Woodland Park is a small mountain community that has always been an “on-the-way” spot for people headed for Pike National Forest or the mountains to the west. In recent years, city leaders have worked to make their hometown a great stop for more than a tank of gas. The town is home to 7,200 people. About a 20-mile drive from Colorado Springs, it is the largest town in Teller County. It is surrounded by the Pike National Forest, and is known as “The City Above the Clouds,” because of its elevation of about 8,600 feet above sea level and its nearly constant blue skies. Brewpubs and breweries have sprung up here, along with coffee shops and other boutique restaurants and cafes, including yogurt shops, bakeries and a candymaker. Art galleries and boutiques band together to host art walks and shows for local artists. Starbucks has a strong presence here (and a loyal following) but locals have also fallen for Café Leo. Fresh-roasted coffee is the signature of this café tucked into a strip mall near the City Market grocery store in Woodland Park. Owners Dennis and Emilie Fryer studied at coffee trade schools and consulted with Brazilian coffee experts to make their coffee experience the best possible. These guys are serious about coffee, and regularly enter roast-off competitions. They even sponsored a latte contest here. Smoothies are on the menu as well, along with ice cream and milkshakes. Breakfast is available all day, and Café Leo serves bagel sandwiches for lunch (try the bagel Caprese with mozzarella, fresh basil, olive oil and balsamic reduction on a toasted bagel). And watch for innovative comfort food like the BBQ pulled pork and mac & cheese sandwich.
What makes it great:
Locals and visitors who have discovered Café Leo rave about the breakfast bagel and the coffee. The café’s walls display work by local artists.
Who will love it:
Café Leo is billed as a coffee shop, internet café and tea room. It encourages patrons to linger and indulge in its coffee and homemade treats. The menu changes according to the season – during the holidays, gingerbread latte and eggnog latte compete with year-round classics. For the Fourth of July, Leo created apple pie latte and salted caramel latte smoothies. For spring, there was a lavender latte, and to celebrate the start of summer, Leo offered the monkey cha-cha, a mocha milkshake with banana. And occasionally, new creations show up, thanks to the owners – things like Colorado Calm tea, a local blend of peppermint and chamomile “with a hint of Jasmine flowers.”
Directions, fees and regulations:
From Colorado Springs, take U.S. Highway 24 west to Woodland Park. At the intersection with Colorado Highway 67, turn left into the shopping center parking lot. Café Leo is in the center of the strip that also holds Japan Fusion and AJ’s Pizza. The café is open from 6:45 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Have you been here? What did you think? Leave your comments here or post a photo.