COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — Memorial Day weekend is often considered the unofficial start to summer, and in the Pikes Peak Region, that means the start of the summer tourism season. The tourism industry is the city's third-largest industry with out-of-town visitors spending an estimated $2.4 billion a year according to Visit Colorado Springs.
One of the most popular attractions is the Garden of the Gods boasting an annual attendance of around 6 million people. A hike through the Garden was on the top of the list for friends Tom Dey, Ariel Everett, and Amber Davish. The trio took a road trip from Kansas City this weekend to spend time with friends living in Colorado Springs.
"It's been really nice so far," Davish said.
"We're doing the haunted cave tour, the Cave of the Winds, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, and here of course," added Everett.
The Garden was also the first stop on the itinerary for Eric and Stephanie Chitwood who flew in this morning from Indianapolis.
"Wanted to enjoy the outdoors today, probably going to do Manitou Springs tomorrow," Eric said.
The couple is planning a hike up the Manitou Incline before the weekend is over.
Those with careers in the leisure and hospitality industry are noticing a huge surge in demand this summer.
"People are tired of being stuck and at home and I think they're looking fun," said Denise Perkins, Marketing Director for the Garden of the Gods Club and Resort.
She said bookings for weddings, corporate events, and even just weekend getaways are filling up fast.
"We are seeing some record-breaking numbers already on business on the books throughout the summer," said Perkins.
She said many people locally still think of the club as an exclusive members-only destination, but the resort has been open to guests for more than a decade. While memberships are a substantial part of the business, she wants folks in Southern Colorado to know what they have to offer.
"I would say it's the city's best-kept secret but we want that secret to get out," Perkins added.
The club is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. So, to celebrate, they're offering a $70 per night discount on reservations that are booked during Memorial Day weekend.