Perks of Living in A College Town – Without the Classes

August 28, 2020

Living in a college town can mean a lot of things, but here in Fort Collins, it means being part of an inclusive, diverse community that fosters learning and creativity in its residents and students alike. Home to Colorado State University, Fort Collins is among the best college towns in the U.S., housing over 30,000 students every year. Because we have a soft spot for campus culture, here are some of the top perks that come along with living in a college town – without the lecture halls and pop quizzes 

An Inclusive Campus Community 

The Colorado State University (CSU) culture is a unique, enriching experience for many – and that’s not just limited to students and faculty. The administration at CSU caters to a community that goes way beyond the college itself, extending into all of Fort Collins and creating an environment that’s engaging for residents in all stages of life – from young kids to seasoned adults. 

If you’ve spent any time on or around the CSU campus, you may have stumbled upon the state-of-the-art Canvas Stadium, the college’s premier events center that houses everything from football games to 80s-themed Adult Prom and beyond. One of the best venues in the U.S. to experience college sports, Canvas Stadium offers unbeatable mountain views and top-tier amenities – and as an added bonus, riding The Max, Fort Collins’ public transportation system, is free for all on game days. Grab your crew, hop on the nearest Max and experience a sense of community and hometown pride as you cheer on the mighty Rams alongside up to 41,200 of your friendliest NoCo neighbors. 

If sports aren’t your thing, the CSU campus is also home to a plethora of resources and activities that can be enjoyed by Northern Colorado residents who enjoy the finer things in life. The University Center of the Arts, which houses the School of Music, Theatre and Dance, the Gregory Allicar Museum of Art and the Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising, is open to the public and provides an unbeatable cultural experience for those who opt to explore the many works of art lining the center’s halls. For those who maintain a love of learning beyond their school-age years, CSU’s Oscher Lifelong Learning Institute offers professional development for older adults, with course subjects ranging from acrylic painting and poetry to U.S. foreign policy and even an introduction to the 2020 U.S. general election.  

Indulge and Imbibe 

Who says rooftop bars, happy hours and savory food is limited to only students? Luckily, living in one of the U.S.’ best college towns means easy access to popular nostalgic college hotspots, including: 

Rio Grande Mexican RestaurantReferred to affectionately by locals as “The Rio,” this quintessential Colorado chain got its start right here in Fort Collins back in 1986 and the original location remains a hotspot for residents and visitors of all ages. Best known for its two-drink limit and classic margaritas, The Rio is sure to take you back to your college days as you savor classic Mexican dishes like Chile Rellenos and Huevos Rancheros. 

Tony’s Bar & RooftopRanked among the country’s top college bars, Tony’s Bar & Rooftop is a NoCo and CSU staple and one of the best places in town to imbibe after a long week. Bonus points for historical significance – Tony’s opened the same year that prohibition was abolished, making it one of the oldest institutions of its kind in Fort Collins! 

Road 34Located in the Campus West neighborhood, Road 34 is the unique, and decidedly Colorado, combination of a bike shop, bar and deli all rolled into one and is super popular among CSU students and residents alike. Opened by a CSU alum back in 2000, Road 34 also hosts events including a weekly Group Ride open to all. Beers, sandwiches and bike rides – does it get any better than that? 

Outdoor Lifestyle that Can’t be Beat 

One of the biggest draws to CSU and Fort Collins for students is the supreme outdoor lifestyle that Northern Colorado provides. Students and permanent residents alike enjoy exploring local favorites like Horsetooth Reservoir, a picturesque setting that draws visitors from near and far to take part in a variety of activities like fishing, boating, camping, swimming, scuba diving and water skiing. In addition to the reservoir, Horsetooth Mountain Open Space provides an ideal environment for humans and dogs to burn off some extra energy and explore the flora and fauna of Northern Colorado. Additionally, Fort Collins is also close to the Poudre River Trail, a paved path that encourages its visitors to take in the natural beauty of the rushing river, towering cottonwoods and wildlife-filled meadows.  

Bike and Kayak-Friendly 

Anyone who’s spent time on a college campus knows that bicycles tend to be the transportation mode of choice for university students as they trek from one end of campus to the other. Here in Fort Collins, bikes aren’t just for students – the city was named the Most Bike Friendly City in America back in 2018. Between its huge network of designated bike paths and lanes, city bike share program and bike-to-work days, there’s no better place to leave your car at home and experience the city up-close. Local employers have gotten in on the bike action too. In fact, Otterbox, a popular electronics company local to Fort Collins, even has an in-office shop where employees can DIY their bicycle tune-ups. 

Perhaps the biggest perk for adventure lovers, though, is the brand-new Poudre River Whitewater Park, which held its Grand Opening Celebration in October, 2019. A milestone achievement for the City of Fort Collins, the park will provide an ideal environment for NoCo’s most active residents to spend countless days kayaking, tubing, stand-up paddle boarding and exploring the 11-acre park, located just north of bustling Old Town. We have CSU, in large part, to thank for this awesome downtown asset, as the whitewater park is operated by the CSU Energy Lab. Expected to be a pillar of Downtown Fort Collins, promoting the active, outdoor lifestyle that is often synonymous with Northern Colorado, the Poudre River Whitewater Park is not only a recreational asset, but will also bring the river back to a more natural state, provide safe access to the river and improve the river floodplain – win, win.  


With plenty of exciting opportunities, from cheering on the Rams at CSU football games to sipping on local beers at one of the city’s college bars to kayaking on the banks of the whitewater center, it’s no wonder that Fort Collins ranks among the best college towns in the U.S. Learn more about what there is to do in Northern Colorado by exploring 

Contact Us

Want more information about living and working in Northern Colorado? Get in touch.