Is Fort Collins a great beer town? Yes, but it's so much more than that. Here's how to explore all the city has to offer — by using all your senses.
Sitting at the base of the Rocky Mountain foothills, Fort Collins, CO is best known as a college town and craft brewing hub. But as the mid-sized city booms – its population is projected to double in size by 2050 – residents are building a burgeoning urban identity based on passion for the great outdoors, deep agricultural roots and a vibrant culture of innovation. So whether you’re a local, a visitor, or admiring from afar, here’s how to explore all that Fort Collins has to offer – by using all of your senses.
Take in the ridiculously charming sights of of Fort Collins’ Old Town Square, which was inspired Disneyland’s Main Street, USA more than 60 years ago. In its modern incarnation, the town adorns its historic buildings with a creative vision. For a local art fix, visit dozens of museums, galleries, and artist cooperatives. But, remember, it’s not always about the destination. Keep your eyes peeled while you wander – there’s always something to see.
For more than 20 years, Fort Collins’ Art in Public Places program has sponsored painters and sculptors to decorate the town, from alleyways to electrical boxes. The city maintains an up-to-date website with the newest pieces, and publishes a map of public art throughout town.
Fort Collins just might be the ‘Music City’ you never expected. Whether you’re into hip-hop, jazz, or a bluegrass jam, the mix of beloved music spots – from Hodi’s Half Note to Avogadro’s Number – as well as new additions such as The Magic Rat and recently revamped Washington’s all but guarantee you’ll find the right fit.
Once the weather warms up, outdoor listening options abound at The Mishawaka, festivals like FoCoMX and New West Fest, and concerts throughout town five days a week. Those who prefer to make their own music can play at the Museum of Discovery‘s Music & Sound Lab, lay down tracks at Bill Stevenson and Jason Livermore’s The Blasting Room, or borrow an instrument from The Elizabeth Hotel‘s guest lending library.
Sample Fort Collins’ creativity by tasting your way around town. Home to Colorado’s only land grant college, Fort Collins embraced farm to table dining before being a locavore was a trend. Dozens of restaurants throughout town source at least some of their ingredients from local farms, and many – including The Gold Leaf which sources only from within a few hundred miles, and The Emporium which weaves Colorado ingredients into French brasserie-style meals – center their cuisine around the ethos.
When it comes to drinking, with 20 craft breweries, the city is best known for its beer. But for a hyper-local flavor, head to Scrumpy’s Hard Cider Bar where Dances with Squirrels and 17 Mile Farmhouse Cider are made with fruit harvested from local trees.
Come summer, you can take in the best scents that local agriculture has to offer by visiting gardens, farms and markets. The Gardens on Spring Creek and Colorado State University’s Flower Trial Garden are ideal spots to sniff seasonal blooms while learning about local ecology. Bring the family and pick your own berries and flowers at Garden Sweet.
To get a real feel for Fort Collins – the road beneath your tires, the dirt beneath your feet and the sandstone at your fingertips – embrace your love for the great outdoors. Cycling is the most efficient way to tour breweries and get around town, and hikers and mountain bikers will find miles of trails winding into the foothills. Swim, paddle, fish, or boat on Horsetooth Reservoir and the Cache la Poudre River, which runs from the canyon through downtown. For a truly tactile take on the city, try bouldering at Rotary Park, one of the sport’s most historically significant sites.