Friendships are timeless. Women have celebrated the connection between a kindred spirit since the beginning of time, whether it was chatting at the community laundry, gossiping across a fence, huddled together at a social dance, or soaking up each other’s presence with a glass of wine or coffee at a favorite café. There is nothing quite like the anticipation of spending an afternoon or evening with good friends. Women, especially, benefit from this sacred time with their “soul sisters”. A close friend is like having a retreat at your fingertips – available at a moment’s notice. Excellent wine and great friends, when combined, have the power to dissolve the stress of work and home, allowing a few brief hours to re-energize and enjoy a bit of soul care.
[Portions of this article can also be found in Colorado Fun Magazine]
Most of us relish the thought of gathering with friends for a night of friendly chatter over dinner or afternoon coffee as often as possible. So, what would be better than a few hours with friends over food? How about an entire day, or even weekend, shopping, dining, and exploring!
With so many fantastic opportunities in Southern Colorado, we thought we would put together suggestions, based on various localities of Southern Colorado, of locally-owned places to shop, things to do, and food to enjoy with your friends so as to encourage you to plan extended time of friendship and fun! Each region is a full day in and of itself, so plan now to make a special trip to explore what each city has to offer.
Manitou Springs/Old Colorado City
MANITOU SPRINGS: Just the thought of spending the day in Manitou Springs and Old Colorado City makes me giddy. Many locals think these two areas are simply for tourists and if you have never been you are missing out! Ideally, you need a full day for EACH district, but you can still have an enjoyable time with friends exploring both areas in one day due to their proximity to each other. If you are coming from out of town, we recommend staying in one of the many bed & breakfasts in Manitou for an unforgettable Girl’s Getaway.
- Start your day with breakfast at Adams Mountain Cafe (26 Manitou Ave.). Get outside of your box and eat at the community table to make new friends!
- Shops on Manitou Ave open at 10 am. Feast your eyes on galleries galore, trinkets, and the inspirational.
- Don’t miss the lower Cañon Ave, just off the main road. Anna’s Apothecary (116 Cañon Ave.) is a favorite shop. Whatever ailments you may have, Anna probably has a flavorful herbal tea mix or tincture ready for you. Reignite Thyself Tea is my go-to tea.
- Browse the Cotton Club Boutique(1 Ruxton Ave.) a staple in Manitou. They carry lines from Sea Breeze, Dairi, Parsley and Sage, and more.
- Visit The Olive Tap (906 Manitou Ave) for tastings of flavor-infused olive oil and vinegar. If you love to cook, a berry-infused vinegar will take you to the next level!
- Pyramide Clothing Co. (735 Manitou Ave) specializes in eco-friendly, fair trade apparel and accessories.
- Stop for a snack at the Mate Factor (966 Manitou Ave), a hip and gluten-free cafe with a heavily rustic decor. Grab a large mug of yerba mate and be sure to try one of their gigantic carob chip cookies!
- Swirl Wine Bar (717 Manitou Ave) is always a fun diversion. If you have a group of friends, call Swirl Bar ahead of time and schedule a wine tasting. It is fun, informative, and sometimes includes a tour of their wine-making facility.
- If you love art, scoot up Ruxton Ave and visit a few of the galleries such as Tracey Miller and Fare Bella.
OLD COLORADO CITY: A 5-minute drive down Colorado Ave. from Manitou Springs brings you to Old Colorado City. Look for the Free Parking signs, or paid parking is available on the street.
- Agia Sophia(2902 W Colorado Ave.) Your first stop is an intriguing two-story historical stone building. Voted best coffeehouse atmosphere in the city, it is one of my favorite places to write or study. Yet, the biggest surprise Agia Sophia has to offer is not just the French-press coffee or Italian Sodas, but the boutique hidden in the back.
- Daisy In A Bottle. On of my favorite spots to shop, hidden within the walls of Agia Sophia, Daisy In A Bottle has brands such as Others Follow, White Crow, Free People, and Bedstü. It is entirely unexpected and adorable!
- Elly Blue (2605 W. Colorado Ave) Favors a classic, upscale-ranch attitude. A slightly higher price point, but you’ll find the clothes magazines are made of.
- Barracuda Bazaar (2603 W. Colorado Ave.)Possibly one of the most popular boutiques in the city. Young, eclectic, whimsical. They also have the best window displays around town. The ladies who work there are loads of fun and just being inside the store makes you happy.
- Yellow Mountain Tea House (2616 W. Colorado Ave). Loose leaf teas. Enjoy a traditional Chinese Tea Ceremony and learn proper brewing and health benefits of tea.
- Squash Blossom (2531 W. Colorado Ave) The best selection of fabulous jewelry! They have been here since 1973 and always have the most unusual items.
- Febra’s (2532 W. Colorado Ave) Affordable fashion and unique local artwork. Whimsical and eclectic. Febra and her staff are so friendly and make you feel like part of the family.
- Pink Cadillac is brand new. Located in a stand-alone building at 1635 W. Colorado Ave. Fresh looks with a vintage, western vibe.
- Other stores that you will want to make sure to visit: 45 Degrees, Beth’s Boutique, Bella’s Boutique, Jen’s Place, Sante Fe Springs, Willy’s Emporium, and the famous Eve’s Revolution.
- For a yummy snack, grab a caramel apple from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory (2431 W. Colorado Ave.).
- Looking to do something different? We recommend the performances at Simpich Marionette Shows (2413 W. Colorado Ave.) or browsing the Michael Garmen Gallery (2418 W. Colorado Ave). Both companies are part of the rich culture and heritage of Colorado Springs.
- 2 South Wine Bar (2 South 25th St) has the atmosphere for winding down after a long day. I recommend the Fromage Board to start, and if you happen to be out on a Wednesday, it is 1/2 off wine bottles.
Downtown Colorado Springs
Think you’ve done it all in Colorado Springs? Downtown will easily keep you and your friends busy for a day. Here’s our idea of a Girl’s Day in downtown:
- Breakfast at Springs Orleans (123 E. Pikes Peak). Enjoy Eggs Etouffee or Banana Fosters French toast for a leisurely breakfast. Finish off a mimosa and hit Tejon Street for shopping.
- Vie Boutique (8 S. Tejon). Take in the gorgeous floral arrangements while browsing the free-spirited style of clothing.
- Cacao Chemistry (109 N Tejon): No words necessary. Experience the velvety texture of the handcrafted chocolate creations. Created in-house. Free samples. I recommend the Elvis and Pear and Port flavors!
- After indulging in chocolate, be sure to browse Regina’s, What’s In Store, and Bang Bang. All three of these boutiques have been a staple in downtown for many years.
- Hooked On Books. I love this new used bookstore at 10 E. Bijou. Spend an hour enjoying the scent of old books and digging for a hidden treasure.
- Terra Verde (208 N. Tejon). The most well-known boutique in town. A bit of everything from unique gifts, home decor, apparel, shoes, and even kid’s clothes.
- Izzy’s Gifts (224 N. Tejon) Fairly new to downtown, they carry exclusive finds, like handcrafted fine jewelry by local artisan Kristin Haviland and collectible brands such as Nora Fleming, and Colorado-based Lollia.
- Hop across the street to Story Coffee Company. You can’t miss it, A Tiny House coffee shop located at the south end of Acacia Park. Warm up with fresh-brewed coffee or hot chocolate.
- Skate In The Park. Tempt your inner child by tying on a pair of ice skates and skating a few rounds. Maybe twirl or two? Available November through January.
- Colorado Co-op (315 N. Tejon). After a fun skate, wander into this favorite local boutique that relies mainly on word-of-mouth. Inventory is selective, upscale, and always fresh.
- Poor Richards (320 N. Tejon). A downtown staple. Bookstore, gift shop, cafe, wine bar, and kid’s store all rolled into one. It is a traditional Colorado Springs experience.
- There are so many shops in downtown to keep you busy! A few more great shops include Tailored West, Sparrowhawk Cookware, Bellissima, Halo Boutique, & CJ Card. All located on Tejon St.
By this point, your feet will need some pampering, and you could use a drink. Luckily, downtown has the Beauty Bar (24 N Tejon), the highlight of any Ladies Night (or Day) Out. A tranquilizing pedicure side-by-side with a good friend, while sipping on a glass of wine is the PERFECT way to round out a day of shopping (can I get an Amen!).
Shopping and exploring in Buena Vista and Salida is the ultimate weekend getaway! Plan to stay a night in a boutique hotel in South Main, or, even better, at Mt. Princeton Hot Springs and soak in the warm pools. Start your shopping adventure in Buena Vista then it’s a short drive over to Salida. With an overnight stay planned, you have a magical Girl’s Weekend and plenty of time to enjoy the shops and cafes at a much more leisurely pace.
BUENA VISTA: The views in Buena Vista are unmatchable. However, at first glance, you may not think the town has much to offer. Don’t be fooled! A trip down Main Street (just off of Hwy 24) reveals a few great shops, cafes, and an interesting museum, but as you continue further along Main, the road turns, and suddenly you are in a European village. It’s a gem, and most people have no idea it exists. South Main consists of beautiful townhomes and cobblestone streets nestled along the Arkansas River with a view of the Collegiate Peaks and has a quaint, European-Mountain vibe that makes you not want to leave.
- MADE Lifestyle Boutique and Studio,(900 South Main Street). I imagine discovering a boutique like this in Telluride, Jackson Hole, or other popular tourist towns, yet here is a bright, delightful and gorgeous boutique in a quiet mountain town. It is very inviting, and I quickly found a sweater tunic I still wish I bought. They have a great selection of apparel, scarves, and jewelry – and reasonably priced.
- Rock Run Gallery (902 South Main Street). Artist-owned shop. A wide variety of jewelry, pottery, glass, textiles.
- Sundance & Friends, (111 River Park Rd.). A real local treasure! Nearly everything in the shop is made right here by the owners. Sheepskin and leather footwear, hats and accessories.
- The Village, (414 E. Main St.). Handcrafted and Fair-trade goods in a historical, lovely brick building.
- The Trailhead, (402 E. Main St.). For the outdoor enthusiasts! Fun t-shirts, active gear, and active wear. A large, modern store that also features an eatery.
In between stores, relax at The Midland Stop for local, fresh-roasted coffee. In the mood for oven-fired pizza and beer? Across the street you’ll find, Eddyline Restaurant – one of the best places for lunch or dinner!
SALIDA: A short 20-minute drive from Buena Vista. Salida is a hub for artists and high-quality resale shops. There are over 20 artist studios and galleries in the Creative District.
- Drift & Amble (110 W. 1st St.). This shop is adorable! Even better, they print all their own apparel! Hats, tees, mugs, and cards. Very creative folks and great products.
- Fabulous Finds (139 W. 1st St.). If you love resale, you will enjoy this boutique! I immediately noticed their incredible selection of Native American jewelry. Great brands, and like-new products.
- J2 Softwear (136 F St.). Handcrafted fleece vests, jackets, dog beds. Owner Julie has her workshop set up right in the store. Everything is handcrafted and beautifully done. Her style and craftsmanship were impressive.
- YOLO (100 F Street). I fell in love with this shop! The best merchandising and excellent products. Take time to browse the whimsical gifts, intoxicating perfume, and trendy clothes.
- Opal Boutique (128 F Street). A contemporary and fun women’s boutique you don’t want to miss.
- Mountain Spirit Winery (8046 W HWY 50). Finish off the day with a wine tasting and a lovely meal at this local, family-owned winery, shop, and grill.
Often overlooked, these two cities still provide enough for a full day of store-hopping and wine-sipping!
- Winery at Holy Cross Abbey (3011 E. US Hwy 50). An excellent start to the day is at the gift shop and tasting room of The Winery located on the beautiful grounds of Holy Cross Abbey. While you will miss out on the lush vineyards of the summer and fall, the shop is no less delightful – and busy! They offer an impressive selection of free tastings, plus additional premium wine tastings for only a $1/ea. Discover the rich history of the Abbey while you sip wine and shop. I recommend arriving first thing (they open at 10) as the tasting room gets quite busy.
- The French Bakery and Coffeehouse (518 Royal Gorge Blvd) is next on your stop. Enjoy French Pastries and coffee, or a light lunch. Converted from an old house, the bakery has a few cozy rooms perfect for catching up.
- Vintage Revival (501 Royal Gorge Blvd), located across the street from the French Bakery. Do not miss this shop! It will easily become your new favorite go-to boutique when you want to steal away and get lost in a dream. Beautiful selection of upcycled items, vintage replicas, and everything shabby chic or French-inspired.
- Tailored West (224 Main St): Western chic boots and apparel, plus the best selection of layering pieces by Elietian. They also create designs specifically for their customers for truly one-of-a-kind clothing and even have a tailor shop located in the back of the store. Stop in to see their latest projects!
- Bella Capelli Salon & Boutique (617 Main Street). Boho chic and recycled-inspired apparel and accessories. Creative merchandising and worthwhile selection.
PUEBLO: Save a few hours for shopping in Pueblo. Head East on Hwy 50 from Cañon City and within a short drive you arrive in Pueblo. There you can explore the Riverwalk.
- Arrive hungry and enjoy a late lunch or early dinner at Mr. Tandoori Urban Bar. Indian food with a fun atmosphere and awesome service. You won’t be disappointed!
- Bellezza Design Boutique (102 S. Victoria Ave) A design co-op and makers market. That means you never know what you’ll find, but it will be locally made!
- Seabels Boutique (105 W C. Street). A fun and youthful store. Unique sports apparel for women, accessories, Free People clothing.
- Formulary 55 (423 W. 4th St) If you happen to be in Pueblo the first Friday of the month, this is a must-stop! An old brick building converted into manufacturing, store, and urban loft. They manufacture sweet smelling products for bath, face, body, and home. Sold worldwide. Plan ahead to experience this treat.
Each region has plenty of opportunities to get out and invest time with your closest friends in addition to supporting many of our small, local businesses. Ultimately, it’s about strengthening relationships with friends and with the community around Southern Colorado. So get out there, laugh with friends, and have some Colorado Fun while exploring new places located right here in your neck of the woods.