Colorado is a strange state when it comes to weather. One week you’re brushing snow off your car, the next, you’re hiking in shorts getting a sunburn. The weekend forecast ahead is really a perfect example of this, with highs in the 60s through Sunday, followed by snow and 30s on Monday. And for all any of us know, that prediction could switch in the middle of the night. So, what’s an adventurer to do when there are no certainties? As any Colorado native will tell you, you learn to make duel plans — one set for bad weather, and one set for good. We’ve created a list just for such circumstances.
Fun History Activities
Outdoors: Manitou Cliff Dwellings
Take a trip back in time as you explore authentic ruins built nearly 1000 years ago and transported to the cliffs above Manitou Springs. These ancient buildings tell us a lot about the indigenous peoples of what is now called southern Colorado. It’s a hands-on experience that everyone can enjoy and well-behaved, leashed pets are welcome, too. You won’t have a chance to get this up-close and personal with relics like these. Check out their event calendar for special activities, including visits from wolves!
Indoors: Miramont Castle and Museum
Just down the mountain from the Cliff Dwellings, you’ll find a historic structure that’s a few hundred years newer, although still over 100 years old to all of us. Not only will you get to explore a real castle, you’ll learn about the history of people in Manitou Springs and the 1890s, too. Miramont Castle offers self-guided tours of its interiors and there’s also an elegant tea room for you to sip and dine like royalty. We highly recommend the scones with a heavy dollop of fresh cream and jam.
Fun Science Activities
Outdoors: Cave of the Winds
Technically, you’re not “outside” when you’re in a cave, but we still think it counts as an outdoor activity. Cave of the Winds offers you a cool (literally, it’s a static 54 degrees) journey through the Pikes Peak region’s winding caverns, complete with a healthy dose of science and history. The lantern tours allow you to get into some of the lesser traveled regions with smaller groups, if you’re super into cave exploration. And, because we like to go big in this state, your adventure continues outside the caves, with fun activities and exhilarating rides. (We’re looking at you, Terror-dactyl.)
Indoors: Space Foundation Discovery Center
With Elon Musk shooting Teslas into space and astrophysicists like Neil deGrasse Tyson cultivating millions of Twitter followers, there’s no question that outer space — is in. The Space Foundation Discovery Center has interactive exhibits and fascinating daily programs, plus actual items that have been to space and come back. There are monthly events like family star parties (outdoors, of course) and even special nights just for adults featuring events like science stand-up with cold craft beers and local food trucks.
Fun Family Activities
Outdoors: The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
Lots of people tend to forget that the zoo is open in the winter. That’s a big mistake, because it’s so much fun! Where else can you feed a gigantic giraffe a piece of lettuce, or watch as a tiny parakeet lands on your hand to enjoy a tasty snack? You can also travel up the mountain via the Sky Ride and hang out in a yurt overlooking the entirety of Colorado Springs. We recommend the Big Backyard for your littlest littles to run around (and maybe feed a goat or two), followed by a spin on the very fast merry-go-round. (As an adult, you should definitely ride the merry-go-round, too. Because fun.)
Indoors: Ghost Town Museum
Want to take a peek at the awesomeness of the Wild West without making a trip to Cripple Creek (although that’s super great, too)? We’ve got our own little ghost town right here in Colorado Springs, and it’s indoors. Painstakingly salvaged from all over the Pikes Peak region, these structures bring the past to life, letting you learn about Colorado history and the early settlers’ way of life. There are thousands of authentic artifacts to see and antique arcade games to play. Don’t forget to at least try a sip of sarsaparilla, a sweet soda from the way-back-when.
We promise you that building two sets of plans in the winter won’t be the hassle you think it is. It’s always great to be prepared for any weather when it comes to adventuring in Colorado. Want a perfect example? Between the writing of this article and the posting of it, the temperature went from 48 degrees to 21 degrees. Expect the unexpected and you’ll never have ruined plans!
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