Manitou Springs, Colorado
a day trip to Manitou Springs, Colorado

(1st April 2016)

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Archway to Manitou Springs, Colorado

The adorable Manitou Springs is about a 20-minute drive from where I live in southern Colorado, and is a place I love visiting when I can.  I thought a day trip before the summer crowds would be just the ticket, and so off I went.  Renown for its eight naturally carbonated mineral springs, the town of Manitou Springs has been attracting people for years!  People used to come for the healing waters, and many stayed.  It's also long been a favorite of American Indians as is evident when you walk around.  Not only people seeking the healing waters came to this city built on hills at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, and in particular, Pikes Peak, but also artists of all sorts came too.  And they've thrived.

Manitou Springs is well known as an enclave for artists, and the galleries are numerous and stuffed to the gills with a huge variety of artistic mediums.  Crafts are also plentiful and there is enough to keep you busy popping in and out of stores all day long.  Keep an eye open for all the beautiful murals around.  I parked for free near the 7-Minute Spring, got myself a bottle of water, and headed off to do some exploring.

Along with the arts and crafts outlets, there are specialty stores as well, like the Christmas Store, the glass blowing store as well as many enticing places to eat and fill up with food.  I discovered, to my absolute delight, the "hippie" store, namely The Poppy Seed.  I walked in and was overcome with dé jà vu at seeing all the items for sale, from leather thong sandals, tie-dyed shirts, long flowy skirts, billowy pants, loud and hilarious bumper stickers, incense, bags, dresses, and more.  The music they played is worth a stop and look around.  To say it was groovy would be an understatement!


I noticed many a musician busking and helping to infuse the streets with harmony and music.  It's really an arty commune with the most adorably decorated homes, which beg to be admired.  Do look and spot all the art and sculptures around the streets that you'll come across on your walk.  Look at the homes up the side streets and you'll see gingerbread-type cottages along with mansions and many a Victorian-style home.



The first of two art galleries I went into was the quaint Piazza Navona Art Gallery and Cafe, which you should truly visit.  If you're lucky you'll be greeted by the bubbly Elaine, who showed me around.  Apart from the lovely art gracing the walls, there is a touch of Venice out back.  Exquisite murals adorn the walls while the bubbling Fountain Creek slips by a few feet below the deck.  I vowed to return with an artist friend to enjoy a coffee and a bite.  The second gallery I stopped by was the Mountain Living Studio, a co-op gallery with the work many, many artists from around Colorado on show.  This gallery has a second floor which you should check out.  There is such diversity and it's worth stopping by.  (I even spotted my friend Svetlana's work.  She has a gallery in Florence, Colorado.)

On my way back to my car and to get another bottle of water from the 7-Minute Spring, I saw the Community Congregational Church which I had to check out.  It was closed but I asked at the office next door and was given a quick tour.  I adore stained glass and was delighted and thankful I asked as the glass is beautiful.  This church is part old, part new, and has been there since 1877.

Manitou was founded in 1872.  There are loads of things to see and do, so I suggest that you visit the chamber's website and see how much you can squeeze into your visit.  The Cog Railway is the most obvious touristy thing to do, or climb the incline if you can (it has a grade of 68% in some places and gains over 2,000 feet in less than one mile!), visit the Cave of the Winds, or Miramont Castle Museum, Cliff Dwellings, Santa's Workshop/North Pole, or just walk around and enjoy the atmosphere.  Visit the Chamber of Commerce website for more ideas.

As you approach the heart of Manitou Springs, whether turning off Hwy 24 or along West Colorado Avenue, you'll notice the ubiquitous array of accommodations and souvenir stores before you see the quaint old buildings, many of which have been done up to enhance their original look.  Walking around is the best way to see this little gem and should be undertaken, as there are pedestrian crossings everywhere you look.  Unless you're going on the Cog Railway to the top of Pikes Peak (weather permitting), or going to climb the incredible Incline, I'd recommend you park and walk around.  Paid parking is plentiful in the heart of Manitou but there are parts where you can park for free.
Here is a selection of things you might come across when you visit this town!  I loved the pretty shop and restaurant signs, and keep a lookout for the two little free library boxes!




I highly recommend a visit to this fun place.  There is something for everyone, and the children love it.

Art Galleries
Piazza Navona
12 Ruxton Avenue, Manitou Springs, CO 80829
Tel: (719) 685-1077
Mountain Living Studio
741 Manitou Avenue, Manitou Springs, CO 80829
Tel: (719) 685-0225917-9666

Contacts   Contact Me
The Poppy Seed
123 Canon Avenue, Manitou Springs, CO 80829
Tel: (719) 685-5200
Community Congregational Church
103 Pawnee Ave, Manitou Springs, CO80829
Tel: (719) 685-5255

I took Hwy 24 west out of Colorado Springs and within a few minutes I was in Manitou Springs.  Follow the signs and the slow speed limits into the town.  (You can also take West Colorado Avenue right into Manitou Springs.)


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