Though it is packed with options, Fort Collins isn’t the only place in Colorado with recreation and fun. Just travel an hour outside the city and we have some of the most entertaining and world famous attractions and activities. Some are just fifteen minutes away!
So explore Old Town, tour our own craft breweries and take your bike out on our trails. But once those are checked off your list, get outside the city for a day and take a trip to one of our favorite places in the area!
Red Rocks isn’t just the best amphitheater in the country by our standards. The Rolling Stone thinks so, too! Just over an hour south of Fort Collins, this world-renown amphitheater is built out of the existing rock and is a favorite among locals and musicians alike. Visit any time of day and you may see people exercising, practicing yoga, taking in the Denver skyline or, dancing their hearts out at a show!
Photo courtesy of Mishawaka Amphitheater / Certified Photography
Half an hour outside of Fort Collins, the Mishawaka Amphitheater is nestled between a mountain and the Poudre River. Named one of the most beautiful amphitheaters in the country, it’s worth a trip even if you’re not going for a show. Their restaurant offers a front row seat to views of the Poudre Canyon and it serves Fort Collins’ own Odell Brewing craft beers. If you’re dying to get the full experience, you can see upcoming events and buy tickets online!
Photos courtesy of Centennial Village Museum
The Centennial Village Museum isn’t your typical indoor museum — it’s a living history experience. Immerse yourself in an early pioneer village complete with character impersonators, heritage farm animals and interactive experiences. Specific to Weld County history, Centennial Village is both uniquely educational and fun! You’ll learn how our Northern Colorado communities built themselves up and lived in times before cars, television and Facebook!
Just 30 minutes from Fort Collins, the Loveland Museum and Gallery features both artwork and history. You can enjoy a few permanent exhibits showcasing Loveland and its history or see something new every time with their various temporary exhibits!
Dmitri Obergfell, Go Home Bacchus, 2016 | New Works by Julie Puma at Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design
Photos courtesy of Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art / Wes Magyar, Rob Evens
An hour south of Fort Collins, the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art is a cultural and artistic adventure. For just $1 admission, everyone can enjoy, learn and be inspired by music, paintings, sculptures and installations that take up entire rooms. It’s the perfect day trip for artists, art lovers and history buffs!
The Denver Museum of Nature and Science began in 1868 as a hobbyist’s collection of Colorado fauna in Breckenridge. This was bought, grown and moved to the capitol in 1900 and has since grown into Denver’s huge research center and museum. Head down on a Community Free Day to explore the educational exhibits for free. October 24, November 13 and December 12 are the remaining free days in 2016.
Photo courtesy of Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park covers 415 square miles of Northern Colorado and offers biking, wildlife viewing, camping, fishing and over 300 miles of hiking trails. It is also home to one of our Best Places to See Colorado’s Fall Colors, Trail Ridge Road. The road covers 48 miles from Estes Park to Grand Lake and reaches 12,138 feet of elevation at its highest point. Make it a day trip or a multiple day vacation and take in all the park has to offer!
Pawnee National Grassland has seen frontier pilgrimage, survived the Dust Bowl and flourished with modern agriculture. The area is a famous bird-watching destination and also offers camping, horseback riding, picnicking, stargazing and hiking through some of Colorado’s most lush land and active wildlife. Just 35 miles from Fort Collins, it’s definitely worth a visit!
In its history, the wildlife refuge just outside Denver has transitioned from farmland to a war-time manufacturing site called Rocky Mountain Arsenal, and finally to the refuge in 1992. At 15,000 acres, it’s one of the largest urban refuges in the country and houses over 330 species of native wildlife. The area provides educational programs, catch and release fishing, hiking, wildlife viewing and a self-guided Wildlife Drive tour.
Explore Loveland and its surroundings on horseback at Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch. They offer short rides over gentle terrain, extended climbing rides, and everything in between. Every ride is guided by a trained wrangler so any ability level and any age over seven can ride along!
Photo courtesy of National Park Gateway Stables
National Park Gateway Stables has been helping visitors explore Estes Park on horseback for 40 years. Options include trips into Rocky Mountain National Park and Roosevelt National Park — all with a trained guide. Make the short trip to Estes Park and be a cowboy for an hour or a whole day!
If you want to venture further out of town and further into the wilderness, try Beaver Meadows Stables in Red Feather Lakes, located an hour outside Fort Collins. They offer one and two hour rides, half and full day rides, as well as covered wagon and dinner rides.
Photo courtesy of Ten Bears Winery
Ten Bears Winery and Vineyard is in Laporte just 20 minutes outside Fort Collins. You can schedule a private tour of their land and sample their reds, whites, dessert wines and cider. Or you can stay in the city and enjoy their wines at the Ten Bears Tasting Room inside Rocky Mountain Olive Oil Company, featured in our Guide to Old Town Fort Collins.
Just ten minutes from Downtown Denver, Balistreri Vineyards offers tastings of their award-winning wines and tours of their winemaking facilities and wine cellar. You can show up any day for a tour or bring all your friends along for a group tour! Tastings are free for groups under six people!
Photo courtesy of Beer and Bike Tours
Beer and Bike Tours is a Fort Collins based company that offers guided bike tours along the Front Range, throughout the state, and even nationally and internationally. Their Brew Cruise through Fort Collins is the mellowest and easiest option with stops at three local breweries — depending on which day you go or which breweries you prefer. You can also venture out on the Fort Collins Day Tour or the Fort Collins Mountain Bike Adventure — both of which end with a trip to a local Fort Collins brewery.
Celestial Seasonings in Boulder offers free tea house tours! The 45 minute guided tour follows the entire tea making process from raw ingredients to finished products. Because you get to enter the actual tea factory and manufacturing plant, only children ages five and older are allowed inside, though they can participate in the rest of the tour.
If you’re looking for a small town feel, Lyons is an hour from Fort Collins with a population of just over 2,000. With public art on nearly every corner downtown, art galleries all over the city, and music events year round, it’s a hot spot for both artists and art lovers. Lyons is also home to the original Oskar Blues Brewing — a must-see and a must-try! While you’re there, stop at a couple local favorites — like Julie’s Thai Kitchen and Smokin’ Daves BBQ — for some delicious local fare!
The Western Gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, Grand Lake has a charming, small town feel and is packed with recreation activities — most of which revolve around the largest natural lake in the state. They’re famous for their Fourth of July fireworks show on the lake and the repeat show on New Year’s Eve. But if you missed them this year, you can still hike, fish, boat, bike, ATV or sail in the area! In the winter months you can snowshoe, Nordic ski or snowmobile through the forests. It’s not dubbed the Snowmobile Capital of Colorado for nothing!
Photos courtesy of Bandimere Speedway / SRA Photography
About two hours from Fort Collins, Morrison is a small town located in the foothills. This small town is home to Red Rocks, Bandimere Speedway and some of the cutest boutique shops and local restaurants. While you’re exploring downtown, stop for food at one of our favorites: Red Rocks Grill, the locally famous Willy’s Wings, or the more upscale Café Prague.
The famous Mile High City offers absolutely everything you need for a day of fun, whether that be going to the zoo, the botanic gardens or one of the many museums in the city. Explore upscale shopping options in Cherry Creek; play frisbee in Wash Park; catch a Rockies baseball game; and enjoy Broncos football at the stadium or in one of the many bars or restaurants nearby!
If we missed your favorite place, let us know! We’re always looking for even more reasons to love Northern Colorado!
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