A small town with a heart of gold, Fort Collins has been Colorado State University’s home since 1870. And students have been falling in love with it every day since. For those who rest their hat in Fort Collins, it’s no surprise that it’s been named one of the top places to live in the country. But if you haven’t spent much time here, you might wonder what makes it special. Take a look at some of the biggest reasons this place steals so many hearts.
#1. It’s an outdoor enthusiast’s playground
Fort Collins sits in one of the best spots in the country for outdoor recreation. It’s nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, offering hiking, biking, and winter sports options. And if you think water sports are out of the question, think again. Horsetooth Reservoir and the Cache la Poudre River offer access to kayaking, paddle boarding, and white water rafting. Oh, and Rocky Mountain National Park, one of the most popular parks in the country? It’s just 35 miles away.
#2. It’s a top-rated spot for bikers, too
The community of Fort Collins has made it a point to make biking convenient. Commuting on two wheels is a simple task, thanks to bike paths that cut through town. Trails abound for every skill level, from mild city park paths to more challenging spots in the foothills. There are also a whole lot of ways to learn about bike safety and maintenance. Thanks to the hard work that this town has put into biking culture, it’s been named one of the most bike-friendly cities in America.
#3. Downtown is picture perfect
Fondly referred to as Old Town, this historic area is the heart of Fort Collins … and it offers something for everyone. An outdoor venue situated in the town square often has free concerts, movie nights, and festivals. The downtown winter lights, lit every November, will literally make your jaw drop. And there are a variety of locally owned businesses to fill your every need — many owned by CSU graduates. Grab a coffee from Starry Night Espresso Cafe, or stop by for brunch at Silver Grill — both are owned and operated by CSU alumni.
#4. You won’t have to look far to find live music
Fort Collins may not be the biggest city, but it will feel like one when you take a look at the music scene. From bluegrass and alt country to indie, folk, and punk, you won’t be able to keep up with the amount of live shows in the area. There are traditional concert venues like the Aggie Theatre and Washington’s, and more-unorthodox locales like the Mishawaka Amphitheatre. Small businesses like Avogadro’s Number offer live shows most days of the week.
And, if you’re looking for free options, you’ll find those, as well. The outdoor stage in Old Town offers a weekly summer concert series, and you can also head to the CSU campus for the Lagoon Concert Series. You can catch free live acts at many restaurants and other small businesses too, like our local indie theatre, The Lyric.
#5. We’re a little odd, and proud of it
The term ‘Fortlandia’ is used in a joking manner, but it does hold a tad of truth. Here in Fort Collins, we embrace the quirky, fun side of life. We have an intense love for our four-legged friends, and tend to bring them everywhere. You’ll notice dog bowls outside of many local businesses, and plenty of dog parks and trails to choose from. We even show off our pups in the annual Tour de Corgi parade. And, we never miss an opportunity to dress up in our most-outlandish costumes and hop on a bike for the annual Tour de Fat parade.
So if you’re looking for a town that doesn’t take itself too seriously, you’ll fit right in around here.
#6. Protecting the Earth is a big priority
Fort Collins puts the priority on green practices. Residents are dedicated to giving back to the Earth, and city leaders set — and meet — lofty sustainability goals. The community works hard to make alternative transportation options convenient and safe. Bike paths continue to line more and more city streets, and bus services are constantly expanding. Free services like bike-maintenance classes allow residents to learn more about living green, too.
Many residents of Fort Collins opt to go green in their daily lives, as well. Solar panels line roofs, and composting, gardening, and backyard chickens are all commonplace. Many commuters also ditch four wheels and opt for a bike or city bus.