In terms of bragging rights, Fort Collins has plenty to crow about. In 2006, Money magazine named the collegiate community just one hour north of Denver as the country's best place to live.
Disneyland's Main Street, U.S.A. was modeled after Fort Collins's historic Old Town, which is packed with shops, restaurants, and watering holes perfect for chasing off early-winter's chill.
Order a pizza, sip a locally brewed beer, catch an innovative play, and check out the town's pre-holiday celebrations, which continue into December.
From Denver, drive 64 miles north on I-25 to exit 269-B. For more info, visit fortcollinschamber.com or call 970/482-3746.
Enzio's Italian Kitchen Wood-fired, thin-crusted pizzas (the Mediterranean, with white clams, is especially notable) tossed in an open kitchen. INFO: $$; 126 W. Mountain Ave.; 970/484-8466.
Jay's Bistro The romantic date spot offers everything from duck done three ways to New Zealand red deer loin. INFO: $$$; 135 W. Oak St.; 970/482-1876.
Silver Grill Café Weekends are packed to the rafters with locals lingering over the giant cinnamon rolls and plate-spanning omelets. INFO: $; 218 Walnut St.; 970/484-4656.
Odell Brewing Co. Sample a beer brewed on premises, then stick around for a free tour (1-3 Mon-Sat). INFO: 800 E. Lincoln Ave.; 970/498-9070.
Bas Bleu Theatre Company Angels in America, Sylvia, and The Elephant Man have recently played at this intimate theater. INFO: Tickets from $12; 401 Pine St.; 970/498-8949.
Swetsville Zoo More than 170 comical characters constructed from scrap metal, car parts, and farm machinery are on display at this outdoor sculpture park. INFO: Donation suggested; 4801 E. Harmony Rd.; 970/484-9509.
The Cupboard A two-tiered kitchen emporium selling gourmet food, dinnerware, cooking equipment, and gadgets. INFO: 152 S. College Ave.; 970/493-8585.
Fort Collins's holiday festivities kick off early with live music during the downtown lighting ceremony (6:45 p.m. Nov 2; Old Town Square; 970/484-6500), when 3,000 strands of lights spring to life. And don't miss Santa's arrival (noon Nov 17; Old Town Square).
If you're in town on the first weekend of the month, hit the First Friday Gallery Walk (6-9 Nov 2, Dec 7; Old Town Square; 970/482-2232), when local galleries stay open late and offer refreshments.
Sleep at the 1923 landmark Armstrong Hotel (37 rooms from $89; 970/484-3883), located in Old Town, and, if the weather cooperates, pedal between shops on one of the
hotel's complimentary cruisers.