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Introducing Colorado Springs

One of the nation's first destination resorts, Colorado Springs is now the state’s second-largest city and one of many faces. Its natural beauty and pleasant climate attract legions of visitors from around the globe, who come to ascend the summit of majestic Pikes Peak and admire the exquisite sandstone spires of the Garden of the Gods.

The city itself, however, lacks the cultural soul of Denver and Boulder, and its strange, sprawling quilt of neighborhoods – which encompass four military bases, the national epicenter of the evangelical movement, the old money of the Broadmoor, a small liberal arts college and the New Age holdout of Manitou Springs – can be difficult to navigate.

Nonetheless, a handful of sights, from the excellent fine-arts museum to the historic Air Force Academy, add to the undeniable appeal of the monumental Front Range. And the town's resilience in overcoming two equally devastating wildfires in 2012 and 2013, which destroyed some 850 homes in total, is certainly to be admired.

Visitors can best come to grips with the area by dividing it into three neighborhoods, connected by the east–west Colorado Ave and Hwy 24. Most travelers will naturally gravitate toward Manitou Springs, which is just beneath Pikes Peak and easily navigable on foot. East of here is Old Colorado City, the original town founded in 1860, whose Wild West dens of vice (21 saloons in four blocks!) now host restaurants and souvenir shops; to the north is the Garden of the Gods. Finally, further east across I-25 is the city itself, whose sights are spread far and wide.