20 Best Things to Do in Fort Collins, CO

Fort Collins

Fort Collins is my little slice of urban-chic bliss nestled in the heart of Northern Colorado.

Between the breathtaking views of the Rocky Mountains, our vibrant cultural scene, and the genuinely friendly people, it's hard not to fall in love with this city.

Whether you're a beer connoisseur, an outdoor enthusiast, a history buff, or a foodie, Fort Collins offers a little something for everyone.

And let's not forget about our dynamic range of local events and attractions that keep the city buzzing year-round.

I've spent countless days discovering and rediscovering the wonders of this city, and I can't wait to guide you through the 20 best things to do in Fort Collins, Colorado.

So, lace up your hiking boots, prepare your palate, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure in this Colorado gem!

About this article: This article was written by a local contributor based on their own experiences and those around them. While this list showcases some remarkable places, it's important to note that this is an opinion piece, and there are many other exceptional places to visit that are not featured here.
Our aim is not just to guide you to popular places but to encourage you to venture out and experience the city for yourself.

See the Outdoors at Horsetooth Reservoir

A boat docked at Horsetooth Reservoir
marekuliasz / Shutterstock.com

Living here, I have come to appreciate the simple joy of breathing in the fresh air at the Horsetooth Reservoir.

A day spent here is a day spent surrounded by the beauty of nature, no matter your preferred activity.

There's an unmatched tranquility that comes with hiking the well-trodden paths, my favorite being the one leading to the highest peak that offers a breathtaking view of the reservoir.

There's a distinct rhythm to life here that aligns in sync with nature.

Some days, I find myself fishing by the tranquil waters, enjoying the sweet solitude.

On others, I invite friends for a lively picnic by the Reservoir, exchanging stories and laughter over good food.

Running has become a ritual of mine ever since I moved here.

The trails around the reservoir provide a challenging yet scenic route, enough to get your heart racing in more ways than one.

Sandstone quarry near the waters of Horsetooth Reservoir
marekuliasz / Shutterstock.com

But the day isn't complete without taking a moment to unwind.

The clean, litter-free surroundings and the refreshing air make it a calming haven away from bustling city life.

The picnic tables overlooking the reservoir have become my favorite outdoor office.

There's nothing quite like drafting reports while basking in the Colorado sun, with a view that could inspire even the most uninspired.

Visit Horsetooth Reservoir and experience the joy of the outdoors.

A hiking trail of Horsetooth Reservoir
Chris LaBasco / Shutterstock.com

See a Colorful Piano in the Old Town Square

Colorful piano painted by Pianos About Town
marekuliasz / Shutterstock.com

Every city has its charm, and in our city, that charm lies in the heart of Old Town Square.

Over the years, I've seen many interesting sights.

However, the one that has stayed and grown on me is the Old Town Square Piano Of Many Colors.

I remember when it first appeared, this vibrant, bright, beguiling instrument, placed strategically for all to see.

It was like an open invitation, beckoning anyone who wished to strike a chord.

Talented souls of all ages have offered melodies to this public piano, turning the square into their personal stage.

It's truly heartwarming to see our community come together in these spontaneous concerts.

The respect that people show for this piano is remarkable. It stands as a testament to the city's spirit, the way it unifies us.

Even the youngest among us don't treat it like any old toy but understand its value.

This rainbow-colored, joy-inspiring piano has become a symbol of our city, a sonorous thread that interweaves our lives.

Walk Through the CSU Annual Flower Trial Gardens

I strolled down the well-trod path of the CSU Annual Flower Trial Gardens, surrounded by a kaleidoscope of colors and captivating fragrances.

You can't help but marvel at the extraordinary array of annual flowers, each one vibrant and unique.

The beauty of these gardens is that they're open all day, so whether you're an early riser or a night owl, you're always welcome.

My furry friend often accompanies me, although I always ensure she doesn't trample the stunning displays.

I must say these gardens offer an amazing blend of research and aesthetics, with the horticultural experts at CSU always working behind the scenes, ensuring the plants look full, lush, and healthy.

One great thing about these gardens is their community feel.

There's always a mix of people, from families having picnics on the grass to individuals sitting quietly on benches, immersing themselves in the tranquillity.

The buzzing of the bees serves as a reminder that the gardens are not just for us—they also provide valuable habitats for these important pollinators.

The large pavilion serves as a central point, where I often see visitors congregating, discussing their favorite flowers.

Each year, the visitors are invited to vote for their favorite flowers, which adds a fun dimension to the experience.

Have a Great Adventure at Cache la Poudre River

The rapids of Cache la Poudre River
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There's no sound quite like the rush of the Cache la Poudre River as it tumbles down rocky slopes and winds through thick forests.

Living near this gorgeous river has given me countless memories of thrilling adventures and serene moments.

My usual Saturday begins with an early start when the morning mist still clings to the river, turning the surroundings into a magical sight.

The river's name, literally meaning "Hide the Powder," is a constant reminder of its history - a time when French trappers hid their gunpowder along its banks during a snowstorm.

The river's hiking trails are my favorite spots.

Each one offers a unique view of the river and the diverse landscape surrounding it.

From dense pine forests to open meadows filled with wildflowers in the spring, the beauty is simply breathtaking.

Whitewater rafting on Cache la Poudre River
marekuliasz / Shutterstock.com

Bird-watching is another of my favorite activities at Cache la Poudre River.

The area is a paradise for bird lovers, with over 400 species found throughout the year.

It's always a delight to spot a bald eagle soaring high in the sky or hear the song of the red-winged blackbird echoing across the water.

No matter what the season, the river always has something to offer.

It's a haven for anglers in the spring and summer, a paradise for leaf-peepers in the fall, and a snowy wonderland in winter.

A footbridge over Cache la Poudre River
marekuliasz / Shutterstock.com

Spend an Enchanting Day at The Farm at Lee Martinez Park

It's not every day that you wake up and decide to spend the day at a farm, right?

But let me tell you, when the kids have a day off, and you're looking for a unique family outing, The Farm at Lee Martinez Park is the place to be.

On a typical visit, the very first thing we do is rush over to feed the animals.

The sheer excitement on my children's faces as they interact with the animals is priceless!

Then, we move onto the barn to marvel at the timeless farm equipment, which transports you to a bygone era.

There's something about seeing my own kids riding ponies, giggling and waving at me, that creates memories I know will last a lifetime.

Of course, the weather can be a bit breezy sometimes, but that never dampens our fun.

I've even had the opportunity to volunteer at The Farm, and it was nothing short of delightful.

Grab Some Beers at New Belgium Brewing Company

Exterior of New Belgium Brewing Company
M. Doxtad, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

New Belgium Brewing Company is like my backyard, but better.

There's nothing quite like spending a sunny afternoon on the spacious outdoor patio with a brew in hand and the sound of laughter in the air.

But it's not just the beer that makes this place special.

From times when I wanted a laid-back night out with friends to family gatherings, and even when I wanted to meet new people and make new friends, New Belgium has always been my perfect choice.

There's always something going on - fun games, events, and did I mention the food trucks?

The variety! I never run out of drink options to choose from, and let me tell you, the beers are always top-notch.

The 'Dominga Paloma' sour is my personal favorite; it never disappoints.

The place is always buzzing, especially on Fridays - you'd think no one in the city works!

But what's great is that it's never too crowded and the wait times are reasonable, never more than a few minutes.

Even if you're going with your kids or your furry friend, they've got you covered with kid-friendly areas, and it's a dog-friendly place too.

Explore the Beauty of Lory State Park

Scenic view of Lory State Park
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When I need a quick escape from the city, Lory State Park is my go-to spot!

Nestled in the rugged landscape and just a stone's throw from Fort Collins, this park offers an impressive range of outdoor activities.

One of my favorite ways to spend my day here is trekking the well-maintained trails.

The moderate hike to Arthur's Rock, a challenging yet rewarding experience, is an absolute must.

My adrenaline always kicks up a notch as I navigate the ascent, finding myself completely immersed in the natural surroundings.

I assure you: the breathtaking view from the top is a sight to behold and a reward well worth the climb.

The entire round trip typically takes me about 2-3 hours; just enough to feel accomplished without completely draining my energy.

Despite its popularity, Lory State Park never feels crowded.

Signage of Lory State Park
Jeffrey Beall, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The peaceful ambiance of the park is ideal for backcountry camping too.

There's nothing quite like waking up to the soft chirping of birds and the sun rising over the rugged terrain.

And let's not forget about rock climbing – it's a thrilling activity that tests your limit.

To all my fellow mountain biking enthusiasts, the park's network of trails offers an excellent biking experience.

Just make sure to bring plenty of water and keep an eye out for snakes.

Landscape of Lory State Park
Lvaughn7, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

See "Lost in Yonkers" at Bas Bleu Theatre Company

You know that feeling you get when you stumble upon a hidden gem in your own city?

That's exactly the sensation I experienced when I gathered my family together for a night to see "Lost in Yonkers" at the Bas Bleu Theatre Company.

It was an adventure that began with some confusion, as the performance we attended was advertised as a preview.

However, it was anything but that, and we were happily surprised by the full production.

Situated in the heart of Old Town, this intimate 99-seat performing arts center has an energy and atmosphere that is as charming as it is unique.

It's a cozy space, lending itself to an intimate experience where you feel connected to the performers on stage.

Explore the Fort Collins Museum

Exterior of Fort Collins Museum of Discovery
Zerdnog, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Who said learning can't be fun?

My third trip this month to the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery proved just that.

This place never fails to offer my 3-year-old and me a blend of education and entertainment.

Have you ever seen a 3-year-old jamming on a full band setup?

It's possible here! They have a "Jam Room" that lets kids of all ages – including the grown-up ones – dabble with a variety of musical instruments.

The shine in my little one's eyes and his laughter echoing around the room is a sight and sound I can't get enough of.

Not just that, but they have a brilliant array of interactive science exhibits and rich local history displays.

My little one is too young to appreciate the history, but he loves the hands-on activities.

The "Tot Center" is a haven for the smaller kids.

It's perfect for children five and under, with a creative tree, water table, and a train set.

Wander Around Fossil Creek Park

There's nothing like the thrill of a softball game at Fossil Creek Park.

The dugouts might slightly block the view, but the atmosphere is electric, and the community is always supportive.

My younger siblings love the fishing pond near the field - it's their own little adventure while I'm on the pitch.

What I absolutely love about this park is its versatility.

The playground and skate park are right beside each other, perfect for family outings.

Cross the parking lot, and you'll find a separate dog park, a sanctuary for our furry friends.

My friends and I often kick around a soccer ball in the mini "rink," and it's always a blast.

To catch my breath, I sometimes escape to the top of the hill, in the heart of the park.

There's a solitary bench there overlooking the expanse of the park, and the view is simply stunning.

It's a great spot for quiet contemplation or a quick sandwich break.

In the summer, the splash pad is the place to be.

It's filled with waterfalls and surrounded by grassy areas where you can set up a picnic.

And when winter comes, the park transforms into a winter wonderland with a popular tube slide.

Explore Jazz Alley

A mural at Jazz Alley
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Every time life in the bustling city gets too loud, I find solace in the mellow tunes of Jazz Alley.

This hidden gem in Fort Collins is more than just a place - it's a haven for jazz enthusiasts like me.

The minute I step into the alley, the world outside melds into a forgotten whisper.

There's something about the vibrant energy of the place that's enchanting.

Maybe it's the rustling leaves that dance to the rhythm of the cool evening breeze, or perhaps it's the soft glow of the surrounding lights that add a touch of magic to the night.

Frequently, the alley is dotted with street musicians strumming their instruments and pouring their souls into the music.

Their melodies waft through the air, intertwining with the soft murmur of the crowd, creating a symphony that's uniquely Jazz Alley.

The performances are as diverse as they are captivating.

From the upbeat rhythms of bebop to the soulful strains of cool jazz, every tune is a distinct experience that leaves you craving more.

Stroll Down Memory Lane on the Fort Collins Municipal Trolley

Daytime view of the Fort Collins Municipal Trolley
Steve Morgan, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There's something special about the clatter and clang of the Fort Collins Municipal Trolley.

Riding it feels like getting lost in the pages of a living history book.

Each journey is a delightful blend of scenic beauty and captivating storytelling.

The conductors who guide the ride double as narrators, sharing tales of the trolley's past with a grandfatherly warmth that's comforting and engaging.

It's an experience that appeals to all ages, whether you've got kids in tow or you're simply young at heart.

The trolley route is a visual treat, a 30-minute round trip that takes you from City Park to Mountain Avenue.

As the trolley chugs along, each turn unfolds like a picturesque postcard, with stunning views that make you fall in love with Fort Collins all over again.

And the best part? This little journey back in time is incredibly affordable, costing just $2 per adult.

Revisit the City's History at Poudre Landmarks Foundation

Ever strolled down the cobbled streets of Fort Collins and wondered about the stories the old buildings could tell?

Well, I did, and my curiosity led me to the Poudre Landmarks Foundation (PLF).

It's been an enlightening experience to step back in time and discover the rich tapestry of our city's history.

Nestled amongst the modern urban landscape, the Avery House stands as a testament to our city's past.

You might ask, what's so special about the Avery House?

Well, it's not just a house; it's a living history museum.

I took a tour one sunny afternoon and was completely blown away.

The tour guides, all volunteers from the Poudre Landmarks Foundation, are a passionate bunch who narrate the Avery family saga with such enthusiasm that the characters almost come alive before your eyes.

Explore the 1879 Avery House

Exterior of the 1879 Avery House
Hustvedt, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One of my favorite pastimes has always been basking in the rich historical atmosphere of the 1879 Avery House.

This enchanting house, standing tall and proud in the heart of Fort Collins, has witnessed the city's growth and transformation over the years.

It's a hidden gem, tucked just a stone's throw away from the bustling downtown, making it a convenient escape from the city's hustle and bustle.

Whenever I have a free afternoon, I look forward to touring the Avery House.

Each room in the house has a unique story to share, giving glimpses into the city’s past.

I often find myself lost in time, imagining the original inhabitants going about their days in the elegant, vintage interiors.

The house tours are quite a treat, especially as the guides are dressed in authentic period clothing, bringing the past to life right before you.

Their passion for history is infectious and has encouraged me to delve deeper into the city's past.

Spend a Stunning Day at The Gardens on Spring Creek

A flower at The Gardens on Spring Creek
Lionelx / Shutterstock.com

If you're looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, you have to visit The Gardens on Spring Creek.

Just imagine slipping into a different world, where beautiful blooms stretch as far as the eye can see, and vibrant butterflies flit from flower to flower.

The first time I strolled through these gardens, I was taken aback by the immense variety.

The 18-acre community and botanical wonder is a burst of colors and provides a peaceful retreat for families and individuals alike.

The butterfly house has become one of my favorite spots.

Even though it's not teeming with different species, stepping into the tropical climate and feeling as if you've been transported to a little forest is a unique experience in itself.

The gardens are home to a surprisingly well-equipped amphitheater, which adds an exciting dimension to the place.

The plant signage could be better, but you can't win them all, can you?

The docents on site are always eager to share their knowledge and contribute to the overall enjoyable experience.

Another aspect that I absolutely love is the children's area.

It's a whimsical space that delights not just the young ones but adults too.

The gardens truly blossom in Spring with an array of stunning flowers like tulips and daffodils, making it a visual treat.

I would even recommend it as a lovely spot for an outdoor wedding!

Have an Unforgettable Day at Fort Fun

It was just another Saturday when my family and I decided to have a day of fun at Fort Fun.

The hum of excitement was palpable as we packed our bags for the day. The massive lakeside recreation center is a local favorite, and it's not hard to see why.

First, we decided to try our hand at mini-golf.

We spent a good hour laughing, teasing, and competing with each other.

I must confess, my golf skills weren't exactly up to par, but the memories we made more than made up for my lack of skill.

Next, we shifted gears and moved on to the go-karts.

As we zoomed around the track, I found myself appreciating the careful attention to safety.

It allowed us to focus on the thrill of racing without any nagging worries in the back of our minds.

Witness the Charm of Downtown Fort Collins

Water fountain at Downtown Fort Collins
Page Light Studios / Shutterstock.com

I wake up every morning to the sight of beautifully landscaped streets bustling with life in downtown Fort Collins.

It's a delightful fusion of the old and new, where tradition meets modernity.

Morning strolls here are nothing short of magical.

I often find myself lost in admiration of the many statues and artworks that lend the pedestrian areas a unique character.

Each piece tells a story, weaving a colorful tapestry of the city's rich cultural heritage.

The meticulous landscaping adds an extra touch of class, enhancing the overall aesthetic appeal of the area.

The downtown district is not just about mesmerizing visuals; it's a haven for food enthusiasts like me.

With a plethora of bars and restaurants offering outdoor seating, deciding where to eat can be a delightful yet daunting task.

One of my personal favorites is The Crown Pub, a place that never fails to satiate my taste buds with its fantastic food.

Shopping is another experience that downtown Fort Collins excels.

From local crafts to global brands, there's a store for every shopper's dream.

Shops along Downtown Fort Collins
Page Light Studios / Shutterstock.com

One of the perks of being here is the abundance of free public amenities.

The multi-level car park, for instance, is free on Sundays.

There's no better feeling than finding a parking spot without having to worry about any charges.

Plus, the availability of clean public restrooms ensures a hassle-free outing for everyone.

And let's not forget the vibrant nightlife!

Whether you are a patron of live music or a fan of quiet, intimate bars, downtown Fort Collins has something for everyone.

The outdoor seating areas in the bars offer great "people-watching" spots.

There's always something interesting happening around the corner.

Bicycle ride along Downtown Fort Collins
Citycommunications at English Wikipedia, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

See Various Arts at the Museum of Art Fort Collins

I've always had a soft spot for art; it's like a portal into the minds of others, and sharing in this journey is the Museum of Art Fort Collins.

Set in a Renaissance revival building, this museum offers an exciting blend of contemporary art exhibits and interactive activities for kids.

I find myself drawn to its charm more often than not, appreciating the wealth of creativity that our community has to offer.

Every visit to the museum is a new experience for me.

Their exhibits are not static; they rotate regularly, showcasing everything from local talent to established international artists.

The museum's commitment to providing a platform for a diverse array of artists is something I deeply admire.

This year, they have a fantastic mask exhibit.

It's amazing to see how the artists from our community have transformed a simple mask into stunning pieces of art.

It's a display that captures the spirit of creativity and resilience in our community during these challenging times.

One exhibit I'm rather excited about is the Picasso printmaking collection.

It's a real treat for those who appreciate the legendary artist's work.

Explore the Beauty of Colorado State University

Exterior of a building at Colorado State University
University of College / Shutterstock.com

It's hard to find a place that beats the charm of Colorado State University.

Nestled with the Rocky Mountains as a backdrop, the university has a special place in my heart.

I've strolled through the campus countless times, and it never ceases to amaze me with its beauty.

It's not just me; even those who aren't students here can't resist a walk around the campus.

Welcome sign of Colorado State University
PT Hamilton / Shutterstock.com

The campus is adorned with an abundance of trees, providing a shady retreat during those sunny Colorado afternoons.

You'll find plenty of benches and tables tucked away under these trees, perfect for taking a break or even catching up on some reading.

I'm a huge CSU Rams fan and have witnessed some great football games at their fantastic stadium.

Even though I miss the old one, the new stadium on campus is quite impressive.

Exterior of Colorado State University's stadium
University of College / Shutterstock.com

Final Thoughts

Life in Fort Collins is a delightful blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and vibrant city life.

Indeed, living in Fort Collins is about celebrating the joy of discovery, the spirit of community, and the love for nature—and I wouldn't have it any other way.

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