Near and Queer to Our Hearts in Colorado Springs

Don’t you love visiting a new place by stepping into a friend’s world and connecting with their community? This is that getaway tour of Colorado Springs. Morgan Calderini and Arley Torsone, the owners of Ladyfingers Letterpress, guide you through their favorite boutiques, eateries, local art and inclusive businesses as you focus your three-day stay downtown.

If you are an artist, maker, aficionado of handcrafted goods and creative small business, or lover of inclusive community, you’re going to love this insider tour of Colorado Springs. Curated by the owners of Ladyfingers Letterpress, a Springs-based, nationally recognized stationery and gift brand, you will explore local art, discover eclectic boutiques, savor delicious under-the-radar eateries and meet new friends.

“As creators, we’re always looking for that authentic experience, and we’re looking to meet other people who have stories to share,” Morgan says. “So we’re really drawn to the places where people are open and willing to share their chunk of the world.”

“When our friends come to town, this is the highlight reel of where we take them,” Arley says. “We’re excited to welcome all of you to Colorado Springs to have this friends tour of all our favorite spots in town.”

Welcome to an authentic weekend getaway in Colorado Springs! We’ll let Morgan and Arley guide you in their own words.

Where to Stay: Lodging

The Golden Egg Cottage

Built from scratch (it’s a house, not a dish!), this tastefully appointed tiny home sits on a property belonging to a super awesome couple. The one-bed, one-bath cottage is walking distance from the Olympic Training Center and only a 1.5-mile walk or bike ride to the heart of downtown. We love this short-term rental because it fills a need in our community by providing affordable and aesthetically on-point lodging without reducing the limited housing inventory. Check out the Golden Egg Cottage on Airbnb.


DAY 1

First things first since you’re just arriving in town — stock up on some weekend groceries and snacks (and booze!) at the locally owned and operated Bread & Butter Neighborhood Market. It’s centrally located downtown at 602 S. Nevada Ave. Make sure to pick up plenty of liquids to fend off altitude sickness and general exhaustion from the best weekend you’re about to have!

Group raises glasses in a toast at Ivywild School for Crafts and Drafts Passport Program in Colorado Springs
Raising a toast at Bristol Brewing in Ivywild School with the Crafts and Drafts Passport, a free discount program of Visit Colorado Springs. Photo by Gray Filer Photography.

Prepare to get schooled at the Ivywild School with a selection of food and drinks for all tastes and palates. This former elementary school built in 1916 was turned into a community hub that includes numerous restaurants, bars, shops and a multipurpose gymnasium. As one of the oldest food halls in Colorado Springs, Ivywild offers both indoor and outdoor seating on a broad stone patio. If you’re really good, you’ll get sent to the Principal’s Office! (Don’t worry, that’s a good thing!)

While you’re at Ivywild, make sure you stop by Odds & Ends Emporium. They focus on local and USA-made gifts and art, one-of-a-kind jewelry, curiously magnificent toys, baby gifts and a diverse selection of puzzles. It may be odd, but it’s only the beginning to your adventures in Colorado Springs!

After dinner, head back downtown and plan to rub elbows with COS locals, Broadway stars and drag queens alike at Icons, Colorado Springs exclusive gay piano bar. Be sure to catch The Kaberet with Kai Lee Mykels Drag Show which begins around 8:30 p.m. You don’t have to be a queen to attend but certainly don’t be a drag! Find the fun at 3 E. Bijou St.


DAY 2

Owners of Ladyfingers Letterpress outside Colorado Springs storefront
Morgan Calderini and Arley Torsone are always ready to welcome people to their downtown Ladyfingers Letterpress store. Photo by Lauren Memarian.

For a quick breakfast, start your day the right way with a doughnut at Sweet Elizabeth’s Organics. Morgan’s favorite breakfast bakery also happens to be gluten-free and allergy-friendly. Their frosted-on-demand doughnuts are what doughnut dreams are made of. And grab a whoopie pie to-go for an afternoon energy infusion. Sweet Elizabeth’s is a short drive west of your cottage at 1625 W. Uintah Street.

You do have a big day of travel ahead of you, so make sure to fuel up on beans as well. Grab a breakfast burrito (big enough to share) or breakfast tacos from Azada Mexican Grill at 16 E. Bijou Street, one of our favorite Latino-owned local Mexican takeouts. Don’t expect a fancy decor, for the magic is lies within (the tortilla, that is).

Little known fact: Downtown Colorado Springs is a giant gallery tastefully disguised as a city that can be fully enjoyed with an Art on the Streets walking tour. If your visit lands on the first Saturday of the month, check out the hour-long guided tours that introduce historic landmarks, contemporary artwork and cultural highlights. You can catch a public tour for $10 or download the free app to lead you on a self-guided tour.

Interior of Ladyfingers Letterpress store in downtown Colorado Springs
Ladyfingers Letterpress headquarters and store is filled with handcrafted cards, gifts and more. Photo by Lauren Memarian.

For lunch, jump on a PikeRide e-bike and pedal to neighborhood gem Stellina Pizza Cafe at 749 E. Willamette Avenue. They serve Roman-style pizza, housemade pasta and risotto, and the best gelato in town! We love the food, the interior design, the branding — it’s a beautiful experience at every turn.

Make your afternoon plans around exploring the many locally-owned shops, boutiques and galleries downtown. Don’t forget to visit our shop and studio, Ladyfingers Letterpress, located at 113 E. Bijou Street. We design and letterpress-print more than 250 products on-site, and visitors often find the presses running while they find the perfect card or gift for someone special. That special someone might just be you! We also stock goods from other awesome makers and especially focus on LGBTQ+ and small businesses owned by Black, Indigenous and other people of color.

Don’t miss our other favorite local shops and galleries downtown, including:

By the end of the day, your feet may be as tired as my eyes are from reading all this, so take a load off and treat yourself to a manicure or pedicure (or both!) while sipping a cocktail at Beauty Bar, a Black-owned salon located at 26 N. Tejon Street.

By the way, if the idea of walking everywhere sounds exhausting (have you noticed there’s not a single hike listed on our itinerary?) you can always hop on a PikeRide bike or zip your tired booty around town on a Lime Scooter. Both have docking stations all around downtown.

When you’re ready for dinner and drinks, Shuga’s is one of our absolute favorite spots in town, hands-down. If you took the Lower East Side in the ’90s, Provincetown and a John Waters movie and put it in a blender, you’d get this chic, retro bar and restaurant that feeds your eyes as much as it feeds your soul. No one mixes a better cocktail than these folks, and the lavender lemonade is otherworldly! The menu has something for everyone. This casual spot is always busy, so make a reservation. The patio and outdoor seating are favorites in the spring and summer, and the dining room feels like our best friend’s house in the cooler seasons. Find it at 702 S. Cascade Avenue.


DAY 3

Start your final day by heading downtown to grab a fresh juice, healthy smoothie or a delicious bowl of healthy stuff at Ola Juice Bar, 27 E. Kiowa Street. They have the most refreshing combinations of drinks to fuel the rest of your morning.

Or head for the McDonald’s drive-thru. This may sound a little off-topic, but if you have kids, you’ll understand. Our three small kiddos love McDonald’s Happy Meals. (We think they just like the idea of driving up to a window where someone hands you a box filled with apple juice, food and a toy?) Anyway, we go to McDonald’s at 207 N. Wahsatch Avenue, and we’re always delighted to see some LGBTQ+ folks on staff. Perhaps that’s because it’s located so close to Inside Out Youth Services, our favorite nonprofit that serves and celebrates LGBTQ+ youth in southern Colorado. Coincidence? Maybe!

Once you’re done with breakfast, head for the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College. It’s only a mile north of central downtown at 30 W. Dale Street. Founded in 1936 by three pioneering women, this institution houses a museum, theater and art school. There’s a large Southwestern permanent collection, and rotating exhibitions range from leading local and regional artists to compelling international creators. Make sure you literally exit through the gift shop, because Ladyfingers runs and manages the store there.

For lunch or brunch, make your reservations at the Margarita at Pine Creek. It may seem like it strays from the beaten path, but the truth is it has existed for so long that the city has grown its paths around it. Just look for the giant carrots sticking out of the ground beside the sign. The restaurant sits at 7350 S. Pine Creek Road on wooded land that has been in owner Pati Davidson’s family since the turn of the century (and we don’t mean Y2K). Born in the ’70s, the Margarita serves “Inspired Seasonal Cuisine,” and it is as inspiring as it is delicious. Sunday brunch features fresh-to-order fare, such as crab eggs Benedict, steak and eggs, housemade smoked salmon cake salad and some of Colorado Springs’ best green chili huevos rancheros.

If you have time, book an appointment for a haircut, shave or other self-care services at Sunday Barber Co. before you leave town. It’s just a little farther north of the Margarita, at 1733 Briargate Blvd. This incredible establishment is LGBTQ+ and Asian American Pacific Islander-owned by a couple who welcome and affirm everyone. And they have created the best barber shop in town! We both frequent Sunday Barber Co. and can’t say enough good things about it. It’s the perfect ending to a perfect weekend, and you’ll look better coming home than you did when you left!


Map Your Itinerary

Want to build your custom Colorado Springs itinerary? Use the Visit Colorado Springs Trip Planner tool to enter your destinations and create your maps and schedules in one spot.

For up-to-date event information when you’re in town, be sure to visit PeakRadar.com, the cultural calendar for the Pikes Peak region.


Creative Stays is a collaboration between the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region and Springs Media, grant funded by the Colorado Tourism Office, with support from Visit Colorado Springs.


Watch for more Creative Stays itineraries in the coming months!

Morgan Calderini and Arley Torsonehttps://ladyfingersletterpress.com/
Award-winning Ladyfingers Letterpress is a Queer and Trans-owned-and-operated stationery and gift brand based in Colorado Springs, founded by designer and printmaker couple, Arley Torsone and Morgan Calderini. After launching their business in 2011 when their own wedding invitation went viral, Ladyfingers Letterpress now sells its products in over 1,000 stores around the world. Their flagship store opened in Colorado Springs in 2016, where they also host workshops and classes and offer a wide variety of boutique stationery and locally made gifts. Customers can see the presses — dating from the 1890s to the 1940s — running and witness the products being made. Ladyfingers Letterpress is also the in-house retailer at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College. With two locations in downtown Colorado Springs, the couple is immersed in the arts and community: their two most favorite things.

Read More

Discovering Downtown Colorado Springs

The downtown scene is thriving in Colorado Springs, and you can easily spend an entire weekend exploring the central area. Hosted by Latinx mixed media artist Jasmine Dillavou, this three-day itinerary will introduce you to local arts, shopping, dining, drinking and entertainment. Follow along for an elevated yet accessible experience.
Poet, nerd, scholar Michael Ferguson hosts a Creative Stay in Colorado Springs featuring poetry readings, comic shops, video games, soul food and more

A Local Poet and Nerd’s Tour of the Springs

If you’re drawn to spoken word and poetry or comic shops and indie movie theaters, this is your itinerary for touring Colorado Springs. Local self-proclaimed nerd will guide you to his favorite spots and help you connect with welcoming community.
Lady Fingers Press owners Morgan Calderini and Arley Torsone

Near and Queer to Our Hearts in Colorado Springs

Don’t you love visiting a new place by stepping into a friend’s world and connecting with their community? This is that getaway tour of Colorado Springs. Morgan Calderini and Arley Torsone, the owners of Ladyfingers Letterpress, guide you through their favorite boutiques, eateries, local art and inclusive businesses as you focus your three-day stay downtown.
Andy Vick riding around town on a bike

Exploring the Visual Arts in Colorado Springs

Step into the gallery and visual art scene in and around Colorado Springs with Andy Vick, executive director of the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region. You’ll base yourself at a historic, boutique hotel; celebrate First Friday Art Walks; discover public art, classic arcade games and live music; and eat delicious food all along the way. This is the perfect introduction to the Creative Stays series.