I'm just going to come out and say it ...
We LOVED Fort Collins!
Fantastic eateries, cosy cafes, exciting nightlife, outdoor hiking, mountainous views.
It really is a fun and exciting place to be, whether you are stopping by for just a couple nights, or maybe even hanging around a bit longer.
We spent 3 wonderful nights here, and managed to squeeze in a lot of Fort Collins top sights and attractions.
Better still, we worked with the tourism board, who helped make sure we got to know the real Fort Collins.
Getting a flavour for the city's past and present.
And below we will share that experience with you, and give a rundown of the absolute BEST things to do in Fort Collins.
Along with a few extra tips & tricks.
Let's get started ...
You have a quite a few options here ...
The closest major airport to Fort Collins is Denver International Airport and Fort Collins is around 70 miles north of the airport.
Groome Transportation operates a shuttle bus service from Denver Airport to Fort Collins. This takes approximately 1 hour 20 and costs around $35.
Or you could take the A Line train from Denver Airport Station, to Union Station. From Union Station Gate B5, take the bus North to Fort Collins. This journey will take 2 and a half hours altogether.
Alternatively you could hire a car from the airport and drive into Fort Collins.
The city of Fort Collins is relatively compact, and many of the things to do listed below are within walking distance.
And I do recommend you take time to walk around the city anyway, as it's a very pleasant place to be.
But if you do need to get a little further out, here's a look at the main options ...
Transfort provides local bus services in and around Fort Collins. They have 24 different bus routes, with over 500 stops across the city.
The Fort Collins Trolley travels between City Park and Old Town and is a truly unique way to see the city. In fact, the Birney Car 21 was restored to its original condition in the 1980s.
Nowadays, You can ride it from April through to September on weekends and public holidays (weather permitting). Check their website for more information on fares and times.
Fort Collins is a VERY bike friendly city.
So, the most iconic, and of course the most eco-friendly, way to explore Fort Collins is by bike.
Since 2016 the city has been part of a Zagster Bike Sharing System. Residents or visitors can rent bikes at a price from any of the 16 stations around the city.
Fort Collins has a great system of recreational trails which are popular with walkers, runners and cyclists.
Of course, they offer a great opportunity to get out in the fresh air and enjoy some exercise.
But they also connect the city and provide a great way of getting around whilst avoiding the traffic and soaking up the beautiful scenery.
The Armstrong Hotel is found in lively and vibrant central Fort Collins.
It’s now the only independent hotel in the city, oozing with charm and character. We loved it!
There’s a classy but relaxed vibe to the Armstrong, with a lounge for guests to spend time in. We also found that staff here aim to go and above and beyond to give you the best experience of Fort Collins.
Keen to share their passion for the city, you won’t be short of itineraries and recommendations for Fort Collins.
The Armstrong Hotel has a whole host of amenities on site too. All the rooms have a mini fridge, 49” flat screen TV, hairdryer, WiFi and Nespresso machine.
There’s even an underground supper club and an on site massage studio.
Ace Gillet’s, their underground dining experience, offers live music alongside a boutique and imaginative menu.
It's such a cosy space, with a very cool vibe and there is often live piano music in the evenings, which is the perfect setting for a cocktail.
This was Bradley's favourite part of the hotel.
P.S. Free bikes are available to guests to wish to explore the surrounding area.
If you’re looking for cheap accommodation in Fort Collins, look no further than Fernweh Inn and Hostel.
They offer both dorms and private rooms and is ideally located within walking distance of lots of attractions, parks, restaurants and nightlife.
Prices start at £20 per night for a dorm room.
Hampton Inn by Hilton is ideally situated just a couple of miles from the centre of Fort Collins.
Prices start at around $120 for a king size room with a bath, breakfast and access to the on site fitness suite.
Or, if you’re looking for a unique stay in Fort Collins, Airbnb have a lot of options like this ‘tiny home’.
The Elizabeth Hotel offers a truly luxury stay in Old Town Fort Collins, with on site facilities such as a fitness suite and a terrace.
Prices start at around $250 for a Queen room.
Edwards House is another luxury option with large double rooms with private bathrooms and a shared lounge area. Breakfast is included in all the rates.
If you want more privacy and independence, you can rent an entire property, like this Old Town Bungalow where they have free bikes for you to use.
Okay, let's get stuck in with what was a humungous highlight from our stay in Fort Collins!
First on our list of things to do in Fort Collins is to head over to Horsetooth Reservoir, which is just 8.5 miles from Fort Collins city.
It runs for approx 6.5 miles, is two-thirds of a mile wide and is the third busiest reservoir in Colorado state, attracting around a million visitors every year!
So what do you do here?
You hire a boat of course! And it is SOOOO much fun!
We have never driven a boat before, and the rush is incredible. I really wasn't sure what to expect before doing it, and was a little nervous.
But it is actually surprisingly easy to do, and you can build up a lot of speed out on the open water!
Just be sure to book well in advance as the reservoir can get busy (unsurprisingly) in the warmer months.
Inlet Bay Marina is found on the shore of Horsetooth Reservoir and is a great place for boat rental.
You can rent different types of motorised boats from here including pontoons, jet skis, group boats, fishing boats and runabouts.
Or if you want all the hard work done for you, you can book a boat tour.
If a high adrenaline boat hire isn't your kind of thing, you can instead go for a pleasant walk around or near the reservoir.
Just be sure to check the conditions of the trails before you visit.
Okay, time to head back into the town itself ...
More specifically, the well preserved and vibrant Downtown, or Old Town, Fort Collins is full of nature, food, shops and tourism.
There’s over 84 restaurants here offering a variety of different cuisines!
And a great way to experience some of the best tastes of Fort Collins old town by taking part in a food tour of the area.
But what I really loved, is that the atmosphere in Old Town Square is unbeatable with live music here most days.
During the summer Old Town Fort Collins is home to many events and festivals.
There’s often weekly free concerts, and beer, food and music festivals during the nicer weather.
You can also find the only original trolley car west of Mississippi in Old Town Fort Collins, but more on that later…
CopperMuse pride themselves in producing high-quality craft spirits.
All their spirits are made with completely natural ingredients and CopperMuse started with their Vertueux and Vicieux Vodkas and now have a whole host of spirits including rums, whiskeys and gins.
This quirky and indie distillery offer over 60 craft cocktails for you to sample on your visit (which we did of course!).
There’s also on-site tours and tastings at CopperMuse. Opening hours vary from Tuesday to Sunday.
But better still, check their website to see what other events they have on, you might just find they host our next best thing to do ...
If you’re looking for a fun thing to do in Fort Collins, look no further than a side-splitting night at a comedy show!
Fort Collins is home to numerous comedy clubs, promising an entertaining night out. And we went to one at the above mentioned CopperMuse Distillery.
Both host a variety of comedians, as well as trivia, open mic and improv nights. You can easily buy tickets for comedy shows in Fort Collins on EventBrite.
The comedy show at the CopperMuse Distillery was excellent! And a nice bonus was the ability to enjoy their amazing range of cocktails whilst watching the show.
They don't run regularly, so you'll need to check their website about when they comedy shows are running and book tickets.
Found in the Old Town Square, Crown Pub takes inspiration from an English-style pub (so Bradley felt right at home!).
They even claim to serve the best Fish and Chips in Fort Collins (we’ll let the Brits be the judge of that one!)
The menu consists of pub classics including burgers, sandwiches and pub chips. We also enjoyed the vegetarian offers, and there was a lot of food.
Brad being English, thought this pub had a very English vibe to it!
They also offer a range of inventive and hand crafted cocktails. Happy Hour runs from Monday to Thursday, from 3pm until 6pm.
Crown Pub hosts live jazz every Sunday 7pm-10pm, with different artists every week. Just be warned ... this place gets busy!
One of the great places to go in Fort Collins is City Park.
This large park is home to a lake, lots of walking trails and even a water park.
Sheldon Lake is great for fishing, paddle boating, and you can also go skating here in the winter!
The park boasts over 220 varieties of trees, so you can take yourself on a self-guided tree tour to experience all the nature City Park has to offer.
City Park Pool not only cools you off on a hot day, but guarantees a fun day out in Fort Collins. The pool is open during the spring and summer months at varying times.
The vibrancy and character of Fort Collins is fully showcased at the Exchange. This is an open-air plaza in the northern corner of Old Town Fort Collins.
The space is surrounded by vendors all serving craft beer and cocktails, and all types of food.
Food and drinks are served from repurposed shipping containers, which is very hipster! Vendors include Vatos Tacos and Tequila, Chick’n Cone and, our old friends, the CopperMuse Distillery.
It’s the perfect place to grab a bite to eat, and support small local businesses at the same time. There’s also loads of different events, all day everyday at the Exchange.
Whether that’s Happy Hours, food deals or entertainment such as Bingo or Swing Dancing - there’s something for everyone to enjoy!
The Exchange caters well to Fort Collins' love of biking and the outdoors. It is connected with the Poudre Trail, and you can find plenty of bike parking.
There’s even a bike service station!
Riverbend Ponds is a natural area made up of a stretch of the Poudre River, several ponds and wetlands.
This is a popular fishing area, as there are several fishing ponds made up of former gravel mine ponds.
The ponds are filled with warm-water fish including catfish and largemouth bass. These are provided by the Colorado Division Wildlife.
Around the ponds you will also find three miles of trails which are ideal for hiking and biking.
If you’re into a bit of ‘twitching’ Riverbend Ponds is the place for you.
Over 200 species of birds migrate through the area, and make their nests here.
Depending on the time of year you might be able to spot pelicans, herons, gulls and ducks, just to name a few!
About 10 miles west of Fort Collins city you find yourself in a real outdoor paradise, the Lory State Park.
Spanning just under 2500 acres, it’s a very popular area for horse riding, rock climbing, hiking and biking.
Lory State Park has its own bike park including dirt jumping and a pump track. There’s around 26 miles of trails at Lory State Park, ideal for running, biking or hiking.
Visitors can choose from longer or shorter hikes, but the trails rarely exceed a 12% gradient. Some park’s trails on the east side provide access to some bays on Horsetooth Reservoir.
Which is where we caught our first glimpses of this water playground.
This is certainly the most charming way to get around the city and a truly unique thing to do in Fort Collins.
The Fort Collins trolley has been restored to its original 1919 state by volunteers.
Restoration was completed in 1984.
You can now have a ride on the Birney Car 21 on weekends and public holidays from April through to September (weather permitting).
The trolley travels between City Park and Old Town.
Fares are only $2 for adults.
Ace Gillet’s is a lounge and supper club serving cocktails and comfort foods - what more could you want?!
Since 1923 they’ve aimed to create community and connection through food, drink, and music.
The joint is named after Ace Gillet, a prominent figure in Fort Collins history. He was a passionate businessman, responsible for lots of hospitality ventures in the city.
So without him the hospitality scene in Fort Collins would unlikely be what it is today.
Ace Gillet’s underground lounge offers a relaxed place to enjoy food, drink and music.
The atmosphere is created by a well thought out set of vinyl and live music. And we absolutely loved the overall feel of this place.
Their unique handcrafted cocktails and food menus showcase the seasons and offer an alternative dining experience in Fort Collins.
Ace Gillet’s menus also aim to promote connection and interaction with their sharing plates.
Even the cocktail menus are something of a spectacle to look at!
Each drink has a hand drawn diagram with a detailed list of ingredients, methods of crafting and people who made the drink famous.
There’s even recommendations for the ideal food and music to pair the cocktail, in order to enjoy the optimal cocktail and jazz experience.
Fort Collins old town’s century old buildings make the ideal backdrop for a spooky tour of the city.
On a list of the 20 most haunted cities in America, Fort Collins came in at number 3!
So it’s definitely one of the best places to jump on a ghoulish tour.
The tour provides you with the eerie history of the buildings, as well as taking you to some of the city’s most haunted spots.
A Fort Collins Ghost Tour shows you a spooky side to the city. You even get to go underground for some terrifying ghost hunting.
You can book your place on the tour in advance.
If you’re looking for some old school entertainment with a twist, look no further than Pinball Jones.
We had a LOT of fun in here!
Found in old town Fort Collins this is a quirky spot you don’t want to miss.
PBJs have provided Fort Collins with an elite display of pinball and arcade machines since 2011.
And as if it couldn’t get any cooler, it’s underground!!
The last 11 years have seen the place expand both in terms of size, number of games and of course popularity throughout Fort Collins.
There’s so much entertainment to choose from here. Air hockey, Pac-Man, bowlers … take your pick.
You can keep yourself fueled up with drinks and snacks, available on site.
The friendly and welcoming atmosphere means it’s a ‘fun for all the family’ destination.
They even allow you to hire the whole place - now that would be a cool event venue!
If you’re elsewhere around Fort Collins and fancy a play on a retro game, PBJs have their games at other locations around the city.
PinBall Jones is open 7 days a week at varying times.
Fort Collins’ Art in Public Places (APP) is a program dating back to 1995. The intention is to promote and enhance art and appreciation of art in the area.
APP also aims to add value to Fort Collins through the exhibition and maintenance of public art.
Piano’s About Town is part of the APP program, which started in 2010.
It combines art and music for the community’s enjoyment. For example, in 2018 the 100th piano of Piano’s About Town was painted.
The pianos are painted in the Old Town during the summer (May - October). During this period visitors can come and watch the artists work, and interact with them too!
Throughout the winter months, pianos are painted in some public indoor locations.
Once completed, the pianos are rotated around different locations throughout Fort Collins.
Not only can visitors check out the artwork, but they can also have a play on the pianos.
The Fort Collins Food Truck Rally takes place every Tuesday from 5:30pm until dusk, from May to September.
It’s held on Sheldon Drive, City Park.
There’s a huge array of food vendors here every week! Their website gives a great overview of the food that’s on offer at the Food Truck Rally.
But the vendors rotate every week, so check their social media on Sunday evenings to see what’s on offer for the week ahead.
And it doesn’t just stop at food.
Each week there’s an array of live music performances.
We absolutely LOVED dining at the Silver Grill Café.
It's full of that American charm I wanted from a café. It just so happens to be one of the oldest cafes in all of Northern Colorado and they have been serving breakfast and lunch since 1933.
But their roots actually date back to 1912!
They're also pretty famous now for their giant cinnamon buns, and they have an excellent range of vegetarian options, which suited us perfectly.
Just a heads up, this place is crazy popular, so you will need to wait for a table.
We took that opportunity to wander around some of the shops in the old town.
Over the years the Cache la Poudre River has carved a canyon. This hidden treasure is the perfect place to take part in some adventurous outdoor activities.
However it is more than just a playground for adrenaline junkies. The river forms the heart of the Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area.
And in fact, it is essential to the lives of more than half a million people in the northern Colorado Front Range.
The class III and class IV rapids make it the ideal spot for some white water rafting.
Winter spots like snowshoeing, cross country skiing and snowmobiling are also popular here. So, there’s something for all outdoor enthusiasts all year round!
The Gardens on Spring Creek are a community garden, and Fort Collins’ botanical oasis.
There’s 12 acres of botanic gardens to explore here, as well as a butterfly house with over 300 North American butterflies.
Events and activities are run at the gardens including session on beekeeping, wellness and even yoga and Tai chi.
The gardens are open 10-5 daily. You can book tickets in advance.
Good News! There isn’t really a bad time to visit Fort Collins.
The city sees about 300 days of sunshine every year.
Temperatures in the spring and autumn range from between around 12 and 25 degrees.
So generally the best time to visit is between March and October to make the most of the great outdoors Fort Collins offers.
2 to 3 days is a good amount of time to spend in Fort Collins.
In this time you can enjoy the city’s best attractions, and also explore the beautiful surrounding areas.
With so many unique attractions in Fort Collins it’s best that you make your own way around the city.
However you can book onto some interesting tours and events to see the city from a different perspective.
Fort Collins Scavenger Hunts allow you to see the city, whilst also on the look out for the city's little quirks.
You’ll complete puzzles and games as you go to make this a truly fun way to see Fort Collins.
Or enjoy a night out with a twist with a murder mystery evening.
Phew, that was a long guide!
Hopefully you are feeling inspired to visit Fort Collins, and experience all it has to offer.
We really did have a wonderful time here and would definitely place it as one of the best places to visit in the States.
But where do you head to now?
Well, Boulder is another popular city to visit in northern Colorado and sits at the foot of the Rocky Mountains.
It’s around an hour’s drive from Fort Collins to Boulder and the Flex Boulder Express Bus runs regularly between the two cities and is reasonably priced.
Now over to you ...
Have you been to Fort Collins and found any more exciting things to do here?
Or perhaps you have a question about one of our places?
Just drop a comment below!