One perfect day in Downtown Colorado Springs

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

A cafe with an artistic soul: A flock of white oragami cranes dangles from the ceiling of Shuga's, a sweet little cottage bistro on a residential street. Waiters will shuttle lavender-blossom martinis and Nicoise salads to your outdoor table under bright red umbrellas. $; closed Sun; 702 S. Cascade Ave.; 719/328-1412.

The art king: The Taylor Museum at the Fine Arts Center is the artistic big gun of the whole city. Outside, it's glass-and-concrete mod; inside, a mix of Old West cowboy paintings alongside newer pieces like Dale Chihuly glass sculptures. Wander the galleries and outdoor sculpture garden, then swing by Amuze at the FAC ($$$) for a bison pastrami Reuben and knockout views of Pikes Peak. $10; 30 W. Dale St.; csfineartscenter.org

Coffee, books, and vino: Poor Richard's has long been our go-to downtown bookstore, and it's still the bohemian haunt where local writers and artists hang. Next door, the coffee shop and wine bar, Rico's ($$) is the spot to sip java and eavesdrop, or catch live jazz. 320 and 322 N. Tejon St.; poorrichards.biz

Take home something you won't find anywhere else: Five minutes from downtown by car, Yobel Market is a new kind of indie store for Colorado Springs, with fair-trade accessories like Ugandan beaded necklaces and Cambodian silk purses. Bonus: The items you buy directly benefit the artisans who make them. 2528B W. Colorado Ave,; yobelmarket.com

Don't leave without hitting the classics

Hike in a red rock garden: The sandstone cliffs and spires rise almost from out of nowhere at Garden of the Gods. The wild red rock formations against the backdrop of snow-capped peaks in the distance guarantee a wow. Bring comfy shoes and a good camera, and keep an eye toward the sky to see rock climbers scaling the cliffs. Free; 1805 N. 30th St.; gardenofgods.com

Summit a mountain: The Pikes Peak Cog Railway is a train up to the sky. The bright red train chugs up the steep mountain in about an hour and a half, and drops you at the top of the 14,000-foot summit with see-forever views. Insider tip: Catch a morning train to avoid afternoon rainstorms at the top. $34 round-trip; cograilway.com

Hang with gold medalists: Take a guided tour of the U.S. Olympic Complex, where you might catch a glimpse of the athletes in training. Then stock up on Team USA swag at the gift shop. Free; no tours Sun; teamusa.org

Make it a weekend: The Broadmoor is a five-star grande dame with sprawling, country club-style grounds at the base of the foothills. Our perfect day includes a trip to the spa, a walk around the lake, and a beer at the hotel's Golden Bee pub ($$). From $300; broadmoor.com

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