The Northern Colorado area is a community packed with activity, opportunity and adventure, from the mountaintop views on Longs Peak to the heart of bustling downtown Fort Collins. And frankly, most of these activities don’t cost much — or anything at all.
Whether you don’t budge on your budget or you live in lavish luxury, you have to admit that it’s nice to save a few bucks every once in awhile. Thankfully, there are several things to do in the community that won’t put a major dent in your wallet. If you don’t believe us, here are a few (well, 20!) things you can do that will reduce your spending while simultaneously increasing your level of activity.
If you haven’t gone on a free tour at New Belgium Brewing Co., you must change that this weekend — or perhaps the following weekend, because this is a very popular attraction and spaces fill up quickly. You can stop by their Fort Collins tasting room for a pint, taster, growler fill or schwag any time between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. Tours begin at 11:30 a.m. and start every half-hour until 4:30 p.m. To avoid disappoint of major crowds upon arrival, be sure to reserve your space online in advance!
When it comes to outdoor adventure destinations, the Cache La Poudre River is a favorite among FoCo residents for its proximity to the city, and the activities you can do in and around it. You can cast a line in its waters teeming with fish, you can take a dip in the river, or you can tube, kayak or raft down its rushing waves. You might also hike, horseback ride or bike alongside the river on the Cache La Poudre River Trail, enjoying its beauty from the shore. Whatever you do, you won’t have to spend a dime!
Ah, another brewery tour. Well, we must admit that the only thing better than local craft beer is free local craft beer. And that’s what you’ll get at the Odell Brewing Co. brewery tour! They offer free daily tours lasting 30 minutes at 12, 1, 2 and 3 p.m. You may reserve your spot online up to 24 hours in advance, keeping in mind that there are limited walk-in spots available on the day of the tour. Also, be sure to check in with a tap room associate 20 minutes before your tour time to ensure your spot. But most importantly, be sure to have a blast during your tour, sampling some of the finest craft beer in the region — and the world!
We are proud sponsors of Downtown Fort Collins’ First Friday Gallery Walk, a self-guided walking tour featuring wonderful works of art in local art galleries on the first Friday of every month from 6–9 p.m. This is a great way to get immersed in the vibrant and active local arts community — all for a whopping $0.
Another way to experience works of art in a tangible, up-close-and-personal way is with a visit to the Benson Sculpture Garden in Loveland. The park hosts 148 pieces of sculpture on its 10 acres of land, and draws tens of thousands of visitors from around the globe each year. In fact, it has been recognized as “one of the 200 most important modern and contemporary art sites around the world.” And this is right in our backyard! Take advantage of this wonderful artistic experience in Loveland.
Another way to dive into the natural surroundings in the Northern Colorado region is with a visit to Horsetooth Reservoir. You can partake in just about any activity surrounding this breathtaking piece of real estate. Just take a look at the map to get your bearings, making plans to hike along Inlet Bay Trial or Foothills Trail. What do we love most about hiking? You guessed it — it doesn’t cost a thing. Plus, there’s no need to wait in line!
Okay, okay. There are lots of breweries in the area — we get it. But what you may not know is that there is an artisan distillery in town making waves in the world of spirits. Dancing Pines Distillery in Loveland offers free tours, where they serve samples, cocktails and offer a small cheese plate. While the tour is free, you may just want to walk away with a bottle or two of their fine spirits after testing them out. Stop by their Loveland location Wednesday–Friday between 3 and 8 p.m. or Saturday from 1–8 p.m.
It’s almost summer! That means that the Fort Collins Municipal Railway Trolley will be back in action, offering (basically free) rides for everyone. The 3-mile round-trip excursion travels between City Park and Howes Street along Mountain Avenue, lasting about 30 minutes. You can get on board this historic trolley on Saturdays and Sundays May through September between noon and 5 p.m. The trolley boards at the City Park tennis courts, the intersection of Shields Street and Mountain Avenue, Loomis Street and Mountain Avenue, and Howes Street and Mountain Avenue.
Sometimes the grand idea of visiting a local art gallery is squashed by the realization that it will cost a fortune to pay for your entire family’s admission. That is simply not the case at the Fort Collins Museum of Art! You’ll walk away from these exciting art exhibits feeling inspired and moved — and it’s an experience the whole family can enjoy.
The return of consistently warmer weather means we can head to the Holiday Twin Drive-In Theater to enjoy major movies in a nostalgic setting for a low price. This historic theater has been serving Fort Collins and the surrounding communities for over 30 years, and is one of only six drive-ins currently operating in Colorado. It hosts two giant screens, which play a double feature every night. Grab a blanket, some snacks, tune your radios to the right station, and enjoy a current movie in an old-fashioned setting.
Take the whole family along for the indoor adventure of a lifetime at Loveland Laser Tag. This massive three-level 5,700-square-foot facility is Northern Colorado’s largest laser tag arena, hosting a wide variety of games and action-packed activities. Try to get through the indoor ropes course, past the laser maze or up the climbing wall. And of course, play a round or two of laser tag!
Set out to make learning fun for the kids with an educational adventure at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery. Explore the myriad of exhibits in the museum, ranging from a “Music and Sound Lab” focused on sound physics, technology and music history, to the “Schatz Family Exploration Zone,” providing a hands-on approach to learning scientific concepts.
You might be surprised to find a concert option in a list of activities under $20. We have become accustomed to forking over anywhere between $50 and $100 for a single show, but that is not necessary with the shows at Aggie Theatre! If you buy a ticket online in advance, you can spend as little as $5 — or $10 if you wait to buy at the door. What a fun and cheap way to discover new music in a lively setting
Fort Collins Tours has an overwhelming list of tour options to choose from, but some of our favorites include their Ghost Tour, Haunted Pub Tour, and their Speakeasies and Spirits Tour. Each tour costs only $15, and lasts anywhere from 1.5 to 3 hours. Who says tours should only be reserved for tourists? Shouldn’t you be aware of all the interesting — and spooky — details of your city’s past? Learn some fascinating facts about Fort Collins in this relaxed and interactive setting!
In the days of Uber and Lyft, it’s only appropriate that there is a bike-friendly ride-share option available in town. FC Bikes and Bike Fort Collins came together to make sure no man is without a bike in Fort Collins, allowing you to rent a bike from the Bike Fort Collins Library. It’s pretty simple! You have the option to reserve your bike online for a fee of $10, sign up in advance, and then you also pay $10 per day to rent the bike of your choice.
A visit to Rocky Mountain National Park made it on this list, assuming you have a companion coming along for the ride, because admission costs $10 per person and $20 per vehicle, of which you might split amongst your group. All boring financial details aside, this is an incredible experience you won’t soon forget. Once you arrive, you might be overwhelmed by the 415 square miles of opportunity, wondering what you might possibly do in this space. Besides, there truly is so much to do, such as hiking, taking a scenic drive, wildlife viewing, picnicking, camping, fishing, and more!
Spice up your normal routine with a night of bowling at Chipper’s Lanes with your significant other or the entire family. Visit their Horsetooth location or College Center location for a night of active fun for an extremely reasonable price. Be sure to check out their various deals and special events to see if you might be able to save a few bucks by bowling during a less crowded time!
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: We love the Jessup Farm Artisan Village. If you haven’t visited this artisan village located at the northern end of the Bucking Horse community, you need to add it to your FoCo “to do” list ASAP. The village is comprised of several different businesses, including a fitness studio and a farm-to-fork restaurant. But for our budgeting purposes, consider a visit to Bindle Coffee and Lovif Bakery for an exceptional latte and delicious bakery treat.
One of the things we appreciate about the Northern Colorado community is its focus on preserving and celebrating the natural beauty in the area. One tangible way we see Fort Collins doing so is at the Gardens on Spring Creek, a community botanic garden with stunning gardens, adult and youth education programs and lots of community events. You can embark on a group tour for just $25 total, where you’ll learn more about the gardens and the botanical world as a whole. We’ve included it on our list of things to do under $20, assuming you can split the cost amongst members of your group.
The price of this final activity is unknown because of FoCo Cafe’s unique “pay-what-you-can” business model. This concept is quite literal; instead of a cash register on the counter, there is a donation box for guests to donate any amount. They even allow the option for visitors with empty pockets to contribute by offering up their time and talent in exchange for a mouth-watering meal.
In short, “FoCo Cafe’s mission is to build community by providing nutritious and delicious meals to the people of Fort Collins regardless of their ability to pay while using mostly local, organic, and sustainably grown ingredients.”
What budget-friendly activities do you enjoy in Fort Collins and Loveland?
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