiking trails and enjoy all the beauty before it's time to break out the skis again.
Best Neighborhoods in Colorado Springs
If you're planning to move to Colorado Springs, you want to make sure you select a neighborhood that's right for you. The city has plenty of great neighborhoods that all have their own vibe. Briargate is in the heart of Colorado Springs and is one of the most appealing spots for young families. You'll find plenty of shopping centers and great schools a few minutes from the neighborhood. Briargate is also known for its affordable and spacious homes. Those who work in the military also tend to choose Briargate because of its proximity to the U.S. Air Force Academy.
If you're interested in getting a new home, consider the Marksheffel neighborhood. Located northeast of the city, Marksheffel was once an undeveloped part of the area. However, as recent growth has moved farther away from the city center, the neighborhood has witnessed impressive growth with new schools, community centers, and homes. This development also makes Marksheffel a great option if you're interested in a home that you can grow into. Plus, Marksheffel is close to the Colorado Springs Airport.
If you have some room in your housing budget, look into The Broadmoor neighborhood. Situated in the southern section of the city, The Broadmoor is known for its modern and historic mansions. It's also considered one of the safest and wealthiest neighborhoods in the city. If you can afford one of the homes in this neighborhood, you'll find plenty of activities to help you stay busy. The neighborhood is home to several parks, Country Club of Colorado, and The Broadmoor resort, a stunning hotel known for its spa, golf course, and tennis courts.
As the name suggests, the West Side neighborhood is located a few minutes west of Colorado Springs. This location is one of the area's oldest neighborhoods, and it has an eclectic feel. It offers affordable homes that include everything from small cottages to Victorian homes. You'll also see people buying lots that have been vacant for years and building new homes on them. Stroll along the sidewalks in the historic part of West Side and you'll discover plenty of small cafes and quaint boutiques. However, be aware that this area also attracts plenty of visitors.
Education in Colorado Springs
If you're moving to Colorado Springs with children, you want to make sure you select a part of the city that has good schools. Not only is the Cheyenne Mountain School District 12 considered one of the best in the area, but it's also one of the highest ranked districts in the entire state. It's located in the southwestern portion of Colorado Springs and has one preschool, five elementary schools, one middle school, one high school, and one charter school. The district has a total enrollment of about 5,100 students, and more than 85 percent of students who graduate go on to college.
Located in the northern part of Colorado Springs, Academy School District 20 is a large district that currently has about 25,000 students from grades pre-kindergarten to 12. Although the district has a high enrollment, the student-teacher ratio is still only 17 to 1. The district is home to 22 elementary schools, eight middle schools, seven high schools, and one charter school. In addition to a comprehensive and challenging curriculum, the district also offers Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes to ensure the academic excellence of every student.
Colorado Springs School District 11 is another top school district to consider. This central school district includes downtown Colorado Springs. As one of the oldest school districts in the city, District 11 has a long history of providing excellent education to a number of students. Today, the district has more than 60 schools and alternative education opportunities, including 32 elementary schools, nine middle schools, four high schools, and five charter schools.
In addition to the public school districts, Colorado Springs is also home to a number of higher education colleges and universities. Colorado College is a private liberal arts school that has about 2,000 undergraduates. The small school offers 42 majors and 33 minors, and it is often considered one of the best private colleges in the country. Specialized programs offered at the college include biochemistry, Southwest studies, environmental science, feminist and gender studies, Asian studies, and American cultural studies. Along with the undergraduate programs, the school also offers a Master of Arts in teaching degree.
Students interested in a four-year public university can attend University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS). Enrollment at the university consists of approximately 12,400 undergraduate students and 1,800 graduate students. Academic programs at UCCS include arts and sciences, nursing and health sciences, business administration, education, public affairs, and engineering and applied sciences. The university is also home to several institutes, including the El Pomar Institute for Innovation and Commercialization and the National Institute for Science, Space, and Security Centers.
Working in Colorado Springs
Employment is another aspect you'll want to consider when planning a move to Colorado Springs. The city's economy is driven by the defense industry, high-tech industry, and tourism. The defense industry plays the biggest role in Colorado Springs' economy and includes some of the largest employers in the area. A sizable portion of this industry includes the development and operation of missile defense projects. Major defense corporations in the area include Boeing, Harris Corporation, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, and L-3 Communications. Additionally, the Space Foundation is located in Colorado Springs.
Another large percentage of the economy is centered on the high-tech industry, especially manufacturing electronic equipment. Although this sector has decreased its overall presence over the past few years, tourism, the third largest industry in the area, has also slowed. This arrangement helps keep the high-tech sector as the second largest industry in Colorado Springs in terms of employment and total revenue generated. A few of the top high-tech corporations in the area include the Hewlett-Packard Co., Verizon Business, and Agilent.
As previously mentioned, tourism is the third largest industry in the city. When railroads were built in the area in the late 1800s, tourists began arriving to explore the Rocky Mountains and Pikes Peak. In fact, Pikes Peak still attracts millions of visitors to the area every year. However, this stunning mountain isn't the only attraction in the area that people come to see. The city has more than 55 activities and attractions, including Old Colorado City, Garden of the Gods, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, the U.S. Olympic Training Center, and the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College.
Top Restaurants in Colorado Springs
No matter what type of cuisine you desire, you're likely to find it in Colorado Springs. The area has a large German community, and you'll discover a number of German restaurants, cafes, and bakeries. One of the most popular is the Edelweiss German Restaurant. For more than 40 years, this family-owned restaurant has served classic dishes that include bratwurst, schnitzel, and sauerbraten. During the winter, you can stay warm next to one of the three blazing fireplaces, and during the summer, the authentic biergarten serves a cool and refreshing variety of beers and lagers.
Of course, German food isn't the only cuisine you'll find around Colorado Springs. Another popular restaurant is Paravicini's Italian Bistro. This award-winning restaurant has a menu that features classic Italian-American favorites and regional specialties from across Italy. If you decide to stop by for dinner, consider ordering one of the original recipes created exclusively for the restaurant by chef Franco Pisani. You'll also find traditional dishes, such as chicken Marsala, eggplant parmigiana, and veal picatta. Don't forget to save room for one of the decadent desserts, such as the tiramisu, biscotti parfait, or cannoli.
If you're interested in a fine dining option in Colorado Springs, consider The Rabbit Hole. This late-night spot serves distinctive meals and cocktails in a sophisticated and subterranean dining room. Popular menu options include the cherry-braised buffalo ribs and the chicken and biscuits, which comes with a fried chicken breast, waffle biscuit, bacon jalapeno gravy, and blackened green beans. If you want something to drink with your meal, order the White Rabbit. This signature martini is made with vanilla vodka, coconut rum, a splash of cream, and topped with a flaming marshmallow.
When you wake up in the morning and need a hearty breakfast to help get your day going, make plans to head to Mountain Shadows Restaurant. This cozy restaurant serves down-home breakfast and lunch dishes every day of the week. Popular breakfast items include the giant cinnamon roll, country omelet, pancake combo, biscuit and gravy, and huevos rancheros. If you stop by for lunch, consider one of the specialty sandwiches, such as the mesquite chicken BLT, Rocky Mountain roast beef, or Southwest turkey.
Breweries in Colorado Springs
If you like beer, you'll love the impressive number of craft breweries in the area. When you want to try something different, check out Bristol Brewing Co. Located in a former elementary school, this bustling microbrewery offers a variety of award-winning beers known for their quality and purity. If you decide to stop by, head to the Bristol Pub to enjoy a friendly and laid-back atmosphere as you try out pub bites and popular drink options that include Laughing Lab, Beehive, Mass Transit, and Red Rocket.
When you head to Phantom Canyon Brewing Co. for a beer, start out at the restaurant in this three-story brewery housed in a historic building. You'll find meals that take some of your favorite classic dishes and give them a new twist. Don't forget to order one of the brewery's beers to go along with your delicious food. When your meal is done, head to the second-floor billiards hall for some fun. Here you'll find a jukebox pumping out music, a full-service bar serving more excellent beer, 10 tournament-style billiard tables, a shuffleboard court, and two dart boards.
Storybook Brewing makes it easy to have an evening of fun. This casual craft brewery is located in the northern area of Colorado Springs. Take a seat at one of the barrel-shaped chairs inside and grab one of the supplied board games to play while you drink your beer. Popular beverage options include the Java Dragon Porter, Little Red's Rocking Ale, The Last Straw-Berry Honey Wheat, and Alternate Awareness Abby. You can also sign up for a tour to get a behind-the-scenes look at the brewing process.
Getting Around in Colorado Springs
Once you move to Colorado Springs, you need to know the best way to get around. If you're in downtown Colorado Springs, the easiest way to explore is using your own two feet. The city's grid layout and compact neighborhoods make it a breeze to travel by foot. Plus, walking makes it easier to browse the many eclectic shops and galleries.
After you get out of the downtown area, you'll need to use the roads. Interstate 25 runs north and south and is the major highway in the area. Other significant roads around Colorado Springs include U.S. Route 24, U.S. Route 87, State Highway 21, and State Highway 115.
Mountain Metropolitan Transit operates the public transportation in the city. This system provides more than 11,000 one-way trips a day and has over 40 routes around Colorado Springs. In addition to traditional public transportation options, Mountain Metropolitan Transit also operates alternative transportation choices, including bicycling, carpool, vanpool, and walking.
Top Parks in Colorado Springs
If you like spending time outside, Colorado Springs is a great city for you. The city is home to many parks that all offer something different to appreciate. Memorial Park has activities the entire family can enjoy. Check out the Mark "Pa" Sertich Ice Center for public ice skating, let the kids play on one of the three playgrounds, or go to Prospect Lake and Bath House for swimming, boating, and the two fishing areas. If you're interested in playing some sports, the park has three baseball and softball fields, 12 tennis courts, 15 football and soccer fields, horseshoe courts, and an indoor pool.
Fox Run Regional Park is a popular spot for hikers. Here you'll find 4 miles of multiuse trails that wind through thick forests of ponderosa pines. The gazebo on the lake is a great place to unwind and take in the amazing views of Pikes Peak. You can also let the kids burn some energy at the playground and climbing rock or put together a family game at the volleyball court or horseshoe pit. If you want to enjoy an entire day at the park, pack a picnic and take advantage of one of the pavilions or picnic areas.
Cottonwood Creek Park is a great community park to visit no matter the season. During the warmer months, you can enjoy the four soccer fields, picnic tables, playground, three softball and baseball fields, disc golf course, tennis courts, and in-line hockey court. You'll also find a selection of walking and running paths that weave their way throughout the park. When it starts to snow, make sure you come back for some exciting sledding. Plus, the Cottonwood Creek Recreation Center with its indoor pool is pleasant to visit at any time of year.
Monument Valley Park is a 153-acre community park near the heart of Colorado Springs. This historic park was developed in the early 1900s thanks to land donated by Gen. William Jackson Palmer, who was the founder of Colorado Springs. Uintah Street actually splits the park in half.
Amenities in the northern half of the park include a playground, soccer field, baseball and softball field, walking and biking paths, and access to the Pikes Peak Greenway Trail. In the southern half of the park you'll find two fishing ponds, a playground, outdoor pool, baseball and softball field, basketball courts, tennis courts, sand volleyball court, hiking and biking trails, and additional access to Pikes Peak Greenway Trail.
Top Things to Do in Colorado Springs
With so much to see and do in Colorado Springs, you'll never run out of exciting attractions to explore. Of course, one of the most popular attractions in the area is Pikes Peak.
Stretching 14,115 feet into the air, this beautiful mountain is a symbol of the city and one of its top recreation sites. When you want to reach the summit, you have several options. You can get in your car and drive up the scenic Pikes Peak Highway. If you don't feel like driving, you can also take the Pikes Peak Shuttle. Once you're up there, you'll be able to take in the incredible views, check out the Crystal Reservoir Gift Shop, fish at one of the three lakes, explore the hiking trails, or enjoy an outdoor lunch at the picnic area.
The Garden of the Gods is another top outdoor attraction in Colorado Springs. This public park showcases massive sandstone rock formations that reach more than 300 feet high. When you first visit the park, be sure to stop by the Visitor and Nature Center to learn how these amazing red rocks were created. Afterward, head out on the over 15 miles of hiking trails to get a view of this breathtaking landscape. Garden of the Gods also has special rock climbing areas for an up-close view of these incredible formations.
If you have kids, you won't want to miss an opportunity to check out the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. The zoo is home to more than 750 animals, including the renowned giraffe herd, which is the largest of any zoo. Other popular exhibits at the zoo include the African Rift Valley, Australia Walkabout, Bear Grottos, Monkey Pavilion, Asian Highlands, Primate World, and Rocky Mountain Wild. When you're done seeing the animals, be sure to have some fun at the zoo's other attractions, such as the carousel, open-air chairlift ride, and My Big Backyard interactive family learning center.
Although Denver may have a mint, Colorado Springs has the American Numismatic Association Money Museum. This facility is the largest museum in the country dedicated to numismatics, otherwise known as coin collecting. The museum has exhibits in three main galleries where you can discover everything you ever wanted to know about money. Check out the History of Money exhibit to see how money has changed all over the world throughout the years. Another popular exhibit at the museum is the Harry W. Bass Jr. Collection, one of the most complete U.S. gold coin collections that includes many rare coins.
Annual Events in Colorado Springs
No matter the time of year, you're sure to find some type of fun event or festival going on around Colorado Springs. Perhaps one of the most popular events is the Colorado Springs Labor Day Lift Off. Held every year on Labor Day weekend at Memorial Park, this free event brings plenty of excitement to the area. Get to the park early in the morning to watch as more than 70 hot air balloons take flight. Throughout the day, you can enjoy skydiving demonstrations, paddle boarding sessions, wakeboarding exhibitions, chainsaw carving competitions, live entertainment, doughnut eating competitions, and more.
Another favorite event is Territory Days in Colorado Springs. This annual festival takes place every Memorial Day weekend in historic Old Colorado City. Territory Days started out as a small neighborhood craft fair. Now it has grown into a three-day street festival. While you're at the free event, you can browse more than 180 food and craft booths, watch performances by Native American dancers, listen to some live music, check out the live blacksmith demonstrations, see a Wild West gunfight re-enactment, let the kids enjoy the play area and petting zoo, and more.
Every July you can saddle up for five days of fun when you check out the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo and Parade. This exciting event takes place at the Norris Penrose Event Center. All the action kicks off with the free parade that heads through the heart of Colorado Springs and includes floats, bands, riders, and more. Then some of the best athletes in rodeo will compete in events that include team roping, tie-down roping, bareback riding, steer wrestling, bull riding, saddle bronc riding, and barrel racing.
Sports in Colorado Springs
Although Colorado Springs doesn't have any major league sports teams, you won't have to forego enjoying plenty of athletic action in the area. The city is home to the Colorado Springs Switchbacks Football Club, a professional soccer team that's a member of the United Soccer League. If you want to catch an exciting game and cheer along with fellow fans, get your tickets and head to Weidner Field on game day. The stadium also has concession stands where you can purchase food and drinks to have during the game.
If you're interested in a little baseball, Rocky Mountain Vibes is a Minor League Baseball team that plays in the Pioneer League as the rookie affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. The team plays at Security Service Field, one of the top ballparks in the Pioneer League. If you want to make your day at the ballpark special, consider getting tickets to watch the game from the eight-person hot tub located at the end of the right field foul line and recognized as "The Highest Hot Tub in Professional Sports."
The colleges around Colorado Springs have many sports teams, and the rivalries can get a little intense. However, it's not a football rivalry like some other parts of the country. In this city, it's all about hockey. The Colorado College Tigers have a good hockey team and a heated competition with the University of Denver Pioneers. The U.S. Air Force Academy Falcons also have a hockey, football, and basketball team that plays in the nationally competitive NCAA Division I. Additionally, the U.S. Air Force Academy and Colorado College have teams in the top-ranked Division III collegiate ultimate Frisbee program.
With so much happening in Colorado Springs, it's easy to see why it's a popular city. If you're thinking about moving to Colorado Springs, you now have all the information you need about where to live, where to work, and what to enjoy.