The west-side is anchored by the town that refuses the to march to anyone else’s drum — Manitou Springs (or simply “Manitou” to locals). Funky, eclectic, spirited, historic, romantic, adventurous, bold, and sometimes ridiculous (see the Emma Crawford Coffin Races the Saturday before Halloween or the Fruitcake Toss the Saturday after New Year’s), there is nothing else like Manitou in the Pikes Peak Region.
Set at the very foot of Pikes Peak, Manitou enjoys a greater number of retail and restaurant establishments per capita than any other city along the Front Range. The freewheeling lifestyle is also heavily outdoor focused, with one of the great foot races in all of America occurring every August in the Pikes Peak Ascent (13.1 miles up) and Pikes Peak Marathon (26.2 round-trip) from Soda Springs Park and up Pikes Peak. If that’s just too insane, local “sanity” is the Manitou Incline, 2300 steps of pure aerobic bliss in a straight line up the eastern flank of Purple Mountain Majesty (the trail is a bright red-orange scar visible from a lot of the city). Olympic Short-Track Speed skater Apollo Anton Ohno used to train on this pogo-ing all 2300 steps on one leg, running down, and then pogo-ing up on the other leg.
One other attraction in Manitou? It’s the only place where weed is legal for recreational purchase in El Paso County. In typical fashion, there’s always a rivalry between Maggie’s Farm and Emerald Fields. 1967 indeed.
Manitou has its own water supply and school district, a little sleeper in Manitou Springs District 14. There are two elementary schools, a middle school and the high school. The High School is less than 500 students and has a homecoming parade right down Manitou Avenue every fall (the Middle School Band performs in it, too). Many of the Pikes Peak Region’s signature restaurants are in Manitou, including the Briarhurst Manor (fine-dining), the Craftwood Inn (exotic wild game), the Cliff House (haute cuisine and elegance), Adam’s Mountain Cafe (vegetarian paradise), Manitou Hero Justin Armour’s Crystal Park Cantina (really good Mexican food) and the Mona Lisa (fondue).