Pride Trip: Colorado Springs
By Joey Amato
Did you know that Colorado Springs is also known as Olympic City USA? Neither do I. Not only is the city home to the US Olympic Training Center, Colorado Springs recently celebrated the grand opening of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Museum, a magnificent state-of-the-art building presenting the history of the Olympic Games as well as the athletes who participated in them. The 60,000 square foot facility focuses on the core values of the Olympic and Paralympic movements: friendship, respect and excellence, determination, equality, inspiration and courage. The museum was voted “Best New Attraction” by United States today and it’s easy to see why.
Visitors enter a large hall and take an elevator to the top floor of the building where they can see a chronological history of Olympic and Paralympic torches, medals, and other artifacts. The museum is split between the summer and winter games, and the self-guided tour includes an emotional video highlighting America’s greatest Olympic triumphs as well as some of the challenges Team USA faced along the way.
The United States Olympic and Paralympic Museum is within walking distance of the new Landing of Kinship hotel so worth a visit. After a morning at the museum, grab a quick bite at the hotel restaurant, Home Café + Bar. I ordered the North Park sandwich, which consisted of roast pork, caramelized onions, banana peppers and served with black garlic aioli. It was a messy but delicious way to start my stay in Kinship Landing.
The hotel is intended as a gathering place. Many spaces in the lobby are designed for guests to mingle and socialize with each other. The hotel caters to a younger, more adventurous traveler looking to make friends and create wonderful memories along the way. This does not mean that the hotel is skimping on luxury. The bed was probably one of the most comfortable I’ve slept on.
A brief 15 minute drive from the property is the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, which was recently voted one of the best zoos in the country. While the setting is truly breathtaking, the zoo itself was a bit difficult to navigate. There have been a few times my guest and I had to go back and ask the zoo staff for directions as some of the exhibits weren’t clearly marked. Some of my favorite areas of the zoo included the penguin habitat as well as the Australian exhibit. Visitors can also purchase unique experiences, including the chance to feed elephants and giraffes.
For dinner, go to Paravicini’s Italian bistro, an old-fashioned Italian restaurant located in Old Colorado, or “OCC” as locals call it. The restaurant was featured in an episode of Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-in & Dives, and now I can see why Fieri was so in love with this place. The chicken marsala and penne bolognese were cooked to perfection. I wasn’t expecting a great Italian meal in Colorado, but I certainly had one.
Colorado Springs is home to two LGBTQ bars, Club Q and ICONS. Although I didn’t have a chance to visit Club Q, I passed through ICONS which is located in the heart of downtown. The Piano Bar is probably one of the best LGBTQ bars I’ve been to lately, not only for the theme, but also for the friendliness of the staff and the quality of the cocktails. The venue opened in 2020 and features a group of talented bartenders, who also perform throughout the evening, singing a variety of music from old standards to newer hits from icons such as Whitney Houston and Lady Gaga. .
The next part of my trip focused on wellness and nature. I started the morning with an amazing yoga class from Yoga Paddle Dragonfly where we did yoga on a paddle board in the middle of a lake. Prepare to use your core muscles for this one, or you’ll be soaked before class ends. The class meets at the boat launch of a man-made lake near downtown and paddles to an alcove surrounded by lush trees, with mountains in the background. At first I was hesitant to try and stand on the paddle board, but over time I gained confidence in my yoga skills (or lacking it) and was able to stand up and perform yoga poses on the paddle board. Some were harder than others, but I had a fabulous workout while enjoying the beautiful surroundings.
After having a light snack and a café au lait from Loyal coffee located just across from Kinship Landing, head towards the Cog railway and prepare to climb to an elevation of over 14,000 feet to the top of Pike’s Peak. The whole trip takes a little over an hour but is well worth it. The view from Pike’s Peak is spectacular and is believed to have been the origin of the song “America the Beautiful”. The original railway opened in 1891 and has been recently restored, making it the tallest cog railway in the United States and the longest in the world. Bring your camera for this trip!
End your Colorado Springs vacation with a visit to Garden of the Gods Resort and Club. Located just 15 minutes from downtown, the resort is located on the edge of Garden of the Gods Park and the view is simply stunning. Guests can dine on the mesa while watching the sunset over the mountains or get up early for a sunrise meditation.
As soon as I arrived at the hotel I went for a walk around the property and was overwhelmed by the beauty of the resort and the park itself. My room had two queen size beds and a huge bathroom with a walk-in shower and separate tub. I really didn’t spend much time there as I was too busy enjoying the natural wonders.
After a few days of visiting the city, I was very excited about my treatments at STRATA Integrated Wellness and Spa. I started my spa day with Functional Neurology, a complex science that uses signals from the body to reset the brain. Alternative therapy is used to properly align the musculoskeletal structure of the body and restore mobility. It’s like a combination of chiropractic and touch therapy. Speaking of touch therapy, I was fortunate to experience a wonderful treatment in which the therapist used her hands to help treat aches and pains. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the treatment was quite relaxing and I would do it again. I could feel the warmth and energy of her hands as she very lightly touched the problem areas.
My favorite treatment of the day, however, was the Royal Thai Poultice Massage, an 80-minute experience that combines an organic herbal poultice with Thai stretching and aromatherapy. What is it like for a day of care?
Start the next morning with the breathing and mindfulness work on the mesa led by STRATA wellness coach Kelly Stoinski. It’s rare that I get the chance to slow down, especially in the morning, but it was a perfect way to end an amazing tour.
Colorado Springs is a great place for LGBTQ travelers looking for a combination of outdoor adventure and city living. While the city itself is not as big as its neighbor to the north, it is very walkable, easy to navigate, and everything you need to discover is a 15-20 minute drive from the airport.
To book your gaycation in Colorado Springs, visit Orbitz.com/Pride.
Enjoy the trip!