Craft beer. Ghost tales. School soccer. A Disneyland-esque Predominant Avenue. Fort Collins – or as each hip individuals and wannabe locals name it, FoCo – sits about an hour north of Denver and is dwelling to Colorado State College (go Rams!). Nevertheless it’s also called the craft beer capital of Colorado AND one of the vital haunted cities within the nation – plus, its charming Previous City impressed Disneyland’s Predominant Avenue USA!
Add that along with Colorado’s gorgeous environment and the neighboring Rocky Mountains, and also you’ve received one implausible place to go to for a weekend getaway (and sure, it made the listing on our Colorado weekend getaways guide!)
Though Fort Collins is a year-round vacation spot, the mix of ghost tales, craft beer, faculty soccer, and colourful foliage places Fort Collins squarely within the “fall vacation spot” class for me. However hey, I’m not the skilled right here.
We’ve tapped a Fort Collins native to jot down this information to issues to do in Fort Collins. Ali is the lady behind Inspired Lifestyle Blog and a Fort Collins native. She’s lived in Fort Collins for near 10 years, and at the moment she’s sharing all of our high suggestions for visiting. Take it away, Ali!
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Historical past of Fort Collins
Some of the attention-grabbing components of visiting Fort Collins is studying about its storied historical past, The Fort Collins space is wealthy with Native American history, wild west lore, badass ladies, and even a legend of a large.
As European-People pushed west, many of those tribes had been decimated by illness and the encroachment of their lands in northern Colorado. After the Colorado War within the 1860s – throughout which an alliance of Native American tribes fought towards US encroachment, culminating in genocidal massacres of Native People in Colorado and Wyoming – many Native American tribes left the realm or had been pressured onto reservations in neighboring states.
Fort Collins itself was founded in 1864 as a army fort and initially referred to as “Camp Collins,” after Lt. Col. William Oliver Collins, a Union cavalry officer and one of many commanders of the Colorado Struggle. Camp Collins was constructed to guard the Colorado part of the Overland Trail, a outstanding wagon path for settlers touring out west and that was initially Native American searching and touring routes.
The camp was washed away inside a 12 months throughout a flood and the fort was constructed on greater floor at what’s now Previous City Fort Collins.
Later the identical 12 months, European-American settlers started to reach, together with 64-year outdated Elizabeth “Auntie” Stone, the one European-American girl within the camp for an entire 12 months, who ran a multitude corridor and ultimately opened the town’s first lodge, first grit mill, and first brickyard. Auntie Stone is now often called the Founding Mom of Fort Collins since she was instrumental in beginning the primary college, advocating for girls’s rights and inspiring different European-People to settle within the metropolis.
When Auntie Stone handed away at 94 years outdated, all enterprise closed throughout her funeral and the firehouse bell tolled 94 instances in honor of her life. You possibly can go to her authentic cabin at Heritage Courtyard in Library Park.
Fort Collins finally developed as an agricultural metropolis because of the Colorado Central Railroad. In 1879 the Colorado Agricultural & Mechanical School, now often called Colorado State College, started constructing the college. In actual fact, when you go to CSU at the moment, you may see the railroad chopping by way of campus. It’s even made me late to class a couple of instances!
You possibly can study extra concerning the historical past of the realm, together with extra concerning the first peoples who name the realm dwelling over 13,000 12 months in the past, on the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery.
Issues to Do in Fort Collins
My metropolis has many perks that you just simply can’t discover anyplace else! We are also very near the mountains and have our personal stunning reservoir, climbing trails, and lots of vibrant companies. Have I satisfied you to go to, but?
If you’re taking a visit right here, I’m going to share with you an area’s information to the most effective locations and actions you HAVE to do when visiting.
Discover Previous City
Previous City Fort Collins is among the prettiest and best-preserved downtowns you’ll discover anyplace within the nation, with large European fashion walkways strung with lights and surrounded by charming facades. In actual fact, Previous City’s historic buildings alongside Walnut Avenue served because the inspiration for Disneyland’s Predominant Avenue!
Old Town is the place the unique enterprise middle of Fort Collins popped up across the fort manner again within the 1860s, and modern-day Previous City is a nonetheless the guts of the town. On weekends you’ll discover avenue performers, musicians, and simply usually a great time. And in the summertime, there are dwell performances and music within the Sq.!
The numerous Ghost Signs – light, hand-painted ads of shops lengthy out of enterprise – present in Previous City demonstrates how outdated Previous City is and makes you’re feeling such as you’ve stepped again in time.
Fort Collins additionally has a declare to Hollywood fame with the childhood dwelling of Hattie McDaniel, the primary African American to win an Academy Award (Gone With the Wind in 1940), to be discovered on Cherry Street in Previous City Fort Collins.
- Cease into native retailers: Previous City is lined with charming locally-owned retailers and boutiques. I really like The Cupboard, a kitchen retailer stuffed with cute decor and fancy kitchen devices – and yummy chocolate! And I actually like Wear It Again Sam, a thrift retailer stuffed with superior classic finds.
- Seize a beer: You’re by no means quite a lot of steps away from a brewery in Previous City! Equinox Brewing, Coopersmith’s Brewery and Pub and Pateros Creek Brewing Company are all centrally positioned.
- Get some dessert: Kilwins. They promote chocolate, scrumptious fudge, ice cream, and lots of extra desserts. I additionally suggest Old Town Churn. Previous City Churn is the sister retailer to Little Man Ice Cream in Denver. They make do-it-yourself ice cream and at all times have totally different flavors and totally different combos so that you can attempt! Strive Salted Oreo and Foco Choco!
Fort Collins is dwelling to and well-known for its many breweries. From massive names akin to New Belgium, to smaller native breweries like Zwei Brewing Co, there’s a brewery right here – or close by – for each palate.
It’s exhausting to slim down the highest breweries in Fort Collins – here’s a complete list of them – however these are the highest 3 that I’d suggest to a first-time customer:
- New Belgium: Finest identified for Fats Tire Amber ale – which, enjoyable reality, is a licensed Carbon Impartial beer – the brewery right here can also be dwelling to the most important small-batch bitter beer barrel getting older program within the nation. Yum! Not solely does New Belgium have scrumptious beer, however additionally they repeatedly host occasions and have an amazing out of doors space to get pleasure from your drink. New Belgium can also be dwelling of the Tour de Fat, which is impressed by the Tour de France – solely much more drunk and much more enjoyable! Annually, on the finish of summer season, the roads round Previous City are closed for drunk individuals in costumes, driving their bikes to the bars. It’s fairly a sight and various enjoyable! If you happen to’re in Fort Collins for this occasion, I extremely encourage you to take part.
- Odell Brewing: Incredible beer and, in my view, the most effective brewery patio in Fort Collins. In addition they typically have meals vans and dwell music outdoors too! Strive their flagship beer, 90 Shilling.
- Prost Brewing: A German-style brewery and biergarten! Strive their Helles for a light-weight beer or Dunkel for a darkish beer – and naturally, a large pretzel. They’re tremendous yummy.
Unsure the place to begin? How about doing. all of them, so as? This brewery hop guide from Eater organizes every cease geographically into an epic bikeable or transit-able brewery hop.
If you happen to actually wish to expertise Fort Collins like an area, e-book a Bike and Brewery tour! Go on – it’s native custom.
Discover Colorado State College’s Campus
CSU has a wealthy historical past to match the historical past of Fort Collins. Established in 1870 as an agricultural faculty (therefore the enormous white letter ‘A’ proudly displayed on the western hillside of Fort Collins – it’s a yearly custom that CSU freshmen repaint the ‘A’ into the hillside ), Colorado State University has many engineering and architectural examples of the late Nineteenth century.
This contains the picturesque Oval Drive, which was designed by civil engineering college students and school as a mannequin to display how roads might be constructed from native supplies. And talking of which, that’s the primary place we suggest visiting on campus!
Stroll by way of The Oval
The Oval at Colorado State College is a hidden gem in Fort Collins. It’s a gorgeous and serene place full of grass and 100-year-old Elm bushes. It’s a beautiful place to have a picnic or take an autumn stroll within the chilly crisp air surrounded by colourful fall foliage!
The Oval is positioned on the CSU campus however is tremendous straightforward to get to and is in an space that isn’t normally very populated. I like to recommend occurring the weekend or after 4 PM, when parking on campus is free! If you happen to go earlier, you may park on a public avenue close by and stroll over if you wish to keep away from paying for parking.
- Native Tip: If you happen to stroll over to the oval, cease by Mug’s Coffee Shop and seize a mug of fair-trade espresso to sip as you stroll.
Watch a Soccer Sport at CSU’s New Stadium
If you happen to’re visiting throughout soccer season, top-of-the-line issues to do in Fort Collins is to go to a sport and cheer on the CSU rams!
The CSU Canvas football stadium is a gorgeous soccer stadium, and I’m not simply saying that as a result of I’m biased. Most college students (myself included) had been really a bit grumpy concerning the stadium being constructed on campus, largely as a result of it resulted in much less parking than we already had.
The stadium was completed after I was a senior and I received to be one of many first individuals to see soccer video games there. And let me let you know, it’s attractive! It’s a way more skilled and trendy stadium than the one being beforehand used.
If tailgating is extra your fashion – or extra in your finances vary – the free Coors Light Ram Walk Tailgate has all the pieces from dwell music to beer to massive display TV’s. Simply you’ll want to put on inexperienced! You possibly can benefit from the tailgate for a number of hours earlier than the sport begins.
- Only a warning: if CSU scores, they set off a cannon and it may be slightly shocking at first. It at all times makes me soar! So when you hear cannons and it’s soccer season … you understand why. Go Rams!
Meet a Ghost
Fort Collins has a storied and sophisticated historical past, and meaning one factor: host tales, Fort Collins has been rated because the third most haunted city within the U.S. (behind Savannah and New Orleans). There are many spooky spots to go looking for Fort Collins’ most notorious deceased residents!
Listed below are a couple of locations the place you simply would possibly get a creepy encounter from past the grave:
- Walrus Ice Cream in Previous City has its personal cheeky ghost, an enthralling businessman from Fort Collins’ previous named Charles Dinnebock (now often called “The Walrus Man.”) However that’s not all: tunnels beneath Walrus reportedly served because the underground entrance to the store’s neighboring morgue, mausoleum and crematorium. Ooooh, spooly! Even when you don’t meet the seductive Walrus Man, you would possibly as effectively go to for some ice cream.
- The Avery House: Constructed for one in every of Fort Collins’ most outstanding households in 1879, The Avery Home is now a historical past museum and Nationwide Historic Landmark with a gorgeous historic costume assortment and restored rooms that permit guests to step again in time. However beware: you would possibly simply counter the sad spirit of a kid within the center upstairs bed room…
- Nature’s Own is one in every of my favourite retailers to discover in Previous City Fort Collins. It’s a nature and science retailer stuffed with several types of rocks, geodes, and enjoyable issues to have a look at. However beware: there’s a resident ghost immortalized in one in every of his work at the back of the shop…. however as you strategy, he disappears.
- The Fort Collins Museum of Art: You’ll discover greater than collections of artwork right here – the museum was constructed on the web site of Camp Collins’ first cemetery again within the 1860s. No one is aware of what number of our bodies are nonetheless buried beneath, however a minimum of one – nicknamed George – nonetheless haunts the basement.
For true ghost hunters, the great information to the Ghosts of Fort Collins is written by a tour information who led ghost excursions by way of Previous City.
The e-book tells the tales of the haunted corners and darkish historical past of the town, often called one of the vital haunted cities within the nation. Learn it earlier than your journey and also you simply would possibly end up recognizing creepy haunts throughout city!
Go to Horsetooth Mountain & Reservoir
When visiting Fort Collins, look West, and when you see an enormous rock (mainly the highest of the mountain) that appears like a horse’s tooth, that’s it! At its base you’ll discover Horsetooth Reservoir, a six and a half-mile lengthy reservoir simply eight miles west of downtown Fort Collins.
The reservoir is known as after close by Horsetooth Mountain, a craggy rock outcropping simply west of the reservoir. You possibly can hike to Horsetooth Mountain and benefit from the expansive views of the reservoir, Colorado Entrance Vary, and Fort Collins through trailheads on the reservoir.
In accordance with Arapaho legends, this iconic rock formation is the physique of a slain big, who used to look at over the ‘Valley Of Contentment,’ the valley that’s now flooded by Horsetooth Reservoir. The enormous prevented the tribes from searching within the Valley of Contentment, inflicting the individuals to starve.
One night time, a warrior from one of many tribes took a magical tomahawk and killed the enormous whereas he slept so his individuals can be saved. The enormous’s physique turned to stone however you may nonetheless see the gashes of the tomahock’s deadly blows on what’s now often called Horsetooth Mountain.
There’s lots you are able to do at Horsetooth Reservoir: you may drive round it, pull over and watch the views, take within the dawn or sundown, look out over the town of Fort Collins, mountain bike, paddleboard, swim, hike, kayak, go boating, rock climb, or run on a path. Horsetooth has all of it.
Within the summertime, I really like taking place to the shore and spending the day within the water, or renting a ship from an area marina and going out on the lake with a couple of buddies. It’s also possible to hike and mountain bike on the a number of trails within the surrounding 2,000 acres of public lands.
Listed below are the most effective issues to do at Horsetooth Reservoir & Mountain:
- Watch the dawn: For the most effective dawn view of Fort Collins, go on a hike to the top of Horsetooth rock! For a dawn hike to the highest, you’ll want to depart your home at 3 am, however it’s so price it to see the dawn behind the town. You’ll see Fort Collins on one facet, and on the opposite Colorado’s gorgeous nature that truthfully appears like one thing out of a film.
- See a waterfall: The hike to the waterfalls is 2.9 miles and is a better hike than Horsetooth Rock. They’re each stunning hikes and in case you have a couple of days accessible to go climbing, I’d suggest doing each!
- Go Bouldering: Colorado has unimaginable mountain climbing and bouldering, and Fort Collins is not any exception! Take a look at a few of Colorado’s finest bouldering areas at Rotary Park.
- Drive to the highest: When the climate is chilly – otherwise you’re not up for athletic exercise – you may take a drive as much as the highest and take a look at the views or watch the sundown. It truly is one thing particular.
Be aware that you’ll want an entrance permit ($9/per car) when you intend to go to!
Go on an Out of doors Journey
Colorado is finest identified for 2 issues: beer, and out of doors journey. Fort Collins has each in spades. Along with Horsetooth Mountain, listed here are extra alternatives for out of doors journey!
Pineridge Path is a 4.1 mile lengthy loop by way of the rolling foothills of the Pineridge Natural Area simply west of the town. The path is rated as straightforward, with little climbing or elevation acquire, it’s largely uncovered and loops across the Dixon Reservoir (and is a good place to identify prairie canine colonies!).
The Pineridge Pure Space was one in every of Fort Collins’ first protected pure areas and is a good place to see wildlife. I like to recommend strolling up the dam to get a fairly view!
Poudre River Path
Poudre River Trail is a 21-mile lengthy paved path that meanders alongside the Cache la Poudre (pronounced pooh-der) River and thru a number of giant parks and wildlife areas.
The Cache la Poudre River (identified extra merely because the Poudre River) is considered named after French-Canadian trappers hid their gunpowder close to the river’s banks throughout a blizzard within the early 1800s.
Whereas exploring the path, you may also search for wild turkeys on the Kodak Watchable Wildlife Area and study concerning the historical past of the realm on the Poudre River Learning Centre. It’s also possible to lease a motorcycle or scooter on the town and take it for a trip on this path!
Cache la Poudre River Canyon
About 1 hour northwest of Fort Collins, the Cache la Poudre River Canyon is a hidden gem, with alternatives to go whitewater rafting (class I-V rapids) and climbing to discover its distinct cliffs, rock formations, and large number of native flora. Many visitors examine the canyon to Rocky Mountains National Park, solely with out the lots of vacationers.
Probably the greatest hikes within the Cache la Poudre River is the hike to Greyrock – pictured above – whose trailhead is lower than 20 minutes from Previous City Fort Collins. There are two path choices: the Meadows trail (7~ miles) and the Greyrock Summit trail (6~ miles), which each provide gorgeous views.
You need to know that this hike is a bit difficult: you’ll acquire 2,000 toes of elevation to a summit sitting at 7,480 toes, and there’s slightly bouldering towards the top. However the payoff is price it for the wonderful views of the Poudre River Canyon!
- Out of doors Journey Tip: Probably the greatest campgrounds in Colorado is about an hour away from Fort Collins alongside the banks of the Cache la Poudre River! Discover out extra in our Colorado camping guide.
Driving by way of the canyon additionally means you’ll be taking one in every of Colorado’s many scenic roads! Which brings us to our subsequent factor to do in Fort Collins…
Take a Scenic Drive
The Cache le Poudre Scenic Byway follows a route that was as soon as used to attach the northern plains of Colorado with the Inexperienced River settlement in Utah. At present, the scenic drive begins in Fort Collins on U.S. Freeway 287, heads northwest till it intersects with Colorado Freeway 14 in Bellvue, then winds up the rugged and scenic Cache la Poudre River Canyon.
As you drive, hold an eye fixed out for whitewater swells within the crystal-clear river beneath and bighorn sheep on the rocky cliffs up above!
If you happen to hold driving up by way of the canyon, you’ll ultimately make it to alpine meadows and Cameron Go, which sits between the Rawah Wilderness and Rocky Mountain National Park and affords sweeping views of the attractive North Park basin surrounded by mountain peaks. Flip round and head again to Fort Collins right here, or proceed on to Walden!
- Journey Tip: If you happen to do drive the total route from Fort Collins to Walden, permit 3 hours every manner and provides your self loads of time to return earlier than darkish.
Get Some Scrumptious Meals (& Drinks)
After a protracted day of climbing and out of doors journey, hit the city for some scrumptious meals.
- Farm-to-Desk: The Farmhouse at Jessup Farm serves completely plated, fastidiously crafted, home-grown deliciousness from their Nineteenth-Century farmhouse within the coronary heart of the attractive Jessup Farm Artisan Village. Strive the inexperienced chile mac & cheese, buttermilk battered fried rooster, and truffle-parm brussel sprouts!
- Cheese (& Different Stuff): The Fox and the Crow is a bistro and cheese store specializing in, largely, cheese. Head right here for twists on scrumptious cheese classics like mac & cheese (ahem: roasted butternut squash, brown butter, blue cheese, and maple syrup, omg) and grilled cheese (attempt the Apple Pie grilled cheese).
- Pub Fare & Burgers: Coopermith’s Pub is a FoCo staple, positioned proper within the coronary heart of Previous City Sq.. Order a burger, fish & chips or bangers and mash with a craft beer and play pub video games like billiards and shuffleboard.
- Mexican: Cafe Mexicali makes their meals from scratch and their (big) burritos are phenomenal. Lupita’s is the most effective budget-friendly place to attempt a Colorado Southwestern traditional: inexperienced chile sauce. The chile rellenos, burritos, and chimichangas are finest smothered in scrumptious inexperienced chile sauce!
- Pizza: Hey, you’re in a school city, bear in mind? Fort Collins has some AMAZING pizza. It’s my favourite meals and I’m choosy about my pizza. Krazy Karl’s is well-known round city and CSU for having the most effective pizza on the town! For budget-minded people, Krazy Karl’s does a deal on Mondays and Thursdays the place it’s important to beat the clock. So, beginning at 5, when you name and order a 1-topping pizza the time is what you pay. So, for instance, when you name and order your pizza at 5:25, your pizza will value $5.25 plus tax! No matter pizza you select to get, be sure to get cream cheese on it. It might sound gross to you, however belief me, it’s really wonderful! One other CSU favourite pizza place is Pizza Casbah. They promote New York-style skinny crust pizza and it’s critically so good – and SO cheap.
Go to a Espresso Store
Nothing goes collectively greater than faculty & soccer video games, besides perhaps faculty & ingesting a variety of espresso since you barely received any sleep and also you’re going out with buddies later tonight. So faux you’re nonetheless a sleep-deprived scholar (and never only a sleep-deprived grownup) and hit up one in every of Fort Collins’ finest espresso retailers!
- Bindle is a really cute espresso store positioned at Jessup Farm. Don’t fear, it’s not a farm. It’s a quaint procuring space you may go to! They’ve eating places, procuring, and my favourite: Bindle. Bindle is a enjoyable place to go for an hour or two and simply chill out. The espresso store may be very aesthetically pleasing and has actually scrumptious espresso and desserts.
- Alley Cat is a Fort Collins staple. It has a cool bohemian vibe and options paintings from varied artists on the partitions and ceiling. They’re open 24 hours and is a good place to go play playing cards or a board sport and hangout. I extremely suggest their chai shake, it’s wonderful.
Have Some Previous-Original Enjoyable
In the case of nightlife, among the finest issues to do in Fort Collins are good-old classic enjoyable!
See a Film at a Drive-In Theater
If you happen to’re visiting in the summertime, watching a film on the Holiday Twin Drive-In Theater is a should! Though the films that play are normally new releases, it’s a traditional drive-in theatre expertise: you park your automotive earlier than the solar goes down, in a row with different vehicles dealing with a large display, you tune in to the radio to listen to the film, and also you get to look at a film from the consolation of your automotive when the solar goes down.
Similar to a typical film theatre, there are loos and concessions like popcorn and sweet.
I like to recommend getting there a bit early to keep away from the lengthy line. To make issues extra-cozy, many individuals carry chairs, and a few make their trunks tremendous cozy – however I sometimes sit within the entrance seat of my car with some popcorn, my pet, and a comfy blanket from dwelling to look at the film.
Sip an Egg Cream at a Soda Fountain
The Union Bar Soda Fountain could seem slightly outdated on the floor, however it’s imbibed (get it) with modern-day class. And sure, what I’m attempting to say right here is that there are boozy milkshakes.
Cut up a maple egg cream or root beer float and a plate of inexperienced chile cheese fries… or actually lean into the school environment and down a cognac, espresso, and oreo shake with a inexperienced chile breakfast burrito at 10am just like the champion you as soon as had been.
Play Classic Arcade Video games
Pinball Jones is one in every of my favourite date spots in Fort Collins. It’s an arcade and a bar. How significantly better can that get?
They’ve a number of pinball machines, however additionally they have classic arcade video games you may play! One among my favourite video games dates again to the Sixties!
They’ve two areas, they’re each nice, however the one in Previous City Sq. is my favourite.
The place to Keep in Fort Collins, Colorado
When visiting Fort Collins, the most effective place to base your self is in centrally positioned Previous City. You’ll be strolling distance from FoCo’s finest retailers, eating places, and low retailers, and surrounded by Disneyland-esque attraction.
Listed below are a couple of choices for locations to remain in Previous City Fort Collins:
- Boutique Resort: The gorgeous Armstrong Hotel has been round for 95 years, however it appears extremely trendy. The lodge is pet pleasant – they even have an lovable resident cat named Oreo! Throughout your keep, head underground – and step again in time – with dwell music and craft cocktails at Ace Gillet’s Lounge.
- AirBnB: This charming Old Town Victorian Cottage dates again to 1903 (so, most likely haunted?) however has restored from Victorian glamour to cottage-core cute. This cozy tiny house with a mod black-and-white fashion is positioned in Fort Collins’ funkiest little neighborhood, Buckingham, and is actually steps away from each Odell’s and New Belgium, whereas solely half a mile’s stroll from Previous City. Your keep additionally contains bikes to get round city! For extra choices, browse AirBnbs in Fort Collins.
- Hostel: Yep, Fort Collins has a budget-friendly hostel! Though The Solarium appears extra like a boutique lodge, with stunning gardens and a solar terrace.
About Our Contributing Author: Ali is a life-style blogger who’s obsessive about all issues journey, cash smarts, and private development! She lives in Colorado and loves seeing the world any likelihood she will get. When she’s not running a blog or touring you will discover her ingesting a glass of Pink Moscato and watching Schitt’s Creek and cuddling together with her pet and planning out her subsequent trip on Pinterest! You possibly can click here to check out Ali’s lifestyle blog for the most effective journey, cash, and life suggestions, and her Facebook page
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