By Darian Warden
Assistant Editor, Let’s RV
Few states rival the beauty and diversity that Colorado offers those who are fortunate enough to find themselves there. From the vast Eastern prairie, the majestic Rocky Mountains and the bustling life and activity in Denver, Colorado has something for every age and lifestyle. Home of my alma mater and a booming city in Northern Colorado, Fort Collins is a point of pride in Colorado.
Home to the Colorado State University Rams and a booming population, Fort Collins is a family-friendly town situated at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. One of the most bike-friendly cities in the nation, recently ranking 7th by the League of American Bicyclists, Fort Collins offers wide bike lanes and numerous paths for visitors to get around. Voted one of the happiest cities in America, third, Fort Collins caters to all ages, with funky one-of-a-kind shops, the beautiful Colorado State University campus, craft breweries, Horsetooth Reservoir, winding and extensive bike paths and other outdoor activities.
An inspiration for Main Street in Disneyland, downtown Fort Collins features unique artisanal shops, delicious cuisine, entertainment venues and a variety of bars and pubs. Plenty of outdoor patios provide the perfect spot to grab a bite to eat in the summer, all under the shade of the trees that line the downtown streets. Twinkling lights adorn the tree limbs in the winter, creating a winter wonderland right out of a storybook. A family-friendly and pet-friendly atmosphere, local bars and restaurants offer fares from all over. Students from Colorado State University ascend on nights and weekends to enjoy the live music, drink specials and special events.
Check out Coopersmith’s Pub and Brewing, a staple for more than two decades in downtown Fort Collins. The restaurant and brewery have expanded into multiple historic buildings downtown and offer a pool hall for hanging out. Featuring happy hours and brew tours, Coopersmith’s offers a range of food, including burgers, pizza and salads.
If you’re over 21, visit the New Belgium Brewery at its birthplace. Sign up for the tour and see how New Belgium brews its award-winning beer while tasting the newest brews and classic creations. The tour culminates in a trip down the brewery slide (optional) and a tasting room where customers can enjoy beer straight from the tap and New Belgium schwag.
If you find yourself in Downtown Fort Collins over the Labor Day weekend, make sure you have your costume on hand for New Belgium’s celebration of Tour de Fat, where residents dress up in costumes and bike downtown to celebrate beer and bikes. Of course New Belgium is just one of the breweries in Downtown FoCo, don’t forget to visit Odell’s and others.
While visiting Fort Collins, make sure to take a trip to Horsetooth Reservoir. Horsetooth Reservoir offers fishing, boating, camping, picnicking, swimming, scuba diving, rock climbing and water skiing. Horsetooth offers miles of trails for visitors to climb and explore, ranging in ease for beginners to enjoy as well.
The Horsetooth Hike is a favorite for many, as it is 2.1 miles to the top of the Horse’s teeth, the mountain’s namesake, taking about 3 ½ hours to complete. Climbing to the top can be tiring, but people of all ages enjoy the hike. The view from atop the “teeth” can hardly be beat.
For more information regarding Horsetooth Reservoir, click here.
White Water Rafting
When visiting Fort Collins, you are only about 30 minutes away from the Cache la Poudre River where white water rafting adventures await. Several guide outlets offer full- and half-day trips for all experience levels. Guides lead rafts of between six and seven down white water rapids on the Cache la Poudre, taking in sights and stories from raft guides. Often, guides will allow those on the trip to hop in and swim at certain points in the trip.
Below are a few of the local guide companies:
- A Wanderlust Adventure, 970-482-1995,
- Rocky Mountain Adventures, 800-858-6808
- A1 Wildwater, 970-224-3379
- Mountain Whitewater Descents 970-419-0917
Fort Collins Museum of Discovery
The Fort Collins Museum of Discovery includes fun for all ages, with exhibits featuring natural areas, the music and sound lab, wildlands and wildlife, first peoples, people on the move and food, forage and farm.
The music and sound lab includes the opportunity to play instruments including guitars, drums, marimbas, keyboards and a theremin. An interactive discovery museum includes the Otterbox digital dome theater featuring shows that vary, including films about astronauts, the cosmos, sea monsters and the earth.
There is also a 42-foot high observation deck, piano lounge and museum store. To learn more about the museum and check on prices and free activities, click here.
The museum is open Tuesday – Sunday 10 am – 5 pm and is open late on Thursday until 8 pm.