There’s been a lot of growth in Colorado Springs in recent years, and downtown has been booming. From major additions like the stunning U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum and Weidner Field (a soccer stadium home to the USL Switchbacks FC) to thriving dining and arts scenes, new places are constantly opening. You can easily spend a weekend exploring new hot spots and rediscovering favorites.
That’s just what you’ll do following this itinerary by Jasmine Dillavou, a Boricua mixed media artist, Creative Director for Ephemera Dinners, instructor for the Bemis School of Art and “many-hat-wearing community member.”
“What’s most unique to me about Colorado Springs is the fact that we are an ever-changing work in progress,” Jasmine says. “We are this town that’s super ready to pivot and change and grow, and we’re at a point in our growth that we’re ready to do really great, beautiful things.”
Here are some of Jasmine’s favorite beautiful things downtown. Take it away, Jasmine….
Where to Stay: Lodging
Kinship Landing is one of the most unique hotel spaces in Colorado Springs. The boutique hotel opened downtown in 2020 at 415 S. Nevada Avenue. It has a hip, trendy vibe, with handcrafted wood furniture, lots of plants and natural light, hanging basket chairs and a great cafe called Homa. There are suites with soaking tubs and rolling garage doors opening onto balconies, and there are international-style hostel rooms where you can meet other travelers. It also has one of the most unique rooms I have ever stayed in. The Camp Deck is perfect for glamping in the middle of the city. You can pitch a tent or hang a hammock and look up at the stars beside a fire pit. You can bring your own food or get dinner and cocktails from Homa Cafe downstairs. You get the elevated hotel experience, but also some of the outdoors vibe. That space is really special.
After you arrive in town, kick things off for your first evening at COATI, one of the Springs’ new food halls. It’s a five-minute walk from Kinship Landing, at 514 S. Tejon Street. There is so much in one building and so many beautiful small food pods! You can explore art and live music, and there are often free dance classes, yoga, performance art, events like silent discos and more going down on weekends.
If you’re looking for an elevated dining experience, Ephemera is the place to go at 514 S. Tejon Street. It’s located upstairs at COATI, tucked away in its own little private space. It’s chef-owned and operated by Chef Ian Dedrickson, my husband, and Chef Adam Ridens. The idea is that it’s an ephemeral experience; every time you go in, you are having a completely unique and different dining experience. Try the seven-course Chefs Tasting Menu. It changes weekly, if not every day, because the chefs are constantly experimenting, focusing on freshness and locality. Food is an art to them.
You are also guaranteed to get a beautiful cocktail at Ephemera. The sommeliers will give you a pairing of something you have never tried before off the huge wine menu. Likely you will walk away making friends with one of the servers. It’s truly a different experience.
Before you leave COATI, support a Latinx-owned business and grab a fresh paleta downstairs at the Paleta Bar and enjoy it by the fire pit on the patio. The fresh, gourmet Mexican pops are like a fruit-Popsicle-ice cream, but better entirely than all three of those words. There are so many flavors to choose from, plus toppings and different chilies and powders you can add. They can tell you how to create your dream dessert right there at the bar.
Spend your morning exploring Tejon Street and all its boutiques and galleries. The shopping scene downtown is spectacular because that’s where you get a taste of the local flavor and style and energy. Most of the downtown boutiques are locally owned and operated. Many are female-owned and operated, which I love. You’ll find vintage to ethically sourced clothing, to honey, tea, coffee shops and anything in between.
Novis Mortem Collective at 22 E. Bijou Street sells taxidermy and handcrafted jewelry and local art. The people in there are so kind, and whatever you walk away with, you literally won’t find any place else.
Ladyfingers Letterpress is queer-owned and operated. They print their own greeting cards and sell unique local goods at 113 E. Bijou Street.
Next door is Art 1Eleven, at 111 E. Bijou Street, where you can view local art in the gallery.
Eclectic Co. has vintage clothing, affordable vinyl, handmade wooden rings, locally sourced honey, local art and more at 214 ½ N. Tejon Street. They often have a tarot reader or someone doing hair tinseling.
Yobel specializes in fair-trade fashion for men and women and ethically sourced global gifts and goods. Find it at 11 E. Bijou Street.
While you’re strolling, make sure to grab your favorite beverage at Story Coffee. This community favorite is located in a tiny house at 120 E. Bijou Street on the edge of Acacia Park.
In the afternoon, head to the new U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum at 200 S. Sierra Madre. I’m not a sports person, but this 60,000-square-foot building houses the most accessible museum in the United States. It’s designed so that any guest who walks in the door experiences that museum exactly the same as everyone else. It sets a standard for how museums and galleries and public spaces should function. And inside are galleries and memorabilia and history and interactive activities that everyone can experience and learn something from, whether you’re a sports person or an art person or whatever. It’s incredible. Make sure to order your tickets ahead.
The other part I love is the incredible Park Union Bridge between the Olympic and Paralympic Museum and America the Beautiful Park. The architecture of both the bridge and museum are amazing. You can walk up on the bridge and get this great view, especially as the sun starts going down. You can see Pikes Peak and the Front Range. It’s beautiful, and you really get a grasp of what the community looks like.
For your evening plans, start with drinks at the Triple Nickle Tavern if you’re a lover of dive bars, punk rock music and cheap beer. You’ll find it at 103 S. Wahsatch Avenue.
Then walk a block to Lucky Dumpling at 26 S. Wahsatch Avenue. The Asian American fusion restaurant is owned and operated by Chef Brother Luck, who you may recognize from TV shows, including Chopped, Beat Bobby Flay and Top Chef. Brother Luck’s passion for made-from-scratch dumplings and bao buns anchors the delicious menu at this down-to-earth Asian-inspired hot spot.
For later entertainment, head to La Burla Bee for live burlesque, aerial performers and late-night dancing. La Burla Bee is its own weird world. It is a burlesque nightclub, Vaudeville restaurant that serves Italian food. They have multiple bars. You can see cabaret and live performances almost every night of the week. They stay open late, so you can go dancing. And it’s also an inclusive, safe space. It’s tucked away at 110 N. Nevada Avenue.
If you’re looking for a local secret, head back to the Triple Nickle, where underneath it is Fritzy’s. Enjoy live performers, karaoke and great cocktails.
If a speakeasy is more your style, my favorite in town, hands down, is The Archives. It’s located underneath Colorado Craft at 15 S. Tejon Street, and it really does feel like a speakeasy. You go around the alley and see one sign illuminated by one light. Go down a stairwell and pass through the kitchen of Colorado Craft to get there. Then it feels like you’ve been transported. You walk in and find bartenders in chic leather suspenders and ties. They can tell you anything about spirits. They will design cocktails for you. Their menu is classic but also really fresh. Some of the best cocktails I’ve ever had have been at Archives, and some of the best memories I’ve ever had have been at Archives. And they make a really mean martini. If you like a strong gin cocktail, The Archives is the place to go.
It’s time to get outside. Grab a Lime Electric Scooter Lime scooter and catch a breeze adventuring around town. America the Beautiful Park is a great spot to check out at 126 Cimino Drive, especially during the summer when the Julie Penrose Fountain is running. The four-story Continuum sculpture perfectly frames Pikes Peak and makes a like-worthy Instagram pic. You can also follow the paved portions of the Pikes Peak Greenway and Midland Trails and keep exploring beyond the park.
When you get hungry, head for Streetcar 520 and absolutely get the housemade curry fries. Find it at 520 S. Tejon Street (right next to COATI). On nice days, get a seat on the patio.
If you have time for one more stop, visit the local artists’ studios at Cottonwood Center for the Arts. This is an incredible community space, and there are studios upon studios, which often have their doors open. You can peek in and see what artists are making. Plus, there are multiple galleries with free art viewings all day. It’s just another really wonderful facet of our community.
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.
Watch for more Creative Stays itineraries in the coming months!