The Hidden and Not so Hidden Gems of Manitou Springs

By: Mackenzie Winebold


Spring has sprung in Colorado, making it the perfect time to get out there and explore the Manitou Springs area. (Before tourist season really starts)! From unique shopping, dining and historic finds to scenic hiking trails, there is a little bit of everything in Manitou that’ll feed your desire for adventure. Here is a list of Manitou’s hidden and not so hidden gems for you to check out!


Manitou Incline

The Manitou Incline is officially legal to hike (not that it stopped Coloradans before!), and offers the best aerial view of Manitou Springs around. After climbing all 2,744 steps, you’ll have reached the summit-an impressive feat!

If you intend to hike the Incline, be sure to bring plenty of water, clothing that is suitable for the weather, and wear a good pair of hiking shoes. You should also be aware of the signs of altitude sickness, as this one-mile hike comes with a 2,000-foot increase in elevation.
Still interested? To access this trail, you’ll need to hop on the free shuttle that runs between Memorial Park in the heart of Manitou Springs and the base of the Incline.


Infamous Manitou Penny Arcade

This arcade will bring back tons of nostalgic feels. The arcade boasts hundreds of games ranging from original skee-ball to a 12-person horse race. You will quickly see that the arcade still has a lot of its original features, which date back to the early 1900’s, wh making it even more charming and authentic. The arcade is the size of a full-block so it may require a couple visits to hit every game they have to offer.

You can check out more of the arcade’s history while you’re there as there are pictures above most of the games with some historical facts and early pictures. The arcade has several change machines, but be sure to also bring your dimes, nickels and pennies as many of the games still operate on them!


Barr Trail 

Barr Trail is another hot spot here in Manitou Springs, as this hike will bring the brave of heart to the top of Pikes Peak, which inspired the song, “America the Beautiful”. In 6.5 miles, you’ll have climbed an astounding 3,800 ft. in elevation, most of which is accomplished in the first three miles of the trail.

Similarly to the Incline, you’ll want to bring plenty of water, snacks to keep your energy up, and clothes that are appropriate for all types of weather, as you may experience dramatic differences in temperature/weather as elevation increases.

This trail can also be accessed using the free shuttle bus from Memorial Park to the base of the Incline.


Miramont Castle

Located in the foothills or Pikes Peak, you will be blown away upon setting foot inside the Miramont Castle. The castle boasts over 14,000 square feet and 40 rooms. What makes the Miramont castle so unique is nine different styles of architecture that can be found here. The design for the castle came from the original owner, Father Francolon, who wanted to incorporate all his favorite designs. From English Tudor to domestic Elizabethan to gothic, the list goes on.

For a very small fee, you can tour the beautiful castle and even make reservations in their tea room. Be sure to check out their website for hours and menu options. The Miramont castle has a vast and interesting history just waiting to be heard!


SunMountain Center and SunWater Spa

Nestled in the red rocks of Manitou, you will find the historic Rockledge and Onaledge homes. SunMountain Center emerged once purchasing these turn-of-the century homes. SunMountain operates as a bed and breakfast and retreat center,  turning these homes into places straight out of a fairytale. With much of the original architecture and charm, you’ll find something special around every corner.

SunMountain Center hosts weekend retreats aside from bed and breakfast stays. All breakfasts served are vegan, organic and sourced local as well as from their on-site farm. You will find several meditation trails on the properties three acres. During your stay, be sure to take advantage of your complimentary two-hour mineral water soak at SunWater Spa. The spa offers seven, heated cedar tubs for soaking in the infamous Manitou mineral waters that are drawn from the Seven Minute Spring across the street. The spa acts as a yoga studio as well, offering an array of classes for all levels wanting to deepen their practice.


Manitou Cactus Store

Located on Ruxton Ave. is the quaint Manitou Cactus store. You can find the perfect cactus, succulent or other plant here, all within a very reasonable dollar amount. The greenhouse offers all sizes of plants. If you’re looking for the perfect cactus for your office or one that will reside in your living space, this is your go-to shop!


Garden of the Gods

You won’t want to miss out on the iconic Garden of the Gods. With 15 miles of hiking trails at various difficulties, there is truly something for every adventurer in the park. From the wheelchair and stroller accessible Perkins Trail which will bring you to iconic rock formations such as Kissing Camels rock, to more challenging trails like the Siamese Twins, you’re sure to find the adventure you’re looking for at Garden of the Gods.


Anna’s Apothecary

Opened in 2012 by two sisters, who dedicate themselves to serving the Earth and its people with holistic healing. Anna’s Apothecary offers in-house made remedies, Tonics, Tinctures, Salves and Elixers. All items grown, produced and sold are natural, organic and non-gmo. You can visit their website or stop in the shop to see the abundant amount of natural remedies they have to offer.


With these just being some of the amazing attractions Manitou has to offer, be sure to check out for even more attractions and adventures out there that are waiting for you.