Fort Collins is known for its stunning natural surroundings and endless outdoor recreation opportunities, but this bustling town offers much more than meets the eye. From its thriving farm-to-table restaurant scene and swanky cocktail bars, to craft breweries and local artisan shops, it’s easy to see why Fort Collins is known as the cultural capital of Northern Colorado.
With so many fun and exciting things to do in Northern Colorado, many visitors and new residents have the same question in mind: How to experience Ft. Collins like a local? To help answer that question, we’ve compiled our favorite places to eat, drink, and shop from a local’s perspective:
Located well off the beaten path of Old Town Fort Collins, Chimney Park is nestled in historic downtown Windsor, just a short drive southeast of Fort Collins. A local favorite for fine dining and special occasions, Chimney Park has received regional, state-wide and national recognition as a top dining destination in Northern Colorado and sources seasonal and organic products from local Colorado farms and the surrounding region.
For a true farm-to-table experience, the Farmhouse at Jessup Farm certainly lives up to its name. Located on a 133-year-old farm in southeast Fort Collins, the Farmhouse is open for brunch, lunch and dinner, and offers a locally sourced take on home-style comfort food. While you’re there, spend a few hours wandering the rest of the Jessup Farm Artisan Village, a sustainable residential and retail community with a mix of artisan small businesses, residences, and an on-site working farm.
Newly opened in Fort Collins’ Old Town district, The Exchange offers something for everyone. With an eclectic mix of different establishments all under one roof– from tacos to ice cream, and everything in between– it’s a great place for patrons of all ages and palates. Another charmer in Old Town is Ginger and Baker, a great place for brunch, cooking lessons, a cute gift market with space for corporate events.
If you’re looking for a swanky night on the town, look no further than Social in Old Town Fort Collins. Known for its craft cocktails and unique, speakeasy setting, Social also features a food menu of small plates and charcuterie boards that rival some of Fort Collins’ best restaurants.
With over 200 options on their wine list, even the most discerning wine lover is sure to find a favorite at Café Vino. Paired with a diverse European-inspired menu created by local chefs, Café Vino is a great option for those looking for a casual-yet-classy place to wine and dine.
It’s no secret that Fort Collins is a mecca for craft beer lovers, and if you’re looking for the perfect place to imbibe, Tap and Handle in Old Town Fort Collins is not to be missed. Recently named in Draft Magazine’s Top 100 Best Beer Bars in the Country list, Tap and Handle offers 74 beers on tap for you to enjoy on their outdoor patio, buzzing front bar, or quiet upstairs area.
Great shopping is one of the many reasons why Fort Collins is one of the best places to live, and Curiosities is a unique local favorite just north of the Old Town Square. Never knowing what you’re going to find is one of the reasons why Curiosities is such a fun place to shop. You can find anything from children’s novelty toys to eclectic home décor.
If you’re looking for handcrafted goods inspired by Colorado’s outdoor lifestyle, look no further than Akinz. In the flagship Fort Collins store you’ll find hand-printed goods and apparel highlighting the mountains, wildlife, Colorado pride and local brews. While you’re there, don’t forget to check out what they’re working on that day, or order something custom-made just for you.
As far as local boutiques go, you can’t go wrong at Lemons and Lace. Lemons and Lace offers everything from women’s clothing, footwear, gifts, jewelry and accessories, as well as specialty home décor items. Founded by a Colorado State University alumni and Fort Collins native, you’ll find one-of-a-kind pieces perfect for Colorado living in every season.