75 Things Every Military Family Must Do While Stationed in Colorado Springs.

fly fisherman. 75 things to do colorado

Have you ever met someone from the same place you used to live? One of the first things you do after getting all, “NO WAY!” excited, is you compare notes by asking, “Did you ever_________?” or Have you had/done________?” 

Or maybe you meet someone who is moving to your old stomping grounds and you excitedly declare, “Oh! You just have to_________.”

Well, this is what we want to give to you. Whether your PCS orders are taking you away or bringing you here, this is our list of 75 “you just HAVE to do this!” activities in Colorado Springs.

Treat this like a bucket list, print it out and check off each activity you do. Don’t be shy about adding your own experiences as well! Hey – this is a great way to keep fond memories of Colorado before your next adventure in a new location.

  1. Ride the COG Railway up Pikes Peak. Take a camera and some friends!
  2. Get up in the morning, throw your kayak in the car and enjoy an hour on the Catamount lakes on Pikes Peak before work.
  3. Ride a bike down Pikes Peak and stop at the Colorado Wines restaurant, sit creekside and enjoy a yummy veggie burger. (They have other yummy food too.)
  4. Release your inner child by playing in the Penny Arcade in Manitou Springs and enjoying candy and ice cream from Patsy’s (you can tour their candy factory as well!).
  5. Dance in the water at the Uncle Wilber water fountain in downtown Colorado Springs (Acacia Park).
  6. Eat breakfast at the famous King’s Chef Diner (cash only!)
  7. Hike around Garden of the Gods, take a selfie at Balance Rock, hunt for The Scotsman and find the infamous “window” photo op at the Siamese Twins formation.
  8. Take a selfie on the Garden of the Gods overlook on Mesa Rd.
  9. Run or walk in the Tuesday night Jack Quinn’s running club (slow walkers and strollers welcome).
  10. Watch the New Year’s Eve fireworks from the Peak.
  11. Climb the Manitou Incline.

  12. Hike Barr Trail. (This needs planning and preparation)
  13. Fish in 11-Mile-Canyon for the best Brown Trout Fishing in the country!
  14. Pack a cup and enjoy a taste of the free-flowing spring waters in Manitou Springs.
  15. Attend the annual Territory Days Festival in Old Colorado City. Be prepared to be smooshed by lots of people but enjoy funnel cakes, vintage gunfights, music, shopping, and giant turkey legs.
  16. Enjoy the Rodeo Days Western Street Pancake Breakfast.
  17. Don’t miss the Longhorn Cattle Drive on Tejon street in downtown. (July)
  18. Get up Sunday morning, load up the kayaks or a canoe, drive up to Woodland Park, stop at the Hungry Bear Restaurant for breakfast, then spend a lazy afternoon on Rampart Range Reservoir.
  19. Shop the summer Farmer’s Market in Old Colorado City.
  20. Attend a Simpich Marionette show.
  21. Tour Michael Garman’s Gallery
  22. Listen to the Symphony Above the Clouds in Woodland Park on July 5.
  23. Visit the Pioneer’s Museum.
  24. Stroll the Folk Art Festival at Rock Ledge Ranch. Make sure to stop by the Blacksmith, watch them at work, visit the homestead and enjoy the smells of freshly baked cookies or applesauce. (September)
  25. Drive out to the Paint Mines Interpretive Park for some awesome photo ops, climbing on rocks, and beautiful red colors of the earth.
  26. Visit the Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel.
  27. Tour the Olympic Training Center.
  28. Take the day off for the AFA graduation (May). Pack a picnic and find a spot on the eastern side of I-25, across from the Academy and watch as the Thunderbirds buzz your head. They’re so close you can see the pilot’s face as he whizzes by!
  29. Visit the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame.
  30. Visit the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and walk up to the Shrine of the Sun.
  31. Bundle up for Boo at the Zoo or the Christmas Electric Safari.
  32. Plan a girl’s night at the Broadmoor during the Holidays. Admire the giant gingerbread house, walk around the lake and admire the beautiful Christmas lights and then sit by the fire at Bar del Largo while sipping your favorite hot beverage.
  33. Plan a few weeks to enjoy a Brewery Tour with your friends.
  34. Hike up to Helen Hunt Falls.
  35. Drive Gold Camp Road (make sure you have a 4WD)
  36. You have to attend at least one night at the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo!
  37. Descend 1000 ft into a mountain during the Mollie Kathleen Mine Tour.
  38. Treat the kids to a night at the Great Wolf Lodge.
  39. Drive up to Divide, CO to the Wolf Wildlife Refuge and then hike the Fossil National Monument.
  40. The Dinosaur Resource Center is a must for your littles!
  41. Meet Hiking Bob and get a sticker.
  42. In the fall, spend the day driving up to Cripple Creek for the views and amazing Aspen leaves!

  43. Enjoy the history of the Manitou Cliff Dwellings.
  44. Pick the hottest summer day and go to Cave of the Winds.
  45. Surprise your kids with a visit to the North Pole in the middle of summer.
  46. Rent costumes at Zeezo’s and attend the Renaissance Festival.
  47. Eat brunch at the Broadmoor at least once.
  48. Have a drink of whiskey in the Principal’s Office. (Shhhh! Actually, it’s ok)
  49. Pack a blanket and a bottle of wine for the St. Stephens Jazz in the Garden or at Hillside Gardens.
  50. Get fresh roasted chilies and fabulous wine tastings at the Holy Cross Abbey Harvest Fest.
  51. Sign up to run in one of the many races around the city.
  52. Ride a Segway through Garden of the Gods.
  53. Enjoy a winter day at the Cripple Creek Ice Fest.
  54. Get up early on Labor Day to watch the hot air balloon launch.
  55. Attend a Murder-Mystery dinner at the Briarhurst Manor.
  56. Gather a group of friends and race with a coffin through Manitou Springs.

  57. Participate in a wild donkey race at Donkey Derby Days.
  58. Dress up for a night at the new Ent Center for Performing Arts.
  59. Bike the Santa Fe Trail.
  60. Take your best friend to the Beauty Bar.
  61. Go ahead and fall down The Rabbit Hole.
  62. Experience the Gold Room.
  63. Take a train ride through the Royal Gorge.
  64. Each a home-cooked chicken dinner at a little adobe house, Juniper Valley Ranch. (Reservations required)
  65. Take your dog for some play time at Bear Creek Dog Park and then stop for a cold one at Pub Dog Colorado – just down the road.
  66. It’s an absolute must to take a day trip to Bishop’s Castle.
  67. Drive 1 hour west on a cold, snowy day and soak in the mountain creek at the Mt. Princeton Hot Springs.
  68. Mark your calendar for some good ‘ol summer music festivals like Bands In The Backyard.
  69. Raft the Arkansas River.
  70. Experience the quaint shopping and whitewater park at South Main, Buena Vista.
  71. Attend a Sky Sox Baseball game on Friday night – always ends with a bang!
  72. Sing a few tunes and enjoy a yard of beer at the Golden Bee.
  73. Experience High Tea at the Glenn Eyrie Castle.
  74. Have a latte in a Tiny House at Story Coffee Co.
  75. Admire the Big Horn Sheep through binoculars at the Garden of the Gods Visitor Center, along with other family-friendly activities that are available.

I’m sure you can add so much more to this list! The sky is the limit. Climb, bike, hike, eat, drink, and drive your time away.

PCSing to Colorado Springs

So you’re one of the lucky one chosen to relocate to Colorado Springs! Undoubtedly you are experiencing a mixture of dread and excitement at the same time. I mean, who likes to PCS (unless you’re in a dreadful place)? However, we think you’re going to LOVE Colorado Springs. Afterall, Colorado Springs is on pace to beat Denver-proper in size by 2050. Folks love the mild weather, the amazing view, and the unending options for activities and adventure at their doorstep.

Even so, what should you expect moving to Colorado Springs?

CLIMATE

As a long-time resident of Colorado Springs, the biggest question or assumption I hear is that people assume it is cold in the winter with lots of snow and everyone drives a 4WD.

While there ARE lots of 4-wheel-drives in Colorado Springs, there really isn’t a lot of snow (usually). Our winters are mild and our summers are flat-out amazing. Northern Colorado Springs, near Monument, receives the bulk of the snow. As a result, traveling to Denver in the winter does usually require good snow tires. Also, while you will rarely need to worry about wintery travel in town and on the way to work, if you want to head up to the mountains for anything (which we hope you will!) it is always good to have a reliable vehicle for possible snowy weather.

TIP: No need to worry about having a closet or storage for winter clothes and one for summer. You’ll need all your clothes all year ’round!

Summer rains and clouds can drop the temperature 10-20 degrees in a hurry and once the sun goes down behind the mountain peaks, you’ll wish you had a jacket. In the winter, 60 degree days (and warmer) are not uncommon! 

WE HOPE YOU LOVE THE OUTDOORS

Because the weather is so mild up here, Colorado Springs boasts a VERY active community. I’m sure by now you have heard that this city has ranked one of the healthiest cities to live in for many years. That’s because there is so much to do that keeps us active – including families. It’s easy to enjoy an adventure.

TIP: Keep lip balm and water bottles on hand all the time. Stash them in your car, stroller, backpack, purse, and around the house.

One of the other things that visitors and new residents alike don’t consider is the ALTITUDE. While adventure is great and awesome and everyone is eager to get started, it’s all fine and dandy until you end up with a fierce headache, nausea, or a nasty sunburn (we’re clost to 7000 ft. in town). This is called altitude sickness. Don’t worry…it goes away quickly but you’ll feel like crap for awhile.

TIP: Take your time adjusting to the altitude. Drinks LOTS and LOTS of water and leave something like the Incline for a few weeks or months after you’ve arrived.

HIKING: There are more hiking trails around Colorado Springs than you can tackle. I’ve lived here 20 years and haven’t come close to discovering all of them. To get you started, here is a list of the top 25 trails.

SKIING & SNOWBOARDING: While most of the ski resorts are readily accessible through Denver, there are a couple within a 2-3 hour drive from Colorado Springs: Ski Cooper, Monarch, Breckenridge (if the pass isn’t closed), Crested Butte, Loveland.

TUBING: For the entire family, tubing is, well, tubular! You have got to go!! Frisco and Copper Mountain are probably the closest to us. But here is a map of all the great places to go (unless you create your own).

FAMILY ACTIVITIES

If you have kiddos, no worries! We have fun museums and I’m pretty sure Colorado Springs is the capital of mom-groups and play-dates! (That’s just my assessment), but this community is truly a community.

TIP: A quick search on Facebook or Meet-up will connect you with a plethora of like-minded moms, homeschooling groups, sports, family hikes, stroller runs, or anything you can think of!

Some of our favorite places to take kids are: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Pioneers Museum, Fine Arts Center, Mining Museum, May’s Bug Museum, Space Museum, just to get you started. Also, currently under construction is the U.S. Olympic Museum! For a list of all the museums in our area, check out this link.

TIP: In the winter, Acacia Park in Downtown Colorado Springs has an ice-skating rink. In the summer, the Uncle Wilbur Water Fountain is there for your kids to play in!

PLAN A LARGE DINING OUT BUDGET

This is SO important. There is something about breaking bread with your neighbor. And the residents in the Springs and surrounding areas LOVE their small, independent, locally-owned cafes, restaurants, coffee & tea houses, and breweries. There are so many great options, even neighborhood cafes are popping up! It’s a wonder that anyone has a functioning kitchen anymore because there is so much to enjoy in the city. Honestly, chain restaurants struggle here because we just have too much good food!

TIP: Search for and follow all the local eateries on Facebook and Instagram. There is always live music or special events happening as well.

Link: In case you haven’t found this site, here’s a link to Military Town Advisor specifically regarding moving to Ft. Carson.

If you aren’t excited to get here, I’m not sure what else you need. There is so much to tell, but the rest you will have to discover on your own. Thankfully, Colorado Springs loves its military and I think you will find it very welcoming and friendly to you and your family!

Jewelry: A History In Love and Friendship

jewelry history love friendship

Jewelry is deeply personal. Even common, inexpensive items of jewelry are not given casually – like a mug or potted plant would be as an expression of gratitude or appreciation. The history of jewelry has long represented special relationships and is usually given with a specific meaning. So how did jewelry come to symbolize love, friendship, and a reflection of feelings and relationships that are deeply personal?

THE HISTORY OF JEWELRY

Jewelry has an incredibly fascinating and vast history, one that I could not possibly do justice in a short post. Yet, hopefully, I’ll curate a bit of interest and intrigue that spurs you on to a deeper search in this incredibly interesting topic.

For most of history, jewelry was worn for very specific purposes, unlike the habits of today. Unknown to most, it was primarily (but not exclusively) worn by men until 19th century.  For most of history, jewelry served as a source of communication. It was a universal and accepted form of adornment that could reflect anything from:

  • Rank
  • Power
  • Position
  • Social status, wealth
  • Religious beliefs
  • Honors bestowed as a reward for service

Jewelry was also used as protection as many cultures believed certain stones and metals held mystical powers.

It wasn’t until the 1800s that jewelry became more commonplace within fashion with the popularity of naturalistic designs such as flowers that reflected friendship and other sentiments. Combined with the ancients beliefs of gemstones, jewelry began to tell a story.

JEWELRY AS A SYMBOL OF LOVE

Evidence of wedding bands can be found as far back as Ancient Egypt. The circle has long represented eternity; the core symbol of marriage as an eternal union. Additionally, in the ancient times, precious metals, jewels, and jewelry were given as gifts in the form of a dowry – the purchase price of a bride.

Within the Victorian era, jewelry became a love language – and not just romantic love but also friendship. Additionally, the popularity of using jewelry as a gift to celebrate a life event increased dramatically. As a result, jewelry became saturated with sentiment, resulting in an entire culture of secret communication within the use and design of gemstones and styles. Not only shapes, such as a heart, but the ancient spiritual beliefs behind the stones and the meanings behind colors, were combined to create very specific and personalized adornments.

COMMON SYMBOLS OF LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP

Each gemstone has a myriad of meanings derived from lore and ancient spiritual beliefs. Here are a few that reflect love, virtue or other sentiments of a close relationship:

  • Turquoise:  Love, loyalty, good health
  • Pearls: Beauty and innocence. (Bad luck as a marriage gift, but perfect for a young girl entering womanhood or to a wife as a reflection of adoration.)
  • Amethyst: Deep love
  • Carnelian: Vitality, confidence, sexuality
  • Emerald: Love, compassion
  • Ruby:  Passion

Interestingly, the diamond did not represent love until recent times as a result of the well-known De Beers family promotion. (To learn more how the diamond came to represent modern-day love and marriage, read more here. ) The meanings and symbolism of jewelry and gemstones is an extremely vast topic and I’ve barely even scratched the surface!

[Link: A History of Jewelry]

CONTINUING THE CRAFT

When jewelry became mass-produced, it lost much of the deeply personal and intimate meanings within design, however, our perception of jewelry as a reflection of affection and friendship has remained. Yet, many jewelers such as myself, continue the craft and tradition of designing and creating custom jewelry that reflects the deeply personal stories and affections between the wearer and the giver. We would love to help you craft your story!

 

Shades of Red: Garnet

shades of red, garnet gemstones

finished red garnet gemstonesGarnet, the stone of friendship, passion, cheer, and creativity, is most well-known for its sultry shades of red. Like a warm fire that draws our hypnotic gaze, the vivid red tones of Garnet attract and are said to evoke feelings of passion and love.

The garnet is a gift of love and is sometimes associated with the 2nd and 19th Anniversary. It is also the birthstone of January.

COLORS

Garnet is primarily recognized in its dark red color and often mistaken for a Ruby. However, did you know Garnet is available in many colors including, green, yellow, brown, and orange? Pure crystals of garnet are still used as gemstones. The gemstone varieties occur in shades of green, red, yellow, and orange. One of the most beautiful, expensive and rare gems is a clear green garnet, called a Demantoid. Yet, the multiples shades of red remain the most popular hues of this gemstone.

Each shade has its own name as “Garnet” is used to refer to a group of gemstones. Some of the varieties include Almandine, Pyrope, Andradite, Demantoid, Grossular, and Spessartine – to name a few. The Almandine garnet was called Carbuncle in Biblical times, and is one of the gems found on the ancient priest’s breastplate.

Fine quality stones from Czechoslovakia are known as Bohemian Garnet.

Garnet is found and mined in countries such as Austria, Hungary, Canada, Brazil, South Africa, and India.

HISTORY & MEANING

The Garnet was named after the Pomegranate ( pomum granatum) and means “dark red” and  “seed”. In the natural, the stone has a strong resemblance to the small round seeds of a pomegranate. In Old Spain, the pomegranate was a favorite fruit, and as a result, so was the Garnet.

Additionally, they both are referenced as a gift of love and exchanged between parting friends or lovers to symbolize their affection and to ensure that they meet again. It is an ancient symbol of friendship and often used during the Victorian times for jewelry.

It is a lively and brilliant stone said to inspire passion, contemplation, success, devotion, truthfulness, faith and friendship.

Usually, the garnet is one of the few gemstones unenhanced. It is beautiful in pendants, rings, and earrings. It used to be popular to arrange the stones in clusters, set in gold.

CLEANING YOUR STONE

You can clean your garnet with warm soapy water and a soft brush. Always make sure you rinse the stone well. Ultrasonic treatments are appropriate for most garnets EXCEPT the demantoid variety. Do not steam clean your garnet.

Whether you want to convey love and passion, or friendship and loyalty, we’d love the opportunity to sit down with you to find a perfect piece of jewelry with a Garnet for whatever message you are wanting to convey.

Call us at 719-232-8122 to schedule an appointment or simply stop by today!

jack miller logo

Show Your Colorado Love With These 10 Gift Ideas

colorado gifts

You don’t have to live in Colorado to LOVE Colorado! There is so much to do and enjoy in our amazing state (which we think is the best!). Whether you are an active person who loves the outdoors or someone who would rather enjoy the comforts of a majestic view from a car, RV, or hotel, the draw of the mountains and blue skies leaves a permanent kiss on our souls.

In honor of all those souls who are touched by this land, we offer a few suggestions for gift ideas that show our Colorado-Love.

GRIN BIG MOUNTAIN LIFE TEES
by Gary Blehm

grin big colorado springs

When life is unfair…GRIN BIG!

Gary, a long-time resident of Colorado Springs, loves to spread his message of positivity in the midst of frustration through his art. He is the originator of Penman, created in his childhood and rose to fame in the 90s. Penman, once relegated to comic strips across the country, has now jumped off the pages of paper and onto a larger stage to spread his optimism and life outdoors.

Grin Big offers tees for men and women, showing Penman in a variety of mountain activity settings. A great way to share your optimism and love of Colorado!

SHOP ONLINE
LIKE GRIN BIG ON FACEBOOK

CAMPER MUGS WITH HOT COCOA
PIKES PEAK LEMONADE

If you live in Colorado Springs, you MUST stop by the lemonade taproom in downtown! Pikes Peak Lemonade is located at 224 N. Tejon Street. While you are shopping for these awesome camping mugs with hot cocoa, try out their Hot Cocoa bar or their lemonade tasting stand.

SHOP ONLINE
FOLLOW ON FACEBOOK

EAT LOCAL, DRINK LOCAL POTTERY
CHRIS BURCH

colorado drink local mug

What a great way to show your love for all things local with this bowl and mug set. Handthrown by Colorado Springs artist, Chris Burch. You can also customize a set to reflect your style!

This particular design was created exclusively for SPARROW HAWK COOKWARE. You can purchase this set, or order it, through Allen at the store in downtown Colorado Springs.

AVAILABLE AT SPARROW HAWK COOKWARE
120 N. Tejon St, Colorado Springs
719-471-3235

Looking for a customized option? Contact Chris Burch directly through his Facebook page.

SNOW SKIING AND MOUNTAIN BIKING REUSABLE BOTTLE
BLU BOTTLE

While browsing through a local boutique, MacKenzie & West, I stumbled upon these fun finds by Blu Bottle! Your ski-bunny friends and family will love the vintage design of the bottle and the matching tea towels. And for the mountain biking enthusiasts, the mountains with bike bottle fits perfectly in the beverage holder. These containers can hold hot or cold beverages (you know, like a hot cocoa for after a run down the slopes, or refreshing lemonade while exploring backcountry trails!)

AVAILABLE AT MACKENZIE & WEST
2530 W. Colorado Ave
FACEBOOK PAGE

PIKES PEAK CUTTING BOARD
ETSY, BUNGALOWBOOcolorado gifts

100% recycled Bamboo cutting boards are so useful. Why not get one with Pikes Peak engraved on it (there are other mountain ranges available as well) plus add a custom message? A good idea for those who love to cook, entertain, or at least make their kitchen look like they do!

SHOP ONLINE

MOUNTAIN RANGE DECAL
ETSY, COOPERBERRY DESIGNS

Coloradoans are proud of their state. Whether you want to show off where you live or your love for the mountains, this is a unique idea. No matter who you are, one look at this decal will bring a smile to your face and recall memories of, or longing for, an adventure in the mountains.

SHOP ONLINE

ILLUSTRATED LIGHT SLATE PICTURES
BY DAVE CLACK, FT. COLLINS

By far the BEST presentation of fine Colorado photography!!  To see these images in person, framed by the slate or oxidized porcelain, is wonderfully moving. The rugged look of the stone sets the natural stage for the amazing images of Colorado landscape come to life! Sizes range from 12 ” x  12″ all the way to very large wall masterpieces suitable for a large wall or office space.

Visit Dave’s Gallery in Old Town, Ft. Collins or shop online here.

MOUNTAIN BIKE SHIRT
YETI TEES

yet tees mountain biking

If you love the outdoors, you can’t have enough t-shirts that show your passion for all your activities. This one is so simple, but tells a very clear message about where your heart belongs!

SHOP ONLINE

ROCKY MOUNTAINS BRACELET SET
BY MOUNTINSPIRE

Handcrafted in Colorado Springs, these are simple but lovely silver bracelets. Several options available, as well as customization. Maybe you want a favorite mountain range or a peak that you have summited? Perhaps a favorite camping spot for your family. Other Colorado-inspired jewelry items available, too!

SHOP ONLINE

COLORADO 14er SUMMIT REGISTER
by WANDER WIDE ART

14er summit register

Many people come to tackle the 14ers in Colorado! There is a special pride for them as each peak is conquered. Give them a gift that keeps track of their accomplishments. As each summit is completed, an included “SUMMITED” stamp is used to mark off the peak. Display quality.

SHOP ONLINE

COLORADO LOVE, COLORADO-SOURCED

I hope this gives you some ideas for your gift-giving needs. While many of these products are produced by Colorado artists, not all of them are. Be sure to check out our last blog post that features all Colorado-sourced gift ideas.