Just an hour or so, depending on traffic, to the south of Denver is a unique American treasure, the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Open to the public to tour, free of charge, it makes for a great day trip or stop while visiting Colorado Springs.
We stopped on our way down to stay at The Broadmoor last week and had a wonderful time exploring, despite the pounding summer storm. These are common in Colorado in the summer so be prepared with an umbrella.
Visitors can tour the the Academy, the Cadet Chapel, the Honor Court, Arnold Hall, the Cadet Field House, Falcon Athletic Center, Falcon Stadium, the Association of Graduates building and the Visitor Center. Make sure to bring your ID for the security checkpoint.
The Cadet Chapel is wheelchair accessible and the elevator gives you a neat behind the scenes look. We found it was easier to park at each area with the wheelchair than to use the connecting trails.
A sense of tradition and honor pervades the air here. My teen boys loved the Cadet Chapel, especially the stained glass in the Protestant Chapel and the Torah in the Jewish. Another big hit was the huge posters of the admission policies and life on campus in the Visitor Center.
There is a Subway in the Visitor Center to stop and get lunch. The sandwiches are clearly made for hungry cadets as they were stuffed to twice the normal size. The Visitor Center is also accessible for a wheelchair. We were there for 2 hours which was just enough time for us to enjoy and explore.
If military history is your thing, check out this great list of military colleges to visit from CollegeVisit TravelingMom.