Move Your Body in Colorado Springs

Follow this itinerary to explore the performing arts, outdoor beauty and soaking spa rejuvenation during your Colorado Springs getaway or staycation.

Dancers experience the world through movement, so it’s no surprise that this Creative Stays itinerary will keep you moving in and around Colorado Springs. But don’t worry, there’s plenty of rejuvenation too. “My itinerary is meant to seek out some inspirational parts of Colorado Springs beyond the normal tourist destinations,” says Jordan McHenry, dancer, choreographer and local arts advocate. “These smaller niche locations are going to make you feel like you live here, and they are meant to show you the natural beauty of this incredible city and region.” They may just make you want to break out in your own happy dance.

 


Where to Stay: Lodging

The Cliff House at Pikes Peak

Step into history at the stately Cliff House, located at 306 Cañon Avenue in Manitou Springs at the foot of Pikes Peak. Built in 1873 as a boarding house for hunters, trappers and eventually miners, the Cliff House has been open to guests longer than Colorado has been a state. For nearly 150 years, it has hosted famous guests, including Theodore Roosevelt, Charles Dickens Jr., P.T. Barnum, Thomas Edison, Clark Gable and more. The hotel has undergone multimillion-dollar renovations in the 1990s and 2000s, modernizing it while still maintaining the charm of its Victorian architecture.

“Every room is unique, and you feel like you’re transported back in time,” Jordan says. “You’re in historic downtown Manitou Springs. You feel like you’re living in a castle, and it feels like a destination you can’t get anywhere else.”

Looking down on the front of the historic Cliff House in Manitou Springs, Colorado Springs
No two rooms are identical at the historic Cliff House. All provide an elegant stay in Manitou Springs. Photo courtesy of the Cliff House.

DAY 1

Start your stay in Colorado Springs with a night out on the town, so what better place to begin than with dinner downtown. On the menu is White Pie, the hip home of New Haven-style pizzas, Italian-inspired salads and elevated cocktails at 330 S. Nevada Avenue. Grab a seat near the outdoor fire pits, and the twinkly string-lights overhead will add to the ambiance.

Pizza on the patio at White Pie in downtown Colorado Springs
Cheers to elevated pizza on the patio at White Pie in downtown Colorado Springs. Photo courtesy of White Pie.

“White Pie is more than just a traditional pizza joint,” Jordan says. “My favorite pizza is called the Burrata Banger. It’s spicy — it’s got jalapenos in it — but it’s also sweet. There’s honey drizzled across the mozzarella. And don’t miss the frosé, which is a rosé slushy. If you want to drink but feel like a kid again, it’s the best.”

To dive into the evening’s culture and entertainment, just head 6 miles north to the Ent Center for the Arts at UCCS, located at 5225 N. Nevada Avenue. “I love the Ent Center for the Arts because it’s one of the most preeminent performing arts locations on the Front Range,” Jordan says.

Sunset behind the Ent Center for the Arts at UCCS in Colorado Springs
Creativity colors the Front Range without and within the Ent Center for the Arts at UCCS. The Ent Center regularly hosts concerts, plays, live theater, dance and many other cultural performances. Photo by Scott Majors.

This state-of-the-art facility is home to a wide range of multidisciplinary performance and visual arts. It regularly hosts concerts and shows by internationally known music artists and dance companies. It’s also home to the award-winning, professional theater company Theatreworks, the compelling Galleries of Contemporary Art (GOCA), and the academic arts programs for the University of Colorado Springs, Colorado Springs.

“I’m really grateful for the Ent Center for the Arts,” Jordan says. “As an artist myself, it’s so important to see preeminent performing arts organizations and institutions like this. I really love the cutting-edge programming that comes into this space. I’ve gotten to see Rubberband Dance, which is a company that integrates break dancing with contemporary dance, also Bill T. Jones. The historic Ailey Company has been here and Keigwin + Company. The lineup at the Ent Center is like nothing else you’ll get here on the Front Range.”

Some of Jordan’s most memorable experiences at the Ent Center have been helping to produce shows, such as a performance with Axis Dance Company. “Axis seeks to spread visibility about disabled and fully able-bodied dancers working together, and they work to create a broader understanding of what the moving body can be,” he says. “That was a really inspirational show for me, and it touched so many.”

Check the schedule at entcenterforthearts.org during your stay to find an inspirational concert, play, dance or other performance.

Jordan McHenry and Maddie Douglas dance in the Chapman Recital Hall at the Ent Center for the Arts at UCCS in Colorado Springs
Jordan McHenry and Maddie Douglas dance in the Chapman Recital Hall at the Ent Center for the Arts at UCCS. Photo by Jeremy Jones.

Want to keep the night going? Head back to the heart of downtown, where you’ll find the gay piano bar Icons at 3 E. Bijou Street. “Icons really reminds me of a piano bar cabaret experience you would get in a big city, but you can sing along,” Jordan says. “Every single bartender is an incredible vocalist and musician. More times than I can count, I’ve seen someone crying tears of joy in the corner. It’s such an intimate venue, and you’re seeing raw and real talent. It’s a homegrown space created by two gentlemen who were born and raised here. And I love seeing an inclusive, diverse music venue in downtown Colorado Springs. The talent there is just off the charts.”


DAY 2

Begin your morning with some easily accessible outdoor beauty in another local mountain enclave: Palmer Lake. “Palmer Lake is a really interesting community just north of Colorado Springs,” Jordan says. “It sits nestled in a little valley with a beautiful lake and a niche creative community where you can explore the wonders of nature without being bombarded by a cityscape.”

SUP paddle boarding on Palmer Lake, Colorado
Jordan McHenry and Kody Maynard paddle the SUPs at Palmer Lake, north of Colorado Springs. Photo by Jeremy Jones.

The lake is the centerpiece in this tiny town, and kayaking, standup paddleboarding and fishing are popular activities when the weather is warm. It’s easy to park beside the lake and paddle around its calm waters. You may be able to see a Denver and Rio Grande train roll slowly past. If you’re lucky, you can get the engineer to blow the horn!

“I love Palmer Lake because it’s so easy to get right onto the water,” Jordan says. “There’s no judgment. There are lots of families. It’s a place to just enjoy the beauty of nature and try a new water sport.”

If you’d rather stick to dry land, you can catch the New Santa Fe Regional Trail for some hiking or biking. The trailhead is at the parking lot on the northeast side of Palmer Lake, at 104 Oakdale Drive. You could take the wide, gravel and pavement trail all the way to downtown Colorado Springs, 26 miles away — but you’ll get scenic mountain views by simply setting foot on the trail, no matter how short or far you go. “The Santa Fe trail is important because it allows people of all levels to be able to hike. It’s mostly flat,” Jordan says. “And there are lots of offshoot trails along the way that connect to smaller communities and neighborhoods.”

Enjoy coffee, cocktails, pastries and a delicious full menu at the Speedtrap in Palmer Lake, Colorado
Enjoy coffee, cocktails, pastries and a delicious full menu at the Speedtrap in Palmer Lake, Colorado. Photo by Jeremy Jones.

You’ll be hungry after your outdoor outing, so grab brunch or lunch at the Speedtrap at 85-02 Highway 105. Housed in a historic stone building facing Palmer Lake, the Speedtrap is an eclectic combination of coffeehouse, bistro and cocktail bar. It’s also a community hub where live music plays regularly and you might occasionally catch the owner leading a night of storytelling and singalongs.

If you have some extra time, stop by to browse in the gallery at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts. It’s just up the street from the Speedtrap at 304 Highway 105. This local arts center fosters creativity in the northside communities around the Springs, and it has grown into a Front Range destination for fine art exhibitions, captivating theatrical productions and concerts featuring nationally recognized performers.

Jordan McHenry practices yoga at the SunWater Spa in Manitou Springs
Combine yoga, hot springs soaking, spa and wellness treatments at the SunWater Spa. Jordan McHenry practices yoga. Photo by Jeremy Jones.

Next, head back to Manitou Springs for some scenic relaxation at the SunWater Spa. At 514 El Paso Boulevard, the SunWater Spa sits on the edge of downtown Manitou and is home to magnificent views of the surrounding peaks. Described as a sanctuary of wellness, SunWater combines soaking, spa treatments and various yoga and movement classes, both in and out of the water. SunWater draws its water from the local springs and heats it with solar power. Various soaking tubs line terraced decks, where guests can relax and take in the sublime views at the foot of Pikes Peak.

As a dancer, Jordan knows the value of taking care of his body. The SunWater provides a peaceful space to recover and find restoration both physically and emotionally. “You sit outside underneath the stars. It feels like you’re sitting in a hot tub in your own backyard, but at the same time getting to experience something that’s truly unique,” Jordan says. “You’re sitting in the mineral waters of Manitou, so the waters are healing. The entire aura of the place really screams self-care — not in a trite, cliche way, but in a sincere way.”

(You can read more about the SunWater Spa in “Relax. Renew. Repeat. Find Your Perfect Spa.”)

Jordan McHenry makes a wine toast on the veranda of the Cliff House in Manitou Springs, Colorado
Cheers to eating, drinking and relaxing on the scenic veranda at the historic Cliff House at Pikes Peak in Manitou Springs. Photo by Jeremy Jones.

If you can pull yourself away from the bliss, this is a perfect evening to enjoy the Cliff House’s delicious dining options. Whether it’s the fine dining Dining Room, pub fare at the Red Mountain Bar and Grill or sunset viewing on the Veranda, you’ll discover mouthwatering options.

It’s been a long day, but if you still feel like dancing, check in with Ormao Dance Company to catch a performance or possibly join a class. Their studio is located downtown at 10 S. Spruce Street. “My favorite place to dance here in the Springs is Ormao Dance Company,” Jordan says. “Every week, they have a community dance class where you can taste a lot of different cultural dances and work with advanced dancers. It’s a really welcoming place and a safe space to be who you are. You can enjoy a lot of different genres of dance and learn something new every time.”


DAY 3

You’ve experienced some amazing scenery already on your visit to Colorado Springs. Now how about going underground? You can in the hills above Manitou Springs at Cave of the Winds Mountain Park, located at 100 Cave of the Winds Road. Choose between a family-friendly Discovery Tour or a spookier, candlelit Haunted Lantern Tour, which explores some lower, darker passageways.

Underground caverns at Cave of the Winds Mountain Park in Manitou Springs, Colorado
Explore beneath the surface with a cave tour at Cave of the Winds Mountain Park above Manitou Springs. Photo courtesy of Cave of the Winds.

“They make the geology of Colorado fun for all ages,” Jordan says. “You see stalactites dripping, and they do such a good job of taking you through this extravagant and intricate cave system. Cave of the Winds kind of reminds you that you are just a small piece of a greater whole. It’s really awe inspiring.”

There’s more to do above ground at Caves of the Winds too — high above ground. For an adrenaline rush, take a controlled freefall 150 feet into Williams Canyon at nearly 100 mph on the Terror-dactyl. Follow the Via Ferrata, climbing along cliffsides on a course of cables and ladders. Zipline across the top of the canyon or climb along the ropes course.

Once your feet are firmly back on the ground, head down the mountain for lunch in Old Colorado City at La Baguette, 2417 W. Colorado Avenue. “The cuisine at La Baguette is authentic, French creamy delightfulness, and the French onion soup is my favorite,” Jordan says. “It’s sweet and savory, and it’s served in these little goblets that are crusted over with cheese. It’s the best French onion soup in town.”

Outside the Michael Garmin Museum in Old Colorado City, Colorado Springs
Discover magic at the Michael Garman Museum in Old Colorado City. Photo courtesy of Michael Garman Museum.

Before leaving town, make sure you cross the street to 2418 W. Colorado Avenue to see Magic Town at The Michael Garman Museum. This 3,000 square-foot miniature city blends intricately detailed sculptures, cityscapes and magical elements into a truly unique art installation. Garman called it “a gigantic playground for the mind — part carnival, part dollhouse, part sculpture.” The late sculptor spent more than 45 years and over $1 million creating it. Of course, you can also see a gallery of Garman’s other works depicting figures and scenes of the heroic American spirit.

“I have a real sentimental, nostalgic sweet spot for the Michael Garman Museum and Magic Town,” Jordan says. “Since before I can remember, my grandmother would take me to Magic Town at least once a year, because the exhibits would slowly shift and change. They also harken back to a Norman Rockwell Americana that kind of sings to the Western identity in Colorado Springs. It’s just spectacle and surprise and creative thinking.”

And it’s nice to be across the street from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, so you can take home a tasty souvenir to remind you of your stay in Colorado Springs .


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.

 

Jordan McHenry
Jordan McHenry is a dancer, choreographer and local arts advocate. A Colorado Springs native, Jordan has studied and danced all around the world and returned to Colorado Springs, where he is proud to be a dancer with the local Ormao Dance Company, a visiting professor at Colorado College and the former Executive Director of the Dance Alliance of the Pikes Peak Region. Jordan holds an MFA in Choreography from Laban Conservatoire of Dance in London, England, and a BFA in Dance Performance from The Ailey School/Fordham University in New York City. His professional stage credits include Montreal-based companies EZDanza, Jose Navas/Company Flak and Cas Public. Hiscareer spans film, fashion and dance, including Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan starring Natalie Portman, New York Fashion Week, as well as three international Vogue publications. Jordan danced for Cirque Du Soleil’s Zumanity from 2010 to 2015 and danced with the Martha Graham Company for its historic 90th season international tour. His numerous international engagements include teaching at the No Borders Project in Chiang Mai, Thailand, as well as choreographic residences at Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Center and Tanztendenz in Munich, Germany.

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