It’s a strange phenomenon, but it seems the people who grow up in or live in super awesome cities, tend to miss some of their hometown’s greatest attractions. Sure, you recommend the New Belgium Brewery tour to everyone who visits, but when was the last time you did it? Or better yet, have you ever seen a live show at The Mish?
In this guide, we rounded up the essential things for every Fort Collins resident to do: whether you grew up here, you’ve been living here for years, or you just arrived.
To explore the rest of our beautiful state, check out 50 Things to Add to Your Colorado Bucket List, too!
Photo courtesy of The Elizabeth Hotel, Autograph Collection
If you live in town, it makes sense you haven’t stayed overnight at the Elizabeth yet, but you’re definitely missing out. Situated in the heart of Old Town, the hotel has fashioned itself as a community hub, offering partner businesses on-site like The Emporium Kitchen and Wine Market, Sunset Lounge, Magic Rat Live Music and Bowerbird Coffee. With 164 rooms total, you’ll encounter design details like record players and local art, decadent hotel rooms and themed luxury suites. The Beer & Bike Suite includes a beer pong table, a craft beer tap and a bottle cap backsplash; the Music Suite features a high-tech record player, a sound system and a baby grand piano, and the Rams Suite offers a historic and elegant setting in green and gold.
Birney Car 21 is Fort Collins’ historic trolley, and it turned 100 years old in 2019! Today, you can visit Birney Car 21 on summer weekends and holidays for a 3-mile round trip between City Park and Howes Street in Downtown Fort Collins. It’s a great way to enjoy local history and take a unique tour of our city center. Because this attraction is seasonal, be sure to check the schedule here before you make your plans.
For more light-hearted and kid-friendly things to do, we recommend reading 20 Things to Do with Kids in Fort Collins.
The city’s craft beer giants aren’t the only breweries you need to visit in town. Funkwerks is a favorite choice for locals thanks to their great craft beer, of course, and also their awesome outdoor patio. Their flagship Saison has been winning Great American Beer Festival medals for years and stealing hearts in FoCo for even longer. It’s an essential beer if you want to be a Fort Collins resident.
To find more local breweries, check out The Ultimate Guide to Fort Collins Craft Breweries.
Just over 3 miles out and back, the Arthur’s Rock trail climbs to the height of Lory State Park so you can enjoy one of Fort Collins’ most breathtaking views. Along the way, you’ll also pass through open grass fields, rocky climbs and other surprise views.
For more scenic backdrops in town, check out 18 Instagram-worthy Backdrops in Fort Collins, Mapped.
The Avery House was originally built for just $3,000 in 1879 using sandstone from local quarries. Franklin Avery and his wife Sara raised their children in the house and added several additions throughout the years. Today, the house, the Margareth Merrill Memorial Gazebo, the fountain, and the carriage house are all part of the Avery House Historic District listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and it’s all maintained by Poudre Landmarks Foundation. To learn about private group tours and weekly open houses, click here.
And for even more historic experiences, check out 15 Historic Landmarks You Can Visit in Northern Colorado.
The Gardens on Spring Creek is the community botanic garden of Fort Collins. In 2004, the 18-acre site opened to provide us with a venue for horticulture education and appreciation. Their mission is to enrich the lives of people and foster environmental stewardship through horticulture, and they’re continually expanding their programs and their site! In fact, in 2019, they opened and are continuing to work on brand new gardens and facilities. To stay up to date on these expansions and upcoming events, check out the website here.
We know it sounds crazy, but there really are people who haven’t done this yet. This now globally famous craft brewery started from humble beginnings right here in Fort Collins and has been a driving force when it comes to our city’s environmentally practices, craft beer fame, and fun-loving attitude. When you sign up for a free tour of the facility, you get to step inside the production areas and learn all about the history, the barrel program, environmental sustainability, employee ownership and more. You can sign up in advance here, and be ready to get plenty of samples!
For more fun tours all around the region, read The Best Guided Tours to Take in Northern Colorado.
A beloved tradition in a town that was built by agriculture, the Fort Collins Farmers’ Market pops up Sundays and Wednesdays through the summer. This particular market has been going strong since 1984 and is the oldest farmers’ market cooperative in Colorado! For details and dates, click here.
For information about more regional markets, check out The Ultimate Guide to Northern Colorado Farmers’ Markets which is updated annually.
One of the most popular commuting and riding options in Fort Collins, the Spring Creek Trail covers more than 7 miles to connect the east and west sides of the city. On the western end, the trail begins at Fossil Creek Trail in Spring Canyon Community Park and travels all the way to the Poudre Trail in Cattail Chorus Natural Area. Along the way, you’ll pass by the Gardens on Spring Creek and several of the city’s beloved local breweries, businesses and restaurants. To find out more about those places, we recommend Where to Stop Along the Spring Creek Trail in Fort Collins.
Rocky Mountain National Park is the most popular outdoor recreation destination in Northern Colorado for tourists and locals alike. It spans 415 square miles, offers both drives and hikes, 300 miles of hiking trails, native wildlife like elk, bad eagles and bighorn sheep, winter activities, wilderness camping, and more.
To begin your explorations, we recommend The 9 Best Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park to See Fall Colors and The 10 Best Hiking Trails Near Estes Park, Colorado. For even more things to do on your day trip, check out Everything You Need to Do When You Visit Estes Park.
An easy and straightforward app download for Apple and Android users, the Fort Collins Ale Trail is the best way to combine your love for craft beer with local philanthropy. When you download the free app, you get access to a map of all participating businesses, including spots like The Mayor of Old Town, Turtle Mountain Fermentery, even Soul Squared Brewing in Wellington and Timnath Beerwerks in Timnath. There are more than 25 total! Then, you can purchase the $20 Fort Collins Ale Trail Pass to access more than $100 worth of offers at these participating businesses, and a portion of your proceeds goes to the participating organization of your choice. For more information and links to app downloads, click here.
Nestled against the Cache la Poudre River just 30 minutes outside of the city, the sounds of the river and the sounds of live music reverberate in the canyon to produce some of the best live shows in the region. In addition to an indoor, year-round venue and an outdoor, seasonal venue, they also offer a restaurant, plenty of parking and places to sit.
If you’re a huge music fan, check out our guide, The Ultimate Guide to Fort Collins’ Most Popular Music Venues.
This little bakery combines our love for local with everyone’s favorite food: donuts! Their Colorado-style treats use the best ingredients from around the state—like Palisade peaches and locally harvested honey—to craft donuts from scratch without adding unnecessary sweeteners or preservatives. With the help of their donut-making robot, every treat is made to order and fried in Colorado sunflower oil then served alongside coffee from Fort Collins roaster The Coffee Registry.
And because FoCo DoCo is located in The Exchange, a visit here means you can enjoy a whole lot more than just delicious donuts. Check out Your Guide to The Exchange in Fort Collins for more information.
An awesome little booklet built by The Passport Program, the Fort Collins Passport includes more than 50 two-for-one offerings at some of our favorite businesses around town, including restaurants, breweries and cocktail bars, but also coffee shops, cafes and awesome destinations in Loveland and Greeley, too. To learn more about the passport and purchase online, click here. It’s a great way to visit the region’s best food and drink spots!
Whether it’s making a trip to WeldWerks Brewing in Greeley or traveling to Loveland for a show at Budweiser Events Center, our nearby communities are definitely worth a visit. To begin your explorations, we recommend starting with these ideal day trip guides which explore two of our favorite Northern Colorado neighborhoods: A Self-Guided Tour of Downtown Greeley, Mapped and A Self-Guided Tour of Downtown Loveland, Mapped.
What are your essential things to do in Fort Collins and Northern Colorado? Tell us in the comments below!