3 Day Pikes Peak and Pueblo Colorado Itinerary – ideas, tips, and tricks for a fabulous 3-4 day trip in Colorado that is great for families, couples, or a friend trip with tons of activities for all!
This post is sponsored by Visit Colorado.
As always, all opinions are my own. As a Colorado resident for over 25 years I couldn’t be happier to share just how amazing our little slice of heaven is!
We followed ALL local and state social distancing rules and mask mandates while traveling, and ask you to as well. It has been 2+ weeks since our trip and we can confirm the measures taken by the companies below to keep us safe worked – we’re all healthy and full of memories from our Colorado staycation.
I recently was invited by Visit Colorado to take my 6th and 7th generation Coloradan kids (depending on which side of my husband’s family you look at – their family has been in Colorado before it was even a state!) and my husband on a short 3 day trip around some of our favorite destinations in the Pikes Peak, Arkansas Valley, and Pueblo areas just about 2 hours south of where we live in Northern Colorado to check out how easy it is to safely travel in Colorado – and the commitment to health Colorado’s tourism and restaurant industries have taken on.
I’m going to be sharing my top picks for each destination (look for a lot more about each city and more from some attractions here on Sweet C’s soon), but at the bottom of this article I will be sharing a printable itinerary you can use to follow our recent family trip, and also some handy Colorado packing lists that will help you have the best time – even if you’re a Colorado local like me!
This article is long – but contains everything you need to make memories that will last a lifetime, and all the information you will need to keep yourself safe while visiting Colorado, and steps you can take to keep Coloradans (like me!) safe while you visit.
While traveling is a bit different now, we are really excited to share how safe we felt, and how different travel at the moment is.
There are a lot of great companies who are working harder than ever to keep you safe while with them – and we’re so happy Colorado has set a great example to get tourism back, safer than ever!
Staying Safe While Traveling in Colorado
While safety is at the top of our concerns while traveling, Colorado is really fortunate to be blessed with fantastic weather – even when temperatures drop, we enjoy abundant sunshine and low humidity.
With a few exceptions, many restaurants, activities, and attractions are outdoors – making it easy to stay socially distant and enjoy your time in Colorado – whether it is home for you, or you’re just visiting us!
Safety in Colorado isn’t just something to think of now – Colorado’s unique environment can prove challenging to visitors who aren’t prepared for our rapid weather shifts, challenging nature, abundant wildlife, and high altitude – but it’s really easy to plan and prepare for a safe trip with the resources from Visit Colorado.
To find out more about Colorado’s commitment to safe tourism, please watch this video below, and visit the Care for Coloradans page on the Visit Colorado Website.
Care For Colorado
Colorado has a LOT of gorgeous outdoor activities – and as a Colorado resident, and just all around lover of Colorado, I know just how much it takes the commitment of all visitors and residents to keep our beloved Centennial state picture perfect.
If you have any questions about how to explore Colorado without leaving a trace, you’re wondering about how to safely visit high altitude, how to follow Leave No Trace protocols, and more about taking care of Colorado, please visit the Care For Colorado page and check out some of their fun videos (get the kids involved and giggling: my kids highly reccomend the poop etiquette video.)
Day 1: Colorado Springs, Colorado
Colorado Springs is world famous for the United States Olympic Training Center, Garden of the Gods, NORAD, The Broadmoor Hotel and golf course, Fort Carson – and being the gateway to Pikes Peak.
There is so much to do in Colorado Springs – for any group you’re traveling with.
Colorado Springs is the “Gateway to Pikes Peak” – with a good part of the city nestled right up to the foothills, you aren’t lacking for options to hike, bike, run, and more!
Garden of the Gods
Garden of the Gods is one of Colorado’s most iconic attractions and places to get your legs moving and heart pumping – it is one of Colorado’s best spots for hiking, biking, climbing, and Instagram worthy views that are easily accessible.
For hike ideas, parking information, and spots you can’t miss, please visit the Garden of the Gods Visitor Guide here.
Must see: kissing camels, balanced rock, Steamboat rock.
Where to Eat in Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs has tons of awesome options for eating out – from indoors and outdoors, to dine-in or takeout, and fast casual to fine dining.
Atomic Cowboy Complex
I love the Atomic Cowboy complex for their layout and delicious, unique Colorado offerings – the entire corner is made up of different restaurants with tons of seating outside and big, open windows when the weather is warm to provide for lots of ventilation indoors.
Denver Biscuit Company
The Denver Biscuit Company is one of our family’s favorite Colorado local “mini” chains – their food is always delicious, hearty, and you can’t leave anything but completely stuffed.
Attractions In Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs is Packed with attractions that are fun for groups of any kind!
There is way more here than you can fit into one day… but that just means you’ll need to visit again!
United States Olympic and Paralympic Museum
Not many people know that Colorado is home for the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee – making Colorado the official home of all things Team USA! (Ironically, we’re the only state/location to have been awarded the Olympics, but then turn them down – a story you can read all about in the museum.)
The brand-new United States Olympic and Paralympic Museum has officially become my favorite museum in Colorado – it is a breathtakingly beautiful tribute to America’s elite athletes that incorporates tons of cutting edge technology and Olympic memorabilia.
While in the past we could visit the Olympic Training Facilities nearby in Colorado Springs (which are currently closed for visitor and athlete safety, but will reopen when safe and also very much worth a visit if you’re a lover of the Olympics) – the new museum is a larger, more comprehensive view on all things Team USA.
My kids had so much fun at the museum – we weren’t even halfway through before they asked to come back!
We loved checking out the Olympic torches, trying some of the interactive sports exhibits (the skeleton and sprint stations were my kids favorites), learning about Olympic history (the Jesse Owens exhibit is especially poignant), and the movie at the end had us crying and cheering – I don’t want to spoil it, but it is a MUST view.
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is one of my favorite zoos on earth.
While it might be smaller than many zoos (and the entire zoo is built into a mountainside, making it one that also involves a brisk workout to visit), it is one where animals are clearly happy, healthy, have tons of natural space – and guests can get up close to animals in a way you can only dream of in other zoos.
While all the exhibits are great, we LOVE the Giraffes, Elephants, and Rhinos – because you can get right up close and FEED them!
It is so amazing to be able to be right up close with happy, healthy animals – the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is just one of the best.
To keep visitors safe, the zoo is requiring masks (I bought some beyond cute sloth, crocodile, and zoo themed masks there too), and has lots of hand washing stations, and timed entry for families to provide a top-notch experience for all.
The Broadmoor shows up a couple times on this list – because it’s not only a Hotel and Resort – but also has several great restaurants, a legendary bar, a world-class exhibit hall and conference center, and really gorgeous trails around the complex that are the perfect place to stroll with a snack or cup of coffee and take in the building’s spectacular history.
Where to Stay in Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs has tons of options for unique, comfortable, safe, and clean lodging – from five star luxury, to rustic cabins and dude ranches, to everything inn between.
The Broadmoor Cloud Camp
Broadmoor Cloud Camp is where we got to stay on this trip, and one of their locations I haven’t ever been to previously.
In a single word, Cloud Camp is breathtaking.
Cloud Camp is an all inclusive camp for adults and kids alike – with activities like yoga, archery, cooking classes, hiking, mule rides – including five star dining, and drinks.
Be sure not to miss: every day at sundown the large American flag is taken down by the camp hosts, while guests are poured drinks and offered small bites and the National Anthem plays.
My son is a boy scout, and got a huge thrill when he was invited to help take part in the flag ceremony!
We loved the wine barrel hot tubs (even better now as groups must sign up to reserve hot tubs in advance, so you get a spot all to yourselves), the dining halls Native American art and exhibits – as well as some movie replicas (including a dress from Jeremiah Johnson and costumes from Dances with Wolves), the lawn games and activities, s’mores by the fire at night, and our rustic chic cabin!
Day 2: Cañon City, Colorado
Cañon City is known for wide, sweeping views of the Arkansas River Valley, some of Colorado’s best river rafting, the Royal Gorge and Royal Gorge Railroad — and some of Colorado’s largest prisons.
Activities in Cañon City
Cañon City has a ton of amazing experiences to get out and about and exploring some of Colorado’s most incredible, jaw dropping scenery, get your blood pumping, and heart racing!
The Royal Gorge is arguably one of the biggest and bests known reasons to visit Cañon City – the jaw-dropping canyon is like nowhere else on earth, with a zip line, cable car, and bridge that take you to dizzying heights over the canyon.
There is so much to explore at the Royal Gorge, you can easily make a day of it.
Currently, cable cars are run in socially-distant groups, and the park ha reduced the number of visitors being admitted so that it isn’t too crowded.
Since all of the attractions at the Royal Gorge are outside, it is easy to keep safe space from others, but there are ample hand sanitizer stations everywhere, reduced tables in the restaurants, and some attractions are closed for safety.
Our kids had a blast climbing in the large playground, riding the cable cars, shaking a bit as we walked across the bridge (it is VERY high up), and giggling about working up the courage to do the zip line someday.
We spent almost all day at the gorge and could have easily stayed longer – plan for all day when visiting!
Royal Gorge Dinosaur Experience
Just across from the Royal Gorge Campgrounds sits the Dinosaur Experience – a fun interactive museum and outdoor fun park for kids and adults to get right up next to dinosaur sculptures – including a ropes course surrounded by dinos!
Where to Eat In Cañon City
There are a lot of family friendly restaurants and bars in Cañon City, especially close to the Royal Gorge where many chose to camp out.
There are also lots of fast casual options in Cañon City – but we decided to try out one of Colorado’s top rated French restaurants, Le Petit Chablis in downtown Cañon City.
Le Petit Chablis
Le Petit Chablis might be in an unexpected part of Colorado for fine French dining, but they had aa fabulous, well-executed menu, great wine list that could stand up next to any in Denver.
Don’t skip the trout almondine, the escargot, or dessert – we loved everything and would head back next time we’re in Canon City in a heartbeat!
Where to Stay in Cañon City
Cañon City has a wide variety of lodging – from campgrounds, to cabins, to hotels, and more.
Echo Canyon Campground
The Echo Canyon Campground has camping options for all budgets and styles – from hookups and tent platforms, to glamping tents, to luxury cabins.
We got to check out one of the luxury cabins – and our kids have not stopped talking about wanting to go back!
The cabins were fabulously outfitted, with a kitchen (including full size refrigerator), two super comfortable king size beds, a patio table, grill, cornhole set, and private hammock – all with access to the campground’s firepit, and a prime location a short drive from both Cañon City and the Royal Gorge.
Day 3: Pueblo, Colorado
Pueblo is one of Colorado’s hidden gems – the southern city is often overlooked by tourists heading to the mountains – but it shouldn’t be!
Attractions in Pueblo
Pueblo has plenty to do – for families, couples, and friends – it’s easy to have an amazing night out in Pueblo!
Pueblo’s Riverwalk is the center of town – it is a lively, re-awakened downtown area along the river with boats riding past, restaurants, cafes, and shops spilling out towards the river, and lots of twinkling lights that are great to stroll under for a memorable night out.
Grab a ride on one of the riverboats for a socially distant ride through Pueblo’s history and learn more about town – or rent a paddle boat for your own private cruise down the river!
Neon Alley is a newer spot in Pueblo that is a MUST visit for fans of Americana and all things neon!
The alleyways host one of the largest collections of neon lights outside of Las Vegas, and make for a fabulous night of strolling under the flickering lights, taking pictures, and checking out some of the really gorgeous art installations.
Pueblo is best known as one of Colorado’s biggest agricultural hubs – and there is no better treat to look for than fresh roasted Pueblo Chilis, watermelon, tomatoes, and other amazing fresh foods from Pueblo’s many farm stands.
We headed to Musso Farms to load up on chilis, roasted garlic, the most amazing sugarbaby watermelons, and tons of fresh made salsa – and I just might be planning monthly trips to get more!
Where To Eat in Pueblo
Pueblo has a ton of great options for the family – from fast casual to bar and grill and plenty of fine dining choices, in part thanks to Pueblo’s convention center which sees a lot of business travel.
Twenty One Steak
Twenty One Steak caught us by surprise – in the best way, ever.
The upscale steakhouse looks like many of Colorado’s other well known steakhouses (if there is one thing you can look forward on any Colorado vacation, it’s the worlds best steakhouses) – but the quality and variety of the menu totally blew us away!
From the cocktails (I tried a couple so you don’t have to 😉 – they were all phenomenal), to the steaks (order the filet trio, you can thank me later) – we loved every second.
Unlike many steakhouses, our picky kids had a ton of items to pick from, and their food was really delicious and high quality – we didn’t feel like kids were an afterthought, which we really appreciated.
While the steaks are a cant-miss at Twenty One Steak (order the filet trio and thank me later), we were also really blown away by the sides. The seasonal stuffed green chilis with Italian Sausage and Marinara, and creamed corn with green chilis really made the most of Pueblo’s in-season chilis – and left me wanting to live closer!
The steak was cooked perfectly (I am ridiculously picky about steak temperature), and the filet trio was a perfect entree to get to try a bit of different preparations topping steak.
Be sure to take home leftovers – we left so full, but definitely tucked in for more later that night.
My husband said he wants to head back again to Pueblo soon just to eat at Twenty One Steak alone!
Solar Roast Coffee
Solar Roast Coffee is an awesome option for quick grab and go breakfast or delicious coffee in downtown Pueblo.
While the coffee is delicious and worth a stop on it’s own, the shop’s commitment to alternative energy is notable – they are the first coffee roaster to use 100% solar energy in roasting.
Where to Stay in Pueblo
Pueblo has lots of hotels, cabins, homes, and campgrounds – but we stayed at the Courtyard Marriott in downtown Pueblo next to the conference center and thought it was the perfect spot for a Pueblo trip for any group.
We got a connecting room so we had a bit more space for the four of us – but were really impressed with the hotel’s commitment to spacing, sanitizing, and making sure we felt safe.
The Courtyard is a short walk to the Riverwalk and Neon Alley, and is connected to the convention center, making it a perfect central pick.
What To Pack For A Colorado Road Trip
Colorado’s weather is both more pleasant and more unstable than many people realize.
Even in winter, Colorado can experience huge shifts in temperature from day to day – and since Colorado has very little relative humidity, it is easy to get hot here even on cold days if you’re active.
The #1 thing to remember in Colorado is to pack lots of layers! In spring, summer, and fall you can start in a sweater and jeans and end in flip flops and shorts. Winters can also be dramatic – our snow often melts within a day outside of major blizzards, and it’s not uncommon to have 50 and 60 degree days in winter.
Make Your Own Colorado Style Green Chile Sauce
If you’ve worked up an appetite for vacationing in Colorado, and want to bring some of our flavors home, please check out my Easy Green Chile Sauce recipe inspired by our trip.
It is super simple, loaded with flavor, and can be made keto! It is fabulous over tacos, enchiladas, burgers, and more – and makes a great salsa-style dip or spicy addition to queso!
Get the green chile recipe here.
3 Day Pikes Peak and Pueblo Colorado Itinerary
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