Fort Collins is consistently ranked as one of the best places in Colorado and in the country to raise a family. In fact, this WalletHub study ranks it in the top ten and Windsor, our neighbor to the south, snags the number one spot! Thanks to FoCo’s great public schools, its ideal location in the foothills, and its kid-friendly and entertaining community, we have to agree that this in one of the best places in the country to grow up.
To help make the most of your time here — whether you’re raising your own family or just visiting — we rounded up the best kid-friendly activities, attractions and businesses in Fort Collins and its surrounding communities. Enjoy!
Photo courtesy of Fort Collins Museum of Discovery
Offering thought-provoking fun for all ages, the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery is a hands-on history and science museum. The 16,000-square-foot main gallery combines hands-on and artifact-based exhibits that cover everything from music to fossils to bicycles. Exploring the Northern Colorado region via its history, science and technology has never been so fun!
It’s not an uncommon sight in Old Town to see kids and families racing to Mary’s Mountain Cookies. Feel free to join in because the quarter pound monsters are worth it! They come straight from founder and baker Mary Johns’ kitchen — though they’re now made in 100-pound batches with industrial mixers to meet demand. Today, the local favorite has two locations in Fort Collins, one in Loveland and three others around the country.
The Environmental Learning Center connects both kids and adults with nature by facilitating educational, inclusive and safe experiences in a natural environment that spans more than 200 acres. In addition to offering a self-guided nature trail, ELC special programs are suitable for children as young as Kindergarten and offer hands-on fun and education year-round.
Photo courtesy of FoCo DoCo
Located in Old Town, this local donut shop has made the best treat in the world even better. They serve up hot, made-to-order donuts served alongside a full espresso bar offering drip coffee and cold brew, too. Everything is made in-house from scratch using local ingredients so stop by next time you need a caffeine boost and your kids need a treat!
Just 30 minutes from downtown Fort Collins, Loveland Laser Tag and Fun Center offers laser tag, of course, but also a ropes course, an arcade, virtual reality experiences, bumper cars, a laser maze, a 4D motion simulator, a climbing wall and more!
The Fort Collins Foodie Walk comes to the streets and businesses of downtown Fort Collins every third Friday of the month. Featuring 12 of Old Town’s finest culinary and food-themed shops, you can travel to each one and enjoy free samples along the way. Give your kids the map so they can track each stop along the way and be sure to stop in at Nuance Chocolate, Kilwins and Walrus Ice Cream for sweet samples!
One visit to Nuance Chocolate and your kids may only eat handmade, bean-to-bar chocolate from now on. Made straight from beans that are roasted and ground in Old Town, they offer a huge display of chocolate bars, candies and truffles. It’s almost as fun to choose your treats as it is to eat them!
Operated by Fort Collins Municipal Railway on summer weekend afternoons and holidays, Birney Car 21 is Fort Collins’ famous and historic trolley. Adults can ride for $2, children for $1 and kids 3-years-old and younger ride for free! The round-trip between City Park and downtown Fort Collins takes about one-half hour to complete.
Photo courtesy of Fort Fun
This massive lakeside entertainment center boasts a mini-golf course, go-karts, batting cages, an ice skating rink in the winter, bumper boats in the summer, bumper cars, laser tag, giant slides, and an arcade!
EPIC is Northern Colorado’s premier ice and aquatics facility offering an indoor pool with two diving boards, to indoor ice rinks, skate rentals, concessions and more.
Operating seasonally, Holiday Twin Drive-in is one of Colorado’s last remaining drive-in movie theaters. Each night during the summer, they play a total of four movies: two feature-length films play back to back on each screen for an entire evening of family fun!
Located in Fort Collins, the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program rescues, rehabilitates and releases injured birds of prey including eagles, owls, hawks and falcons. While they work to develop their permanent home, the current RMRP center is available to explore during open houses and through Private Behind the Scenes Tours.
One of Fort Collins’ favorite places for outdoor adventures, Horsetooth Reservoir is just minutes from the heart of downtown. In addition to boating, swimming and hiking, one of the trendiest activities on the water is stand up paddleboarding. If you and your family want to test the waters, you can take lessons and rent safety equipment and boards through local businesses like What’s SUP and Comedy Overlook.
This year-round, indoor pool features a large, kid-friendly, interactive play area complete with slides, a shallow area, a diving board and more fun amenities.
Located along the western banks of Horsetooth Reservoir, Lory State Park offers 26 miles of trails which rarely exceed a 12 percent grade. These beginner routes are perfect for young explorers, hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders!
Located 25 miles northeast of Greeley about an hour east of Fort Collins, Pawnee National Grassland is a 193,060-acre grassland ideal for outdoor recreation. Internationally known as a popular birding area, you can also hike, bike, camp, picnic, horseback ride, stargaze and watch wildlife. Throughout its fascinating history, the land has seen the promise of the frontier, the tragedy of the Dust Bowl and the regrowth of the west.
Operating year-round, The Farm at Lee Martinez Park provides hands-on animal interactions and farm education. Attractions include farm animals, a museum and farm store, hayrides, and pony rides. For more farm fun and to view upcoming programs, click here.
Locally and family-owned, Rollerland offers roller skating on a 12,000 square-foot rink, fun throughout the three-level, indoor playground, an exciting laser maze and an arcade complete with skeeball, air hockey, Donkey Kong, Galaga, Pac-Man and more!
Zippity Zoo Barnyard began with Ridge Valley Alpaca Ranch and has expanded into a family-friendly agritourism experience. Located in northwest Loveland, the Bradbury family invites kids and their families to get hands-on experiences and education through various programs. These include Kids Morning on the Farm, Agritourism Farm Visits, and special holiday programs and events, including a seasonal pumpkin patch!
Located in Estes Park, a trip to Ride-A-Cart includes a trip to one of Colorado’s most charming mountain towns. The facility has been family-owned and operated since 1959 and offers go-karts, bumper boats, bumper cars, a miniature train you can ride, two 18-hole mini-golf courses, batting cages, an extreme trampoline, a classic arcade, and more!
In the comments below, tell us all about their favorite activities!