Capping off the north end of Colorado’s Front Range, this happening city is closer to the wide-open spaces of Wyoming than the sprawl of Denver. It also sits right where the state’s only nationally designated Wild and Scenic River, the Cache La Poudre, flows out of the Rockies and onto the eastern Plains.
Like other Front Range cities, Fort Collins is a wealth of great eats. For breakfast, be ready for the worthwhile wait for a table at the Silver Grill (silvergrill.com). Dating back to 1912, this is one of the oldest eateries in Northern Colorado and once you walk in and smell what’s cooking, you’ll understand why they’ve stood the test of time. The signature dish is the enormous fresh-made cinnamon rolls. For lunch, head a little way out from downtown to visit the classic Farmhouse at Jessup Farm (farmhousefc.com). Made-from-scratch meals rotate by season and are served on warm cast iron dishes. These farm-style meals range from the hearty farmhouse burger to classic chicken and waffles. Wrap up the day at Fort Collins’ oldest brewpub, CooperSmith’s Pub & Brewery (coopersmithspub.com). The place actually offers two restaurants in one with The Pub serving sit-down meals and Poolside dishing up pizza and fries for noshing while shooting billiards. Both offer The Brewery’s dozens of craft brews on tap.
Right in the midst of old town sits The Elizabeth Hotel (theelizabethcolorado.com). This 164-room establishment welcomes visitors into an open lobby with a large spiral staircase to the second floor. The rooms are simple and modern but include a touch of nostalgia for some (and intrigue for others) thanks to a classic-style record player and a small selection of vinyl to choose from to set the mood. The hotel includes a beautiful west-facing open-air space appropriately called the Sunset Lounge. In-house dining restaurant the Emporium Kitchen and Wine Market sports a fun retro-style ambiance with wrap-around bench tables, serving American brasserie fare, along with a gelateria, and of course a substantial selection of wine.
With the Cache La Poudre flowing through town and the canyon it carved out just above town, Fort Collins is a paddling and fishing haven. Outfitters including Rocky Mountain Adventures (shoprma.com) offer guided rafting and kayaking trips, or just rent some gear for your own adventure. They also rent backcountry ski touring gear for winter adventures. If you have curious kiddos, hit up the Museum of Discovery (fcmod.org) on a stormy day to keep them occupied. The foodies in the family will want to check out the many cooking classes at Ginger & Baker (gingerandbaker.com), or just book a reservation for dinner (which will convince you to take that cooking class here). Their cooking classroom is open, modern and a great place to build long-lasting friendships with fellow culinarians.