Fort Collins, Colorado
Fort Collins is a city in northern Colorado that is situated at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. It is best known as being the home of Colorado State University, which is a prominent university that attracts a sizeable college-age populace year-round. These young adults help enhance the city’s economy through their support of the local microbreweries, art and music scene, and the limitless outdoor recreational activities. They are also the driving force behind the city’s college-town atmosphere through their patronage of the vivacious nightlife and eclectic restaurants. The residents of Fort Collins affectionately referred to the area as ‘a drinking town with a college problem.’
Although concise, the following attractions are some of the most accurate representations of the Fort Collins lifestyle that I experienced during my visits:
Located west of town in the bluffs of the Rocky Mountains is Horsetooth Reservoir, a manmade body of water that is 6.5-miles long and at an elevation of 5,430 feet. The year-round, local haven is ideal for outdoor recreational activities like swimming, boating, fishing, backcountry camping, rock climbing, and picnicking. Additionally, the open space surrounding the reservoir includes a network of trails that navigate over 2,000 acres of natural topography and can be utilized on foot, bike or horseback.
Although there are a few paths along the eastern shores of the reservoir, a majority of the more scenic trails are on the western side. Popular trails like the Horsetooth Rock Trail or Arthur’s Rock Trail traverse the rugged terrain and culminate with spectacular panoramic view as far as the eye can see. The endless vistas of the alpine scenery and Colorado countryside solidify why Horsetooth Reservoir comes highly recommended to anyone visiting Fort Collins.
New Belgium Brewery:
The New Belgium Brewery is a staple that has come to represent Fort Collins as the largest producer of craft beer in Colorado and fourth largest in the nation. The brewery is located in the heart of town and next to the Cache la Poudre River, which supplies the essential ingredient for the brewing process: water. When utilizing the fresh snowmelt from the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, the brewery strives to employ environmentally friendly efforts to protect the local rivers and streams.
These meticulous efforts, and attention to detail that are implemented by the employee-owned company, are reflected in the quality of every final product. In fact, the trademark bottle cap logo of the New Belgium bike has become synonymous with the high caliber and distinct flavors of all of their award-winning styles of beer.
The brewery is open from 11am to 8pm, with 90-minute tours starting at 11:30am and continuing every half hour until the final tour at 4:30pm. Tours are free and are on a first-come, first-served basis, so it is highly recommended that visitors go online to book a tour in advance before they fill up. After the educational tour, guests who are 21 years of age or older will have an opportunity to sample the assorted varietals that are created by the New Belgium Brewery.
Old Town District:
Old Town is a national historic district and the original settlement of pioneers in Fort Collins during the 1800’s. Today, the main thoroughfare transports visitors back to this time through its historical architecture, which houses cozy cafés, quaint boutiques, unique specialty shops, and diverse restaurants. Although some of the original heritage buildings have been renovated or modified, the rich history of the area still emanates out of every structure.
In fact, the promenades of Old Town have been upgraded to mirror the European-style cobblestone alleys that give the town an old-world atmosphere. Additionally, the landscape has been adorned with charmingly lit trees that line either side of the street and, when illuminated, effectively showcase the welcoming ambiance of the neighborhood.
It’s this romanticism that attracted Walt Disney and his architects to develop Main Street, U.S.A. in Disneyland after Old Town. Originally, Walt Disney had wanted it to be modeled after his hometown in Marceline, Missouri; however, after seeing the design, he felt that two-story buildings would be more aesthetically pleasing and an effective use of space. When Disney was presented with photographs of Fort Collins’ Old Town, the quarter was a picture-perfect match to his vision. Thus, many of the structures along Disneyland’s Main Street, like its City Hall and bank, were mirrored after this unique style.
Over the years, Old Town has become a major tourist attraction for its notable brick buildings and food culture. The district boasts that it has the ‘only original trolley car west of the Mississippi,’ which offers rides through the historic neighborhood. Whether its window shopping down its picturesque streets or appreciating the beautiful weather while dining outdoors, Old Town provides a memorable experience in an equally breathtaking setting.
RECOMMENDED FORT COLLINS RESTAURANTS:
Silver Grill Cafe – The best handmade cinnamon rolls that come in regular size and their signature giant creations. They also serve breakfast and lunch with many vegetarian options.
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