Featured photo by instagram user MasisonRasmussen
Staying home for vacation doesn’t have to be boring, especially when you live in Colorado, which consistently ranks in the top 10 states to visit for tourists across the country. Indeed, a staycation might be just the ticket for those of you looking to be a bit more budget-conscious with your hard-earned dollars and vacation days. Think about it. When you vacation in your own state, you don’t waste precious time traveling from airport to airport, you don’t have to rent a car, you don’t have to worry you’ll get lost, lose your hotel room or any of the other common vacation hassles that can turn a relaxing vacation into a stressful disaster. You’re already here and the open road is your oyster! We’ve picked some fun vacation activities you can try right here at home in the Pikes Peak region. Planning your next playcation begins … now!
Take a Horseback Ride through Garden of the Gods
Who needs a sandy shore to ride on when you can wander amongst timeless red sandstone formations (and technically, the ocean used to be right where you’ll be riding)? Academy Riding stables will lead you through Garden of the Gods on trusty steeds led by even trustier guides. You’ll see the famous garden in a whole new way and also enjoy many minutes of pony-petting downtime. One-hour and two-hour rides are offered seven days a week, which means you won’t miss getting to experience the garden in one of the coolest possible ways.
Pit Stop: After your ride, visit the Garden of the Gods Trading Post and enjoy a beer, ice cream or famous bison burger.
Raft the Arkansas and Camp Under the Stars
What could be more Colorado than camping? Camping under the stars between bouts of rocking, splashing, white water rafting. Now, Echo Canyon River Expeditions does offer shorter floats, but this is your staycation — you need to maximize your fun. Imagine two or three days spent on the river navigating class II-IV rapids, interrupted only by evenings spent under the stars. Echo Canyon provides everything from food and guides to tents and sleeping bags, so you can truly let go and focus only on the world around you.
Pit Stop: After several days of rafting, who wants to cook? Dine at the 8-Mile Bar, where local beers and spicy lettuce wraps are only the beginning of the tasty goodness that awaits.
Take a Ride to Historic Cripple Creek
The beautiful mountain drive is only the beginning of your adventure when you hit the road to Cripple Creek. There’s a whole lot to do in this small-town gem — like adorable wild donkeys, hiking and history. Catch a ride on the Narrow Gauge Railroad, which will take you deeper into the mountains, or tour the Mollie Kathleen Mine, where you can see real gold and ride in a mine car a thousand feet below the surface.
Pit Stop: There are several restaurants in Cripple Creek to feed your hunger and local shops offering homemade fudge and ice cream.
Bike Down Pikes Peak
As a local, you’ve probably driven up Pikes Peak, but have you ever tried rolling down the majestic 14er on a bicycle? It’s one of the most exhilarating experiences you’ll find west of Colorado Springs and one you absolutely have to try on your playcation. Challenge Unlimited provides bikes, helmets and other gear, feeds you a quick breakfast (there are afternoon rides, too), then carts you to the summit of Pikes Peak. From there, you’ll descend the peak’s twists and turns for 19.5 miles, ending with a filling lunch at Wines of Colorado.
Pit Stop: Let’s talk a bit about Challenge Unlimited’s built-in pit stop. Wines of Colorado has wine (of course), but it’s also got epic lahvosh, roasted garlic and lemon Italian cream cake. You’ve earned them all.
We’ve only scratched the surface of your epic staycation potential right here in the Pikes Peak region. We haven’t talked about hiking, trail-riding, swimming, fishing, spelunking … Honestly, why do locals ever leave, anyway? If you’re still craving more Colorado Springs staycation fun, check out any one of our creatively Colorado itineraries, where you’ll find more restaurant recommendations, activities geared to your personality type (shopping enthusiast, thrill-chaser, family fun, etc.) and much more. Happy not-traveling!
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