We chose to spend two weeks in Fort Collins, Colorado, a college town about one hour north of Denver. This was used as a base for visiting Rocky Mountain National Park, and just for exploring a new city. Fort Collins, to me, is like a massive sprawling suburb, with a lot of open, green space. The Rocky Mountains are within view in the distance to the west, but to the east, it is the beginning of the great, flat plains. If I were to settle down in Colorado, I think this city would be one of my top picks, to date.
We spent one evening strolling around Old Town Fort Collins, which was supposedly the inspiration for Disney World’s Main Street. It was a quaint little area, with tons and tons of restaurants and shops. We liked the Pianos About Town, beautifully painted pianos set up all around the area for the general public to play. Fort Collins is also home to Colorado State University, and it definitely has that college town feel, which we personally like.
One thing that the boys and I love to do in a new city is find and visit playgrounds during the day. We found two gems in Fort Collins – Fossil Lake Park and Spring Canyon Community Park. Fossil Lake was mammoth themed, complete with a rock climbing wall of mammoth bones, incredible views, walking paths, tennis, baseball, skate park, and a lake path.
Spring Canyon had a huge play area and a slide coming down a mountain side, complete with climbable rocks which my kids so enjoy. The ideal home for us would be within walking distance to a fabulous park/hiking area like this:
Enough about playgrounds! We also took a short drive to Loveland, and hiked Devil’s Backbone. This is a very popular hike in the area, as we shared the path with walkers and bikers. Many hikes are also set up for horseback riders here in Colorado, but we didn’t see any on this particular day.
This was a very nice hike, although we didn’t make it too far, but our final stop at the overlook was just beautiful before turning back. Even with the threat of thunderstorms above and a cloudy sky, somehow the rain missed us.
After Devil’s Backbone, we stopped at Benson Sculpture Park, which is a cute little oasis in the middle of suburban Loveland, with fun sculptures situated around a lake. We had fun posing with some of the statues, however, the sky grew ugly, and we decided we shouldn’t be in an open area full of metal sculptures, should a thunderstorm break out.
The boys and I also took a field trip to the nearby town of Greeley to visit the Centennial Village Museum, which is a Living History Museum recreating the early times of Greeley. I found it interesting that Nathan Meeker, the founder of this community, wrote an article in the New York Tribune in the late 1860s, describing the utopian town of Greeley, encouraging people to come to Colorado and be part of this great new community. When people arrived, they were shocked and disappointed with what they found – basically the town was not even built yet.
The Village is only opened Friday through Sunday during the summer, but public school must have still been in session, because we had the place to ourselves for a couple hours. We got a private tour of three homes in the village, one belonging to a carpenter, the tax assessor, and a merchant. The kids enjoyed seeing how morse code works, and they especially liked the one room schoolhouse. We toured the home of a man, who only had one arm, yet built his home entirely by himself, and this story really made a deep impression on Kyle. You never know what stories or experiences your kids will internalize!
There were a few other attractions in the Fort Collins area that we just didn’t have time for, but were recommended by friends. One highly recommended tour was that of the New Belgium Brewery. There is also a Drive-In Movie Theater, Lory State Park, and the Cache la Poudre River and Canyon. Happy Travels!