In Manitou Springs, a place perched on the edge of a mountain and history, you’ll discover an enchanting, colorful rendition of the 19th century. The extra flair is for the tourists’ benefit. There are boutiques and museums that showcase local designers and artists, pottery shops featuring Native American craftsmanship, and fun places for kids. All of this is brushed with a sugary mix of hemp, hippies, and mysticism. Whether in for the day to ride the Cog Railway up Pike’s Peak or passing through Colorado Springs, there are hours of enjoyment to be had in this little town.
In 1887, J.G. Hiestand built what is known today as the Iron Springs Chateau Melodrama Dinner Theater. From its origins as a candy and cigar store in 1880, the operation changed owners a number of times before the Iron Springs Company purchased it and began to use the venue to sell mineral water commercially.
Nowadays, nostalgic fun starts in the evening with a three-course meal, leads into theatrics, and ends with a vaudeville sing-along.
Audience participation is encouraged!
Satisfy your taste for old-school (cash only) at Mo's Diner & Lounge with its eclectic 1940s decor and friendly staff. Serving good traditional food, they specialize in generous, classic breakfasts, burgers, meatloaf, biscuits and gravy, and some Mexican dishes, like burritos and green chili. Nothing fancy and prices to match. A warm family atmosphere with lots of locals.
For some more adult refreshment, the Ancient Mariner Tavern, built like a ship’s galley, features some rocking local entertainment, often without a cover charge. It boasts a full bar featuring Colorado draught microbrews. It’s a rowdy place and the music is loud – perfect for quenching your thirst after hiking up and down the hilly streets.
Older than the state of Colorado itself, the walls of the Cliff House have seen history transpire. Once a stagecoach stop and gold rush boarding house, the inn was converted in 1886 to a sophisticated resort hotel capitalizing on the mineral springs in the region. The list of famous guests includes Theodore Roosevelt, P.T. Barnum, and Clark Gable. Food and service are impeccable at this reasonably priced vintage hotel.
The downtown Manitou Outpost has stood on the same spot since its beginnings as a livery stable in the 1800s. By 1913, a cafeteria pavilion showcasing an erupting geyser had replaced the stable. Later, a garage offering both mechanical work and tours of Pikes Peak was built at the site. Souvenirs, homemade fudge, and ice cream are the main attractions these days, along with the Navajo geyser well that is still preserved inside - but has ceased to spout.
ROCKEY’S STORYBOOK ART STUDIO
Born in 1932, C. H. Rockey came to Colorado as a young child. First a Marine and then a teacher, Rockey paid his dues before earning a chance to do what he truly loved – paint. He is one of the Pikes Peak region’s finest and least commercial artists. His whimsical images of a Tolkienesque ‘Manidoon’ will charm fantasy lovers the world over.
PATSY’S CANDY The product of an Irish popcorn vendor’s vivid imagination, this family-run business has been churning out delectable confections for decades. Tour the factory in Colorado Springs, where chocolate, taffy, and butterscotch popcorn are still produced using specialized machinery dating to the 1940s or give your kids a taste of the past at their original 930 Manitou Avenue location.
Right next door, an old-fashioned penny arcade houses an impressive antique and retro collection that includes pinball, coin-operated rides, 1964 skee ball, and the latest video games. Competing in 12-player mechanical horse-racing, you could win a fistful of tickets to exchange for prizes. A sweet treat for all generations, this whimsical spot will tickle your senses and put a smile on your face.