8 Reasons to Visit Fort Collins This Fall

Fort Collins is the perfect place to post up during your search for beautiful fall colors. 

A little girl looks over a table of freshly picked pumpkins
A fall day at the pumpkin patch
A mountain biker rides downhill on a dirt trail through a forest of evergreens with a lake and purple and yellow-striped sky in the background
Mountain biking at Horsetooth Reservoir
A group of people sip beer from small glasses as they tour a brewery warehouse
Sipping seasonal brews at New Belgium Brewing Co
A paved road follows a river through a valley as the sun sets on distant peaks
The stunning drive through Poudre River Canyon

When you're not in search of beautiful leaves, we suggest you immerse yourself in all that Fort Collins has to offer, including some of the best restaurantsbreweriesfamily-friendly activities and outdoor recreation in Colorado. Not to mention Fort Collins' downtown area inspired the creation of Disneyland's Main Street, U.S.A., making it perfect for photo ops.

1. Find Fall Color

The peak season for fall foliage typically runs from the last week in September to the second week of October. The proximity of Fort Collins to the Cache la Poudre River Canyon and Rocky Mountain National Park makes it a leaf-peeping magnet. The gold, orange and red leaves sprawl as far as the eye can see as you wind your way through the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Just remember you only get two weeks to soak it all in. Don't hesitate to book your Fort Collins hotel room ahead of time. Top spots:

2. Soak Up Some Culture

Fort Collins is the cultural hub of northern Colorado. The city is full of so many great performance theaters, museums and art galleries that it’s hard to choose just one to visit. And, if you’re in the mood for a concert, look no further than Washington's, the Mishawaka Amphitheater, the Aggie Theater, Avogadro’s Number and many other unique venues. More great places to take in some culture, enjoy nature or see a show:

Explore more of the Fort Collins theater and arts scene

3. Fall Seasonal Beer Tastings

As the leaves begin to fall and the colors start to change, breweries around Fort Collins take note and mix things up by creating beers that incorporate seasonal flavors. New Belgium Brewery is always on top of releasing its seasonal craft beers, including their special-release Voodoo Ranger Atomic Pumpkin which is often around for a limited time. If you’re looking for something new from them, visit the Liquid Center (aka tasting room) and give your taste buds a kick. Another brewery popular for its seasonal offerings is Odell Brewing Co. Odell keeps things interesting by constantly brewing new, creative, limited-time beers on their pilot system, as well as several seasonals. Visit the brewery and sip on Pulp Theory, a Hazy IPA seasonal sipper, Oktoberfest, a Marzen-style lager and Isolation Ale, their popular winter warmer.

Fort Collins is home to 20-plus breweries and counting. We encourage you to get out and sample as many seasonal suds from these breweries as you can.

Learn more about Fort Collins breweries

4. Go On a Tour

If you're a fearless adventurer, contact Beer and Bike Tours or Front Range Ride Guides and tour Fort Collins the way it was meant to be seen: by bicycle. If you want to do more of a self-guided bike tour, feel free to rent a bike from one of the many rental locations around the city. 

5. Pick a Pumpkin or Navigate a Corn Maze

Pumpkin picking in Fort Collins provides an incredible opportunity to visit one of the local farms. The Bartel’s Farm offers a huge selection of pumpkins along with corn mazes and hay rides. Close to Old Town, The Farm at Lee Martinez Park is a great place to see farm animals and take a hayride. Other farms to visit:

6. Shop Until You Drop

Made in Fort Collins

Fort Collins is a city full of artisans and local craftspeople who use the Rocky Mountain backdrop and supportive community for inspiration. Residents are proud to say these products are made in Fort Collins. Here are some places to find the works of local makers:

  • Old Town Boutiques: Shopping in downtown Fort Collins can be a magical experience. Quaint boutiques, historical architecture and unique shops line the streets of Old Town, creating a window-shopping experience surrounded by amenities to keep you on task.
  • Foothills: The Foothills Mall, a 77-acre shopping center remodeled in 2015, includes household names like Victoria’s Secret, Nordstrom Rack and H&M. The mall and the stores along the College Avenue corridor offer a wide variety of clothing, fashionable and functional footwear, and accessories.
  • Front Range Village: Front Range Village has the city’s largest collection of large national retailers and many smaller boutiques in a walkable shopping center. Destination stores like DSW, World Market, Nike Outlet and Lowe’s anchor the 100-plus acre property, while favorite smaller stores fill the rest of this shopping landscape.

7. Attend a Fall Festival

From 10K runs to an international film fest, Fort Collins has a handful of fun autumn festivals to attend. Two of the most popular:

  • Horsetooth Fest: Known as a festival by filmmakers for filmmakers, this annual event welcomes hundreds of patrons for two days of live music, art and, of course, films.
  • Tour de Farms: This annual bicycle charity fundraiser is a fun and festive 30-plus-mile, half-day-plus ride that begins and ends at the farmers' market or a local brewery. It is led by Bike Fort Collins representatives and features a combination of paved and gravel roads, along with two to three stops at local area farms. Each farm stop features light tastings and refreshments.

8. Hit the Road

Make Fort Collins your home base for an amazing fall road trip.

Road trip to Red Feather Lakes 

Red Feather Lakes, located an hour's drive northwest of Fort Collins, is a secluded spot less populated than many Colorado outdoor destinations. Surrounded by 612,000 acres of Roosevelt National Forest, the area is a year-round outdoor playground, but fall is a beautiful time to visit. Hike or fish in one of the eight lakes in the area, four of which are open for public fishing. You may also fish in the nearby Cache La Poudre River, Colorado’s only designated Wild and Scenic River and the area’s best spot for whitewater rafting and kayaking. Nearby Beaver Meadows Resort Ranch offers lodging, fishing, horseback riding and more.

The Northern Colorado Loop tour

The Northern Colorado Loop Tour takes you across 360 stunning miles, connecting three central scenic byways in the area with the Cache La Poudre National Heritage Area. The Cache La Poudre — North Park scenic and historic byway portion of the tour is 101 miles packed with scenery and wildlife and is especially gorgeous in the fall. This byway meanders from the plains and hogbacks into the magnificent Poudre Canyon, over Cameron Pass, North Park and Walden.

From Walden, head to Granby, near Grand Lake, and the headwaters of the mighty Colorado River. Trace the river’s course as it plunges into Gore Canyon, past Radium Hot Springs, Rancho del Rio and on to State Bridge along the Colorado River Headwaters scenic and historic byway.

Head back to the town of Granby and past quaint Grand Lake for the spectacular return to Fort Collins via the Trail Ridge Road scenic byway. The route traverses through the heart of Rocky Mountain National Park along the highest continuous paved road in North America (at 12,183 feet) and arrives in historical Estes Park. (Note: Trail Ridge Road closes seasonally due to the heavy snows the area gets, so check to make sure it's open when you're planning your drive.)

From Estes, the history lesson continues through Big Thompson Canyon and on to the Colorado foothills towns of Loveland, Greeley, Windsor and, finally, back to Fort Collins. This exceptionally scenic drive gives visitors a glimpse into the past while offering a bounty of recreational activities.

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A version of this article originally appeared on visitftcollins.com.