With near-constant blue skies, relatively flat terrain and more than 280 miles of bike trails and lanes, bikes and beer are natural companions in this town. In fact, Fort Collins produces 70 percent of all craft beer in Colorado, so whether you ride a cruiser, fixie or just a plain old bike, hop on, grab your ID and get pedaling!
Pick up your method of transportation for the day at one of Fort Collins Bike Share's stations around town, which allow visitors to rent bikes out 24/7 and return them to the station of their choice. Then, kick-start your morning in Historic Old Town (the inspiration for Disneyland’s Main Street) and ride up to Bean Cycle Roasters, where you can sip a steamin' cup of ethically sourced, freshly roasted coffee and peruse books at Wolverine Farm Publishing in the same building. Other places to investigate Fort Collins’ exploding craft-coffee arena include Harbinger Coffee, The Coffee Registry and Everyday Joe’s.
Spend the morning exploring Old Town’s shops and galleries. Historic homes like the Victorian-style Avery House and the adobe Museo de las Tres Colonias tell stories of gold seekers, immigrants and sugar beets. Or get an art fix at The Downtown Artery, an eclectic arts space with a cafe, performance venue and retail store selling items produced by the painters, musicians and other artists in residence.
For lunch, stop into the historic Fort Collins Feeder Supply, a new foodie haven, replete with a coffee and pie shop, and two restaurants as well as a small retail store, wine cellar, tasting room, teaching kitchen and banquet room.
Stop by the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, focusing on the history of science and the science of history, blending science, history and culture into an interactive museum. From here, hop on the Poudre Bike Trail and point your handlebars east. Odell Brewing and New Belgium are cherished Colorado breweries that happen to be within very short pedaling distance of each other. Most of the city’s breweries offer free tours and tastings.
If you’re craving beaches more than beer, visit Horsetooth Reservoir. Red-stone cliffs flank the 6.5-mile lake, a favorite of hikers, bikers and rock-climbers. Or hop in a raft to ride the Class III and IV rapids down the Cache la Poudre.
Or drive the Cache La Poudre/North Park Scenic Byway and look out at thick national forest and the tumbling Cache La Poudre River as you twist up the canyon. To really experience Colorado’s only federally designated National Wild and Scenic River, call ahead and book a guided fly-fishing or whitewater rafting trip.
Thanks to 41 protected natural areas, the Fort is also a haven for birders, with the Fort Collins Audubon Society offering free field trips year-round as well as the Nature Conservancy’s guided birding hikes in the Phantom Canyon Preserve. Goose Hollow and Tanglewood are two new natural areas open for exceptional birding and raptor and other wildlife viewing.
Or check out Jessup Farm Artisan Village just east of town for locally crafted goods from coffee to bread, T-shirts, watches, photography, barrel-aged beer and more, along with a few places to grab a bite.
Stop by Fort Collins Brewery Tavern, whose farm-to-fork menu offers local fare. For rare brews, stop by The Forge Publick House, a local favorite located on Old Firehouse Alley. Don’t miss Coopersmith’s Pub & Brewing’s green chili beer, a golden ale with a fresh chili flavor and a hint of spiciness, or one of the town’s newest breweries: 1933 Brewing Company. For new brews, check out McClellan’s Brewing Co. for cask ales brewed in traditional Celtic style by the Scottish-born head brewer, and Three Four Beer Co., a one-of-kind brewpub with 49 tap handles, including several offerings brewed onsite in the three-barrel brew house.
Ideas for sweet treats abound: Check out Nuance Chocolate in Old Town, which makes small-batch chocolates from beans that are roasted and ground on site; Revolution Artisan Pops uses locally sourced ingredients to create its frozen treats; and from savory to sweet and offering more than 120 unique flavors, Rebel Popcorn makes small batch, handcrafted, artisanal popcorn.
See what band is playing at the Aggie Theater or, on Thursday summer evenings, head to New Belgium for the Bike-In Cinema Series — riders spread out on blankets beneath the stars to sip beer and watch a movie. You can also catch a riverside concert at Mishawaka Amphitheater.
Winter sends Fort Collins’ active residents into neighboring Roosevelt National Forest for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing and even snowy horseback rides.