Top Picnic Spots in Colorado Springs
Once the weather gets hot, everyone starts getting excited for summer pastimes. One of our favorite activities to do in the Pikes Peak region is to picnic in our beautiful outdoor spaces. Colorado Springs is the fortunate home to public parks and open spaces that are delightful options for dining outdoors with your favorite folks. We thought we would share some of the best spots for picnicking in Colorado Springs. We’ve broken them down into categories so you can choose based on your preferred picnic experience.
That Old Town Square Feel
Do you long for the days of ice cream socials and community potlucks in the town square? These picnic locations will give you the charm, the aesthetic and lots of places from which to gather your picnic provisions.
Bancroft Park: Old Colorado City
Everyone loves the small-town plaza feel that is a signature for Bancroft Park. From the old bandstand to the cool historic buildings, Bancroft is a fabulous location for picnic enthusiasts who like a little city with their lunch. It’s central location in the heart of Old Colorado City means you’ll have access to dozens of restaurants where you can snag a baguette, a few papusas or maybe a whole bag of barbecue. In the summer, the park hosts free concerts on Tuesday evenings. On Saturdays, there is a huge weekly farmer’s market — this is the OG market for the area so it’s absolutely packed with produce and artisan foods. Hit the sales at the end of the market and you’ll have a picnic lunch and a site all in one.
Soda Springs Park
You couldn’t ask for a better town park that Soda Springs Park in Manitou Springs. It’s next to all the cool things to do in historic Manitou Springs, like the family arcade, hiking trails and the town’s natural, carbonated mineral springs. The park runs alongside Fountain Creek, which gives visitors cool and shady places to escape the heat of the sun. There are grassy spots to lay down a blanket and picnic tables and benches located throughout the park. The playground for the park is extremely popular with children, with lots of experiential structures, swings and yard art designed for climbing.
One of the most popular features is the Bud Ford Pavilion. It hosts like music multiple times a week during the summer, with family-friendly bands who play the jams you love. Many attendees love to pack a dinner, walk to the park and settle in for a picnic supper backed by live music. It’s one of the key social events around town, so if you’re hoping to expand your circle or give your kids a chance to meet new friends, you’ll want to set your table here. We suggest you save a little room for post-show ice cream at one of the many Manitou ice cream spots around town.
Playgrounds and Pavilions
Location is important when you’re hosting a picnic with kids, large groups or individuals with special requirements. Not everyone can just plop on the grass with a blanket. These next locations have accessible picnic tables so everyone can come along, covered sites to keep people cool and protected and playgrounds to entertain busy kiddos.
Bear Creek Park: Westside Colorado Springs
Bear Creek has a massive covered picnic area with lots of tables to give multiple groups room to hang out. There are sidewalks leading from the parking lot to the picnic area so individuals who use walker or wheelchairs, or parents with strollers, can easily navigate their way to the picnic area. The park also has a huge, grassy field that spreads out below the pavilions for anyone who wants to lounge or take lunch on a blanket.
Bear Creek provides access to miles of hiking trails and is home to an enormous playground with slides and structures for all ages. There are tables there, too and parents can coax kids to pop over for water and food. And, because this park really does try to have it all, there’s even an off-leash dog park nearby with a running stream, trails and so many adorable dogs to see and pet (after asking).
Memorial Park: Colorado Springs
While Memorial Park may be more spread out than Bear Creek, it has a few things the Westside space doesn’t, the most important being the big lake! Don’t just grab lunch and a blanket for your Memorial Park picnic. Feel free to round up paddle boards, kayaks or canoes and use some of your picnic time for fun on the water. It’s important that you carefully review the city website with regard to watercraft, lifejackets and registration.
Memorial park has acres of grassy fields for picnicking, as well as pavilions and picnic tables. It also has one of the coolest and most inclusive playgrounds in the city, including swings for individuals with disabilities and structures that are accessible using mobility equipment like braces and wheelchairs. The theme is fun, too. Just look for the giant flowed west of the lake to find it. Bring cash for the popsicle man!
Palmer Park: Central Colorado Springs
Palmer Park is a vast chunk of wooded open space in the middle of a busy urban and residential area of central Colorado Springs. There are picnic tables, wide, grassy areas and access to many of the picnic sites from the parking area. It’s a really magnificent little patch of wilderness that breaks up the concrete and offers lots of room to connect with nature.
There is a large playground and picnic area on the south side of the park, along with a small dog park and a baseball diamond. Beyond the picnic area you can hike miles of trails that weave through the woods, alongside rocky outcroppings and to incredible views of the mountains, plains and the city itself. Many of the views can also be reached by car, for those who don’t or can’t hike.
Dining Al Freso: Places for Wilderness Picnics
Escape the city altogether and take your picnic into the woods. These popular picnic spots have fewer human-made amenities and far more nature-built ones.
Eleven Mile Canyon: West of Colorado Springs
Escape the heat of the Colorado foothills and spend your day where the water is cool, the trees are plentiful and the drive is nearly as wonderful as the site. Eleven Mile Canyon has a small entrance fee that gives you access to all of the river has to offer. A long dirt road runs along the river with several places to stop and set up your picnic area. While you can park and hang wherever you like, there are also designated picnic areas located at key points of awesomeness all the way to the giant dam. The sites have barbecues and most have access to a camp bathroom.
The river is Eleven Mile’s grandest amenity, although the trails are a close second. If there’s a fisherman in your picnic crew, you probably won’t see much of their smiling face. Licensed fisherman can enjoy fly fishing along most of the river, minus a chunk of private land that belongs to the Boy Scouts. Some areas of the river are popular for brief intervals of tubing. Ask about river conditions before launching your tube, as the waters can be dangerous at certain times of year.
North Cheyenne Cañon Park
Our last destination is a special treat for hikers, explorers and cyclists. North Cheyenne Cañon Park has picnic areas in several locations and several spots to park it on the ground and eat. The giant canyon is cut deep into the ground and the granite walls help create a cooler atmosphere than other areas in the Pikes Peak region. North Cheyenne Creek only improves that climate and gives hikers, picnickers and cyclists a place to splash brisk water onto hot limbs.
Cheyenne Cañon is packed with trails that suit a variety of experience and endurance levels. Many of Colorado Springs most popular hiking trails are in the park, as is access to mountain biking trails. The park has two big points of interest (in addition to being rad and all the trails). It contains the Starsmore Discovery Center and Helen Hunt Falls. The Discovery Center is positioned at the gateway to the park and it functions as a learning zone for people interested in the region. Helen Hunt Falls is further in the park with drive-and-park access or access via the trail system. The falls get mighty crowded in the summer so our local’s tip is to go early and save it for a weekday.
This list is not definitive, but it will help you find great places for picnics in the Pikes Peak region! Pack your favorite foods and a cozy blanket or fill a cooler for a friendly barbecue. Colorado’s beauty will take care of the rest. Summer is short and life is sweet, so get out there and enjoy it one picnic at a time.