Being dumped into a new town and college surrounding may leave the pit of new students’ stomachs in knots, but no need to fret because Fort Collins is jam-packed with things to do to ease the nerves of the newest faces on campus.
Fort Fun is the typical college town: Restaurants, shops and clubs bubble within the city limits, and college students thrive throughout the town. For those unfamiliar with the old military town, the downtown area Old Town in Fort Collins is perhaps the most frequented by students.
Old Town Square is a busy outdoor pedestrian mall located east of College Avenue between Mountain and Walnut Streets. Eateries such as Beau Jo’s Pizza, 100 N. College Ave., and Ben and Jerry’s Scoop Shop, 1 Old Town Square, lay as popular outlets in a square interlaced with small boutiques, shops and other restaurants unique only to Fort Collins.
Fountains, gardens and a permanent stage also make home here.
“I have lived here for 23 years and Old Town is the guts of town,” said Lee Swanson, owner of all-natural ice cream shop Ben and Jerry’s.
Old Town and the surrounding downtown area are a mix of trendy bars, outdoor entertainment and original landmarks and historic buildings.
Although most bars and dance clubs in Fort Collins are exclusively for people 21 years old and up, there are plenty of other venues available to younger people looking for a good time.
As with many college communities, music is considered by many as the backbone to Fort Collins’ entertainment core. Such theaters downtown as the Aggie, 204 S. College Ave., and the Starlight, 167 N. College Ave., are home to local and big-name performances many nights of the week. Oftentimes, these music venues offer nights for music fans as young as 16 years old so everybody can take a part in the nightlife.
If finding a hotspot downtown runs dry, there are always things and outdoor activities in the mountains or close-lying foothills to do. Trails, bike paths and camping flood the mountain areas near Fort Collins, not to mention the endless activities found on and along the Cache La Poudre River, which runs through the foothills and Fort Collins to the north of the city past downtown.
Horsetooth Reservoir, just west of the city, is the closet large body of water offering swimming, boating, canoeing and fishing. Taking a weekend trip to camp there is a possibility, and cabins are available to rent.
Gary Buffington, the director for Larimer County Parks and Open Lands, said that among all the outdoor opportunities west of campus, whether part of Larimer County or not, outdoor entities accept students with open arms.
“Recreational use is encouraged for students. Northern Colorado is the best place to recreate,” said Buffington, who especially enjoys getting outside in September and October.
Peppered 14 miles deep in the Poudre Canyon is Mishawaka Amphitheatre and Restaurant, where bands perform in an outdoor music environment.
Fort Collins is also home to many quiet coffee shops and bookstores. Newcomers will find these places in all corners of the city, especially in Old Town.
Kim Egan, communications director for the Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce, said the city offers a great balance of things to do, from wild to mild.
“When I was a student, downtown offered an atmosphere to party-it-up or just study. The atmosphere here in Fort Collins just exudes a great quality,” Egan said.