Top Things to Do in Fort Collins

A visit to Fort Collins is a must for every Colorado vacation. Set on the scenic Cache la Poudre River with some gob-smacking Rocky Mountain views, this city has a relaxed vibe and a wealth of things to do, whether your idea of a good time is going to a concert, rafting down a river or savoring craft beers and farm-to-table delights.

By: Visit Fort Collins
Updated: February 16, 2024

Here’s a roundup of some of our favorite things to do in Fort Collins.

Explore the Poudre Canyon

Bike or drive along the Cache La Poudre-North Park scenic byway to Walden and observe the ragged rock formations of the Poudre Canyon. Or take a guided rafting tour down the Cache La Poudre River for an unforgettable white-water experience. On your way up the Poudre Canyon, you’ll see Nokhu Crags, a soaring rock formation on the northern end of the Never Summer Mountain Range. And if you’ve got some extra time, check out one of the many scenic hiking trails like the Lower Dadd Gulch Trail or the Greyrock Trail. The Poudre Canyon is chock-full of fun activities, stunning sights and memory-making opportunities ­— so get out there!

Horsetooth Reservoir

Horsetooth Reservoir has earned a reputation as Fort Collins’ favorite playground. This 6.5-mile-long reservoir offers recreational activities like paddleboarding, boating, water skiing, fishing and swimming. Take a tour around the reservoir to find the best hiking trails or stop by Rotary Park, one of the most coveted bouldering destinations in the state. Despite the human-made origins of Horsetooth, its beauty is no less captivating. Seek out one of the many vantage points in the area and enjoy a sunset picnic to round out the day.

Food & Drinks

Fort Collins may have a small-town feel, but below the surface is a bustling culinary scene that gives larger cities a run for their money. Transport yourself to another part of the world with cultural dishes like empanadas from Babalu’s Cuban Café or Ethiopian sambosas from Raska International Cuisine & Sauce. Or if outdoor dining is your thing, stop by Ginger and BakerRainbow or The Farmhouse at Jessup. You’ll find everything from flaky homemade pot pies to Creole shrimp and juicy steaks. Housed in the historical Armstrong HotelAce Café is an al fresco brunch experience where you can indulge in bottomless mimosas and delicious crabcake Benedicts.

If drinks are on the menu, visit Happy Lucky Teahouse, offering tea tasting and the largest selection of teas in the state like Mahatma masala chai or chamomile lavender. On Sundays, make your way to the rooftop bar at Sunset Lounge for some afternoon high tea, as well as a selection of sweet treats like chamomile crème brûlée. Fort Collins has more than 20 craft breweries to choose from, including the nationally renowned New Belgium and Odell breweries where you can kick back in sprawling beer gardens and enjoy some live music. When you stop by Odell, be sure to ask about their new OBC Wine Project.

Guided Tours

First-time visitors to Fort Collins will want to make the most of their time and learn as much about the area as possible. If you’re feeling adventurous, reach out to Rocky Mountain Adventures for guided rafting trips on the Cache La Poudre, Upper Colorado River, Clear Creek or the North Platte River. For mountain-biking tours and training classes, look no further than Front Range Ride Guides. And if you’re feeling overwhelmed with the amount of amazing dining options in Fort Collins, get in touch with a local guide via the Old Town Food Tour or the Beer and Bike Tours.

City Natural Areas

If you’re looking to enjoy the great outdoors in Fort Collins, you won’t have to go far. The Poudre River Whitewater Park, located just north of Old Town is the perfect spot for tubing, fishing or kayaking. For a moment of serenity, head over to The Gardens on Spring Creek, an 18-acre community botanic garden or the CSU Trial Gardens near the University Center of the Arts. Other areas to visit include the ULTRA Disc Golf Park and the ice-skating rink at Foothills Mall.

Live Entertainment

There’s no better way to unwind after the day than with some live entertainment. So, you’ll be happy to know that the Fort Collins music scene is tremendously accessible. The Mishawaka (locally known as “The Mish”), The Armory and Washington’s are among the most popular music venues in the city for genres like country, folk and rock. Come enjoy expertly crafted cocktails and the full dinner menu from Emporium: An American Brasserie while you take in the vibes of local artists at Magic Rat. For free entertainment and an unforgettable sensory experience, come to the Sunset Lounge or Ace Gillett’s in the Armstrong Hotel to hear some jazz while you savor some freshly made appetizers. Lastly, if you’re in the mood for a hearty laugh, drop by The Comedy Fort. Or visit The Lyric for an eclectic combination of live musical performances and offbeat movies. 

Learn more about Fort Collins’ arts scene

Old Town

In 1950, Harper Goff came to Fort Collins to photograph the buildings of Old Town. His photos would later be used to model the buildings on Main Street USA in Disneyland, California. Today, Old Town is the lively hub of Fort Collins with quirky candy stores and gift shops like Rocket Fizz and Curiosities, local chocolate shops like Nuance and a host of other secrets to discover. Stop by northern Colorado’s largest independent bookstore, Old Firehouse Books to snag a vacation read. And when nighttime rolls around, make your way to Social, a speakeasy with 1920s-themed cocktails and savory charcuteries.

Art in Public Places

Local Fort Collins artists are active in the community through Art in Public Places. This is a program that’s been in place since 1995, which encourages artistic expression and appreciation by sprucing up sidewalk pavers, transformer cabinets and outdoor pianos. The Fort Collins Mural Project is another must-see attraction. Check out a map of all the murals, so you can Instagram ’em all.

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