Fort Collins Travel Guide

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Best Things To Do in Fort Collins

Like other Colorado cities, the outdoors rule in Fort Collins. Water sports enthusiasts will enjoy rafting, tubing or kayaking down the Cache la

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Like other Colorado cities, the outdoors rule in Fort Collins. Water sports enthusiasts will enjoy rafting, tubing or kayaking down the Cache la Poudre River while those looking for tamer waters should look into stand-up paddleboarding or boating at Horsetooth Reservoir. Hikers and bikers will find plenty of trails at Horsetooth Mountain Open Space. When you need a break from rollicking outdoor activities, take an easy walk through the Gardens on Spring Creek or the Flower Trial Garden. And no matter how you fill your days, you should cap off your evenings at one of the city's many breweries.

How we rank Things to Do

Updated October 2, 2020

  • #1
    Things to do in Fort Collins
    View all Photos
    #1 in Fort Collins
    Parks and Gardens, Hiking, Recreation, Swimming/Pools, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Parks and Gardens, Hiking, Recreation, Swimming/Pools, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Originally developed in the 1930s to provide area farmers with a steady supply of water for their crops, Horsetooth Reservoir is now a one-stop shop for outdoor activities. Here, visitors can hike, bike and horseback ride around the 6 ½-mile reservoir, which sits at an elevation of 5,420 feet. Alternatively, they can make a splash in the water itself by kayaking, swimming or stand-up paddleboarding. Travelers also have the option to camp on-site in tents or cabins.

    Past visitors enjoyed their time at the reservoir, saying the trails and water activities are great fun. They also praised the scenery and the views of the reservoir's namesake, Horsetooth Rock.

  • #2
    View all Photos
    #2 in Fort Collins
    Natural Wonders, Free, Hiking, Recreation, Tours
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Natural Wonders, Free, Hiking, Recreation, Tours
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    The Cache la Poudre River – simply called the "Poudre" by locals – is Colorado's sole Wild and Scenic River, as designated by the National Wild & Scenic Rivers System. The 76-mile waterway winds down from the Rocky Mountain National Park through Fort Collins. Along the recreational sections of the river, visitors can go whitewater rafting, tubing, kayaking and fishing. They may also have opportunities to hike, particularly along the Poudre River Trail, or bike along the river.

    In town, you can access the river at the Poudre River Whitewater Park for kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and swimming. The 9-acre park has two different river access points (an accessible ramp is located on the north bank) as well as two drop structures to create waves. However, because the river has an inconsistent flow, you'll need to check the water's depth on the City of Fort Collins website before you go. Additionally, you'll need to rent your water sports equipment from a local shop and bring it to the park; no rentals are available on-site.

  • #3
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    #3 in Fort Collins
    Tours, Wineries/Breweries
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Tours, Wineries/Breweries
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    More than 20 different breweries call Fort Collins home, so it only makes sense that you should try some of the local libations for yourself. Throughout the city, you'll find local favorites like Gilded Goat Brewing Company, Odell Brewing and Horse & Dragon Brewing Company, as well as nationally famous brewers, such as New Belgium and Anheuser-Busch, producers of Budweiser.

    While you can pick and choose breweries yourself, you can also opt for a guided tour. Operators like Magic Bus Tours offer a variety of guided tours with stops at local breweries. Previous travelers enjoyed Magic Bus Tours thanks to the company's informative guides. You may also be able to take a tour at individual brewery locations. One such place is Anheuser-Busch, where visitors can take a tour through its brewery and learn about beer making and the history of Budweiser. Previous patrons enjoyed the tour, and hint that lucky visitors may get to see the company's famous Clydesdales.

  • #4
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    #4 in Fort Collins
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    This hands-on museum is a hit with patrons, especially those with children. Since 2012, the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery has engaged and educated visitors by creating thoughtful exhibits that detail a variety of scientific, natural and artsy topics. You'll have the chance to learn all about our solar system and the universe, experiment with different musical instruments and follow the development of Fort Collins from its official founding in the late 1800s to today. There's also the on-site OtterBox Digital Dome Theater that has a 39-foot domed screen. It not only shows films, but also hosts lectures and live performances.

    Previous museumgoers called the facility a wonderful place to spend the day with children of all ages. They also appreciated the fact that the museum had some live animals for patrons to learn about, too.

  • #5
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    #5 in Fort Collins
    Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Hiking, Recreation
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Hiking, Recreation
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    West of Horsetooth Reservoir lies the 2,711-acre Horsetooth Mountain Open Space. You'll find more than 20 trails, each varying in length and elevation gain, but all perfect for hiking. As an added bonus, each trail welcomes dogs and many allow cycling and horseback riding. Your reward for hiking is beautiful scenery that could include the namesake Horsetooth Rock as well as Horsetooth Falls, depending on which trail you pick. After your hike, refuel with your packed lunch at one of the picnic areas.

    Previous hikers enjoyed their excursions along the trails. They reported the trip up to Horsetooth Mountain takes some effort but that the views are worth it. They also advise to bring plenty of water, especially if hiking during the summer.

  • #6
    View all Photos
    #6 in Fort Collins
    Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Spanning 18 acres, the Gardens on Spring Creek are Fort Collins' botanical sanctuary. The facility shelters 10 different gardens, including a Prairie Garden, which grows plants native to the prairies; the Rock Garden that mimics the mountains and grows flora native to Colorado; and the Garden of Eatin', which features a fruit orchard and herbs, among other delicious edible plants. There's also a Children's Garden, which has hands-on activities and play areas, as well as a pavilion that hosts different kinds of events. Visitors will also find a Butterfly House on-site that showcases 300 free-flying butterflies and moths as well as caterpillar displays. The gardens routinely host a number of events for locals and tourists, including workshops, date nights and holiday festivities for Halloween and Christmas.

    Recent visitors praised the gardens for their beauty. For many, a highlight was the Christmas light display the gardens erect each year.

  • #7
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    #7 in Fort Collins
    Free, Parks and Gardens
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Free, Parks and Gardens
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Each year, different plant companies submit their flower seeds to be part of the Colorado State University's Annual Flower Trial Garden, a competition to determine which cultivars are best suited to Colorado's climate. Plants must withstand high altitude, intense solar radiation, drying winds, severe hailstorms, large fluctuations between day and night temperatures, and a season-long need for irrigation – all growing conditions in Colorado. There are more than 1,000 varieties in the competition that are planted in either flower beds or in pots. Industry professionals evaluate the plants and determine the winners. Results are then announced to local communities so that Colorado residents can select the heartiest flowers to plant in their gardens. 

    The garden hosts three different trials: annual, perennial and cool weather. Annual and perennials are planted in the spring and evaluated in the late summer. Cool weather cultivars are planted in late October and are evaluated in early spring.

  • #8
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    #8 in Fort Collins
    Free, Neighborhood/Area, Wineries/Breweries
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Free, Neighborhood/Area, Wineries/Breweries
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Jessup Farm Artisan Village was, in fact, a farm. For much of the 20th century, the Jessup family, followed by the Johnson family, used the land as a working farm. When developers purchased the land in 2011, they sought not only to preserve the area's history but also to capitalize on the burgeoning farm-to-table movement. Now, Jessup Farm Artisan Village offers several eateries, a brewery, boutique shopping and a few service shops like a barbershop.

    Previous visitors enjoyed their time at the village and particularly favored the preserved farmhouse. Patrons were also complimentary of the on-site brewery, saying they enjoyed the beers and the quirky atmosphere. At the same time, several noted that the village is small so you likely won't need to set aside much time to explore.

  • #9
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    #9 in Fort Collins
    Historic Homes/Mansions, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Historic Homes/Mansions, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Franklin Avery was a surveyor who helped to engineer the street layout for Fort Collins. He was also a rancher, builder, real estate investor and founded the Larimer County Bank. His family's home was built in 1879 from locally-sourced sandstone. The original structure had just five rooms across two stories, but over the years the family expanded it. The family lived in the home until 1962; it was then purchased by the City of Fort Collins in 1974 and it was restored.

    Today, visitors can tour the home and explore its grounds. Among the items on display are historic costume collection pieces from the Avery family and local donors. Open houses are available weekly and tours are provided by docents. Visitors generally enjoyed their tours and appreciated seeing what life used to be like in Fort Collins. Their one consistent complaint was that the home is only open on the weekends.

  • View all Photos
    Zoos and Aquariums, Parks and Gardens
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Zoos and Aquariums, Parks and Gardens
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

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  • View all Photos
    Museums, Free, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums, Free, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Read More »

  • View all Photos
    Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Hiking, Recreation
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Hiking, Recreation
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Read More »

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