Pedal to your next pint in this scenic college town

Colorado Day Trip: Fort Collins

Carmel Zucker

Why go in spring: Bikes, brews, and blooms in this riverfront college town. Claim to fame: Old Town is said to be the inspiration for Disneyland’s Main Street. Better claim to fame: Produces over 70% of Colorado’s craft beer. Nicknames: Fort Fun and FoCo Official mascot: Colorado State University’s Rocky Mountain bighorn ram. Best post-ride lunch: CooperSmith’s Pub & Brewing ($$; 5 Old Town Square) for bangers and mash, plus in-house brews. Best post-ride cocktail: Margaritas at the Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant ($$; 143 W. Mountain Ave.; 970/224-5428). Worth the trip: A drive along State 14 to nearby Cache la Poudre River Canyon (970/295-6700) in Roosevelt National Forest, for views of the spring runoff and wildflowers. A riverfront ride: In bike commuter–friendly Fort Collins, the scenic Poudre River Trail is a bit of a thoroughfare, cutting west to east through the city for 10 miles along the river. The paved trail meanders past white-tailed deer and springtime wildflowers, with turnoffs to downtown and the city’s celebrated breweries. Get yourself some wheels: Fort Collins is crazy for bikes, and it has the shops to prove it. Check out the vintage cruisers at Brave New Wheel (closed Sun; 105 E. Myrtle St.; 970/416-0417).
Fuel up with a cup: The Bean Cycle is a bike- and eco-friendly coffeeshop staffed by adorable baristas who practice what they preach: biking to work and serving fair-trade, organic java. Try a cup of the nutty Costa Rican blend while browsing the in-house, nonprofit bookstore. 144 N. College Ave.
Fill up your basket with bulbs: Downtown’s Perennial Gardener, a garden-goodie and gift shop, teeters with birdhouses, lawn gnomes, paperwhite bulbs, potting vessels, and how-to books. Don’t miss the courtyard out back with soothing fountains. A half-hour of browsing here, and you’ll be ready to flex that green thumb. 154 N. College Ave.; 970/224-3987
5. Cruise to a brewery: Bikes are synonymous with New Belgium Brewing Company, well loved for its Fat Tire amber ale, and just a quick ride from downtown along the Poudre River Trail. Book a spot on one of the popular (and free!) daily brew tours . Closed Sun; 500 Linden St.

More Spots to Brake for Beer

The Fort Collins Brewery Cruise up for brewery tours offered hourly (noon–5 p.m.) Thursday-Sunday. The tasting room stays open until 6 p.m. for both samples and pints. Don’t miss the Rocky Mountain IPA. 1900 E. Lincoln Ave., Ste. B Odell Brewing Company About a half-mile from New Belgium, Odell is another Fort Collins classic with tours (12, 1, 2, and 3 p.m.). Swing by the taproom for a taste of 90 Shilling. Closed Sun; free; 800 E. Lincoln Ave. Anheuser-Busch Brewery Find out how they make Budweiser at this sprawling operation about 4 miles from downtown. It’s not as quaint as the others, but the tour includes a visit to the Clydesdale horses. Free; 2351 Busch Dr.
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