Looking for a unique Colorado city break? Start your search with the best things to do in Fort Collins, CO. There’s a reason that this colorful city is the cultural capital of Northern Colorado. Visit Fort Collins to explore craft breweries, a thriving art scene, and a historic old town.
Nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Fort Collins provides limitless opportunities to connect with the surrounding landscape. Escape to the mountains of Coyote Ridge Natural Area or stroll the botanical Gardens on Spring Creek. Back in town, discover some of North Colorado’s top tourist attractions. Step back in time with a tour of Avery House or sample regional food at Austin’s American Grill.
Already packing your bags? If you’re not sure what to do, plan the perfect trip with this guide to the best places to visit in Fort Collins, CO.
Best places to visit in Fort Collins, CO
Fort Collins Museum of Discovery
Soak up endless knowledge at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery. The brainchild of the Fort Collins Museum and the Discovery Science Center, this is no ordinary museum. Interactive spaces encourage you to expand your knowledge of science, history, and culture. It’s also home to North Colorado’s only digital dome, where you can enjoy immersive shows and experiences.
Transform the way you see the world at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery. Fascinating exhibits delve into the wonders of nature, the intricacies of design and engineering, and how we process the world around us. Make some furry friends, manipulate sound and light, or marvel at traces of ancient civilizations.
With activities for all ages, the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery is a novel way to spend a day out in Fort Collins.
Gardens on Spring Creek
Looking for an oasis in the heart of the city? Head to Gardens on Spring Creek. The 18-acre community space rests on the edge of the Spring Creek tributary. Meandering paths will lead you through a varied selection of botanical gardens. These range from edible crops, to decorative cacti, to the native plants of the foothills.
Embrace the peaceful atmosphere of Gardens on Spring Creek as you explore flora and fauna from around the world. You’ll be enchanted by over 300 species of butterflies in the tropical butterfly house. Or laze away an afternoon in the sun on the grass of the Great Lawn.
Before you go, check the gardens’ event schedule. Fun things happen here throughout the seasons. You can catch light displays during the festive period and regular concerts at the amphitheater.
The Gardens on Spring Creek also host exhibitions from local artists, so keep an eye out for dreamy sculptures nestled in the bushes.
If you’re a history buff, you’ll love exploring Avery House. Built in 1873 by Franklin Avery and his wife Sara, this Fort Collins attraction is dripping with history. Frank Avery is a significant figure for the city; traces of his legacy can be found in other important attractions around the city.
History’s not your thing? You can’t help but be captivated by the high Victorian gothic architecture. Built from the sandstone of local quarries, Avery House has an imposing feeling as you approach the front door.
Get lost in the story of the Avery family as you wander rooms full of original pieces. The guided tour will transport you back to a different time. The guides wear period clothing to add to the ambiance—and they know the building inside out!
Farm at Lee Martinez Park
The Farm at Lee Martinez Park is one of the most adorable tourist attractions in Fort Collins for families. This petting zoo has activities and experiences to help you learn more about the agricultural industry and how it shaped the area. Furry residents include chickens, cows, ducks, and sheep. You can even ride the ponies on the weekends!
Make friends with the goats and fall in love with the pigs. Animal feed is only $0.25. Buy plenty to be the most popular human at the party.
The Farm at Lee Martinez Park has various pieces of antique farm machinery that are safe to climb on, too. If your camera roll isn’t already full, the vintage red tractor offers the perfect selfie opportunity!
Pine Ridge Natural Area
Get out into nature at the Pine Ridge Natural Area. The vast grassland and scrub forest is so stunning that in 1976 it was made one of the first protected natural areas in Fort Collins. The selection of beautiful trails is free for you to explore on foot or by bike. Dog walkers and horseback riders are welcome, too.
Trails at the Pine Ringe Natural Area vary in difficulty. Get your blood pumping on the foothills loop, or embrace the peaceful atmosphere at the Dixon Reservoir.
There’s some fantastic wildlife in Pine Ridge Natural Area. Birdwatchers should keep an eye out for meadowlarks. If you’re lucky, you might even spot elk grazing nearby!
You’ll be completely caught up in the charm of Fort Collins’ Old Town. A vibrant cultural hub for the city, it’s home to some of the top Fort Collins points of interest. Find charisma in every corner with Art Deco hotels and renovated storefronts from the 1800s. It’s easy to see why this neighborhood was the main inspiration for Main Street in Disneyland USA.
Unpack the history of Fort Collins with a walking tour or at one of the many museums. Or just stroll the charming streets and soak up the ambiance. There are infinite treasures to explore in eccentric stores and local art galleries.
Foodies will be in paradise in Old Town with an intriguing selection of food trucks, restaurants, and bars. Wrap up the day with a craft beer tasting at one of the traditional breweries.
As the sun sets, Old Town remains lively with theatre performances, live music, and alfresco dining.
If you’re looking for a novel way to spend an afternoon, take a trip to Swetsville Zoo. This iconic sculpture park is the creation of local artist Bill Swets. Spread across the Poudre River are 180 artworks melded from old machinery and found items.
Visiting the Swetsville Zoo is like stepping into a fantasy land. Get your creative juices flowing with mind-bending concepts. Giant pineapples line the walls, and creatures that are half-car and half-spider guard picnic benches.
The area is huge, and it’s easy to lose track of time exploring the surreal sculptures. Make sure you bring your camera: Swetsville Zoo is crawling with fun photo opportunities!
Fort Collins City Park
Fill your day with fun outdoor activities at Fort Collins City Park. John Sheldon bought the land in 1874 and built the artificial City Park Lake. The excavated material formed what is now Fire Cracker Hill. Continuous investment since has created a space in the middle of Fort Collins for families and friends to spend time together in the fresh air.
Basketball courts, tennis courts, and ball fields give you a chance to get competitive. There’s also a playground to keep young children entertained. If you’d rather relax, rent a paddle boat and cruise across the water, or get creative in the pottery studio.
Home to the pretty trees and flowers of the botanical gardens, Fort Collins City Park is a lovely spot for a picnic. There’s also a replica of the Statue of Liberty—and even mountain views in the distance!
CSU Annual Flower Trial Gardens
There’s a dazzling rainbow of color at the CSU Annual Flower Trial Gardens, home to over 1,000 plant species. The gardens were created by Colorado State University to research how different plants survive in the Rocky Mountain environment. You can visit the gardens any day of the week, and entry is free.
It’s beautiful to see the different colors as the flowers change—from the promising buds in the spring to the vivid oranges of the fall. Wander the CSU Annual Flower Trial Gardens, then relax under one of the shaded areas. Why not bring food and have an alfresco lunch surrounded by the fresh scent of the flower beds?
Museum of Art Fort Collins
Immerse yourself in contemporary culture at the Museum of Art Fort Collins. Converted from an old post office, the beautiful renaissance revival building is a focal point of the whimsical Old Town. The art museum hosts modern art exhibitions from local and international artists, as well as community events and workshops.
At the Museum of Art Fort Collins, you’ll explore the enlightening collections interpreting today’s society through the lens of visual arts. It’s fascinating how artists use different mediums to process the world around them.
The Museum of Art Fort Collins regularly refreshes its pieces, so you’ll discover something new with every visit. Previous works have unpacked racial identity, lives on the American border, and the impact of climate change.
Have a wild day out at Fort Fun. This giant rec center sits at the side of a large lake, providing hours of entertainment both on- and off-land. Open year-round, Fort Fun offers fun attractions for both children and adults, a large arcade, and an on-site restaurant.
If the sun is out, ride a swan boat across the Blue Heron Lake, or wizz down a 35-foot slide. Get competitive on the go-karts or with a game of mini golf. On a rainy day, you can test your brain in the escape room or fight for survival in a game of laser tag.
Horsetooth Mountain Open Space
The views at Horsetooth Mountain Open Space will take your breath away. Hike, bike, or horseback ride the 29 miles of trails stretched across the Horsetooth Reservoir.
Only a 20-minute drive outside of Fort Collins, the 2711-acre park hides stunning mountain vistas. Horsetooth Mountain Open Space offers the ultimate in outdoor adventure. Stand on top of the world at Horsetooth Rock or follow the trickle of streams while you search for the magical Horsetooth Falls.
Arrive early to avoid the crowds. You must pay a small fee to enter, but there are amenities available inside, such as restrooms and drinking water.
Coyote Ridge Natural Area
Escape the city to the peace and quiet of the Coyote Ridge Natural Area. The trail starts in the grasslands and ends in the montane forests.
The 600-foot rise in elevation to Coyote Ridge is sure to get your legs burning. Persevere to the top for views across the Front Range and all the way over to Chayenne Ridge. Dogs are not allowed, but you can go horseback riding or mountain biking here.
Follow in the footsteps of early pioneers as you trek across the wide green open spaces of Coyote Ridge Natural Area. These boundless mountains are home to mule deer, coyotes, mountain lions, and bears.
Spring is a great time to visit Coyote Ridge before the stifling heat takes over the plains. When the snow falls, the trees are dusted with white, transforming it into a winter wonderland.
Riverbend Ponds Natural Area
If you want to see more of the local Colorado wildlife, take a trip to Riverbend Ponds Natural Area. This section of the Poudre River features diverse ponds and wetlands. It’s an easy loop trail and an idyllic spot for hikers and nature lovers.
If you love birds, Riverbend Ponds Natural Area is one of the prime places to see in Fort Collins for birdwatching. There are over 200 species here, including ducks and American white pelicans.
The gravel mine ponds are great for fishing. If that isn’t your thing, you’ll still enjoy trying to spot the crappies and catfish darting in the water.
Odell Brewing Company
For a boozy tourist activity, take a tour of the Odell Brewing Company. The craft brewery was founded in 1989. It proved so successful that in 1994 they opened a larger production site in Downtown Fort Collins.
Roam the Odell Brewing Company with an expert guide who will show you where the beer is still made to this day. Afterward, you can take part in a tasting of some of their signature beers.
There’s more to this immense building than just beer production: It’s also a winery and restaurant. Sit under the fairy lights of the gorgeous patio while you sip your drinks. Weekly live music makes this an exciting way to spend an evening in Fort Collins.
Alleycat Coffee House
When you need a caffeine fix, Alleycat Coffee House is one of the quirkiest places to go in Fort Collins. This funky spot is hiding in a small alleyway downtown. The baristas have excellent taste in music, and you can try out various board games and acoustic guitars.
The Alleycat Coffee House combines a love of coffee and art. Sip your Americano among colorful ceiling tiles, maps for wallpaper, and whimsical artwork. You can buy all the coffee shop classics or try creative Alleycat specials like the honey buzz latte.
If you get hungry, there’s a small selection of tasty dishes, including some thoughtful veggie options. Sit by the window and watch the world go by, or curl up in one of the leather booths.
Austin’s American Grill
For an authentic taste of Colorado, grab a meal at Austin’s American Grill. Choose from two locations, one in the trendy Old Town and a second on the historic Harmony Road. Some believe that this popular eatery was a big contributor to Fort Collins’ boom as a trendy gastronomic and brewery destination.
Sit under an umbrella on the patio and soak up the ambiance of the city, or head inside for a warm and friendly atmosphere. Wooden beams and exposed brickwork create a rustic but stylish interior.
Dinner at Austin’s American Grill is one of the essential things to do in Fort Collins. Sip on well-designed cocktails made with fresh juice while you browse the menu. Traditional dishes include chicken pot pie, iron skillet cornbread, and roasts from the open-flame rotisserie.