Merry Christmas all the time at the North Pole. The kids won't forget this mountainside amusement park - the candy cane slide, a tame roller-coaster and Santa. 5050 Pikes Peak Highway, in Cascade, 684-9432, northpolecolorado.com.
Along the way
Stay: The Cliff House at Pikes Peak is special. See its history in hallway photos, and enjoy its new luxuries. You'll be steps from all the quirkiness of a town that loves to be weird. 306 Cañon Ave., Manitou Springs, 785-1000, thecliffhouse.com.
Eat: The place for a lakeside breakfast: The Pantry in Green Mountain Falls. It's a 60-year tradition with delicious bakery items, and don't miss the Cinnamon Roll French Toast. 6980 Lake St., 719-684-9018, thepantryingreenmtnfallsco.com. Later, don't miss the Keg Lounge, 730 Manitou Ave., has brews, pool and the best berry salad. Got a hankering for Mexican cruisine? Crystal Park Cantina, 178 Crystal Park Road, 719-685-5999.
Drink: Mention margaritas, and fingers point you toward The Loop At Manitou. They're giant. The Loop long has been one of the most popular watering holes. 965 Manitou Ave., 719-685-9344, theloopatmanitou.com.
Fun: The Manitou Springs Penny Arcade has antique skee-ball games with prizes, funhouse mirrors that reshape one and all, and more than 20 pinball games and 30 racing games, some from before the 1930s. Patsy's Candy & Gift Shop on site, 930 Manitou Ave., 719-685-9815, weknowcolorado.com.
Hidden gem: Get a hot tub or massage at Sun Water Spa, 514 El Paso Blvd., 719-695-7007, sunwellness.net. Grab a glass or bottle and meander to eight mineral springs, where taps sate your thirst for free with distinctive flavor. visitcos.com/areas/manitou-springs/manitou-mineral-springs/