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2013 Winners PLACE TO EXPLORE FOSSILS

Editor's Choice

Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument

A new visitors center makes this a great place for a day trip with kids. Hands-on exhibits bring to life the amazing fossils buried here, including those of a rhinocerous-like creature called a brontothere. Summer offers ranger-guided interpretive walks of the massive petrified redwood tree stumps and small carbon impression fossils of plants and insects. And park fees are waived on 11 days in 2013.

— Chosen by Bill Vogrin

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2013 Winners KID-FRIENDLY AMUSEMENT PARK

Editor's Choice

Santa’s Workshop-North Pole

Santa’s Workshop-North Pole in Cascade is an old-school amusement park where everything is scaled to children. At the center of the 25-acre park is Santa’s House, where the jolly old elf is always home. There’s also two dozen kid-sized rides and attractions. I still get a buzz atop the Ferris wheel, with its amazing view of Ute Pass.

— Chosen by Bill Vogrin

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2013 Winners THRILLING WAY TO SEE AMERICA’S MOUNTAIN

Editor's Choice

Pikes Peak Mountain Bike Tours

One of my best birthdays ever was spent roaring down the Pikes Peak Highway on a bicycle as part of a Pikes Peak Mountain Bike Tour. We were driven to the summit, fitted with layers of clothes and bicycles and set loose to begin our 7,000-foot descent down America’s Mountain. Simply exhilarating. A ride I’ll never forget. They open for the season on May 1.

— Chosen by Bill Vogrin

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2013 Winners GET-OFF-THE-MAIN-DRAG DAY TRIP

Editor's Choice

Touring Victor and Cripple Creek via the Old Stage

One of my family’s favorite day trips is to head up Old Stage Road behind The Broadmoor. It is a gravel road that turns into Gold Camp Road and leads to the historic gold mining camps of Victor and Cripple Creek. We usually time our trip around the changing of the aspens in the fall, but it’s a great drive any time. I enjoy the American Eagles Scenic Overlook in Victor for an up-close view of the historic mines, as well as panorama views of the region. Victor also is home to one of my favorite stores is the Victor Trading Co. & Manufacturing Works, 114 S. Third St., where you can buy hand-made brooms. Be sure to ride the Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad, visit the Cripple Creek District Museum and tour the Molly Kathleen Gold Mine.

— Chosen by Bill Vogrin

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2013 Winners HANDS-ON FUN

Editor's Choice

Concrete Couch

Steve Wood and his gang at Concrete Couch take kids and adults into the region to create public art and build a sense of community. They collaborate to build mosaics, paint murals, put on plays, repair picnic shelters, and many other cool projects kids love.

— Chosen by Bill Vogrin

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2013 Winners WET ADVENTURE WITH FAMILY

Editor's Choice

Rafting the Arkansas River

If you want some excitement and don’t mind getting a little wet as you have fun, take the family rafting on the Arkansas River. You can choose from mild to wild. Take a pleasant and pulse-elevating ride in Bighorn Sheep Canyon. Get your heart pounding in the rapids of Browns Canyon. Or adrenaline junkies can get their fix in Pine Creek, the Numbers and the Royal Gorge. You can start your research at the Colorado River Outfitters Association website. Choose your trip: half-day or whole, paddle or float. Some guide companies offer camping and fishing options. Plan, first and foremost, to get wet. And, if you don’t choose the get a wet suit, plan on getting cold!

— Chosen by Bill Vogrin

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2013 Winners SUMMER DAY CAMP

Voter's Choice

U.S. TAEKWONDO CENTER

Help your children strengthen their bodies, minds and self-esteem through the talented instructors at this school. This center takes martial arts past just a physical workout, and helps better the lives of its students. "Every summer there is a program to give children a safe place to have fun and learn," said one voter.

YMCA
CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN ZOO
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2013 Winners FARM ANIMAL FUN

Voter's Choice

WISHING STAR FARM

Zoos can be great, but for a more interactive farm experience, check out the pigs, mini horses, llamas, chickens, bunnies, and more at Wishing Star Farm. According to its website, this farm prides itself in growing the ranchers and farmers of the future, so if your child ever leaves the house donning a cowgirl hat or cowboy boots, give this local farm a try.

ROCK LEDGE RANCH HISTORIC SITE
VENETUCCI FARM
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2013 Winners FAMILY FUN CENTER

Voter's Choice

IT'Z FAMILY FOOD AND FUN

Colorado Springs may boast 300 days of sunshine, but sometimes there are perks to being inside. Check out this entertainment center with mini bowling, a monkey jump, bumper cars and a rock climbing wall. Top it off with salad, pizza and a dessert. One voter said, "This is a great place because it is inexpensive and fun!"

U.S. TAEKWONDO CENTER
BRUNSWICK ZONE XL
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2013 Winners CONTINUING EDUCATION PROGRAM

Voter's Choice

FRONT RANGE NURSE AIDE TRAINING PROGRAM

People love Nancy E. Whatley — also known as Nurse Nancy — the registered nurse who founded the program in 2004. She provides excellent hands-on experience and training to become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). "Not only was I given the tools I need to succeed at being a CNA, but I was given a lot of other tools to use for being successful at life."

UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO AT COLORADO SPRINGS
REGIS UNIVERSITY
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2013 Winners HOME SCHOOL PROGRAM

Voter's Choice

MOUNTAIN VISTA HOME SCHOOL ACADEMY

This one day per week enrichment program is free for home-schooling families in the Pikes Peak region. They offer courses in science, math, language arts, technology, history and art. They also partner with the Colorado Springs Conservatory to offer 2-4 hours of conservatory classes, and have clubs, such as fencing, kung fu, yearbook and drama.

HIGH COUNTRY HOME EDUCATORS
FALCON HOMESCHOOL ENRICHMENT PROGRAM
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2013 Winners HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER

Voter's Choice

CAROLE TRIPOLI, THE VANGUARD SCHOOL

Carole Tripoli is not only a ninth grade English teacher at The Vanguard School, she is also the assistant principal for grades 9-12. Parents love that she's firm and helpful, and her students have consistently produced above average writing and reading scores.

ABIGAIL HARTLEY, JAMES IRWIN CHARTER HIGH SCHOOL
(TIE) ROBERT GILLIAM, PALMER HIGH SCHOOL; and STARLA DEEDS, THE VANGUARD SCHOOL
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2013 Winners HIGH SCHOOL

Voter's Choice

THE VANGUARD SCHOOL

This charter high school is an extension of Cheyenne Mountain Charter Academy, and has a maximum of 400 students. Voters praised the quality of academics, sports, music and art. "I feel like my son will be prepared no matter where he goes to college. The teachers are wonderful and supportive."

JAMES IRWIN CHARTER HIGH SCHOOL
CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN HIGH SCHOOL
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2013 Winners MIDDLE SCHOOL

Voter's Choice

CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN CHARTER ACADEMY

Voters said the academics here are top-notch in the city, and possibly the state. "My nephew is in Cheyenne Mountain Charter Academy Middle School — and it amazes me all the knowledge he has." The academy is well-known for its strong college preparatory curriculum.

JAMES IRWIN CHARTER MIDDLE SCHOOL
THOMAS MACLAREN SCHOOL
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2013 Winners ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

Voter's Choice

CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN CHARTER ACADEMY

Kids come home from this school and astound their parents with knowledge and skills. "A totally different school experience than any you'll find in the Springs. They set the bar for academics and character high, and kids find it a joy to not only meet those expectations, but exceed them. Add that to the fact it is one of the most culturally and socioeconomically diverse charter schools in the city, and you've got one amazing school."

JAMES IRWIN CHARTER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
HOPE MONTESSORI ACADEMY and CORPUS CHRISTI CATHOLIC SCHOOL
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2013 Winners SCHOOL SPORTS PROGRAM

Voter's Choice

(TIE) CIVA CHARTER HIGH SCHOOL AND U.S. TAEKWONDO CENTER

CIVA plays a mean game of Ultimate Frisbee — the flying disc sport. They have the city's first competitive program, and finished second in mixed division at state in 2010 and 2012 The goal of the folks at the U.S. Taekwando Center is building your child's self-esteem. They do it through physical fitness, character development and self-defense.

LANDSHARKS RUNNING CLUB
YMCA
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2013 Winners PRESCHOOL

Voter's Choice

COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIP FOR CHILD DEVELOPMENT

This organization prepares El Paso County children who live in poverty for success in school through Head Start, Early Head Start and Colorado Preschool Program. You said, "It is by far the best agency for a well-rounded set of services, which not only provides excellent education for little ones, it also provides services for the whole family. This holistic approach to education makes it more likely that our children will have better opportunities in life."

HOPE MONTESSORI ACADEMY
RUTH WASHBURN COOPERATIVE NURSERY SCHOOL
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2013 Winners DAYCARE CENTER

Voter's Choice

HOPE MONTESSORI ACADEMY

Voters said this center is much more than a simple daycare center. "The children learn about everything." The locations are convenient and voters said they trust staff to take care of their children like he or she is a family member. "They are more than a daycare. They're family."

EARLY CONNECTIONS LEARNING CENTERS
GIVING TREE MONTESSORI SCHOOL
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2013 Winners TEEN HANGOUT

Voter's Choice

PAINT THE TOWN PAINT AND PARTY STUDIO

Who doesn't like to let their creative streak loose get a little messy every now and then? Well, check out this family-owned studio where guests can build relationships and paint beautiful artwork. One voter commented, "This is an amazing place for people of all ages. Bev, the owner, is one in a million."

IT'Z FAMILY FOOD AND FUN
BRUNSWICK ZONE XL
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2013 Winners ORTHODONTIST

Voter's Choice

RANGEWOOD ORTHODONTICS

Dr. Chad Watts and Dr. Jenee Kaplan know their teeth straightening. They're friendly and easy to talk to, voters said, use the latest technology and hold contests for their patients. Their clientele isn't just the young, either. "I'm a 50-year old man in ortho, and my entire family goes to them. They made being an adult in braces easy! Can't wait to get them off and see how great I look."

ERICKSON PEDIATRIC DENTISTRY AND ORTHODONTICS
ALLEN BENNING OF BENNING AND MATHEWS ORTHODONTICS
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2012 Winners Family Friendly Weekend Getaway

Editor's Choice

Tarryall River Ranch

Just a short 90-minute drive west of town is a 2012 TripAdvisor award-winning memory maker. A place where kids can play hard, enjoy new experiences, and learn about horses while exploring the outdoors. The easy-to-love children’s program at Tarryall River Ranch includes horseback riding, fishing, Western crafts and even a petting zoo. Truly a place where kids will have the time of their lives.

— Chosen by Stephanie Weber

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2012 Winners Farm Animal Fun

Editor's Choice

Rock Ledge Ranch

Sure, you can check out the sheep, horses, hogs and chickens, but your family can also explore the lifestyles of residents in the 19th century. In addition, they have family-friendly events throughout the year, including the “Annual Sheep Shearing” and their “Family Fourth.” You’ll want to get an annual membership.

— Chosen by Stephanie Weber

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2012 Winners Picnic Spot

Voter's Choice

Garden of the Gods

The only problem with a picnic in the 1,319-acre city park is picking the best place. Do you relax beneath the Kissing Camels, or in the shade of the 700-ton red sandstone icon Balanced Rock, or in a quieter spot amid 290-million-year-old rock formations?

Fox Run Regional Park
Cheyenne Canon
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2012 Winners Stress-Free Styles

Editor's Choice

Kiddie Kutters

Friendly, entertaining stylists and great haircuts. But the overall reason you’ll want to check out Kiddie Kutters is the waiting room. The entire waiting room is a play area. No need to worry about your toddler pulling bottles down from the shelves or your preschooler wandering off because she’s bored. Also a great place to get an adult haircut without worrying about what to do with the kids; they’ll play in the waiting room while you are getting your hair done. Another bonus: instead of chairs, toddlers can sit in little cars with steering wheels. 6920 Mesa Ridge Parkway, Fountain, 473-9737; 5582 Powers Center Pointe, 282-6333; 2395 Academy Place, Suite C, 570-9737,

— Chosen by Stephanie Weber

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2012 Winners Early Childhood Educator

Editor's Choice

Carla Faith

Passion and love dominate at Play Mountain Place and Counterpoint Preschool under the direction of Carla Faith. Her devotion to young children is seen through her genuine interest in every child. She has touched the lives of so many children that parents have commented that they want more children just so they can continue to have Carla in their daily lives.

— Chosen by Stephanie Weber

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2012 Winners Parent-Free Shopping

Editor's Choice

Re-Generation Teen Consignment Boutique

With chic styles and fab decor, RE-Generation was created for teens. But it didn’t stop there. How about Friday-night, parent-free shopping parties? The only cost is a $25 gift card. Your teen can spend time with her friends, enjoy pizza and shop in a safe, parent-free environment. Plus, if she has clothes she’s done with, she can trade them in on the spot for store credit.

— Chosen by Stephanie Weber

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2012 Winners Day Care

Voter's Choice

Hope Montessori Academy

Don’t go to Hope Montessori expecting the chaos common at some day care centers. Hope Montessori prides itself on providing a safe and nurturing environment for infants, preschool and kindergarten students enrolled in its programs.

Primrose Child Care
Springs of Life Children's Center