There are places made to look old and places that actually have history. Manitou Springs, Colorado has the look and the history to back it up.
A small sleepy town just around an hour from Denver, Manitou was originally founded because of the health benefits of the surrounding springs. The old infrastructure is still in place, making the town feel like a step back in time.
To enjoy the full experience, stay at the Cliff House at Pike’s Peak. This is one of the oldest hotel in Colorado. The bar is decked out in brilliant velvety red and the rooms are Victorian chic. It’s akin to the Stanely Hotel in the Shining, but sans all creepy components.
Staying at the Cliff House sets you within walking distance of the town center. There’s a slightly European feel in the walkable town with little shops bustling with activity. It’s throwback feel to a bygone era.
Walk around, enjoy the area and make sure to load up on coins and stop in at the old penny slot machines.
The Manitou Springs Penny Arcade is in an open-air structure down-town. The entire area is crammed with vintage games, some of which are fully metal and obviously old. Most of the machines take quarters, but make sure to have a few nickels and pennies.
The arcade is open year-round, even during the coldest months. Kids and full-grown adults have fun playing the vintage games.
Next to the arcade is the Royal Tavern a free-spirited tavern with classic bar food and beer and the occasional furry friend. Bring cash though, this small bar doesn’t accept cards.
For the next leg of your journey, get ready to experience beautiful views from an old train. The Cog Train crawls up the side of Pike’s Peak. The train is great for families, you can explore without expending all of your energy on a grueling hike. At the top, you’ll feel like you’re in the clouds. Even in August there is some snow at the peak. Take pictures, have a snowball fight and sit back and enjoy the serenity.
For such a small town, Manitou has a lot to offer, and that includes diverse food options. People from around the world fell in love with the little town and settled down there, bringing their food traditions and cultures with them. That means more options for you.
Greek, Lebanese, Mexican, Italian– you’ll find authentic versions of these and more.
Hell’s Kitchen Pizza is a good place to start– who doesn’t like pizza? This pizza joint is in a tiny shack built into the craggy landscape. The back wall buts up against the rock face of a mountain. As soon as you order from the bar, you know your pizza will be good because you’re greeted with thick New Yorker accents.
If you have little ones with you that need to release some steam, head to the North Pole in July theme park. Don’t expect craft beer or trendy street food, this little theme park is hokey. But kids love the rides and fair food.
Round off your trip with a venture back into nature, but this time, instead of the top of mountain, you’ll head into the belly of the beast.
Cave of the Winds is a cave system in Pike’s Peak. There are cave tours to accommodate families, kids, teens and the more adventurous. There are tours by latern complete with ghost stories, treks through the developed areas of the cave and excursions that explore undeveloped areas of the cave where explorers scrunch and crawl through small passages.
If you’re claustrophobic, opt for some of the outside activities, like zip lining and the ropes course.
Manitou Springs is a pleasant surprise, an escape from the every-day and a journey back in time ready to be explored by young and old alike.