The Ultimate Guide to Fort Collins: Where to Eat, Drink, and Play
As the snow melts and you start to make travel plans, there’s likely a few travel destinations on your bucket list. And we’ve got one that should definitely be at the top of your list: Fort Collins, Colorado.
Known for its rich history and stunning landscape, there are plenty of things to do in Fort Collins (a.k.a. “FoCo”) to keep you busy this spring and summer.
This city is known for its fantastic hiking and climbing spots, local foodie scene, fun bars, and of course, shopping. One of our go-to places to shop in FoCo is JAX Outdoor Gear, a Sherpani retailer.
To spare you some research, we’ve rounded up the ultimate Fort Collins travel guide to help you get right down to having a blast.
Best Places to Eat in Fort Collins
First thing’s first: finding a delicious lunch spot to power you through your travels. We’d recommend any of these best restaurants in Fort Collins:
- Your ultimate spot for Cajun and Creole dishes
- Don’t skip the French Toast and Chicory Coffee combo!
- Fresh fish daily? Check!
- Traditional, authentic, and affordable.
- If you’re looking to treat yourself, splurge here.
- Rotisserie-style meats cut right onto your plate. Come hungry!
Best Places to Drink
What’s a vacation without a little something to sip on? Make sure you stop at any of these vibey drink spots in Fort Collins before you head out.
- Cozy speakeasy interior will make you feel like you’ve stepped into the past.
- “Irish Lullaby,” “Hot Pants Rain Dance,” and “Dapper Dan” are all cocktails to try.
- Fancy a sleek martini? They’ve got the best collection.
- Pair it with any of their delicious tapas and small plates — especially the Baked Brie!
- Extensive wine list you and the gal pals will love.
- Happy Hour and Tasting Tuesdays are a must!
Fun Outdoor Activities
Trust us — you’re going to want to bring your hiking boots or climbing shoes. Make a priority to hit any of these Fort Collins outdoor activities during your stay.
- Perfect for boating and stand up paddle boarding.
- Plenty of short hiking trails on both sides of the lake, as well as a public beach for swimming and soaking up some sun.
- A scenic 3.4 mile hike that’s moderately challenging to get your heartrate up.
- Dogs are welcome on a leash, so be sure to bring your canine companion along! (Plus there are many dog-friendly patios around FoCo when you want to grab a drink or a bite afterward).
- Bouldering, rock climbing, and sport climbing
- Catch a show at the Mishawaka Amphitheater
- Challenge yourself on a hike up Greyrock Mountain Trail
Best Places to Shop
After hitting the trail, one of our favorite things to do in Fort Collins is shop! Explore the shops at Old Town and leave some room in your suitcase for something special just for you.
Be sure not to skip our retailer JAX Outdoor Gear!
- Thoughtful gifts like jewelry and mindfulness journals
- Quirky accessories, home goods, games, and more
- Handmade Colorado apparel
- Hats, jewelry, screen-printed T’s, and stickers
- Located at: 1200 N. College Ave., Fort Collins, CO, 80524
- Your ultimate spot for outdoor gear from hiking equipment to Sherpani bags
Shop for Sherpani at JAX Outdoor Gear in Fort Collins
Make your next adventure epic with Jax Outdoor Gear. From climbing, camping, hiking, and fitness, JAX has everything you need for the outdoors and more
Full disclosure — we love this store a lot. We recently chatted with Meghan Highland, Buying Coordinator for Casual Outdoor Apparel at JAX. We wanted to know more about their humble beginnings, and how they became one of our retailers. Here’s what she had to say about this legendary store in FoCo.
What about Fort Collins made it the home for Jax?
“Jax was founded over 65 years ago by Marvin and Lola Quinlan and originally started as a military surplus store in Ames, Iowa.
Their son and our current president, Jim Quinlan, loaded up a truck of surplus gear to expand the company into Colorado – where their family enjoyed spending time together outdoors.
I’m not exactly sure how Jim landed in Fort Collins, but his instincts certainly paid off. Jax Fort Collins has grown with this community and continues to evolve with the town.”
If someone was visiting Fort Collins for the first time, what are the must do activities or places to see?
“For recreation – Horsetooth Reservoir and Poudre Canyon are local favorites. The reservoir offers space for boating, kayaking and paddle boarding in the summer and trails surround the area for year-round hiking and biking.
Poudre Canyon is the home of our beloved Cache la Poudre River - the only National Wild and Scenic River in Colorado. Activities in the canyon include, fishing, hiking, climbing, and whitewater rafting just to name a few.
A highlight in the canyon is the Mishawaka Amphitheater with a bar and restaurant. Lovingly referred to by locals as “The Mish” it is an intimate and beautiful music venue right on the river.
The bar and restaurant offer seating on a large deck overlooking the river where you can enjoy food and drinks while watching rafts and kayaks float downstream or spy for bighorn sheep on the ridge line across the river.
Old Town Fort Collins is the heart of town and offers a variety of shops, restaurants and most importantly our favorite ice cream shop – Walrus Ice Cream!
Not far from Old Town are 2 world-class breweries: Odell Brewing and New Belgium Brewing. Both have fantastic outdoor space to hang with friends or play yard games with kiddos while enjoying your favorite pint.”
Tell us about your journey with Jax, and your favorite part of the company.
“I started with Jax in 2010 as a part-time sales associate in the footwear department. I quickly moved into a full-time role and over the years moved up the ranks in management positions, staying in footwear the whole time. Working the sales floor and getting to know our customers brought me a lot of joy.
I was able to create a lot of authentic relationships with staff, customers, and co-workers. In 2019, the Outdoor Apparel Buyer was preparing to retire and while shopping for shoes one day she inquired about my interest in becoming a buyer.
I thought it could be a unique, new challenge and although I had never worked in the Apparel department, she thought I was a perfect fit. Our president agreed and in January 2020 I became the Outdoor Apparel buyer for Jax.
Working for a family-owned business is my favorite part of our company. Even as we continue to grow and open more locations, it feels like a mom-and-pop shop in unique ways.”
What about Sherpani appeals to your customer?
“Jax customers are very multi-dimensional and practical. They like gear that can stand the test of time and serve multiple purposes.
They want to support brands that do-good things in the world and above all else brands that are taking steps to protect our planet. Jax customers love the outdoors, they love to travel, and they work hard so they can play hard.”
Sherpani bags fit perfectly into our customer’s ethos and lifestyle.”
What bag are you carrying now and why?
I love the various ways I can carry it and all the compartments that help this working mom stay organized and not need multiple bags to do it.”
Scratch Your Travel Itch This Summer
FoCo is just the beginning of your summer exploration bucket list! From international travel destinations to hidden spots in your own city, it’s time for a whole lot of discovery in this world.
And since you’re on-the-go, you’ll need to make sure you have your bags packed and itinerary ironed out.
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to travel research. Sherpani is your home for the best travel tips to make your life a little easier when you’re on the road.