After our tour of The Cave of the Winds (Where I forgot to mention we now have a year pass and can return free of charge for a whole year AND they gave us sweet reusable tote bags for FREE.) we took a wrong turn and started gaining elevation and heading into a weird little cabin looking community. Just when Jake really starts to bug out at being ‘lost’ I look over and see this gem of a shop – A BEAD STORE! KISMET! One wrong turn and we found ourselves in heaven, guided by our sweet new friend
SUPER BONUS: All the beads were natural, beautiful gemstones and 50% off – again kismet!Even better – this was one phenomenal afternoon – there was a little bakery and wine shop directly across the road. We met the owner and insisted she take a photo with us. I was a little under dressed. However the folks we met were friendly and fun and laughed when I told them we live in CO – seeing that I looked and acted unmistakably like a tourist. At this point I think Jake had just resigned to the fact that he married an overgrown perpetual teenager.
After or shenanigans we headed ‘down the mountain’ and into Manitou Springs. Neither of us had visited this ridiculously quaint mountain town; we were enthralled. They have so many (cheap) things to do! They’re known for being home to 7 (which I guess is a lot) natural mineral springs…not a quest I advise venturing on. Mineral water isn’t really pleasant if you’re not used to it. I think I only managed to try 4, unable to stomach a single drop more. They also have a penny arcade. Literally only a penny or nickel for ALL the games. FUN! Their selection ranged from ‘holy cow my GRANDPARENTS had to have played this as kids’ to “I remember this being at Chuck E. Cheese!”
LOL he doesn’t look ‘amused’ because I had insisted on so many pictures all weekend HA that doesn’t stop me! we were on vacation!!Recognize this from a killer Tom Hanks film? sadly he was out of order, maybe next time we’ll have a BIG adventure. This place had an entire building FULL of retro skee-ball only a quarter per play! I love skee-ball about as much as Izzy loves tuna!
There were a good handful of restaurants to choose from in town so we asked several locals which was the best. Unanimously the response was “The Loop”. A Mexican place that had obviously outgrown its original location and purchased 3 additional storefronts they joined into one by leaving open doorways near the storefront.
DAY 4: Manitou Springs & Pike’s Peak
There’s a cog train that goes all the way up Pike’s Peak…unless you go in February and it’s still blizzarding on the mountain. in that case they take you half way, let you get out to stretch before take you back down. There’s no price discount for halfsies ticket BUT there’s an off-season ticket price. Same difference, at $27 per ticket it was the most expensive attraction of our staycation; but it was AWESOME, worth every hard-earned cent. If you’re anywhere near this area DO IT!
After the cog tour we meandered through Manitou again, stopping off in a book store and a few thrift shops. There were so many unique places, including a plethora of handmade art stores and ANOTHER BEAD SHOP!!
For Lupper (the meal that’s not really lunch and too early for supper) we tried PJ’s Bistro. We were told they had fantastic sandwiches; they weren’t lying. It was an interesting combo of American and German food. I can tell you this: their sweet potato fries were WOWZAS!
Our Olympic tour guide had nearly salivated over Coquette’s bakery, so of course we HAD to stop in. Turns out this was their last night in Manitou, they’re moving to a location in The Springs. I’ve never eaten a gluten-free vegan cupcake and was a little hesitant, but that lavender vanilla flavored confection was one of the best cupcakes I’ve ever eaten. – no really, I’d go back just for the cupcake!
That’s that, our staycation in photos. We both had a blast doing new things together: seeing new sights, experiencing new foods, and meeting new people. These new experiences were just what we needed to reconnect and find our center after the long & busy holiday season. This was the best ‘staycation’ we’ve ever had. It felt like a ‘real’ vacation because of all the hard work we put into planning and preparing. Sooo worth it!