Set at the base of the Rocky Mountain foothills, the U.S. Air Force Academy is so much more than an undergraduate institution and military base.
The U.S. Air Force Academy is a collection of awe-inspiring attractions open to the public. In addition to state-of-the-art technology and modern architecture, this campus offers eleven different sites for civilians to explore. Don't miss these eleven sights while you're here.
1. Cadet Chapel
Perhaps the most notable structure on campus, the Cadet Chapel encompasses the beauty of midcentury-modern architecture with inspiration from Air Force vessels. With stained glass symbols and historical accents, each congregation center has its own beauty.
2. Chapel Overlook
The outside of the chapel is just as magnificent as the inside. With a clear view of the main center of campus, the chapel overlook offers visitors great view of the Cadet Area. For a special treat, arrive just before noon and watch the orchestrated cadet lunch formation.
3. The B-52 Display
Because all visitors must access the base through the north gate, this display will be hard to miss. This authentic B-52 bomber is truly awe inspiring. The large plane was the backbone of America’s manned bomber force for more than half of the 20th century.
4. Cadet Field House & Falcon Athletic Center
This mega-sized sports arena is home to Clune Arena (basketball), ice rink and indoor track. Check out the Falcon Athletic Center for the Academy Sports Hall of Fame and see the first soccer ball to ever be in space.
5. Academic Overlook
Drive up North Gate Boulevard (which becomes Academy Drive) and pull over at this overlook to get a scenic view of the Academy’s various campus buildings. Being one of the country’s best higher education institutions, the U.S. Air Force Academy’s mission is to provide a well-rounded education for cadets to use throughout their Air Force career and their individual lives.
6. Athletic Overlook
Just a few hundred yards to the west of the Academic Overlook, the Athletic Overlook provides guests a bigger picture to see just how massive the sports facilities at the U.S. Air Force Academy are. There are 150 acres of playing and practice fields that can be viewed from here. The public can attend games at the track and field, soccer, baseball and softball stadiums.
7. Barry Goldwater Visitor Center
A must for those who have never been to the campus before, the visitor center has a large gift shop to purchase goodies and AFA apparel to show some Falcon pride. The visitor center hosts exhibits of the campus and a mock cadet dorm room. The visitor center also has a short movie showing everyday cadet life, complete with a snippet of the graduation hat toss and Thunderbird flyover.
8. Arnold Hall
A student union and ballroom all-in-one location, this large hall hosts a 2,900 seat theater for cadets and food court that is open to the public. Stop by here to view displays featuring the Tuskegee Airmen, Women in Leadership and cadets who have become astronauts.
9. Doolittle Hall
This building is hard to miss, with a large Pegasus statue out front. The building’s significance starts on the first day of a cadet’s journey when they cross the Challenge Bridge. Crossing this bridge symbolizes the challenges ahead that cadets will face. Following the Heritage Trail, you’ll see the Southeast Asia Pavilion and memorial wall. It is an indoor and outdoor exhibit that was expanded recently and is a stunning reminder of our role during the Vietnam era.
10. Falcon Stadium
The site of home football games and graduation, this large stadium was built in the fall of 1962 and has a spectator capacity of 46,692. In addition to Falcon Football, the stadium hosts a variety of sports and special events.
11. USAFA Planetarium
The original Air Force Academy Planetarium, which greeted visitors from 1959-2004, is officially back open after 15 years of renovations. A generous donation allowed the Academy to re-open the doors to the 50-foot dome, complete with state-of-the-art reclining seats, inter-connectivity with planetariums around the world and a live feed from the largest publicly accessed telescope in Colorado, also accessible at the Academy’s Observatory.
The Planetarium features two daily shows, Monday - Friday at 12:30 pm and 1:30 pm. Enjoy shows such as Journey to the center of the Milky Way, Fighter Pilot and Robot Explorers.
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