Situated north of Denver and tucked between the plains and the mountains, Fort Collins is the last city on Interstate 25 north before you hit the Wyoming border. It's also a gateway city to northern Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park and Roosevelt National Forest. And it has plenty to offer on its own.
Though there was a fort here in the 1860s, it was more of a trading post where American Indians and traders met on the banks of the Cache la Poudre River (French for "hide the powder"), for the most part in friendly fashion. While its name suggests otherwise, there's never really been a strong military presence here.
Be sure to visit the Old Town Historic District, with its fine bookstores, galleries and shops. Other historic must-sees include the Fort Collins Museum and Avery House (a stately Victorian home), as well as a self-guided historic walking tour of downtown. You can even ride an old trolley.
Because Fort Collins is also home to Colorado State University, it has all the liveliness and bustle of a college town. Good restaurants, brewpubs, nightlife and culture abound. There's always something going on.
Anheuser-Busch has a major Budweiser beer brewing operation here, with free tours (and samples) for guests and a peek at the world-famous Clydesdale horses. Fort Collins is also one of Colorado's major craft-brewing hubs, featuring New Belgium Brewing Company, Odell Brewing Company and Fort Collins Brewery, all of which offer tours of their operations.
This northern Colorado city is an outdoor-oriented community, with the nearby national park, Lory State Park and Horsetooth Reservoir, where you can do everything from boating and swimming (in the summer months) to horseback riding, camping, fishing, mountain biking and rock climbing. And there are plenty of places for off-road driving, mountain biking, hiking and other outdoor activities.
Golfers will find several challenging local courses, and anglers can fish for both stream and warm-water fish.