From quaint streets to historic buildings and the Cache la Poudre River, there are so many great things to do in Fort Collins. Though it can sometimes be overshadowed by the more populated city of Denver, you’ll have a blast exploring this beautiful northern Colorado city.
I’m a Colorado local, and I always love finding new things to do in Fort Collins. The area is full of scenic beauty, but the same Rocky Mountains look completely different in Fort Collins than they do in any other part of the state.
Whether you’re visiting this college town for the university, or just to relax and explore, you’ll find plenty of unique things to do in Fort Collins. And while you’re here, check out my picks for the 25 best hikes near Fort Collins.
Let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
- 25 Best Things to Do in Fort Collins
- Wander Old Town Fort Collins
- Holiday Twin Drive-In Theater
- Horsetooth Reservoir
- Go Hiking
- Rafting Cache la Poudre
- Fort Collins Craft Brewery Tour
- Horseback Riding at Beaver Meadows Stables
- CSU Annual Flower Trial Garden
- Fort Collins Museum of Discovery
- The Farm at Lee Martinez Park
- Cache la Poudre Scenic Byway
- City Park
- The Gardens on Spring Creek
- The Avery House
- Fort Collins Trolley
- Bee Family Centennial Farm Museum
- Museum of Art Fort Collins
- Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising
- Center for Fine Art Photography
- The Exchange
- Washington’s Live Music Venue
- New Belgium Brewing Tour
- Fort Fun Entertainment Center
- Totally 80s Pizza & Museum
- Union Bar Soda Fountain
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25 Best Things to Do in Fort Collins
Wander Old Town Fort Collins
See the inspiration for Disneyland’s Main Street, USA
Old Town Fort Collins is a beautiful, historic place to spend an afternoon browsing the shops, stopping for coffee or ice cream, and people-watching. The man responsible for Disneyland’s Main Street USA grew up here and used the buildings of downtown Fort Collins as part of his inspiration for the Disneyland design. Downtown Fort Collins is easily walkable, but there are also historic streetcars and modern-day buses that can get you around as well.
🛎️ Need a Hotel? The Armstrong Hotel is in Old Town Fort Collins and opened in the 1920s. It’s within walking distance of breweries and restaurants and keeps with the old town feel of the area. It’s definitely one of the best places to stay in Fort Collins.
Holiday Twin Drive-In Theater
See a movie under the stars
Go old-school and head to one of the few drive-in movie theaters left in Colorado. The Holiday Drive-In shows current releases on two screens. They also feature a snack bar, and they grill food for purchase on weekends.
Spend a day on the water, or next to it
Horsetooth Reservoir is a popular place in Fort Collins for a day of outdoor recreation. The reservoir has it all, from hiking trails to mountain biking trails, fishing spots, and places to swim. There are campgrounds there as well, so you can reserve a spot and spend plenty of time at the reservoir.
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Spend a day admiring Fort Collins’ beautiful scenery
Website | Hours: Sunup – Sundown daily
From Horsetooth Mountain Open Space to the beautiful trails along the Poudre River Canyon, there are lots of great hiking trails around Fort Collins and Northern Colorado. The Roosevelt National Forest has plenty of trails as well. Your biggest problem is going to be picking just one.
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Rafting Cache la Poudre
Try whitewater rafting on a Colorado river
Whitewater rafting is a quintessential Colorado activity, and you can try it at the Cache la Poudre River in Fort Collins. The Cache la Poudre River is a little less popular for rafting than other Colorado rivers, which means you’ll have fewer crowds to contend with. Check out Mountain Whitewater, a local guide company, for various tours.
Fort Collins Craft Brewery Tour
Explore one of Fort Collins’ most famous industries
Fort Collins is known for its craft beer, so spend an afternoon (or longer…we won’t judge) touring some of the many craft breweries that have popped up in the area.
In particular, the New Belgium Brewing Company is great, while the Odell Brewing Company has been going strong in Fort Collins since 1989.
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Horseback Riding at Beaver Meadows Stables
Explore the area around Fort Collins on horseback
Horseback riding through the Roosevelt National Forest is one of those things to do in Fort Collins that you and your family, or your sweetie, will remember for a very long time. Beaver Meadows Stables offers rides starting at one hour, and pony rides for kids beginning at half an hour each. It’s a fun, exciting way to spend an afternoon in the mountains outside Fort Collins.
👉 Pro Tip: Make a reservation ahead of time to ensure there’s plenty of room for your horseback riding party.
CSU Annual Flower Trial Garden
Experience a gorgeous university teaching tool
Fort Collins is home to Colorado State University, and the school maintains an Annual Flower Garden where students and researchers can do horticultural research. And – lucky you! – you can view their results for free. The beautiful gardens are open to the public, so you can stroll the area and learn about the unique challenges of gardening in the Rocky Mountains region. Or just look at the pretty flowers, it’s up to you.
Fort Collins Museum of Discovery
Learn about Northern Colorado’s discoveries and contributions
At the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, you’ll learn both about the locals’ history, as well as their contributions to the fields of science, music, astronomy, and more. A Music & Sound Lab teaches about the science of sound, and you can play a variety of instruments. The Schatz Family Exploration Zone teaches kids about light, color, motion, and more in a kid-friendly way.
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The Farm at Lee Martinez Park
Take the kids for a fun day at the farm
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (970) 221-6665 | Website | Hours: Winter & Spring 10 am – 4 pm Wed – Sat, 12 pm – 4 pm Sun; Summer & Fall 10 am – 5 pm Wed – Sat, Sun 12 pm – 5 pm | Entrance: $4, 2 years and up; pony rides $6
Bring the kids to see farm animals and learn about farm life in the area at Lee Martinez Park. There are also pony rides and hands-on experiences where they can learn what it takes to care for these animals on a daily basis. The park, along the Poudre River, is also a pretty place to picnic and relax for a while.
Cache la Poudre Scenic Byway
Take a gorgeous canyon drive
This gorgeous drive starts in Fort Collins, runs through Cache la Poudre Canyon, and goes over to Walden. The drive is about 2 hours and 15 minutes if you drive straight through, but granted you allow time to stop and take in the views, I recommend you budget about three hours.
📚 Related Reading: If you’re spending time in other areas of Colorado, be sure to check out our ultimate travel guide to Colorado!
Spend an afternoon by the lake
City Park has an outdoor pool, complete with a lazy river, drop slide, and water features, and is perfect for cooling off on hot summer days. There are also fishing and paddleboats available on Sheldon Lake. Visit the replica of the Statue of Liberty in the park, or take the self-guided tour of the arboretum.
The Gardens on Spring Creek
Stroll beautiful community gardens
The Gardens on Spring Creek are community botanic gardens that include a visitor’s center, gift shop, butterfly house, pavilion, and a great lawn area. There are a variety of themed gardens including a Children’s Garden, Rose Garden, and a Garden of Eatin’, along with a miniature train, Dr. Seuss playhouse, and a sandpit kids will love.
The Avery House
Tour the home of a Fort Collins founder
Franklin Avery was an important early resident of Fort Collins. He surveyed the town in the late 1800s and is responsible for the city’s nice, wide streets. He also founded First National Bank and helped with projects to enable agriculture in the region. Tour the home he built for his family, which was constructed with sandstone from local quarries and eventually included the Queen Anne tower.
You’ll get a feel for how early wealthy residents lived in Northern Colorado in the 1800s and beyond.
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Fort Collins Trolley
Ride a historic streetcar
One of the most fun and unique things to do in Fort Collins is to ride a historic streetcar through the city. You can ride a restored trolley through the streets of Old Town Fort Collins and experience an old-school electric vehicle.
Bee Family Centennial Farm Museum
Learn about a family’s attempt to farm in challenging Northern Colorado
The Bee Family Centennial Farm Museum shows the efforts of the Bee family to carve out a living by farming in the dry climate of the Northern Colorado prairie. Visitors will learn about the history and importance of irrigation in the area, the huge industry of sugar beet farming, and the care of animals on the farm. As a side note: Bee is the last name of the family that farmed here – there aren’t any beehives on the property!
Museum of Art Fort Collins
Take in art from local and farther-flung artists
See sculptures, paintings, and art in a variety of other mediums at the Museum of Art Fort Collins. The museum has a variety of exhibitions so each time you go, you may find something new. The building itself is even a work of art – the Old Post Office building is a Fort Collins local landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising
See historic clothing & textiles
The Avenir Museum is part of Colorado State University and houses its historic clothing and textile collection. It began in the 1950s as part of the Department of Home Economics, and now features three galleries, a classroom and seminar area, a library, and more.
You’ll find 19th and 20th-century clothing and accessories, designer dresses from Calvin Klein, Carolina Herrera, and others, and non-Western garments. This is a great opportunity to learn about different cultures and times through the lens of clothing.
Center for Fine Art Photography
Locations and hours vary; see website for details | Phone: (970) 224-1010 | Website | Entrance: free
The Center for Fine Art Photography hosts workshops, events, and exhibits throughout Fort Collins. Various works of photographers are currently visible at Art Lab and Gregory Allicar Museum of Art, located at Colorado State University. If you’re interested in photography, then these are great stops for an hour to wander through and admire the talents of these artists.
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Experience a variety of food, drinks, and shops
The Exchange is an outdoor plaza in Old Town Fort Collins that is enclosed by restaurants, bars, and shops which operate out of shipping container cars. Buy your food or drinks at any one of the shipping container stores, then relax on the lawn chairs or at a community picnic table while you eat and enjoy the outdoors.
Washington’s Live Music Venue
Check out the Fort Collins live music scene
Washington’s is a music hall in historic downtown Fort Collins that hosts contemporary bands. The building was built in the early 1900s and has hosted many businesses for over 100+ years. Take in a concert, and grab a drink at one of the two bars outside the main room.
New Belgium Brewing Tour
See one of the country’s biggest craft breweries
Though I mentioned taking a brewing tour above, the New Belgium Brewing Tour is great on its own as well. The founders of the New Belgium Brewery and the famous Fat Tire Ale were pioneers in the craft beer business. See where the magic began in Fort Collins at the New Belgium Brewing Company, where you can take a free brewery tour, or pay a little to get a more in-depth look at the brewery’s operations.
There are also guided tastings for a small fee, where you can learn about the history of each beer and read a tasting booklet with more info from New Belgium Brewing on each one.
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Fort Fun Entertainment Center
Spend a day playing
Fort Fun is a Fort Collins entertainment center that includes mini-golf, go-karts, laser tag, escape rooms, paddle boats, and other attractions. Each activity has its own cost, so you can go for one or spend the day trying everything.
There’s also a restaurant on-site where you can refuel with meals or snacks.
Totally 80s Pizza & Museum
Check out this gnarly museum, dude
Grab a slice and indulge your 80s nostalgia at this Fort Collins pizza restaurant. At the restaurant, the dough is made on-site, and you can also grab salads, wings, and appetizers.
Then be sure to check out the collection of 80s pop culture memorabilia, including arcade games, cereal boxes, computers, and even handwritten lyrics to some rad 80s songs. Ernest Cline, who wrote the 80s tribute novel “Ready Player One,” and Corey Feldman have both stopped by.
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Union Bar Soda Fountain
Indulge at a traditional soda fountain, but make it boozy
This bar and soda fountain features comfort food and alcoholic drinks inspired by old-fashioned soda fountains. Try traditional soda fountain drinks like egg creams, phosphate sodas, and milkshakes but with a nice, hefty dose of booze to improve matters. Combine your drink with classic diner food like a sandwich, fries, or a delicious brisket.
Whether you’re looking for fun in the sun or snowy weather activities, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Fort Collins! If you’re looking for more fun things to do across the state, be sure to check out our ultimate travel guide to Colorado for lots of ideas!
Have fun in Fort Collins!