Featured Photo by I Love Manitou Springs
Not only is Manitou Springs chock full of great little shops and galleries, the shops are all 100% local and dare we say quirky? The town of Manitou tends to dance to the beat of it’s own drum circle in general, so you can expect its local characters to fill their shops with things you can’t find at any big box store. From a rubber duck specialty store to original local art, artisanal olive oil to patio chairs made from recycled skis — if you have someone special on your list, you’re bound to find something in Manitou that’s perfectly unique. ,
Looking for a gift that keeps on giving? Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has a number of free trade and repurposed gifts whose proceeds go back to Kenya and Sri Lanka; like giraffes made out of recycled saris and journals made from elephant poop. Yes. You read that right. Poop. You wouldn’t believe how cool recycled elephant poo can be!
Poo Paper: Since the elephant’s diet is all vegan, their waste is basically raw cellulose, and the average adult elephant produces nearly 500 pounds a day. Thoroughly cleaned and processed, the paper looks linen-like and is used to create all sorts of notebooks, cards, and notepads. A remarkable testament to the innovation of mankind. Plus, you’re helping strengthen a struggling economy. Win win!
The Garden of the Gods Trading Post looks deceptively understated from the outside, but as you pass through the front doors, you may be question if a certain Ms. Hermione Granger may have had her hand in the stores shockingly voluminous interior. An absolute one-stop-shop for souvenirs, they also happen to have one the best selections of local art and American Indian crafts in Colorado.
Local Hack: they also have a cafe and coffee shop. Grab your favorite Starbucks drink, or a local craft beer to enjoy while you shop. Or treat yourself to some locally made ice cream or fudge when you’ve checked off the last of your list.
The Ghost Town Museum is a great place to take visiting guests over the holidays. The tickets are inexpensive, there’s lots of historic artifacts for the grownups to peruse, lots of fun games for the younger kin — and it is completely weather proof. You won’t get snowed out of this adventure.
The gift shop is nearly as much fun as the museum, and it’s clear this shop’s buyer has a sense of humor. You’ll see plenty of your traditional tourist souvenirs, plus a number of unexpected treasures. With a selection of old fashioned candy, humorous mugs and wall plaques, and an entire display dedicated to dog lovers, you’ll be able to tick several gifts off your list.
Whether you’re looking for contemporary or Native American, the shop at the Cliff Dwellings has got you covered. Pottery, drums, jewelry, blankets, moccasins, toys, books and so much more can be found in their multi-level gallery.
While the kids journey back in time in the dwellings, you can get them some goodies for their stockings that they’ll never expect!
Every year I get my kiddos a new Christmas ornament to put on the tree, so by the time they’re ready for their own tree, they’ll have 20 or so ornaments to get them started. They know exactly which ornaments are theirs and they reminisce about them every year when we put up the tree. Their favorite? The customized ones with their names on them FROM the North Pole. It’s where Christmas magic and memories start.
With over 100 locally owned shops, galleries and restaurants, there is no shortage of Colorado goodness to be found in Old Colorado City. Enjoy the treelined streets and friendly shop-keepers, but be warned: it will be hard not to buy yourself a gift or two while in this cute little historic district. Do yourself this one favor, go hungry. Several of my favorite restaurants are tucked along this little strip, including locally made chocolate and ice cream. You can’t go wrong with any of them, so let your nose and rumbly-tummy lead you to greatness.
Did you know that the first rodeo ever was held in Colorado? I can’t think of anything that more perfectly celebrates the Spirit of the West. The ProRodeo Hall of Fame details that legacy in their beautiful museum and offers you a little something to take home with you as well. You’ll find jewelry, belt buckles, toys and books that are perfect for every cowpoke or little rustler in your life.
The spirit that drove our ancestors to settle the West is the same pioneering spirit that will drive us to the stars. If you’ve got a little dreamer, or better yet, a future scientist or engineer, feed their dreams with astronaut ice cream! The Space Foundation and Discovery Center is dedicated to bringing the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) core to our school kids. After all, they say the person that will take us to Mars has already been born — will it be your young astronaut?