A Definitive City Guide for Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs has increasingly become a must-see destination for LGBT tourists. Its 2013 Pride celebration attracted thousands of people, making it the second largest festival in Colorado, after Denver. Politically, the city is significant, as it's home to Colorado College, a private liberal arts school on the vanguard of LGBT activism. The 2012 campaign for civil unions kicked off on its campus on January 12, helping deliver the legislative victory that occurred in May of this year. Colorado Springs is also home to Coy Mathis, the six-year-old transgender child at the center of the landmark decision by Colorado’s Civil Rights Division, which allowed transgender youth to use restroom facilities that correspond with their gender identity.
While Colorado Springs has much to offer in terms of history, politics, culture, and entertainment, its true treasures are natural. Pikes Peak, a cliff that's part of the Rocky Mountains, is only ten miles west of the city. This National Historic Landmark is over 14,000 feet tall, and boasts a variety of outdoor opportunities for adventure, including the Pike National Forest. Situated at the foot of Pike's Peak, the Garden of the Gods, a National Natural Landmark, is one of the most beautiful public parks in the United States. Popular for hiking and recreation, the Garden is renowned for its red rock formations of sandstone and limestone.
With a vibrant nightlife centered by Club Q, a selection of restaurants serving international cuisine, a world-class zoo, and cosmopolitan shopping (not to mention its natural wonders), it's easy to see why Colorado Springs is turning into a popular LGBT destination.
For a city with nearly half a million people, you'd expect Colorado Springs to offer plenty of dining variety, and thankfully, it does. With everything from good coffee to authentic barbeque, Colorado Springs is yours for the eating.
Bird Dog Barbeque: This Oklahoma-style BBQ joint (pictured) may be casual, but as any BBQ fan knows, eating with your fingers should never be fancy. (two locations in Colorado Springs, more info)
The Poor Richard's Complex: This downtown Colorado Springs business contains not only a bookstore, toystore and gift shop, but also a restaurant and cafe. The bookstore was first established in 1975 and each business was gradually added to the lineup, contributing to the complex's celebrated atmosphere and excellence in multiple categories. (320 N. Tejon Street, more info)
Marigold Cafe and Bakery: Owned by a French chef and his wife, this spot serves bistro-inspired cuisine along with freshly baked pastries and an extensive wine list. (4605 Centennial Blvd., more info)
Shuga's: Both comfortably quaint and stylishly vintage, Shuga's has a simple yet eclectic food and drink menu. The Brazilian coconut shrimp soup is their most famous dish, described as a spicy and intriguing mix of flavors. (702 S. Cascade Ave., more info)
Jake & Telly's Greek Taverna: Brothers Jake and Telly Topakas offer home-cooked Greek favorites at their Old Colorado City taverna. Based on family recipes passed down from the Greek island of Chios, the menu also offers vegetarian and gluten-free options. (2616 W. Colorado Ave., more info)
Lodging in Colorado Springs should definitely include close proximity to the outdoors or, at the very least, views of those breathtaking Rocky Mountains. The best hotels marry luxury with roughing it, e.g., hiking during the day, fine dining at night.
The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs: Luxury among the mountains awaits guests of The Broadmoor, who can enjoy the natural beauty of Colorado Springs or indulge in everything a five-star historic hotel can offer. (1 Lake Ave., more info)
The Cliff House at Pikes Peak: Older than the state of Colorado itself, this hotel is both upscale and romantic. Its location also offers countless opportunities to take in all the sights of Colorado Springs. (306 Canon Ave, Manitou Springs, more info)
Cheyenne Mountain Resort (pictured): This picture-perfect destination, located next to the Rocky Mountains, is everything you would expect from a mountainous getaway: luxurious, visually stunning, and filled with outdoor and indoor activities. Plus, some seriously scenic dining options. (3225 Broadmoor Valley Road, more info)
Colorado Springs has a small town feel, but it doesn't lack in nightlife options. The city's bars and clubs offer everything: line-dancing, karaoke, House music, and hipsters.
Club Q: The city's most famous bar is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. Aside from the drinks, DJ, and expected flirting, Club Q hosts frequent parties and events, including burlesque performances and drag shows. (3430 N. Academy Blvd., more info)
Cowboys: This Western nightclub offers line-dancing and people-watching on three different levels. Get in touch with your inner ranch hand. (25 N. Tejon St., more info)
The Black Sheep: Colorado Springs' most prominent music venue hosts a wide range of musical performances from nearly every genre. (2106 E. Platte Ave., more info)
The Underground: As the largest gay club in Colorado Springs, The Underground has a pub, rooftop bar and patio, and an expansive dance floor. On Sundays, check out the drag brunch. (110 N. Nevada Ave., more info)
The Principal's Office: Whether you're studious or a troublemaker, this Prohibtion-chic hangout serves specialty coffee along with original cocktails. It's actually located within the old principal's office of Ivywild, the former elementary school repurposed into a group of small businesses. (1604 S. Cascade Ave., more info)
MY CITY: COLORADO SPRINGS
Out Traveler, in collaboration with Colorado Springs Pride, asked residents of the city through social media: What are the must-see destinations for LGBT tourists? Here are six of the most delicious, adventurous, and exciting responses from the people who know Colorado Springs best.