11 Mile Marina

Eleven Mile Reservoir is a favorite summer destination for the locals!

11 Mile Marina is the perfect place to spend some time on the water in Colorado!

The marina is located just an hour outside of Colorado Springs in Lake George, Colorado. It’s an oasis for visitors and locals alike.

Eleven Mile Reservoir

11 Mile Marina is situated right on the shore of Eleven Mile Reservoir, so there’s no better starting point for all things water! Kayaks and canoes are available to rent, or even a pontoon boat. You can set sail for some sight seeing, or test your luck with a fishing pole. Eleven Mile Reservoir is part of Eleven Mile State Park. Feel free to hike or bike around the reservoir once you’re back on shore!

Rental Rates

Pontoons hold 10 people. Rental rates start at $150 for two hours, and go up based on size and duration of rental. Fuel charge is based on usage.

16-foot Lund fishing boats hold 5 people. Rental rates start at $89 for two hours. Fuel charge is based on usage.

Canoes and kayaks start at $40 for two hours.

Life jackets and whistles are provided (and required) for each person on the boat.

Fun in the Sun

We love kayaking around Eleven Mile Reservoir. Time flies with mountain views, rocky outcroppings, fish jumping and clear waters all around! It’s a perfect day trip, or even half-day trip. Kids are welcome!

Bring lots of sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat to protect yourself on the water. Our last trip was in July, and I wore long sleeves to help protect from the sun. I wasn’t hot and was glad for the extra protection.

Also, bring a water bottle to throw in the boat. I’ll suggest snacks, at least in the car. You’ll be surprised how hungry you are after a couple hours of kayaking or canoeing.

Things to Know

Fishing licenses are required for anyone over 16 and can be purchased at the marina. A State Park day pass ($8) is required for use of Eleven Mile Reservoir and is available at the marina.

Storms over the reservoir tend to roll in and out during the day, but mostly in the afternoon. I suggest getting an early start on the water to avoid the rain. During the summer, you may want to call ahead to make a reservation, or check availability of the boat you want.

The road to 11 Mile Marina is bumpy! Make sure your car can handle a bumpy mountain road.

Please note, swimming in the reservoir is not allowed. The water gets to about 50 degrees; even in the peak of summer it’s too cold to swim.

4224 County Road 92, Lake George | 11milesports.com | 719.748.0317 | Hours: Saturday/Sunday 7am – 7pm • Monday-Friday 8am – 6pm

The Space Foundation Discovery Center

The Space Foundation Discovery Center is located on the west side of Colorado Springs. It’s a great place for kids to spend an hour learning and exploring Earth’s oceans, Jupiter’s moons and everything in between.

The Discovery Center combines the excitement of space exploration with STEM-focused activities. Learn what life is like on the International Space Station while creating circuits and perfecting paper airplane aerodynamics. Then dive under the sea to drive submersible cameras and learn how NASA prepares for space travel by exploring the ocean.

The Discovery Center is great pit stop on the way to lunch with kids. My five year old had fun and even more fun in the gift shop!

Admission is inexpensive at $2 for toddlers (2-4), $5 for kids (5-17), and $10 for adults. Parking is easy and free.

discoverspace.org | 4425 Arrowswest Drive | Tuesday – Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Coffee Cottage

Stop by the Coffee Cottage for unique seasonal drinks like this custard latte–with a blend of eggnog, vanilla and cinnamon to put you in the holiday spirit! Photo Credit: @thecoffeecottageco via Facebook.

The Coffee Cottage is new in town, but has already found a special place among the locals.

They boast all organic coffee and pastries hoping to appeal to a health-conscious niche market in the small town of Woodland Park, but they succeed in serving great coffee to everyone who walks through the door.

Located in the group of shops near City Market grocery store, you’ll find them under the “coffee” sign near another Woodland Park favorite, AJ’s Pizza.

All organic and locally made. These “poptarts” are yummy and kid-approved.

Their owners take pride in their work and the things they offer; they have some unique treats as well as many of the coffee shop staples you’ve come to expect. But their coffee roast has a unique flavor that will mix up your normal order.

We’ve had several things from the Coffee Cottage including cappuccinos, lattes, flavored drinks, unflavored drinks, iced, hot–you name it. I think it’s well balanced and smooth, but the coffee they use has a hint of a smokey taste. It makes me feel like sitting around a campfire with a warm blanket and a warm cup of joe! I really like it, and because I only stop by when I’m “up the hill” – as those of us from Colorado Springs say when we visit the mountain towns up Ute Pass – it’s a pleasant surprise every time I return.

Have your coffee or tea your way, then grab a board game for some old-school fun.

The shop continues to grow; this is their first year in town, so they’re still getting settled. And I’ll be interested to see how the shop evolves and flourishes. The shop is filling in, and there are several regulars who use the space to study, have meetings or sit and relax. The Coffee Cottage also has a strong community mindset by lending a helping hand to other small creators in the area by displaying and selling local crafts, jewelry as well as other products.

I give the Coffee Cottage an 8/10. A solid score for their first few months in business.

Drive Through: No – plenty of free parking, though.

Kid Friendly: Yes – they can whip up a mean hot cocoa and there are some toys and games to play with, too. They really want everyone (even busy working moms with kids in tow) to stop by.

757 Gold Hill Place, Woodland Park, CO 80863 | thecoffeecottageco.com

Echo Canyon River Expeditions

Echo Canyon River Expeditions based out of Canyon City, Colorado.

Y’all, we had a BLAST with Echo Canyon River Expeditions.

As a rookie, I was apprehensive about this trip. I thought I was getting in over my head. Pun fully intended. I was convinced I would spend the trip flying through the air and into the Arkansas River. Aaron had gone before, so he tried to reassure me. But he’s taller, stronger and generally less inhibited than me, so… I didn’t believe him!

Let’s Go!

We chose an advanced group tour through the Royal Gorge in Canon City, which boasts lots of paddling, fast waters and level IV rapids! Aaron and I went with four friends; with our guide, that brought our boat total to seven.

We arrived in Canon City in the morning to check in, sign waivers, and get fitted for helmets and life jackets. They also have wetsuits, if you want. We went in early July, and the water and weather were warm. Our guide said that the 4th of July time-frame is typically when the water gets warm enough to go without a wetsuit. We were advised to wear moisture-wicking fabrics that would dry easily like swimsuits or exercise apparel. I’m a wimp in cold water, but I was never cold. In fact, we were never wet for very long with the sun shining. Please remember your sunscreen! Faces, necks, ears, and, if you’re wearing shorts, the tops of your legs will need it! I’ll also remind you to bring dry clothes, towels, sunglasses, snacks and water. You may want a snack while you’re waiting for your group to head out. For a half-day tour, we were on the water for a few hours, plus we arrived an hour early. That left a lot of time to get hungry. The Royal Gorge location has a restaurant, but if you want something before you go, order early–they’re busy! You can take water bottles on the boat with you.

Shipping Out

Around noon, we (and about 30-35 others) boarded a bus to go to our starting location. We got a brief safety run down, as well as general instructions on how to paddle and what to expect on the river. We got off the bus, were assigned a guide, and got ready to go. Our guides checked our life jackets one last time, did their own versions of the safety instructions and reminded us of the basic commands they use. Our guide was Berto, and guys, request him! He was funny, had a lot of little facts about the area and the river, and he was very laid back, so for a first-timer he was great.

We never tipped over, or flew out of the boat. I don’t think they can guarantee that every time; the river changes, weather changes and things happen, but no one in our entire group of 5-6 boats-full had a bad time. I know for certain that all 6 from my boat are eager to go again. It was fun going over some rapids and trying something new, and the Royal Gorge was amazing to see from the river.

Extra Info

We were bussed back to our starting location, and had some lunch at the restaurant. They have photographers lining the shores as you paddle by (and a GoPro on the front of the boat), and you can purchase photos after the trip. Leave your phone in the car. You won’t have service, so unless it’s super waterproof, just leave it. The check-in desk will keep your keys, so you don’t have to take those either.

Just an FYI, the guides do accept tips (though it’s not required), so you may want to bring some cash.

Let’s Go…Again!

All in all, we had a great time. 10/10! Echo Canyon offers tours for all levels of difficulty and all age ranges (starting at 4-5 years old). They have tours in Canon City through the Royal Gorge and in several mountain areas around Colorado including Vail, Breckenridge, Buena Vista and more.

For more information, you can find them online. You can book your tour on their website, or give them a call to ask questions and find the right trip for you.

800-755-3246 | INFO@RAFTECHO.COM | raftecho.com

 

The Perk Downtown

The Perk Downtown is located off of Tejon Street in the heart of Colorado Springs. Photo: @ThePerkDowntown via Facebook.

Colorado Springs is home to great coffee, and the Perk Downtown is a prime example. This fun and bustling cafe has great drinks and food which rank among the best in town. As you might expect, it’s located in the heart of downtown Colorado Springs on Tejon. Tejon Street is home to lots of local shops and restaurants as well as being the premier route for all parades and downtown celebrations.

Add to the chalkboard while you’re there.

The location creates a fun atmosphere because there are always people there with you. It’s energizing, and not just because of the caffeine! We went for the first time on a cold spring day, and it was easy to get warm inside. In warmer weather, it’s fun to sit outside and people-watch on Tejon Street, or there’s seating upstairs and on the roof for better views.

Our kids had a great time!

We took our kiddos and they had some hot cocoa while we had coffee. And I have to give props to the staff for understanding the habits of 2- and 4-year-olds. The cocoa came in to-go cups with lids. Parents get it. Lids.

Very smart.

The best soy latte I’ve ever had. I’ve tried to replicate it at home, I’ve tried to find a better one in town. So far, I can’t!

For those who don’t do dairy, I had a soy latte that has yet to be topped.

I’ll just throw this out there too, they serve cocktails. Bloody Marys and mimosas (among other things), for those of you who may be interested.

We give The Perk Downtown a 10/10. Great location, great options and fun atmosphere.

Drive Through: No – Parking meters in the downtown area take credit cards, and are free before 8 am and after 6 pm, Monday-Friday. They are free all day on Sundays and city holidays.

Kid Friendly: Yes

14 S Tejon St, Colorado Springs, CO 80903 | theperkdowntown.com

Pikes Peak Bike Tours

Get ready for a thrilling downhill ride with Pikes Peak Bike Tours.

The best way to experience Pikes Peak is on a bike! I’ve been to the top several times, but this was my first time coming down on two wheels instead of four.

Get Ready

Our guide Dan is ready to roll.

The day starts at the shop where everyone checks-in and grabs breakfast. From there we’re given a demonstration about the bikes, and pile into the vans for our ride up to the Peak.

The guides were fun and full of energy. Here’s my group leader Tyler.

Pikes Peak Bike Tours has truly great guides to lead you on this adventure. Our guides, Wes, Tyler, Dan, Calie, and Austin, were very personable, and spoke to everyone as if we were long-time friends.

Wes and Tyler lead my group, and as we drove, they kept the conversation going with fun tidbits about Pikes Peak and the surrounding area. They discussed what we could expect from the weather and also what to expect on the trip back down.

The Summit

At the top, we spent 15-20 minutes to visit the gift shop and take in the view. I wish we had a few more minutes to take photos at the top, but I was excited for the ride to begin.

My friend Daniel and I were ready!

It’s very cold up on the Peak year round, so make sure you bring a sweater and a windbreaker. PPBT has loaner gloves and some spare clothes, but it’s best to come prepared. Sunglasses and sunscreen are always good things to wear for any activity in Colorado.

Soon the bikes were unloaded, and we were given a few minutes to ride around to gain our mountain legs for the trip to the bottom. We had one more safety/instructional huddle, then we were split into two groups, fast and slow. You pick your group based on your comfort level. The slow group allows people to travel back down at their own pace. Our fast group guide, Tyler, explained we would be traveling at speeds around 25 miles per hour most of the way down.

Only One Way Down

The views really are second to none.

Tyler led the group the whole way down; Wes followed in the van. The slow group was sandwiched between the other two vans for the trip down. Anytime cars needed to pass, we pulled off to the side of the road. I never felt nervous about the cars because our guides were so at ease and handled the whole group really well. We took a few stops along the way for photos and to let everyone catch up. If you wanted to switch the group you were in, you were allowed to switch at these stopping points.

There are three short climbs on the trip. Our guides had no problem tossing a bike back up on the van to chauffeur reluctant participants uphill like a V.I.P.

Once we made it to the bottom, everyone piled back in the vans, and they drove us to Old Colorado City for lunch. The meal and tip for the server are included in the ticket price, so you can walk in, sit down and eat without worry. After lunch, you return to the shop, where the trip ends. The group I ate lunch with decided to walk the few blocks back to the shop. The walk was a nice way to stretch my legs after being on the bike that long.

When Can I Go Again?

I had such a great time, and no matter how many times I reach the summit, the view always takes my breath away.

Going up and back down in a car is a nice experience, but to come back down on a bike with no walls or windows is exhilarating. The rush of the cold wind, and the steep views from all around are some of best experiences I’ve ever had. Not to mention, when you get back to town, you can look up at Pikes Peak and say, “I rode down that on a bike!”

I have to give a HUGE thank you to the staff of Pikes Peak Bike Tours for an amazing trip. PPBT has even more ways to experience the area with tours along Gold Camp Road and even special event tours like their Fourth of July Fireworks Ride. I’ll definitely be coming back for another trip!

Pikes Peak Bike Tours | bikepikespeak.com | (719) 337-5311

Farmers Markets in the Pikes Peak Region

What better way to embrace Colorado in all its glory than to dine on locally grown food? Ladies and gentlemen, it’s farmer’s market time. I can’t tell you how happy this makes me.

Please promise me you’ll try some Palisade peaches before you go home.

Colorado Springs Farmers Markets

Information from VisitCoS.com

Mondays

Western Museum of Mining and Industry, 225 North Gate Blvd; 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.; July – October

Tuesdays

Fountain Farmers Market, 116 S. Main St.; 2 – 7 p.m. May 30 – Aug. 1

Canon City Farmers Market, Veterans Park; 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.  June 6 – Sept 26

Wednesdays

Briargate Farmers Market, 7610 N. Union Blvd.; 9 a.m. -3 p.m. May 23 – Oct. 10

Western Museum of Mining and Industry, 225 North Gate Blvd; 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.; July – October

Colorado Farm & Art Market at the Pioneers Museum, 215 S. Tejon St.; 3 – 7 p.m. June through mid October

Fountain Community Market, 116 S. Main St.; 2 – 6 p.m. June 7 – August 27

Thursdays

Memorial Park, 1605 E. Pikes Peak Ave.; 7 a.m. – 1 p.m. TBD

Banning Lewis Ranch, 6885 Vista Del Pico Blvd.; 3 – 7 p.m. June 7 – September 13

Manitou Community Market, Soda Springs Park; TBD

Fridays

Buffalo Bicycle Lodge, 2 El Paso Blvd; 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. June 8 – September 7

Saturdays

Personal FavoriteOld Colorado City Farmers Market, W. Colorado Ave & 24th St.; 7 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. June 9 – October 20

Monument Hill Farmers Market, 66 S. Jefferson St.; 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. May 26 – October 13

Colorado Farm & Art Market at Margarita at Pine Creek; 7350 Pine Creek Rd.; 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. June through Mid October

Colorado Springs Flea Market, 5225 E. Platte Ave; 7 a.m. – 4 p.m.

The Promenade Shops at Briargate, 1885 Briargate Parkway; 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. June 9 – September 29

Sundays

Downtown Colorado Springs, Acacia Park, 115 E. Platte Ave.; 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. June 25 – September 3 (free parking meters on Sundays)

Cordera, 11894 Grandlawn Cir.; 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. June 3 – September 16

Colorado Springs Flea Market, 5225 E. Platte Ave; 7 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Daily

Spencer’s Lawn & Garden Center, 1430 S. Tejon St.; Monday – Saturday 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Woodland Park Farmers Markets

Information from Teller County Farmers Market Assoc.

Fridays

8 a.m. – 1 p.m.

There is a summer farmers market in Woodland Park, in Memorial Park / Henrietta Avenue near the Cultural Center. The market begins the second Friday in June and goes through September. You can park across from City Hall on South Avenue, at the Senior Center (please leave spaces for seniors close to the building), next to the Ute Pass Cultural Center, in Bergstrom Park off Hwy 24, and at various public parking lots in downtown Woodland Park. It’s easy to park on a residential street and walk to the farmers market.

Story Coffee

Story Coffee in Colorado Springs
Story Coffee truly has a unique story of how they got to where they are, and they believe everyone who walks through their door has a unique story of their own. Photo: Facebook/@storycoffeecompany

Story Coffee–self proclaimed “first tiny house coffee shop in the world”– is located in downtown Colorado Springs on the edge of Acacia Park. And it’s exactly what you’d think when you hear “tiny house coffee shop.” It’s tiny.

The interior is wide enough for two people to stand side by side and place their orders at the counter, and long enough for a few more sets to stand behind. It’s definitely not big enough for my 4- and 2-year-olds to run around like they wanted. But that’s the point.

The splash pad in Acacia Park is right next to Story Coffee, while the rest of downtown unfolds behind the park.

The owners of Story Coffee have lived the minimalist life for years. They sold their house and most of their possessions and hit the road with their two kids, collecting memories and mileage instead of stuff. They traveled the country exploring as a family, tasting great coffee, and learning from coffee shop owners from coast to coast.

The shop used to live in a different part of the Springs, until a few years ago when it was “parked” near Acacia Park during the busy holiday season as a test run. And Acacia Park has been the home of Story Coffee since.

The shop has a lovely deck if you want to sit. Because it’s inside the park and so near downtown, the setting encourages you to talk to other people while sipping your coffee or set off to explore downtown.

Playground in Acacia Park.
The playground is great for the little ones while mom and dad fuel up with some caffeine.

Our kids loved playing on the playground while my husband waited for our coffees. In the summertime, Acacia Park is packed because they turn on the splash pad, and kids can’t get enough. Concerts are put on just behind Story Coffee on the outdoor stage. Also, Tejon Street has shops, restaurants, and it’s the parade route for every event in the Springs.

My coffee was hot, smooth and light. It was the perfect thing for walking on a bright spring day.

Photo: Facebook/@storycoffeecompany

They sell some pastries but don’t have a full kitchen, so you won’t be able to order a full meal. They don’t have a huge variety, but the things they do, they do well. The shop is popular, so the line is long. There was only one person working when we were there, so things took a while. But remember, their shop has limited square footage. There’s not enough room for lots of employees. But it was worth the wait.

All in all, we give Story Coffee a 9/10.

Kid Friendly: Yes

Drive Through: No. And if you park on a weekday, many streets have parking meters (but the meters take credit cards).

120 E Bijou St, Colorado Springs, CO 80903 | storycoffeecompany.com

My Sweet Escape Bakery & Cafe

My Sweet Escape Bakery and Cafe in Woodland Park, Colorado
My Sweet Escape Bakery and Cafe is on the corner of Highway 24 and Elm in Woodland Park’s Gold Hill Square.

Guys, it was yummy.

My Sweet Escape is a cute bakery on the corner of Gold Hill Plaza in Woodland Park, Colorado. As the name suggests, the shop is full of yummy baked treats from cupcakes and cookies to flaky pastries filled with berries and cream. Needless to say, if you leave unsatisfied, it’s your own fault.

Not only does My Sweet Escape have many bakery favorites, it also has a full menu from stews, sandwiches and great sides, to their famous Czech kolaches and hamburgers. We went with our kids, then drove on to Mueller State Park for a day of exploring.

Red Velvet Cream Cheese Muffins!

112 South Elm Street, Woodland Park, CO 80863 | mysweetescapebakery.com

Costello Street Coffee House

Costello Street Coffee House in Florissant, Colorado.
Costello Street Coffee House was renovated from the historic McLaughlin House in Florissant, Colorado. The house was built in 1885 for the McLaughlins, a prominent family in the area, who lived right next door to the founders of Florissant, the Costellos.

Be careful, don’t blink! If you do, you might miss all of Florissant, Colorado, on your way through. Like many mountain towns throughout Colorado, the bustling metropolis of Florissant is comprised of a small cluster of shops. If you’re not paying attention, you might pass it by.

However, this small town, located at the intersection of Highway 24 and Teller County Rd 1, is worth slowing down for.

It has a convenience store and gas station, so it’s a good place for a pit-stop. But it’s also home to some great food.

Costello Street Coffee House has a Victorian interior design.
The Victorian style of Costello Street Coffee House makes it unique and homey. Get cozy by the fire with your drink of choice.

Costello Street Coffee House is a fun place to stop and refresh. The historic McLaughlin House in Florissant now serves steamy cups of coffee and tasty treats, while maintaining the cozy feeling of going home!

The home was built in 1885 for the McLaughlins during the height of the Victorian era. The McLaughlins were a prominent family in the Florissant area,  and the interior reflects their Victorian style to this day.

Costello Street Coffee House has a full menu if you want a bite for lunch, or you can grab a pastry to go. You’ll find all the staple coffee-shop drinks. I got a chai tea. I’m not usually a fan of chai, but this was tasty. To me, chai tastes like Christmas. It has the same smell as the boxes of Christmas decorations we unpacked each year. I think that’s why I don’t get it often; it seems out of place in months that aren’t December! But I can definitely see myself coming back around Christmas for another chai tea while getting cozy in front of the fireplace.

They have a full menu.
They have a full menu as well as delicious pastries to choose from.

Florissant is an hour from Colorado Springs, and an hour and a half from Breckenridge, so it works as a perfect midway point. Pike National Forest, The Florissant Fossil Beds, and Mueller State Park are all 10-20 minutes away. You can stop by Costellos to grab some breakfast before venturing into the Pikes Peak area. Then finish your day by exploring Colorado Springs and Garden of the Gods before heading back up Ute Pass and into the mountains surrounding the Florissant area.

All in all, I give Costello Street Coffee House a 6/10. I don’t think they have a lot of unique things to offer, but what they have is consistent and good. It’s definitely worth checking out, especially if you’re staying in our Florissant Family Retreat, only 10 minutes away!

Kid Friendly: Yes

Drive through: No

2679 US Hwy 24, Florissant, CO 80816costellostreetcoffeehouse.com