By Caramie Petrowsky
Winter adventures abound in Fort Collins. Whether your idea of adventure involves the outdoors or a fun new-to-you restaurant, we’ve got you covered. Skip the ski traffic in lieu of a Green, Blue, Black or Double-Black adventure in this Northern Colorado hotspot. But don’t worry if Blacks and Double Blacks aren’t usually your jam, the only thing extreme about these experiences is they’re extremely cool. In short, #FCTravelGoals 2020.
Green: Watch the eagles
Bald eagles from the north make Fort Collins their winter home. They spend nights in communal roosts in cottonwood trees at Fossil Creek Reservoir Natural Area. Drop-in to visit with the volunteer Master Naturalists who are stationed at the viewing pier Fridays and Saturday afternoons, now through Feb. 15. Learn about the eagles’ natural history and view them through spotting scopes and binoculars. Free, no registration required.
Blue: Visit a Natural Area
Fort Collins is home to an impressive 46+ Natural Areas, so there’s always something new to discover. Check out Maxwell, a beautiful foothills natural area where visitors can enjoy scenic views of the mountains and of the city. Listen for the spotted towhees call, which sound like “drink-your-teeeee,” and look for mule deer, which are common but easily blend into the mountain mahogany shrubs. For a challenging bike ride open year-round, check out the 1.5 mile Maxwell Loop, part of the 9.6 mile Foothills Trail that connects Pineridge, Maxwell and Reservoir Ridge natural areas.
Black: Hike Arthur’s Rock or snowshoe Cameron Pass.
The outdoor areas in and around Fort Collins are a hiker’s dream come true. For a bit of a challenge, head to Arthur’s Rock Trail in Lory State Park. This moderate 2-mile hike rewards hikers with incredible views of Horsetooth Reservoir and the city of Fort Collins. Meanwhile, Cameron Pass offers unparalleled snowshoeing if you’re craving some backcountry scenery.
Double Black: Tackle On the Rocks trail
On the Rocks, a new trail at Bobcat Ridge Natural Area, provides one mile of scenic hiking and expert level mountain biking several miles into Bobcat Ridge. The trail, which Natural Areas staff co-created with volunteers from Northern Colorado Grassroots, Otterbox, and Overland Mountain Bike Association, winds through some of the most unique landscape in Fort Collins. Mountain bikers and hikers can enjoy the trail daily from dawn to dusk. Visit this page for trail conditions and parking lot webcam.
Green: Get Gaming
Visit the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery to check out the new Game Changers Exhibit, on display until April 30, 2020. Discover how innovation has shaped the video game industry in a special exhibition in the Woodward Special Exhibition Gallery at the museum. Explore the past and uncover the future of gaming. Operate a supersized Nintendo controller, play Tetris on a giant Game Boy, test your knowledge of retro video game music, and more.
Blue: Book tickets to a concert
Check out a concert at Washington’s, a Fort Collins landmark with a storied history. The recently renovated venue hosts some big names this winter and spring. Highlights include The Wailers (Jan. 26), Ani DiFranco (Feb. 8), Ozomatli (Feb. 14), Dweezil Zappa (Feb. 22), Robert Earl Keen (Feb. 25), Arrested Development (Feb. 27). Keller Williams (March 6), Infamous Stringdusters (March 12), Los Lobos (March 13), Galactica (March 14), moe. (March 18), and more.
Black: Go indie
Catch an indie film at the Lyric Cinema, a mainstay in Old Town Fort Collins for a decade. The Lyric opened a new 10,000 square-foot building on North College in late 2017. Along with screening a wide variety of indie films, this creative hub features arcade games, a concession stand and a café and bar. Every Saturday and Sunday morning, catch old school cartoons from 9 a.m. to noon along with an all-you-can-eat cereal bar as well as brunch and mimosas.
Double Black: Take in a performance at CSU’s University Center for the Arts
Colorado State University’s University Center for the Arts hosts more than 250 dance, theater and music performances and exhibitions annually. Catch one of the many upcoming free guest artist concerts at the Organ Recital Hall. As part of the Classical Convergence Concert Series at The Lincoln Center, renowned American violinist Joshua Bell and Italian pianist Alessio Bax will perform on Jan. 28, while Grammy winning guitarist Jason Vieaux performs Feb. 11 as part of the same series.
Green: Instead of day drinking, try dry drinking
Blue: Go Cupping at Harbinger
See quality coffee through a new lens. Every Saturday afternoon, Harbinger Coffee hosts free cuppings at 2 p.m. Experience coffee in a new immersive way and discover what kinds of coffee you enjoy the most.
Black: Take a tour
As the Liquid Arts Capital of Colorado, it’s easy to learn firsthand how that beer or cocktail you love came to be. New Belgium Brewing Company offers in-depth specialty tours like the two-hour Grain to Glass tour. Area distilleries, like Feisty Spirits Distillery, NOCO Distillery and CopperMuse Distillery, also offer tours and private tasting sessions.
Double Black: Blend your own vino
Stop into the gorgeous new Blendings at the Preserve where you can blend (and bottle!) your own perfect vino concoction.
Green: Take a (foodie) walk
Embark on the free Fort Collins Foodie Walk to discover the best culinary shops in Downtown Fort Collins. The Foodie Walk features 12 of Old Town’s finest culinary shops, as they stay open late on the 3rd Friday of each month for interactive/seasonal showcases and exciting taste experiences.
Blue: Chocolate tasting at Nuance Chocolate
Nuance Chocolate specializes in bean-to-bar chocolate, roasting and grinding cacao beans right in Fort Collins to make handcrafted chocolate. While all chocolate starts with cacao beans, not all beans taste the same. To discover the full range of the “food of the gods,” try a taster flight at the Nuance Chocolate café, and then choose your favorites.
Black: Progressive dinner at The Exchange
Head to The Exchange (200 North College Ave.) for a progressive dinner. Start with a drink at CopperMuse Distillery and then head to Vatos Tacos and Tequila for a taco or to the new La Piadina for a tasty flatbread sandwich. Don’t forget dessert — Fort Collins Donut Company or Old Town Churn (or both!) has your sweet tooth covered.
Double Black: Take a cooking class then head to the Farmers’ Market for ingredients to make your own masterpiece
After a farm-to-table cooking class at Farm Fusion (like “Hunter’s Field to Plate” or “Me Oh My, Let’s Make Some Pie”) stop into the Winter Farmers’ Market. The market, which takes place at the Opera Galleria in Old Town, is the perfect spot to score provisions to recreate the recipes you mastered at the class.