February 9  |  Our Communities

9 Free Things to Do in the Fort Collins Area This Winter

NOTE: This post was updated December 2020 to reflect the latest information and closures.

Fort Collins is bursting with fun things to do. Our constantly evolving food scene, abundant craft breweries and proximity to the great outdoors make our town one of the happiest cities in the country. Did you know all three of those things are available for free? 

That’s right! While there are plenty of opportunities to spend money in Fort Collins, there are also a number of activities that are just as fun and completely free, including brewery tours, downtown foodie events, farmers’ markets and more. We’ve gathered a few of our favorite things to do around town this season that won’t cost you a penny! 

And once you save money with this list, check out 20 Things to Do in Fort Collins and Loveland Under $20.


Take the First Friday Art Walk

First Friday

Photo courtesy of the Downtown Fort Collins Business Association 

On the first Friday of every month, 15 of Old Town’s art galleries, museums and shops (including the Fort Collins Museum of Art) open their doors to passersby for the First Friday Art Walk. Enjoy a self-guided tour after hours featuring new showcases, interactive displays and artist talks!


Taste your way through the Fort Collins Foodie Walk

Fort Collins Foodie Walk

Image courtesy of the Downtown Fort Collins Business Association 

The Fort Collins Foodie Walk is basically the culinary version of the gallery walk, and features 12 of Old Town’s shops and restaurants! The shops stay open late on the third Friday of every month to showcase seasonal flavors, interactive demonstrations and fun tasting opportunities. Make sure to come hungry — there is plenty of food to go around.


Peruse the Fort Collins Winter Farmers’ Market

Fort Collins Farmers Market

If you thought farmers’ markets were reserved for the summer months, think again. From November to April, the Fort Collins Winter Farmers’ Market sets up at Foothills Mall, featuring more than 40 vendors from around the region. Here, you’ll find a large selection of locally made soap, wine, chocolate, cheese, jewelry and more, alongside fresh produce and meat. Perusing the market is completely free, although it might be difficult to avoid the temptation of buying something.


Tour New Belgium Brewing Co.

New Belgium Brewing Co. is one of Fort Collins’ most popular breweries — and for good reason. Thanks to its talented brewmasters, the company pours out hoppy, malty creations of all varieties, each with a unique and well-balanced flavor. Luckily, you can sample all of these at the Fort Collins tasting room or embark on a free tour of the facility anytime between 11:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Spots for these tours will up quickly; be sure to reserve your space online in advance!

2020 Update: New Belgium is currently hibernating for the winter but will open their taproom and begin tours later on in 2021. Check their website for the latest update!


Bring out your inner child at The Lyric

The Lyric is a favorite spot for locals looking to see the latest flick (cocktail in hand), but on weekends, the theater hosts free cartoons from 9 am to noon. Bring the whole family for the show, which could be anything from Looney Tunes to Thundercats. Hungry? Kids and adults alike will love the $5 all-you-can-eat cereal bar, and adults have the option to purchase a mimosa or Bloody Mary if they wish.

2020 Update: The Lyric is temporarily closed but hopes to reopen soon! Check their website for the latest updates.


Dance along to a jazz show at Ace Gillett’s

Ace Gillett's

Below the bar at the Armstrong Hotel, you’ll find a swanky jazz lounge that is buzzing almost every night of the week. The lounge welcomes local and national acts to perform ’40s swing, ’50s blues and hits from the ’60s — and most of the shows are free! Simply stop in to tap along to the music for a few minutes, or grab a cocktail from the bar and stay awhile.

2020 Update: Both the lounge and cafe at Ace Gillett’s are currently closed. Check their website for the latest updates.


Visit the local library

Having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got a library card! Aside from boasting shelves upon shelves of books and movies for you to check out, the Poudre River Public Library also hosts free classes, workshops and author readings for your enjoyment. The classes range from practical topics, like how to properly use Google Drive, to fun discussions about your favorite classic novel. Find one that interests you on the online calendar.


Go on an outdoor adventure

Cross Country Skiing in Fort Collins

An outdoor adventure might already be on your list. We are situated at the base of the magnificent Rockies, after all. Don’t let the snow scare you away, but rather, grab your sled, your snowshoes, your skis — whatever — and get ready to brave the elements in the best way!

To guide you on your adventures, we rounded up the best sledding hills and the best snowshoeing trails near Fort Collins.


Soak in a hot spring

There’s no better way to warm up than by sitting in a natural hot spring under the stars. While there are several springs in Colorado with luxury hotels and accommodations, we are partial to those that are off the beaten path and free to enter. Check out 18 Colorado hot springs that are worth the journey, including two outdoor hike-in adventures! 


Have fun!

You’ll still want to save money when winter is over so check out 20 things to do in Fort Collins and Loveland Under $20! Your wallet will thank you for it.

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