One perfect day in Downtown Colorado Springs

See the artistic side of this laid-back Colorado town
Cheryl Meyers

Why go now: A spring day downtown is the best place to catch the up-and-coming art scene in bloom.

Old-school Springs: Fancy homes, the military (the Air Force Academy and Fort Carson are here), and conservative values.

The wilder side: Young artists and gallery owners are shaking up the Springs' staid reputation, and new galleries, shops, and cafes have created an artsy pocket downtown.

For the uninitiated: "If you talked to anyone five years ago about the art scene here, they would have laughed at you," says gallery owner Brett Andrus. Co-owner Lauren Andrus agrees: "This is becoming a place-to-be for art. The younger art scene is really rising up."

Picture it: A mix of high-rises and Old West architecture sprawled over several square miles best explored by car.

See it: Download the downtown Art on the Streets map (artonthestreets.com) for a walking tour of 52 outdoor sculptures.

Inspired eats: Miso-maple sausage and spicy pear sangria at Nosh ($$; closed Sun; 121 S. Tejon St.; 719/635-6674).

Alleyway art: Part of the fun of the Modbo and S.P.Q.R. galleries is that they feel like a secret. The two sister hubs are in a downtown alley known as the Alley Arts District. Owners Brett and Lauren Andrus have emerged as unofficial cultural ambassadors for the city, booking local artists and packing the galleries at night with live music, painting, and art-history classes. 17B and 17C E. Bijou St.; 719/633-4240.

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