Manitou Springs is one of the quirkiest spots to visit in Colorado, conveniently located next to Colorado Springs. This small mountain town is bustling with adventure, history, and plenty of noteworthy sights and attractions. It’s the perfect destination for all types of travelers. Here are a few activities that you should consider including on the itinerary for your next trip to Manitou Springs.
1. Explore the shops downtown
Spend the day exploring the downtown attractions in Manitou Springs. Along the streets, you’ll find an array of dining, shopping, and historical experiences. From trendy art galleries to unique antique shops to countless souvenir shops, there’s something for everyone.
2. Take in the views at Rainbow Falls
Manitou Springs offers quick and easy access to Rainbow Falls. This 5-acre site features walking trails, outdoor seating, a bridge, and of course, the wondrous waterfall. The hike to this slightly-hidden gem makes for an exciting day trip and is suitable for all skill levels. For directions to the trailhead and hours of operation, click here.
3. Cave of the Winds
Pay a visit to Cave of the Winds Mountain Park for an unforgettable experience. The park features a ropes course, virtual reality theaters, cave tours, zip lines, and rides that are guaranteed to raise your pulse for adrenaline-infused adventure. One awesome ride here is the Terror-Dactyl, which features a cliffside drop of more than 150 feet.
4. Get your heart racing with the Manitou Springs Incline
Adding the Manitou Springs Incline to your Colorado bucket list is certainly not for the faint of the heart. This 1-mile staircase ascends up close to 3,000 steps and gains roughly 2,000 feet in elevation. If you’re lucky enough to make it all the way to the top, take Barr Trail back down the mountain to reach Manitou Springs for a celebratory beer. Again, this is an activity that is extremely strenuous. Proceed with caution.
While you make your ascent, the Manitou Springs Incline will reward you will jaw-dropping views and scenery. However, strenuous hiking conditions and higher elevation can increase your risk for altitude sickness. It’s important to stay hydrated on the trails and ease into physical activity, especially if you’re traveling to Manitou from somewhere with a much lower elevations. Here are a few things you can do to prevent altitude sickness from occurring.
5. Enjoy a soak-worthy views at Sunwater Spa
Soaking in the cedar pools at SunWater Spa is an essential part of crafting the perfect Manitou Springs experience. Not to mention, this destination offers the ideal spot to enjoy some post-hiking pampering after a long day on the trails. You’ll find a long list of spa services including massage treatments, aquatic therapy, facials, and a variety of yoga and movement classes.
6. Climb your first Colorado 14er
There’s no better way to expand your hiking experience than by climbing one of the highest peaks in Colorado. Located near Manitou Springs, Barr Trail will lead you to the summit of America’s most famous mountain – Pikes Peak. The trail is a 21.3-mile heavily trafficked out-and-back trail that features a waterfall, wildlife and scenic views. This trail is rated as difficult and is only recommended for experienced hikers due to the unpredictable weather and extremely rugged terrain.
Hiking a 14er in Colorado can be very dangerous and altitude sickness can occur when summiting above 6,000 feet. Know your limits and pay close attention to any possible signs of altitude sickness including fatigue, dizziness, nausea, and shortness of breath. For more tips on preventing and identifying altitude sickness, click here.
7. Hike at Garden of the Gods
If you’re craving outdoor adventure, that’s exactly what you’ll find at Garden of the Gods - although technically it's it's in Colorado Springs. With over 15 miles of hiking and biking trails to explore, the park is a haven for avid outdoor enthusiasts. You’ll find scenic photo opportunities around seemingly each and every bend.
8. Fill up on natural spring water
Within the town of Manitou Springs, you’ll find 8 unique drinking fountains where you can fill up your bottle and drink “straight from the all natural springs.” The water comes directly out of the earth – where it heats and mineralizes, allowing it to be naturally filtered and free of contamination. Not only is the water safe to safe to drink, but it also contains a unique mixture of minerals. Each one tastes quite different as a result. Fun fact: the drinking fountains in Manitou Springs have long been thought to have healing and spiritual properties.
9. Feel like a kid again at the Penny Arcade
Take a break from adulting and experience the magic of the Manitou Springs Penny Arcade. This massive arcade features all your favorite childhood arcade games, including retro pinball machines, mechanical horse-racing, skee-ball, and much more. The game costs range from a single cent to about a dollar. If you don’t have coins, there are several change machines available throughout the arcade.
10. Grab a pint at Manitou Brewing Company
Explore the craft brewery scene on tap in Colorado with a visit to Manitou Brewing Company. This hip brewery has a number of craft beer options and daily deals you’re sure to enjoy. Grub up and enjoy some tasty suds at this local favorite!
Bonus: Top events
Manitou Springs hosts several annual events that you don't want to miss.
Celebrate Mardi Gras with the Carnivale parade through downtown. The family-friendly event comes with costumes, music, dance, food and plenty of entertainment.
The Emma Crawford Coffin Races and Festival isn't your typical event. Held around Halloween time annually, more than 10,000 people crowd into Manitou for a gander at dozens of decorated coffins racing down Manitou Avenue with the help of four runners and one costumed Crawford in the coffin’s hot seat.
The famous woman, who suffered tuberculosis, arrived in Manitou in 1889 to take the cure of the natural mineral waters, like many folks at that time. Her illness got the best of her, though, and she died in 1891. She was buried on top of Red Mountain, per her dying wishes. But in 1929, bad winters and spring rains unearthed her coffin, which raced down the mountain. Her spirit is said to still haunt Red Mountain today.