I lived in Manitou 1990-1999, and think it is one of the most unique and beautiful towns in the U.S. I still miss aspects of it, as I run every day in the morning, and miss not being able to run on trails right up in the mountains.
As a gay, non-military person, before I moved there, I had reservations about the conservative nature of the whole Colorado Springs area, but I love mountains and the outdoors, and fell in love with the area. In 1990, Manitou Springs, relative to the greater Colorado Springs area, had a reputation of liberalism and devil worship. You can laugh about the latter. I found it a hoot the whole time I was there, and didn't see ANY of it. I met a few white witches, but that was in my whole nine years there. The Manitou Devil worship was some propaganda put forth by one of the 100+ evangelical orgs in the area, that someone's cat had been sacrificed. Instead, I tend to think that Manitou attracts more of a spiritual-type person. The convergence is said to be a vortex -- a center of spiritual power. I don't know if I felt that overly strongly, but I know the first time I walked down Manitou Ave., I thought the place had a really special feeling. The whole time I lived there, I really loved it.
The military really wasn't a problem for me -- I thought they were all really well behaved -- but I did take the evangelical orgs seriously, and found them annoying, when they started spreading propaganda against gays (that we are all out to recruit school children etc.) and I had to hear this stuff on the local news even. "Summit Ministries" is the one evangelical semi-koo-koo org that is right in Manitou. But, then as now, Manitou tends to be more liberal than Colorado Springs, so you don't have to worry about your daughter in school getting bothered by a bunch of glassy-eyed Bible belters. I grew up in an evangelical home and know how to deal with it. Most of the FOCUS followers or the New Life people, do not live in Manitou. They live closer to the mega churches.
I think the location of Manitou High is kind of a dream, and wish I went to a school like that school when I was young.
If you buy a house, make sure it is one that didn't get wrecked in a mud slide. I had a cliff-hanger type house and water would run under it in a heavy rain, but it was built on rock and didn't move an inch.
I forget the name of it, but there is a funny novel set in Manitou. The local library has it in their Manitou section, as well as local history. The novel is set in the 60's and has hippies running around in Manitou doing funny things. Manitou Springs has a fascinating and rich history. I read a few dozen books about the history of tuberculosis -- one of my arcane interests -- and Manitou had a colorful part in that. I think Manitou would be close to an ideal place to raise children. Unlike most beautiful small mountain towns, is has the advantage of being contiguous with a major city.
The railway end of the convergence tends to fill up with diesel smoke on the hour the train leaves, and if you buy a house in one of the mountain folds, you should look for one on the sunny side of the street. I'll correspond with anyone who is interested about my view on Manitou, pros and cons. I have a lot of opinions about it, especially the real estate. (I'm not a realtor!)
One thing I like much better about where I live now -- Santa Fe -- is the people here. No evangelicals at all, a more interesting cultural mix (The Indians in Manitou at the Cave Dwellings are imported from places like Oklahoma). Still, if I had kids that were attending public school, I'd choose Manitou any day over the schools here.