Sure, the rowdy days of South Padre Island and Daytona Beach trips are probably long gone, and maybe the size of your bank account isn't conducive to flying to Miami for a week. That doesn't mean you have to sit at home watching your coffee percolate. Here's a selection of local options for those who still want the ocean view, the fancy golf course or the spa vacation.
OK, so there isn't an actual ocean for hundreds of miles, but if you start learning now, you'll be ready to swim with the fishies when that day does arrive and you're diving off the back of a boat in Cozumel. Underwater Connection offers classes for all levels of diving experience. Plus, they have a heated indoor pool, so even if you can't master the underwater breathing thing, you'll still have a nice warm float. Details: $10-$359, 4337 N. Academy Blvd., 599-3483, theunderwaterconnection.com
Go on safari
You won't be rattling around in an old Hummer, trying to keep out of the mouths of lions, but you can see some amazing creatures here at home.
The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, east of Denver, specializes in rescuing large carnivores - such as African lions, grizzly bears, leopards and bobcats - from exotic pet owners, circuses, zoos and other sources. The animals have lots of room to roam, and you can take it all in from a mile-long overhead walkway. Details: $15, $7.50 3-12, 1-303-536-0118, wildanimal sanctuary.org.
Out in Calhan, the Serenity Springs Wildlife Center is dedicated to creating a permanent home for non-domestic felines and other exotic wildlife, including cougars, coatimundi, lions, servals and caracals. Details: $10, free 1 and younger, no strollers allowed; 1-719-347-9200; serenityspringswildlife.org.
Go all terrain
For a spring break adrenaline rush, there are ATV tours nearby. Play Dirty and American Adventures Expeditions, both located outside of Canon City, will guide you on four wheelers from Bighorn Sheep Canyon to 3,000 feet above the valley, all along mountain trails. Details: $50-$375, 27077 Highway 50, Cotopaxi, 1-719-275-7373, playdirtyatv tours.com; $45-$275, 12844 E. Highways 24/285, Buena Vista, 1-719-395-2410, american adventure.com
Climb the walls
If you squint, you can pretend you're fresh off your big road trip to Yosemite National Park, along with all your climbing gear, at CityRock or the Sport Climbing Center of Colorado Springs. Strap on a harness and get at it. You'll get a fresh perspective going straight up and acquaint yourself with muscles you haven't felt in years. Both locations offer lessons for beginners, day passes and equipment rental. Details: $10-$15 day pass, 21 N. Nevada Ave., climb cityrock.com; $13 day pass, 4642 Northpark Drive, sport climbcs.com.
Ride your horse into the sunset
If it's a dude ranch vacation you want, it's a dude ranch you'll get. The Academy Riding Stables will lead you through the Garden of the Gods, while the gang at the Stables at The Broadmoor will immerse you in the Pike National Forest. They offer a wildlife safari ride, with the chance to spot deer, wild turkey or fox, and another ride that includes gold panning. And you don't need to be an expert rider. Details: $47-$62, 4 El Paso Blvd., 633-5667, academyriding stables.com; $44-$66, 6620 Old Stage Road, 1-866-448-0371, comtnadventure.com.
Cottonwood Creek Recreation Center
Enjoying a local outdoor public pool is still a ways off, but Cottonwood Creek Recreation Center is open now, with an impressive indoor swimming pool facility. You'll almost feel like you're playing at Water World in Denver. There's the zero-depth indoor wave pool that goes from zero to 5 feet deep. It has waves for 10 minutes, then calm waters for 10 minutes. There's also the spiral water slide with catch pool, a lazy river and the vortex, a nonheated circular pool about the size of a hot tub, with a current that spins folks around like a tornado. Pool admission is included in a YMCA membership, but non-members can buy a day pass, $6-$8. Details: 3920 Dublin Blvd., 385-6508, ppymca.org/locations/cottonwood-creek-recreation-center.
Bird on a wire
You be the bird. Adventures Out West has the wire. Go ziplining over the red rock canyons in Manitou Springs. The outfit has five ziplines, varying in length from 225 feet to more than 650 feet. As long as the weather holds, any day of the week is ripe for flying through the air.
You must call and make a reservation during office hours, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays, but you can also zip on Sundays. Details: $85 per person, 578-0935, advoutwest.com/co-tours/co-ziplines.html.
Adventure by Jeep
Have somebody else do the driving, as you hop in an Adventures Out West Jeep and go tooling around the region. There are a handful of tours available, ranging from 90 minutes to four hours, and they include treks through Garden of the Gods and the foothills of Pikes Peak and the Rocky Mountains, The Broadmoor area and up into the mountains of the Pike National Forest. Some options aren't available during the snowy months, and you'll need to make a reservation. Details: $40-$119 per person; 578-0935, advoutwest.com/co-tours/co-jeep.html
Get bedazzled and pampered
An appointment at The Broadmoor is more than just a mani-pedi or neck rub. Enter through the door of the spa and find yourself in a wonderland of luxuriousness. Show up early or stay after your appointment, and lounge about as you drink your lemon water (or wine) and nibble on fresh fruit. Grab a book and make yourself comfortable in the sauna or lavender-scented aromatherapy room at The Broadmoor. You'll feel like you've run away to another life, and isn't that what vacations are supposed to do? Details: $35-$385 for a wide range of services and treatments, 1 Lake Ave., 577-5775, broadmoor.com
Do your best Jack Nicklaus impression
So you couldn't get away to the Pebble Beach golf course on the California coast. There's nothing a round at the local Pine Creek Golf Course can't heal. The conditions of the course are always top-notch, the greens are PGA-quality and the grass on the fairways is well-maintained. Plus, there are the views of Pikes Peak at almost every hole. Use the website Golfnow.com, and get a discounted rate.
Who needs California? Details: $29-$55 green fees, 9850 Divot Trail, 594-9999, pine creekgc.com
Go raw or go home
Oysters feel like vacation food. These might not be straight from New York's Grand Central Oyster Bar and Restaurant, but they'll still taste pretty darn good. So put on your best "paint the town red" outfit and mosey downtown to the Ritz Grill or Oscar's Tejon Street Bar. The Ritz offers an oyster bar from 4-8 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays, and Oscar's has two-for-one oysters from 3-7 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays. Details: $1.50 each-$15 dozen, 15 S. Tejon St.,, 635-8484, ritzgrill.com; $1 each, 333 S. Tejon St., 471-8070, oscarstejonstreet bar.com
Contact Jennifer Mulson: 636-0270