Fort Collins is absolutely full of incredible micro-breweries. In fact, it is often seen as one of the most beer-loving cities in the country rivaling places such as San Diego, Grand Rapids, and Seattle thanks to breweries like New Belgium, Odells, and many more.
If you’re not much of a beer drinker, like me, you might be wondering what else is there to do in a place like Fort Collins besides breweries?
Thankfully, Fort Collins is more than “just a college town”, a title I am used to defending after living in Madison, WI for 8 years and there are plenty of other things to explore in Fort Collins besides breweries, including delicious restaurants, excellent outdoors activities and even street art!
Here are my 8 favorite things to do in Fort Collins besides drinking beer.
1. Explore the Countless Bike Trails
Prior to coming out to Fort Collins, one of the things that I knew about FoCo is that it was an incredibly bike friendly city. It has a platinum level rating for bike-friendliness with nearly 300 miles of bike trails and a large amount of bikers commuting each day. Even though it is near the mountains, the city itself has a reasonably flat terrain and very wide bike lanes which can help any newbies feel more comfortable getting out on two wheels. I was lucky enough to have a bike provided for me from my AirBnb hosts so I was able to get out and go for a ride on a few of the nice days during my 6 week stay in Fort Collins!
2. Sample World Class Chocolate at Nuance
If you had to me prior to coming to Fort Collins that I would eat some of the best chocolate of my life here, I think I might have laughed, but it turned out to be true! Nuance Chocolate is one of only about 40 single origin chocolate producers in the world, meaning that they are truly bean to bar. Their knowledgeable staff can walk you through the chocolate process and tell you about how the flavors differ, but the best way to understand single-origin chocolate is to taste it! Nuance offers several different chocolate flights for new and experienced chocolate eaters alike. Once you taste chocolates from places like Ghana and Venezuela back-to-back, you will be able to tell flavors and nuances (see what they did there?) much better, giving you a fuller understanding of all the different ways that chocolate can taste depending on where the cacao is grown. Their bars start at $7.50 so it definitely isn’t cheap but this is a very unique FoCo experience that is well-worth the price tag!
3. Hunt for Street Art in Old Town
If you’ve been following my blog for a while, then you probably know that I am obsessed with street art and it is one of the things that I always look for while traveling. When I came to Fort Collins, I certainly didn’t expect to find any street art in a city this small but I was pleasantly surprised to discover a few adorable murals around Old Town along with a lot of painted power boxes (see below). From washed out old advertisements to newly commissioned pieces, there are a few hidden street art gems to discover on a walking tour of Old Town Fort Collins.
4. Drink Cocktails Instead of Beer
Although Fort Collins is often known as a beer city, there are plenty of spots where you can sample another boozy drink—cocktails! There are several local distilleries worth checking out, including CopperMuse Distillery in Old Town. Building on the traditions of brewers, CopperMuse offers handcrafted spirits like vodka, whiskey, rum and liqueurs. The Whisk(e)y is another good option, with hundreds of whiskeys available in a leather-clad dining room that feels both homey and old-world. Finally, get your speakeasy vibes at Social, a hip downtown cocktail bar and restaurant that has some talented mixologists on staff serving up an unique assortment of classic and modern cocktails.
5. Eat a Cinnamon Roll the Size of Your Face
In the heart of downtown Fort Collins, you’ll find the Silver Grill Cafe a buzzing and cozy diner with a nostalgic vibe. It is most famous for its giant cinnamon rolls and pecan buns! I went on a weekday morning and was shocked by how many people were inside the cafe sipping on coffee, working on their laptops or chatting with friends. It had such a lively and energetic vibe! Plus the cinnamon rolls were delicious. I was a huge fan of the pecan roll!
6. Drive to Horsetooth Reservoir (or Hike Horsetooth Mountain!)
One of the amazing parts of cities in Colorado is the easy accessibility to outdoor activities like hiking, mountaineering and skiing. Fort Collins is no exception with Horsetooth Reservoir and Mountain less than 20 minutes from downtown. You can easily drive up to the reservoir to enjoy beautiful views and some light hiking trails, or if you’re really feeling up for a challenge, Horsetooth Mountain which offers over 29 miles of hiking opportunities. There is even a waterfall hike in this reserve!
7. Hang Out in Refurbished Shipping Containers at the Exchange
Located on College Ave in the center of Old Town Fort Collins is a funky new development property called the Exchange which is built entirely inside of and on top of refurbished shipping containers. This is the type of mixed use space you expect to find in big cities like New York or Chicago, so I was surprised to discover something so modern in Old Town! Home to a small park, several restaurants, a distillery and a cool ice cream shop, the Exchange is a trendy spot in the heart of FoCo where you can hang out in from day to night! It is a very new area in the city so there are new businesses popping up inside the space all the time.
8. Savor Incredible Cheese at the Welsh Rabbit
True to my Wisconsin roots, I can never turn down a good cheese place and Welsh Rabbit is better than good—it’s a great place to sample and enjoy cheese. In my opinion, this is a must-visit spot in Fort Collins! The Welsh Rabbit has both a bistro and a cheese shop depending on what you’re looking for, but I think both are worth a visit. Head to the bistro first, where you can make your own cheese plate then you can go to the shop to purchase your favorites! The shop will also give generous samples of their various cheeses so you can make sure you like it before you buy it. And boy, did I like some of their selections. My favorite, by far, was the creamy soft-ripened Pico goat cheese which I proceeded to devour with rosemary crackers almost as soon as I got home.