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22 Fun & Best Things to Do in Fort Collins, Colorado

22 Fun & Best Things to Do in Fort Collins, Colorado

When people visit Colorado, they don’t often think about visiting the northern Front Range city of Fort Collins. That’s too bad, because there are lots of fun things to do in Fort Collins, and it’s a wonderful place to visit.

The people in this city are friendly and welcoming, and it’s a city that’s large enough that you definitely won’t be bored, but that is small enough that you won’t be overwhelmed, either. You’ll love it.

Fort Collins tourist attractions are numerous and varied. There are lots of things for outdoor enthusiasts to check out, plus plenty of options for history buffs, too. Old Town Fort Collins is quite charming to wander around in, and there are lots of breweries and distilleries to try out, too. On top of all that, you’ll find museums, historical buildings, parks, galleries, fun things to do with the kids, and more.

This list of the top things to do in Fort Collins will give you some great ideas about how to best spend your time in town. There are plenty of fun things to do and interesting places to see that will entertain all types of visitors, so start planning your trip to this wonderful small city today.

Guided 3 Hour Fort Collins Old Town Food Tour
1. Guided 3-Hour Fort Collins Old Town Food Tour Top Recommendation

Come away with loads of history of Fort Collins, and a full bell, with this 3 hour food tour through the Old Town. This small group guided tour (max 8) will visit five different restaurants in the area, where you’ll get a generous sample at each one. You’ll also learn about the history of Fort Collins and see why the city is growing rapidly. Be prepared to eat a good amount of food on this tour Sample a variety of different cuisines Visit five restaurants and learn what makes them stand out Possible items to try are pizza, donuts, cider,

The Dinner Detective Murder Mystery Dinner Show Fort Collins
2. The Dinner Detective Murder Mystery Dinner Show - Fort Collins

The Dinner Detective is America's largest interactive murder mystery comedy dinner show! You'll be immersed in a hilarious murder mystery from the moment you sit down for dinner until your final curtain call. Solve a hilarious crime while you feast on a fantastic four-course plated dinner. Just beware! The killer is hiding somewhere in the room, and you may find yourself as a prime suspect!

Fort Collins Ghost Tour
3. Fort Collins Ghost Tour

The best way to get to know a city is by exploring its history and legends. Fort Collins has plenty of both! Join this tour and learn about the city’s most haunted spots, as well as the history that makes them legendary. You’ll get taken underground where you’ll be able to hunt for ghosts in an eerie setting. Your guide will tell you all about the buildings as well as their spooky stories.

TLDR;

  • Most Significant Landmark: Cache la Poudre River Canyon
  • Best Park: Spring Canyon Community Park
  • Best Free Activity: Horsetooth Mountain Open Space
  • Best Activity for Kids: Fort Collins Museum of Discovery
  • Best Activity for Adults: Museum of Art Fort Collins
  • Best Food: Totally 80’s Pizza & Museum
  • Best Nightlife: Old Town Fort Collins
  • Best All-Round Accommodation: The Armstrong Hotel

Best & Fun Things to Do in Fort Collins, Colorado

1. Colorado Welcome Center at Fort Collins

Colorado Welcome Center at Fort Collins
Image from TripAdvisor

Address: 3745 E Prospect Rd #105, Fort Collins, CO 80525

Anyone visiting Fort Collins will be wise to start their exploration at the Colorado Welcome Center at Fort Collins. The helpful, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic staff at this spot will supply you with information, guidance, maps, brochures, and more and they will be thrilled to answer each and every one of your questions about the area and about Colorado in general.

Furthermore, this center is the home of the North Park Region office of Colorado State Parks so you’ll be able to ask for detailed information about the Rocky Mountain State’s public lands as well.

Furthermore, the center is surrounded by over two hundred acres of nature preserve and is a lovely spot for hiking on the center’s nature and interpretive trails or for having a picnic at one of the picnic tables. This is a great first stop to learn about and get a good feel for what Fort Collins, Colorado is all about.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Breckenridge, Colorado

2. Fort Collins Municipal Railway

Fort Collins Municipal Railway
Image by Steve Morgan used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Address: 1501 W Oak St, Fort Collins, CO 80521

Way back in 1907, streetcar service began in Fort Collins to provide public transportation to the people. However, the first streetcars began as a private venture and struggled as a viable business; it closed in 1918. In 1919, the people of Fort Collins voted for the city to buy the streetcar company.

It expanded at that time and streetcars continued to help Fort Collins residents to get around town until 1951, when it became unprofitable for the city to continue the service. In 1977, the Fort Collins Junior Women’s Club proposed the restoration of one of the original 1919 cars, which had been rusting and decaying since the streetcar service shut down.

This grew into a larger plan to get the streetcars running again, and in 1980, the Fort Collins Municipal Railway Society was formed to reach that goal. By 1984, some of the streetcars were running again.

Today, you can ride on one of these historic streetcars, but only in the warmer months of the year. Streetcars run every thirty minutes on afternoons from late April to late September on weekends and national holidays, and you can board in four different locations around town.

3. Old Town Fort Collins

Old Town Fort Collins

Old Town Fort Collins is a triangular neighborhood defined by South College Avenue to the west, East Mulberry Street to the South, and Riverside Avenue to the east. It’s home to the Old Town Library and Library Park, the Aggie Theater, the restored Armstrong Hotel, and the Town Pump bar which has been open since 1909.

There are a variety of old brick buildings in this neighborhood that date back to the late 1800s and early 1900s, and you’ll truly feel like you stepped back in time here. When you’re in Old Town, you can imagine what Colorado cities like Fort Collins may have looked like one hundred years ago or more.

There are lots of great shops and restaurants in this area and it’s popular with visitors and locals alike. Old Town Fort Collins is a lovely place to spend an afternoon window shopping or to have a romantic dinner with your favorite date.

If you’d like to explore this area in a guided tour fashion, there are a number of fun guided tours of Old Town Fort Collins to try. This Fort Collins ghost tour will give you a spooky overview of this city’s haunted history.

If you’re afraid of ghosts, perhaps you’d prefer a guided 3-hour Fort Collins Old Town food tour instead.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Vail, Colorado

4. Cache la Poudre River

Cache la Poudre River

The Cache la Poudre River is a 126-mile-long river that starts high in the Rocky Mountains at an elevation of 10,755 feet and which ends near the town of Greeley at 4,800 feet. In French, its name means “hide the powder;” it’s named for a time during the 1820s when some French trappers were caught by a snowstorm and buried some of their gunpowder by the river to lighten their load.

Locals generally refer to it as “The Pooder,” which sounds ridiculous but is understood by all. As a result of the massive elevation drop, it rushes most of the way and has carved out an incredible canyon – the Poudre River Canyon – west of Fort Collins. It’s an absolutely breathtaking drive.

If you don’t feel like leaving town, though you can still check out the Cache la Poudre in town. The river slows down a bit as it passes through Fort Collins (except at the Poudre River Whitewater Park near North College Avenue) and you can view it and walk along it in the McMurry Natural Area, Lee Martinez Park, the Udall Natural Area, the Springer Natural Area, and Riverbed Ponds Natural Area.

There are many places to see and enjoy this short but mighty river, and the beauty of the Cache la Poudre River is worth checking out.

5. Horsetooth Mountain Open Space

Horsetooth Mountain Open Space
Image by Lvaughn7CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Address: 6550 W County Rd 38 E, Fort Collins, CO 80526

The 2,711-acre Horsetooth Mountain Open Space is west of town and is a wonderful place to hike and explore nature. There are over twenty-nine miles of hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails in this natural area.

It’s open year-round, parts of it are open to the public 24 hours a day, and elevations within the space range from 5,430 to 7,255 feet. There’s a usage fee but you’ll find it quite reasonable for the incredible views you’ll see here, including Horsetooth Rock, Horsetooth Falls in the spring, and the Horsetooth Reservoir.

Horsetooth Reservoir is one of the largest bodies of water in Colorado, and it’s a fantastic playground for visitors and locals alike. This reservoir is long and narrow and is 6.5 miles long from top to bottom. Its maximum depth is 250 feet.

People flock to Horsetooth Reservoir for fishing, boating, swimming, and even scuba diving. According to Larimer County Parks and Open Lands, 570,000 people visit and enjoy Horsetooth Reservoir each year.

If you’re looking for somewhere to stay on this side of town, you might like the Quality Inn & Suites University Fort Collins or the Fort Collins Marriott, both of which are only a few blocks away.

See Related: Best Things to Do in Estes Park, Colorado

6. Coyote Ridge Natural Area

Coyote Ridge Natural Area

Address: Coyote Ridge Trail Parking, Fort Collins, CO 80526

Coyote Ridge Natural Area is on the southwestern outskirts of town. This nature preserve is popular with people who want to view and enjoy the mountains and even hike, but don’t want to face a lot of elevation gain to do it. Since this is where the Rocky Mountain foothills meet the plains, there’s only about 600 feet of elevation rise within the preserve.

Wildlife enjoys this park as well. You might see mule deer and coyotes and even bears and rattlesnakes – all of which are exciting, but be alert and beware. There are countless birds, lizards, rabbits, mice, and foxes who live in this natural area too.

If you’re traveling with your pet, this is one of the few parks in the Fort Collins area that does not allow dogs, but other than that, it’s perfect. Mountain bikers, hikers, and horseback riders can connect to other natural areas and trails from here also for a lengthier adventure.

7. Cathy Fromme Prairie Natural Area

Footpath at Cathy Fromme Prairie Natural Area

Address: 2001 Overlook Dr, Fort Collins, CO 80526

Most people who come to Colorado visit to see the spectacular Rocky Mountains. They are certainly incredible but don’t discount or overlook the beauty and wonder of the prairie.

The Cathy Fromme Prairie Natural Area is a scenic nature preserve that was designated to protect the shortgrass prairie habitat that covered this area before the settlers arrived. There are also wetlands and a raptor observatory here.

The paved Fossil Creek Trail is 2.4 miles one way, and walking or biking along it is an excellent way to experience this natural area.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Denver, Colorado

8. Riverbed Ponds Natural Area

Riverbed Ponds Natural Area
Image from TripAdvisor

Address: 2909 Cherry Street, Fort Collins, CO 80525

This natural area is on the eastern side of town, so don’t expect to find any mountains here. What you will find, though, at the Riverbed Ponds Natural Area, is three miles of trails teeming with wildlife, an up-close-and-personal experience with the Cache la Poudre River, and several gravel mine ponds.

This is also a popular fishing area. Birders are also big fans of this natural area and you can expect to see birds like green herons, ducks, American white pelicans, cormorants, and more. Bring your binoculars!

The Comfort Inn Fort Collins North is a hotel that is very close to Riverbed Ponds Natural Area. If you wish to get an early start on birdwatching, this would be an excellent choice for you.

9. Colorado State University Annual Flower Trial Gardens

Colorado State University Annual Flower Trial Gardens
Image by rosepetal236 used under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Address: 1401 Remington St, Fort Collins, CO 80524

The Colorado State University Annual Flower Trial Garden is one of the best things to see in Fort Collins. This large garden blooms from May to October on the Colorado State University campus. In it, you’ll find over 1,000 different cultivated varieties of annual flowers, and it’s free to visit.

The purpose of this garden is to provide students and community members with educational and research opportunities related to the plants found here. Whether you learn something or simply marvel at the incredible beauty found here, this garden on the Colorado State University campus is worth a stop.

The Hilton Fort Collins is nearby if you’d like to be within walking distance of this garden.

See Related: New Mexico vs Colorado: Which Is Better?

10. Spring Canyon Community Park

Address: 3156 S Overland Trail, Fort Collins, CO 80526

Spring Canyon Community Park is one of Fort Collins’ regional parks. It’s 100 acres in size and has a little bit of everything, so it’s no wonder that it’s so popular with Fort Collins locals.

In this park, you’ll find over 100 sports courts, for example, including dedicated spaces for basketball, pickleball, volleyball, and tennis. There’s an archery range, two skate parks, a BMX bike track, a disc golf course, fitness equipment, and horseshoe pits.

There are also two splash pads for little ones to enjoy in the summertime. On top of all that, there are also big, green, open spaces to relax in and picnic tables for enjoying a meal. You’ll love this park.

11. The Gardens on Spring Creek

Address: 2145 Centre Ave, Fort Collins, CO 80526

The Gardens on Spring Creek is an 18-acre botanical garden that’s owned and managed by the City of Fort Collins. Gardeners, botanists, and nature lovers pushed for a garden like this in Fort Collins for decades and it finally became a reality in 2004. It’s been expanded several times since then.

In these community gardens, you’ll find a rock garden, a prairie garden, a plants-you-can-eat garden, a children’s garden, a butterfly house, and more. The Gardens on Spring Creek are lovely at any time of year; they’re a little less bright and colorful in the winter, but even then there’s plenty to see.

See Related: The Ultimate Colorado Springs Itinerary

12. Lee Martinez Community Park & Farm

Address: 600 N Sherwood St, Fort Collins, CO 80521

Lee Martinez Park is a park on the east side of Fort Collins. The Cache la Poudre River and the Poudre River Trail pass through this park and there are other trails and open spaces to enjoy.

The big draw of this park, though, is The Farm at Lee Martinez Park. This small farm has existed since 1985 to teach people about the agricultural history of Fort Collins. Visitors can meet farm animals, see antique farm equipment, and participate in hands-on activities.

13. Fossil Creek Park

Address: 5821 S Lemay Ave, Fort Collins, CO 80525

Fossil Creek Park is a 58.5-acre public park that is full of amenities including large fields, sledding hills, softball and baseball fields, tennis courts, a splash pad, a dog park, and paved pathways that circle the Portner Reservoir.

All of that is quite lovely, but the real draw here is the dinosaur-themed playground that you and your kids will love. It’s unique and exciting and is not like any other playground anywhere. If you’re looking for things to do in Fort Collins with kids, this will be a big hit.

See Related: Most Haunted Hotels in Colorado to Visit

14. Totally 80’s Pizza & Museum

Totally 80's Pizza & Museum
Image from TripAdvisor

Address: 2567 S Shields St Unit 4C, Fort Collins, CO 80526

This pizza joint is more than just a pizza joint – it’s also a museum. Owners Alex and L’aura Morgan spent a decade tracking down and buying all sorts of cool 80’s memorabilia including vintage video games, autographed photos, hand-written lyrics by big-name 80’s artists, and so much more. If you were alive in the 1980s or are a 1980s enthusiast, you’ll be amazed by it all.

But on top of all that, this place also serves excellent pizza – something that’s hard to come by in Colorado. After collecting for ten years, the Morgans opened this spot in 2014, and it’s been a hit ever since.

They make their own dough and sauce and have a large selection of ingredients and specialty pizzas. There are also plenty of sides and everything is made to order. If you love the 1980s and pizza, do not miss this place.

15. Fort Collins Museum of Discovery

Fort Collins Museum of Discovery
Image by Zerdnog used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Address: 408 Mason Ct, Fort Collins, CO 80524

If you’re looking for a museum dedicated to science, history, and culture while you’re visiting Fort Collins, then you’ll love the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery. This museum is relatively new; it opened in 2008 thanks to a public-private partnership between the city and the non-profit Discovery Science Center.

This museum is interesting for visitors of all ages, but kids will especially enjoy it. There are exhibits on natural areas, wildlife, health, transportation, and music and sound. There’s also a 360-degree dome theater there; films rotate every few months. You’ll learn a lot and will have so much fun at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery.

See Related: Best Unusual Museums in the US

16. Global Village Museum of Arts and Cultures

Global Village Museum of Arts and Cultures
Image from TripAdvisor

Address: 200 W Mountain Avenue # C, Fort Collins, CO 80521

This small museum in downtown Fort Collins showcases folk art from around the world in order to inspire connections between its visitors and people all over the globe. The exhibits in the Main Gallery rotate periodically and focus on different parts of the world at different times; the Village Arts Gallery is a more permanent collection of items representing the art of ancient, contemporary, and traditional cultures with an emphasis on art from Africa, Asia, and Oceania.

The Mundoville Gallery of International Folk Art in Miniature features 21 miniature houses and hundreds of international folk dolls that were once the personal collection of the late Jeanne Nash, a founding member of the museum. There’s so much to see in this museum, and you’ll leave in awe and with a better understanding of art around the world.

If you wish to stay nearby, The Elizabeth Hotel is only a few blocks away. It’s one of the nicest properties in Fort Collins.

17. Museum of Art Fort Collins

Address: 201 S College Ave, Fort Collins, CO 80524

This art museum is located in a historic, Renaissance-revival style, 1911 post office building on the edge of Old Town Fort Collins, not far from downtown Fort Collins. Although this museum is rather small for an art museum, it’s worth a visit.

Touring exhibits of contemporary art always have a place here, so you never know what you’ll find inside on the day of your visit. The museum also has a permanent collection that includes works of all kinds, including fiber arts, sculpture, painting, mixed media, and more. The museum also offers hands-on experiences for kids that your little ones will love.

See Related: Most Famous Historical Landmarks in the USA

18. Breweries & Distilleries

Breweries & Distilleries fort collins

Address: 500 Linden St, Fort Collins, CO 80524

What is Fort Collins known for? The answer to that question has changed over the years but today, craft beer and spirits are a big deal in Fort Collins, Colorado, and this area is well-known for being a leader in their production.

In fact, you could spend every waking minute of your trip to this area in breweries and distilleries trying the local brews if you wanted, and many people do. Because there are so many different breweries and distilleries here, you can count on them all being quite good – a subpar alcohol producer in Fort Collins wouldn’t last very long with all the competition they’d face.

New Belgium Brewing Company, Odell Brewing Company, Zwei Brewing, Horse and Dragon Brewing Company, Funkwerks, Maxline Brewing, and Gilded Goat Brewing are all excellent options for starters, but there are many more than that, too. If you prefer a distillery, the Reserve Tasting Room by Old Elk Distillery is excellent.

If we had to choose one brewery, it would be the New Belgium Brewery. Every Friday night, they have live music from a variety of local bands, and they’re open for private events, as well as tours where guests can learn about the brewing process.

Though if you can, you might as well sample them all, but pace yourself and be careful. Fort Collins is at 5000′ of elevation, and if you’re a flatlander who just arrived, the alcohol may affect you more than you might guess.

19. The 1879 Avery House

The 1879 Avery House
Image by GribecoCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Address: 328 W Mountain Avenue, Fort Collins, CO 80521

The 1879 Avery House was built, as you might imagine, in 1879 by town surveyor and banker Franklin Avery, not far from downtown Fort Collins. At that time, it cost just $3,000 for its two rooms on the first floor, three bedrooms on the second floor, and a basement. The Avery family added to it many times while they raised their family there, and descendants of the Avery family lived there until 1962.

In 1974, the home was purchased by the City of Fort Collins and was restored by the newly formed Poudre Landmarks Foundation, Inc. Today, you can take docent-led tours through the home on weekends to see the home, the period furniture, and historic costume collection pieces on display there.

The neighborhood in which you’ll find the Avery House is just west of the area that’s officially considered Old Town Fort Collins, and that makes this area a perfect one to stay in. You’ll be within walking distance of everything there. Fortunately for you, there are quite a few vacation rentals in this area, and many of them are in historic homes similar to the Avery House.

For example, this Victorian cottage in the heart of town that was built in 1903 and sleeps four. Or this 1903 Old Town bungalow that sleeps five. There are lots of very nice vacation rentals to consider in this area, so it will be easy to find something not only suitable but also wonderful for you and your companions.

See Related: Best Cheap Places to Travel in the US

20. 1883 Water Works

1883 Water Works
Image from TripAdvisor

Address: 2005 N Overland Trail, Fort Collins, CO 80521

Back in 1883, the City of Fort Collins was quite new. The city’s first public works project was to construct this water works to pump water to the people who needed it. It was designated a Local Landmark in 1971 and Friends of the Water Works began giving tours of the property in the early 1990s. The Poudre Landmarks Foundation took over its management in 1995.

Today, you can take tours led by Friends of the Water Works docents on Saturdays in the spring, summer, and fall. The original Gothic Revival-style building still stands but is empty inside. However, it’s worth a visit if you want to learn a bit more about public facilities of long ago.

21. Fly High Trampoline Park

Fly high trampoline park

Address: 218 Smokey St, Fort Collins, CO 80525

Is it cold and snowy or rainy outside and you’re looking for some place indoors to blow off a little steam with kids? Fly High Trampoline Park is just the place for doing exactly that.

This is part of a chain of locations in the west, so if you’ve been to one before, you’ll find similar fun and attractions here like a launch pad with foam pits, trampoline basketball court, dodgeball, and lots and lots of trampolines. This is a great place to go if your kids are antsy and you’re sure to have a lot of fun jumping around here too.

See Related: Best Road Trip Books for Kids | Audiobooks and Paperback

22. The Lincoln Center

Address: 417 W Magnolia St, Fort Collins, CO 80521

This multi-venue performing and visual arts complex opened in 1978 and is one of the biggest and most diverse presenters of professional theater, comedy, visual arts, and children’s programs in the state.

Prior to its construction, people interested in performing arts had to travel to Denver to enjoy them, so The Lincoln Center filled a need and helped bring theater, ballet, opera, and orchestras to this northern Colorado city.

In this complex, there’s a large venue that seats 1,187 people called the Performance Hall, a smaller theater called the Magnolia Theater, and the 5,000-square-foot Canyon West Ballroom for events. There’s also a smaller event rental facility called the Columbine Room and a rooftop deck and terrace for outdoor events.

The Lincoln Center’s Art Gallery showcases local fine art, too. There are always events at The Lincoln Center and it’s a beautiful place to see a performance.

FAQ

Is parking challenging in Fort Collins, Colorado?

You’ll likely have a car with you when you visit Fort Collins – either your own or a rental car – so you may be curious about the ease of parking in this medium-sized city. You’ll be happy to know that you can rest easy; there’s usually quite a bit of available parking all over the city. In some areas, you may encounter parking meters. To pay them, you’ll need to download the ParkMobile app.

Where is the best place to stay in Fort Collins, Colorado?

If you want to be in the middle of all the action, Old Town Fort Collins, the historic downtown Fort Collins, and the areas near, around, and especially north of the Colorado State University campus are really your best bet. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a quieter area with great views of the Rocky Mountains and easy access to them, you’ll probably want to look for accommodations on the west side of town. Visitors who plan to spend some of their time in Boulder and Denver will want to stay on the south side of Fort Collins for easy access to those cities to the south.

What is the best time of year to visit Fort Collins, Colorado?

Any time of the year is great to experience Fort Collins! However, you’ll probably find this place a bit more busy and active during the warmer months of the year. Fort Collins is not a ski town, and it’s not even close to any ski resorts or ski mountains; the closest skiing is over an hour away. The easy access to outdoor attractions and open spaces offered by Fort Collins makes this town more of a warm-weather playground than a winter one.

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