Colorado Day Trip: Fort Collins
Pedal to your next pint in this scenic college town
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.
Check it out: Borrow a bike (for free!) from the Fort Collins Bike Library.
Best breakfast ride: Brunch o’ Bikes meets outside Brave New Wheel bike shop (105 E. Myrtle St.; 970/416-0417) the first Sunday each month.
Best post-ride lunch: CooperSmith’s Pub & Brewing ($$; 5 Old Town Square) for bangers and mash, plus in-house brews. Try the Poudre Pale Ale.
Best post-ride cocktail: Margaritas at the Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant ($$; 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.
1. 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.
2. 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). Or rent a ride from Full Cycle in Old Town, just a mile from the river trail (from $10 for four hours; 230 S. College Ave.; 970/484-1800).
3. 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.
4. 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 brew tours (Fri–Sat; free), and don’t pass on the Blue Paddle, a pilsener-lager great for spring. Closed Sun; 500 Linden St.
Next: 3 more breweries within pedaling-distance
3 more spots to brake for beer
Cruise up for brewery tours offered hourly (1–5 p.m.) on Saturdays. The tasting room stays open until 7 p.m. for both samples and pints. Don’t miss the Rocky Mountain IPA and the Retro Red ale. Closed Sun; free; 1900 E. Lincoln Ave., Ste. B
About a half-mile from New Belgium, Odell is another Fort Collins classic with tours (1, 2, and 3 p.m.). Show up a half-hour early since they don’t take reservations. Or swing by the taproom for a taste of 90 Shilling, Easy Street Wheat, or the summer-season brew, St. Lupulin Extra Pale Ale. Closed Sun; free; 800 E. Lincoln Ave.
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 (departing every 45 minutes) includes a visit to the Clydesdale horses. Free; 2351 Busch Dr.