Colorado Springs: A Vacation of the Gods (Win it!)

Colorado Springs is just one hour south of Denver but whenever we make the jaunt, it feels a world away. Katie (the PR rep) for the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has repeatedly invited me down for a visit and last weekend, we finally made it happen.

And I’m so glad we did.

The zoo is consistently ranked as one of the top in the nation. Set on a mountainside, the views are stunning, the exhibits interactive and we all fell in love with pretty much every aspect of it.

One of my kiddo’s favorite activities was feeding the giraffes, the most popular exhibit at the zoo.

I mean, who wouldn’t love seeing eye-to-eye with a giraffe and have his black, slimy tongue licking you?

I deferred to my delighted kiddos on this one.

Katie gave us a deluxe tour we will never forget that included getting up-close-and-personal with their two bears, Emmett and Digger. The zookeeper even let the kids toss them food through the fence.

 It was nice to be able to feed them without being worried we would be the meal.

Though Digger is eying Hadley pretty darn hungrily.

We were also delighted to see an orangutan paint. Yep, you heard correctly. Every Friday at 3 p.m., this is one of the zoo’s ultra-cool attractions. If you click the image below to enlarge, you will see the masterpiece he painted before our very eyes. 

Another cool moment was interacting with the elephants. Public access to them is not permitted until fall when the zoo will open Encounter Africa, a huge new plaza area featuring a traditional African tent with an amphitheater for guests to see elephant training, enrichment and husbandry.  Last week, we got to touch and feed them and also see how they are bathed.

Animal-obsessed Hadley has now decided she wants to be a zookeeper.

Next time, we’ll let her clean up poop to deem if she’s serious about it.

Garden of the Gods

Aptly named, this 1,377-acre otherworldly public park is one of our favorite destinations in Colorado Springs. Fifteen miles of hiking trails wind around the stunning red rock formations and this time, we stumbled upon an area where we could scramble around on the rocks.

Note: Rock climbing is usually only allowed with a permit and the nice lady at the visitor center told us we could not climb higher than 10 feet.

Don’t tell anyone but I think Hadley (whom I have dubbed “Adventure Girl“) may have scaled a wee bit higher and was paralyzed with fear trying to get down. Bode, on the other hand, seems to thrive when Hadley is freaking out. He brazenly leaped from rock-to-rock, taking uncharacteristic risks.

“Wow, Bode you are like Indian Jones!”

Cheyenne Mountain Resort

A few years ago, I was invited to visit this 217-acre, 316-room property with extraordinary mountain views of the Pikes Peak Region but had to decline. I wasn’t going to pass on the opportunity during this trip and we’ve vowed to return this summer when even more kid-friendly activities abound.

Cases in point: Saturday Zoo Breakfast with animals from the  Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Kids Splash Park, Bocce, Horseshoes and Volleyball at the Aquatics Center.The private 35-acre lake has sailing, swimming and bumper boats as well as sandcastle building on the beach, kids under 8 eat free and they have a new Cheyenne Kidz Camp.

See? Told you.

Though a lot of Cheyenne Mountain Resort’s activities will kick off Memorial Day weekend, a couple of our favorites included splashing around in the pool and roasting s’mores on the Mountain View Terrace of the Main Lodge.

We also watched an in-room movie, “We Bought a Zoo”–an appropriate choice given our experiences at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. When the movie was over, Hadley gave us THE look: the one that says, “Why are you not cool enough to go out and buy me a zoo?”

Maybe someday she’ll appreciate that our adventures in Colorado Springs more than make up for that.

If you live in Colorado or are hoping to come here this summer, be sure to go to Mile High Mamas to enter to win our two-night Family Getaway Package to Cheyenne Mountain Resort that also includes tickets to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

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