Much to do in Manitou, Colorado

See just how charming a historic mountain town can be
Lori L. Midson

The Native American founders of Manitou Springs couldn't have picked a happier home, tucked between the Garden of the Gods and majestic Pikes Peak. Still bubbling with drinkable mineral water, this now-bohemian enclave boasts whimsical shops, a slew of really good restaurants, and miles of nature trails.

Spend the morning hiking or exploring a 19th-century castle before whiling away the afternoon ― just like the old days ― at one of the country's last penny arcades.

The Cliff House Dining Room.
What:
Fireside dining in Victorian grandeur. Feast on contemporary global fare made from regionally grown ingredients. When: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily; reservations recommended. How much: $$$$. Where: 306 Cañon Ave.; 719/785-2415.

Paul Intemann Memorial Nature Trail.
What:
A low-key 2.5-miler along the trail's eastern section, lined with killer views. When: Open daily. Where: From Manitou Ave., go west under U.S. 24. Turn left onto Crystal Park Rd., then drive about 1 mile. www.intemanntrail.com or 719/473-4143.

The Loop.
What:
Mean and massive margaritas. A fave is the Fruit Loop, made with Sauza Silver, Cointreau and Chambord. When: Lunch and dinner daily. How much: $. Where: 965 Manitou Ave.; 719/685-9344.

 

Safron.
What:
A closet-size gem crammed with vintage denim, ruffled velvet handbags, and more. When: Noon-dark Tue-Sun. Where: 116 Cañon Ave.; 719/237-2796.

Miramont Castle.
What:
Forty-six rooms and nine architectural styles, built in 1895. Hit the Queen's Parlor for tea. When: Castle 10-4 Tue-Sun before May 29; 9-5 Tue-Sun May 29-Sep 4. Tearoom 11-4 Tue-Sat. How much: Castle admission $6; tearoom $. Where: 9 Capitol Hill Ave.; 719/685-1011.

Arcade Amusements.
What:
A block-long tribute to pre-PlayStation days ― complete with kiddie rides, coin-operated fortune tellers, and pinball machines, some still costing just a penny. When: Open daily. Where: 900 block of Manitou Ave.; 719/685-9815.

Info: Manitou Springs is 65 miles south of Denver. Take I-25 toward Colorado Springs and take exit 141 at U.S. 24 west.