January 22  |  Our Communities

NoCo Bucket List | 20+ Things You Have to Do in Northern Colorado in 2020

As we enter a new year and a brand new decade, many of us are setting goals, changing habits and creating bucket lists. There’s something refreshing about looking forward to the next year with hopeful expectation and excitement for all that may be in store.

If you need some help completing your 2020 bucket list, you can glean a few ideas from our Northern Colorado Bucket List. Filled with a mixture of easy tasks like visiting a popular community park and some more difficult feats like completing a half marathon, this bucket list is sure to take your 2020 to new heights!


Hike a Fourteener

There are plenty to choose from because Colorado has 58 mountain peaks exceeding 14,000 feet — the most of any state. The closest is Longs Peak, which presents a difficult climb ideal for more experienced hikers. Here’s the full list of fourteeners for those wishing to venture south to more options!


Try a New Brewery

In a craft beer haven like Northern Colorado, it’s likely you haven’t tried every single brewery in the area. Just take a look at the many breweries in NoCo and make plans to visit one you haven’t been to. And stay tuned for the opening of Stodgy Brewing Co., coming to the former Friendly Fire building at some point in 2020!


Tour the Stanley Hotel

Stanley Hotel Estes Park, CO

The Stanley Hotel is much more than just a luxury hotel. In addition to its historic rooms, legendary grounds and destination dining services, its storied and haunted past reaches back more than 100 years, making it one of the most famous hotels in the country. Guided explorations of those legends include The Historic Stanley Day Tour, the F.O. and Friends Family History Tour designed specifically for children 8 and under, and The Historic Stanley Night Tour, which takes you through the hotel and grounds in the dead of night.


Dip Your Toes in the Cache la Poudre River

Sure, you’ve hiked or biked along this popular river, but have you actually jumped in the water? This summer, make a trip to the Cache la Poudre River to cool off in the water. Between Shields Street and College Avenue, you’ll find several spectacular swimming holes on the river. The water is frigid and the currents can catch you off guard if you’re not expecting it, but it offers a welcoming break from hot summer temperatures. Our favorite spots are Picnic Rock, which has a small beach and a rock to jump from, or Legacy Park, which can be accessed by the Poudre River bike trail and offers a rope swing and calmer currents.


Go to a CSU Game

CSU pride is real here in Northern Colorado. Sure, you’ve caught a Rams game on TV, but have you seen them play up close and personal? Make plans to go to a game — whether you’re interested in football, basketball or volleyball. And head to one of these sports bars in Fort Collins before or after the game to complete the experience!


Spend the Day in Greeley

Northern Colorado Communities

Greeley is one of our favorite cities in NoCo. This quiet town is home to one of the country’s most talked-about craft breweries, it has more than five super awesome museums and immersive, historic experiences, it’s home to one of the best live music venues in the region, and it boasts some of the best local food, too. Take a look at our guide, A Self-Guided Tour of Downtown Greeley, Mapped, to enhance your visit to Greeley. And if you’re lucky enough to live in Greeley, you may just find a new spot to check out!


Try Cross-Country Skiing

Cross-country skiing is a great way to explore Northern Colorado’s hiking trails and open spaces while they’re covered in snow. And luckily for us, we don’t have to travel far for prime cross-country skiing. There are plenty of incredible trails and parks for all levels and they’re all within easy reach of Fort Collins, Loveland and our other nearby communities. Ranging from backcountry havens to wide-open parklands, we rounded up some of our top picks in this guide: The Best Cross-Country Ski Trails Near Fort Collins. It even has an interactive map so you can track them down!


See a Concert at The Mish

Nestled against the Cache la Poudre River just 30 minutes outside of the city, the Mishawaka Amphitheatre (also known as The Mish) offers one of the best live music shows in the region. Here, the sounds of the river and the sounds of live music reverberate in the canyon for a truly euphoric musical experience. 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.


Visit Morning Fresh Dairy Farm

Morning Fresh Dairy Farm Bellvue, CO

Photo Courtesy of Morning Fresh Dairy Farm

Owned and operated by the Graves family since 1894, the Morning Fresh Dairy Farm is a fifth-generation farm located in the beautiful Pleasant Valley of Bellvue. Throughout the years, they’ve grown into a large operation still true to their hometown roots, and they even produce Noosa Yoghurt on site. When you take a farm tour, you can sample all the Morning Fresh milk products and you’ll receive a free yogurt! For information on the free 1.5-hour tours, click here. And for more guided tours to take in the region, click here.


Eat Something With Green Chili

Colorado is kind of known for its delicious green chili, which finds its way into burritos, tacos, and sometimes even beer and cocktails. Track down some green chili this year at Santiago’s in Loveland, Alberto’s in Greeley, and Coopersmith’s Pub & Brewing in Fort Collins, where you’ll find their famous Sigda’s Green Chili beer!


Attend Loveland’s Sculpture in the Park

One of the region’s most anticipated annual events, Loveland’s Sculpture in the Park brings thousands of people and artists to Northern Colorado every August. Heralded as one of the finest outdoor juried exhibitions of three-dimensional artwork in the United States, the event showcases more than 2,000 pieces of sculpture created by 160 sculptors from around the world. If you can’t wait until August, stop by the Benson Sculpture Garden any time of the year.


Run in the Horsetooth Half Marathon

Horsetooth Half Marathon Fort Collins, CO

Photo Courtesy of Horsetooth Half Marathon

One of many race events held annually in Fort Collins, the Horsetooth Half Marathon has been going strong for nearly half a century. Runners take off from Hughes Stadium, the former home of the CSU Rams, and race all the way to the finish line party at New Belgium Brewing Company. A great option for first-timers and old pros alike, the course offers a challenging but quick 13.1-mile route and a net loss in elevation. If you’re not up for a lengthy run, you can simply cheer on those brave runners as they pass by!


Meet Wildlife at the Wild Animal Sanctuary

The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg is truly a sight to behold — all 789 acres of it. Here, you’ll find more than 500 lions, tigers, bears, wolves and other rescued animals. They rescue animals from horrible captive situations and rehabilitate them so they can live and roam freely within large natural habitats with others of their kind. Although your visit is helping you check something off your bucket list, your donation helps the animals in the care of the Wild Animal Sanctuary.


Soak in a Hot Spring

Hot springs are naturally occurring warm mineral water springs produced from volcanic activity below the Earth’s surface. Besides being relaxing, the high mineral content gives the water many health benefits. Experience this natural phenomenon at one of the many hot springs in Colorado, including Strawberry Park Hot Springs and Hot Sulphur Springs Resort and Spa, which are nearby.


Go on a Hike Through Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

One of the most beautiful national parks is right in our backyard — so if you haven’t been yet, you’re truly missing out. And one of the best ways to experience Rocky Mountain National Park is with a scenic hike, especially during the fall. A few local favorites include Bierstadt Lake Loop, Ute Trail, Ouzel Falls, Loch Lake, Chasm Lake, Bear Lake to Fern Lake Trailhead, and Mount Ida. For more information about each of these options, check out The 10 Best Hiking Trails Near Estes Park, Colorado.


Ride Birney Car 21

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.


Eat at a Food Truck

Whether it’s at a beer festival, concert or just during your afternoon stroll, eating at a food truck is a fun experience. Mobile food has become all the rage throughout the country, and that certainly includes Northern Colorado! Track down one of the many food trucks in Fort Collins here and find out what weird, unique things you can order from some of our favorite food trucks here.


Attend Tour de Fat

Tour de Fat New Belgium Brewing

Photo Courtesy of New Belgium Brewing

New Belgium Brewing’s Tour de Fat has been a Fort Collins tradition for two decades and has raised nearly $6 million dollars for local bike non-profits since it all began. When the party circles back to New Belgium’s hometown, things get wild! After all, a celebration of bikes and craft brews has no better home than Fort Collins. The event includes the famous costumed bike parade followed by a complete day of free comedians, cirque performers, general mayhemists, top-notch live musicians and, of course, world-class New Belgium beer.


Hike Arthur’s Rock

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. This relatively short and moderate hike is the perfect way to get outside for a quick morning or afternoon hike — complete with a rewarding view at the top!


Try CBD Coffee from Bean Cycle Roasters

CBD has taken the country by storm in the last year or so — making its way into our lotions, oils, food, and even our coffee. Taste the power of CBD at Bean Cycle Roasters, one of our favorite roasters in Northern Colorado. The roaster-meets-coffee-shop shares their Old Town space with Half Crown Creative and Makerfolk to provide our community a place where we can drink coffee, hang out, think, collaborate, shop from local makers, and in this case, feel extra relaxed with a small dose of CBD.


Play One of the Pianos About Town

Pianos About Town Fort Collins, CO

Photo Courtesy of the Bohemian Foundation

You may have seen the many colorful pianos dotting the streets of Fort Collins. Pianos About Town is a collaboration between Bohemian Foundation, the Downtown Development Authority, and the City of Fort Collins Art in Public Places Program. At 20 different locations in the summer and six locations during the winter, the whimsical pianos are painted by local artists and invite those passing by to make and listen to music together.


Visit City Park

One of the largest parks in Fort Collins, City Park offers more than 85 acres of outdoor space and kid-friendly attractions. Amenities at City Park include baseball fields, basketball courts, horseshoe pits, a picnic shelter, playgrounds, a pool, tennis courts and more. Not to mention, visitors may access a sprawling lake, which has a boardwalk circling the perimeter. For more information about City Park and other community parks in Fort Collins, click here.


Send a Love Letter to Loveland

Loveland’s nickname as “the Sweetheart City” goes back to the mid-1940s when postmaster Elmer Ivers and marketing extraordinaire Ted Thompson created the Valentine Re-Mailing Program, which is still practiced to this day. Each February, more than 100,000 Valentines are sent to Loveland inside larger envelopes, and are hand-stamped by volunteers with a Valentine’s verse and re-mailed to the intended recipients. Add your letter to the mix this Valentine’s Day!


Happy 2020!

Cheers to another great year in Northern Colorado — filled with new experiences and adventure!

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