Using Google Flights I tracked some cheap destinations to visit from my home in Orlando and stumbled upon a $67 round-trip ticket on a budget airline to Colorado Springs. I’ve recently become infatuated with mountains and hiking thanks to a recent excursion to the Great Smoky Mountains so it took little hesitation to book a flight and start packing my bags. I saved $35 by only bringing a hiking backpack as my personal bag, $24 by not reserving a seat, and a whopping $135 by exploiting first-time user promotions on AirBnB and Lyft by creating a new email to receive discounts and travel credit back on my accommodations and transportation costs to make a total savings of $194.
Pikes Peak Cog Railway: For $38 you can take the popular railway train up to America’s Mountain round-trip hour and a half each way. Some hikers use the train to get to the summit and then hike their way down or to get to a halfway point where they don’t have to abandon their car for long periods of time. There are all too many great landscapes to snap a picture of although the seats aren’t the most comfortable and have no cushioning on top of the train regularly being completely full even during the off season. My biggest con is that the train gives passengers only 30-40 minutes to experience the summit where a few hours could easily be enjoyed here.
Pikes Peak Summit: It’s a no brainer why America’s Mountain is one of the most visited attractions in Colorado Springs despite boasting frigid temperatures year round. At 14,115 feet the summit offers a full panoramic view of the city as well as the rest of the immense mountain ranges. This was actually the first time I’ve seen snow as well at the age of 25 because the summit receives the first fall of snow and is so cold that it takes significantly longer for the snow to melt and dissipate. Dress warm no matter the season!
Garden of the Gods: Free to visit, Garden of the Gods is an expansive, jaw-dropping mountain park full of trails, hikes, and climbs and ranked as one of the top sights to visit for outdoor adventures. Note that rock climbers are required to be registered and certified in order to free climb or face a hefty fine – if they get caught.
Manitou Springs: A long, vibrant road full of shops, bars, breweries and unique attractions such as smoke shops and the Penny Arcade. Manitou is the place you just can’t not stop by to roam.
Penny Arcade: Located in the heart of Manitou Springs, the Penny Arcade is literally a block of arcade games from Rampage to Skeeball to pinball. On average, a play is 25 to 50 cents and can easily take up a couple of hours playing and earning tickets.
Cannabis Club: So how do membership clubs work? They are strictly recreational and require a small one-time membership fee such as $5 and are generally cash only. On average a gram is $10-$15 depending on the quality and edibles such as cookies and brownies range from $10-$20 each depending on the quality and quantity used in each batch. Do not eat an entire edible in one sitting, it slowly hits you over thirty to forty-five minutes and there is no go going back once it’s consumed so be wary.
On a side note I realized my youth days of being a snot-nosed paid off as I was not rusty rolling a blunt after several frees of sticking to a strict regimen of Jameson and Budweiser as my Achilles’ heel.
Cave of the Winds: $30 for an hour and a half lantern tour and $20 to go zip lining. I was pleasantly surprised by my experience here. The spooky ghost stories and the picturesque views from the observation deck and zip line really made this experience standout.
Red Rock Canyon Open Space: A haven for runners. What’s different here is the freedom you have to explore, as very few trails are closed or off-limits, and it’s just a picture perfect landscape to go running with your dog, friends, or by yourself.
Breweries & Food: I visited Colorado Mountain Brewery, Rocky Mountain Brewery, and Manitou Brewing Company during my stay but if I could only return to one I’d say my favorite was Rocky Mountain Brewery because they offered the best pulled pork sandwich from their food truck as well as three unique beers which were green chili, cherry, and pineapple flavored! I also had the best breakfast at Black Bear Diner for a mere $10 for a full plate of chicken fried steak and more!
Ghost Town Museum: A replica of an old western town for a mere $7 admission fee. It was smaller than expected and there were no other goers the entire duration but it was a scene straight out of Westworld!
Flying Frontier: My flight cost a grand total of $67 roundtrip. I didn’t reserve a seat and didn’t check a bag. A useful, new, and innovative app I’ve been using to find good flight is Fareness.com. For a 3.5 hour flight the lack of leg room wasn’t an issue because I generally had the whole row to myself! The plane as a whole was maybe half full so after takeoff everyone switched around to sit with their family and friends or to have a row to themselves.
Me Being Me: The first day I free climbed, also known as bouldering, in Red Rock despite it being prohibited, after the first five minutes a rubbed my backside against a much smaller and discreet cactus similar to the one pictured below. It was far from the highlight of my day pulling a dozen or so cactus pricks from by butt cheek.
AirBnB: $150-$85 Promotion=$65
Transportation: $108-$50 Promotion=$50
Food & Drinks: $185
Gifts & Miscellaneous: $95
Sum of All Costs for 5 Days: $562