Although many towns and cities in Colorado were settled by miners and ranchers, Colorado Springs' appeal was climate and culture.
Known as Little London in its early days, the city was founded by Gen. William J. Palmer in 1871. A Civil War hero and railroad magnate, Palmer influenced much of the state's settlement, but Colorado Springs was his home. It had plenty of "civilized" attractions — opera houses, fine hotels and restaurants.
The city sits at the foot of one of America's most famous landmarks, Pikes Peak, upon whose summit Katharine Lee Bates was inspired to write "America the Beautiful." Tourists still converge on the peak, where they can drive, ride the cog railway or even hike to its 14,115-foot summit.
The city thrives on culture, with its Colorado Springs Philharmonic and Pikes Peak Center for performing arts. But there's much more to attract and hold visitors' attention. There are more than 50 area attractions, ranging from the Pioneers Museum to the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center and the American Numismatic Association Money Museum, nirvana for coin collectors.
One of the nation's three U.S. Olympic Training Centers is located here, and visitors can watch world-class athletes in action. Another top attraction is the U.S. Air Force Academy, an elite military training academy just north of the city. You can visit several areas of the academy, including the Cadet Chapel and the Honor Court.
One of the nation's most fabulous city parks, Garden of the Gods, is nestled in the foothills of Pikes Peak. The stunning red rock formations draw tourists with cameras in tow to capture a perfect shot of the rocks framing the snow-capped peak.