Get Out of FOCO:

Day Trip To Colorado Springs, CO

Colorado Springs is home to some of the greatest adventure spots in Colorado. Take a day and explore The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, make your way up the Manitou Incline, or hike around and take in the scenery at Garden of the Gods. You can also find some of the best restaurants in the US here. The two listed below, Spice Island Grill and  Paravicini’s Italian Bistro have been featured on the Food Netowrk’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Drive. Colorado Springs is a 2.5 hour car ride from Fort Collins.

Top Activities In Colorado Springs:

1. The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is a mountainside conservation park that is home to over 700 animals, including the world’s largest giraffe herd. It sits at an elevation 6,800 feet above sea level, making it the highest zoo in the United States.

At the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, you can walk around and explore the zoo on your own or pay extra and have the opportunity to spend one-on-one time with the species of your choice.

Admission prices for the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo are below. By purchasing an admission ticket, you have the opportunity to freely explore the Zoo until closing. The Zoo opens at 9 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m.

One unique program that the zoo offers is Animal Encounters. The total cost of an Animal Encounter is $353 per encounter for up to 4 people (this cost includes the daily admission price). During an encounter, you will have the chance to feed, interact, and take pictures with the animal of your choice. Each encounter is 30 minutes long and must be scheduled at least 1 week in advance.

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo also offers V.I.P. Small Group Tours. The total cost of a VIP tour is $1,000 for four people and $1,250 for five. This price includes admission into the zoo, an overview of the Zoo in a cart, a Safari Trail Tour or Loft Exploration, giraffe feeding, and three behind-the-scenes experiences of your choice. The tour last approximately 2.5-3 hours and must be scheduled 10 days in advance.

2. Manitou Incline

The Manitou Incline is a very demanding and physically exhausting trail and hike that many people set their eyes on. The trail was one a railroad track and its 2,744 steps are now made up of railroad ties. The length of the trail is only about one mile, but do not take it lightly. If you make it to the top you will have gained 2,000 feet in elevation and climbed more stairs than are in the Empire State Building.

However, if the gratification of making it to the top isn’t enough alone, the view at the top will make the climb well worth it. Be careful of the false summit on the way up, but once you reach the top you will see the beautiful view of the Colorado Springs valley. In addition to the view, you will find that everyone you encounter at the top and along the way is very friendly, so stop and say “hi”, you might just a make a few new friends along the way as well!

The trail is open from dusk until dawn so choose your time of day wisely, it can get very busy (and hot) mid-day. In addition, make sure you bring plenty of water and maybe even a few re-energizing snacks for the top.


3. Garden of the Gods

If extreme physical activity isn’t quite your thing, but you still want to experience the wonderful scenery that Colorado Springs has to offer, Garden of the Gods might be the perfect place for you. Garden of the Gods is a National Park located just 20 minutes off of the highway in the Springs.

In the park, there are several activities to choose from, such as hiking, biking, horseback riding, or simply just driving and walking around to take in the scenery. While you’re there you’ll be able to see stunning views of Pikes Peak as well as several other amazing rock formations as well. If you want more information about what to do when you are there, visit the Visitor and Nature center for maps and daily activities.

One of the best parts about the park is that it is free to all visitors. The park is open from 5:00 am to 9:00 pm and can also get very busy during the middle of the day. If you are looking to do this in addition to other activities while on your day trip to Colorado Springs, we recommend that you visit the Garden of the Gods during sunset hour for amazing views and picturesque skies.


Top Restaurants In Colorado Springs:

1. Spice Island Grill

Spice Island Grill is a popular local spot located right in downtown Colorado Springs. It is a quick 14-minute drive from the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, maki ng it a perfect lunch spot before heading to the zoo for the afternoon.

Spice Island Grill is a popular local spot located right in downtown Colorado Springs. It is a quick 14-minute drive from the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, maki

Spice Island Grill popularity skyrocketed when the restaurant was featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Spice Island is known for their authentic Jamaican food; specifically their amazing curry goat and jerk chicken.

The restaurant is also a fun dining destination, with live Jamaican music, creating a unique dining atmosphere unlike any other in the Springs area.

Link to Menu:

Spice Island Grill is located at…
10 N Sierra Madre St
Colorado Springs, CO 80903

Spice Island DOES take reservations! Make sure to go online prior to your visit.

Hours of Operation:
Tuesday-Saturday: 11am-9pm
Sunday: 12pm-7pm
Monday: Closed


2. Paravicini’s Italian Bistro

We suggest stopping by Paravicini’s Italian Bistro for a delicious, authentic Italian dinner.  The restaurant is conveniently located in the heart of Old Colorado City, and is only a 6 minute drive from Garden of the Gods. After a long day of hiking and exploring, this would be the perfect spot to stop at carb-load back up. They take reservations so there is no worry about wait time!

Paravicini’s is known for the old authentic Italian recipes that have been passed down for generations; specifically, their famous handmade sauces used in every dish! The bistro also features a 50+ person outdoor patio that includes umbrellas, heat lamps, and wind barriers to accommodate outdoor seating in almost any weather conditions! Their menu has everything from classic spaghetti and meatballs to the very fancy, Prosciutto Wrapped Cod. They have all the Italian classics you could imagine, as well tons of Paravicini Originals and Seafood Pasta’s.

Link to Menu:

Paravacini’s is located at:
2802 Colorado Ave,
Colorado Springs, CO 80904

Hours of Operation:
Sunday-Thursday: 11am-9pm
Friday-Saturday: 11am-10pm

Drive time from Fort Collins:


Transit map from Fort Collins:

You can also take Public Transit to get to the Springs from Fort Collins. You must first take the Green North Line from Fort Collins into Downtown Denver’s Union Station, and then switch to the Orange South Line to get to Colorado Springs. Tickets cost $22. Average travel time taking public transit is 3 hours and 50 minutes depending on the time of day.

Weather Information:

Months Average Temperature (°F)
January 30
February 32.5
March 39
April 46.5
May 56
June 66
July 71
August 69
September 61.5
October 50
November 38
December 30.5

Annual Average High Temperature: 62.4

Annual Average Low Temperature: 35.9