A Curated List Of Things to Do in Fort Collins by Two Locals

best of fort collins

You’ve stumbled upon a specially curated list of things to do in Fort Collins! We’re Megan and David, residents of glorious Fort Collins. David has lived here since he was a wee one (a rare mythical being, the “true local”). Megan (your author) is a midwest transplant actively watering new roots in the foothills—you can’t blame her/me!!

For us, Fort Collins is paradise.

The Best of Fort Collins

We created this fun map of Fort Collins, CO and surrounding areas for our out-of-town wedding guests and it was a hit. After getting a few more ideas from the Fort Collins Reddit community, we are happy to share the latest iteration of our Best of Fort Collins map.

You can also access this unique list of things to do in Fort Collins, CO by following this link here. Pro tip: Download it as an offline map to your phone and you can access it easily while you wander!

What is Fort Collins known for?

Fort Collins is known for its sunny skies, bikeability, and brewery scene (some have called us the Napa Valley of Beers).

Accessibility: Everything you’ve heard is true. The sun shines brighter in Fort Collins than any place on Earth. The hometown craft beer overfloweth. Each night, Lance Armstrong dreams of our bike trails. Each morning, our peronal roosters crow to let us know another day in utopia has begun! A response on Twitter from the Fort Collins City Government to Nellie Bowles, NYT writer.

Quick FoCo stats:

  • Population: ~167,830
  • Number of breweries: 20
  • Sunny days: 237 on average
  • 285+ miles of bike trails
  • 1 pair of low key coffee snobs

How to Spend a Day in Fort Collins

things to do in fort collins

Fort Collins might not have the hipster fame of, say, Portland, OR or Asheville, NC, but it can still heartily satisfy your inner “I knew it was cool before it was cool” tendencies. The ideal detour or day trip from Denver, here are all the ingredients to the perfect day-trip to Fort Collins.

Kick it Off

Start your day bright with homemade jam & biscuits at Lucile’s.

Fort Collins’ nod to the delectable cuisine of the south, this adorable, yellow corner-home-turned-bustling-breakfast-joint answers all of our Cajun prayers. Splurge on a bloody mary AND the beignets—after all, you need your energy for the day.

P.S. The biscuits are bottomless. Take one to go!

Head west, young (wo)man. 

Take a cruise directly west and drive along the winding edges of Horsetooth Reservoir. Turn off and park for free at Skyline Picnic area—hopefully you packed your hammock, because just a few steps over the ridge puts you in the quiet company of just-close-enough Ponderosa pines and drool-worthy views of the foothills.

Get active.

Our town slogan is “Adventure Casual,” and we don’t take it lightly. Don your best plaid and chacos and then get your heart thumping—if only to burn off those beignets. We recommend the Arthur’s Rock hike at Lory State Park (3.4 miles RT, awesome views into Rocky Mountain National Park), tossing a frisbee at City Park, or hitting a climbing gym (like Inner Strength). It’s these places where you’ll see the locals in their true element.

Not uncomfortably full anymore? 

It’s time for lunch at the Colorado Room. Poutine, sliders, AND house-made hot sauces? So much “Yes!” and so much “Yum!” Full of wacky art and wackier clientele, this lunch spot will rightly fuel you for the afternoon of fun ahead. The back patio is also 👌 . 

Enjoy a stroll around Old Town.

Head north along thoroughfare College Avenue to check out the too-cute-to-handle boutiques and shops of Fort Collins’ famous Old Town. If you have space for dessert, splurge on a slice of vegan Lemon-Lavender cake at Tasty Harmony. Get lost in the mesmerizing colors of White Balcony, live-your-best-thrift-life at one of the many secondhand shops, buy a cookie as big as your face (for later!) at Mary’s Mountain Cookies, and enjoy the hustle-and-bustle of Old Town square from your perch of choice.

Browse novels at a firehouse-turned-bookstore, drink pour over at the Bean Cycle (say “Hi” to Victoria!), and sport true local style by buying a Topo bag to take home. If tea is more your style, Happy Lucky’s will take care of you. If you have still have a hankering for a sweet treat, you’ll love the casual outdoor vibes of the Exchange as you nosh on Old Town Churn ice cream or just-the-right-size donuts a la FoCo DoCo.

JUST FOR FUN: We dare you to find a robotic dinosaur, a free photo booth, the first bar to ever serve local celebrity Fat Tire Amber Ale on tap (pro tip: it’s still served for its original price, $2.50/pint), and two foxes riding a bike.

Turn it Up

From here, your perfect day in Fort Collins can follow a few different tracks:

A DIY-Brewery Tour

First, rent a bike at the Fort Collins Bike Share. The best way to appreciate Fort Collins’ labyrinth of trails and wide bike lanes is on a two wheeler. It’s brewery time!

Head east along Linden Ave. towards New Belgium Brewery, where you can enjoy #patiolife with an afternoon beverage. The local favorite is La Folie—an oak wood-aged, sour brown that’ll make your eyes pop. 

Hop back on your bicycle and zip your way through the neighborhood to Odell Brewing—just when you thought patios couldn’t get any better, Odell takes it to a whole new level. Ask the bartender for a 95 (that’s half 90 Shillings and half 5-Barrel) to really convince them you’re no-outta-towner. Grab a seat by the open air fireplace and enjoy. Time it right and you’ll be able to grab a snack from food truck faves like Tramp About or RamaMama.

Onwards! Equinox Brewing boasts adorable murals that pair well with their strong, hoppy beers. Not in the mood for hops? Pour Brothers serves a variety of local ales (AND has a free—yes, FREE!—photo booth!). If you can never say no to a nice biergarten, you’ll appreciate reinheitsgebot to new depths over pilsners and pretzels at Prost. Prefer a quieter-vibe? Sneak through the back alleyways to imbibe at The Forge.

For the Art & Culture Enthusiast

If you have a love for the arts, be sure to add these destinations to your afternoon itinerary:

Try your luck with the letterpress, stock up on local artistry and handicrafts, then sip a Twisted Turtle (kombucha & champagne) at the Wolverine House Letterpress & Publick House. If you’re lucky, your visit will overlap with one of their amazing community events, like the Prettiest Chicken Contest or the Diverse Fort Collins book club.

Pop by Beth and Melissa’s modern handmade shop, MakerFolk, before you travel the world at the Global Village Museum. An oft-overlooked treasure in the heart of Old Town, this exhibit satiates your taste for international adventure (without the fear of losing your passport).

If the art scene is your calling, check out this DIY Gallery Walk. Pro tip: First Fridays is Fort Collins’ artsy-answer to a Friday evening in need of some plans. All art galleries stay open late, and some even serve wine!

Need some more indoor fun for the night? Watch a documentary or indie flick at the Lyric Theater. Saved with the help of a Kickstarter, this theater shows a variety of films, as well as old school cartoons (with bottomless bowls of cereal).

If you’d rather be up and at ‘em and love the energy of live music, spend your evening by catching a show at Washington’sthe haven for our trendiest locals.

Feeling Fancy-Pants?

Enjoy a slightly more upscale tour of Fort Collins’ offerings with these can’t-miss foodie locales for your perfect FoCo day.

For a warm up to supper, you just GOTTA try the cheese & wine at the Welsh Rabbit. Just around the corner, you can enjoy the subtle, divine differences of bean-to-bar chocolate flights at Nuance. All that’s missing is your very own Johnny Depp. Other upscale local dinner options include Restaurant 415, the Regional, or Little on Mountain.

For drinks, sip some old school speakeasy cocktails at Social or order your favorite firewater while taking in slow jazz at Ace Gillett’s Lounge. The bartender is famous for having a perfect memory, so if you return someday, you might luck out with an identical beverage! Have a nightcap across the street at the Whiskey, famous for… you guessed it.

If you still have some time to kill before darkness falls, watch the sun dip behind Horsetooth Mountain from the Sunset Lounge Rooftop Bar, home to one of the best views in town. Who doesn’t love bidding an amazing day adieu from rooftop bars?

Use our Map of Fort Collins, CO and Surrounding Areas to Find the Best of Fort Collins!

The perfect day in Fort Collins will leave you craving more. Next time, stick around for an entire weekend or week; then, you can really dig deep into the city’s off-the-beaten-path offerings (intertubing down the Poudre River, ghost tours, and mountain pizza pie, anyone?). Adopt the adventure casual mindset—and outfit to match—and live it up in the foothills of the Rockies.

Our favorite Fort Collins coffee roasters:

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