Frugal in Fort Collins

Lately, I’ve been super antsy. All last week, I felt strangely aggravated with my routine and wanted something interesting to take me out of it. I really just wanted an adventure. So Friday night, after work, I mentioned to Matthew that we still hadn’t been to Fort Collins (we had talked about going since last summer). He replied with a simple, “Why don’t we go tomorrow?”
Although I’ve always known that Matthew is just as up for anything as I am, for some reason, I was not expecting that answer, but of course, I excitedly jumped on the opportunity to go somewhere new.

So, that night, we quickly planned our next day. I searched ‘things to do in Fort Collins’ on Google, wrote some of the top attractions down, and Matthew had the great idea of checking GroupOn to see if there were any Fort Collins deals we could grab. We found a $12 for $20 of food/drink deal at The Lost Cajun, which we were quick to get, since we had never been, hadn’t had Cajun food since New Orleans last summer, and were eager to have a place picked out for dinner (since we always have the hardest time choosing a place when we actually arrive).
Frugal Travel Tip: Check GroupOn for great deals or happy hours that will be in the area you’re traveling to, so you have a cheap & unique plan for food during your trip.

Saturday morning, we were up by 7:00 (we’re typically early risers, alarm or not), and on the road by 8:00. Of course we stopped at Einstein’s along the way to get our free bagels (year of free bagel/shmear & coffee still going strong), and were on our way.

We started the day biking along the Poudre River Trail, up to the foothills, and then back towards the downtown area of Fort Collins.
Frugal Tip: Get a bike and bring it along to ride during your trips if you can – especially if you’re in a bike-friendly place like Fort Collins! Biking is a great way to explore a town + get a new perspective along the way.
On our way towards downtown, we stumbled upon a happy find – New Belgium Brewing – which we were planning on stopping by at some point that day anyways, so this was a prime opportunity to check it out.
FortCollins4_PoudreRiverE

FortCollins8_NewBelgiumBrewingAlthough New Belgium employees encourage booking a brewery tour ahead of time, we walked up, put our names down on the waiting list (in case scheduled tourists didn’t show up for their tour), and had some drinks in the meantime – $4 for 16 oz pours was quite a steal!

We didn’t make it on the first tour, but we had high hopes for the second, so we waited around (so glad we did) and were able to join in on the 1:00 tour. Although the tour was 90 minutes, it did not feel long at all (this is coming from a girl who is really not that interested in beer)! We had 4 free tastings along the way, a great tour guide, and an overall great experience at this impressively large, well-done brewery.

From New Belgium Brewing, we biked right down the street to check out Odell Brewing (Fort Collins ranks third in Colorado – behind Denver & Boulder – for the most breweries in the state). Odell was even more packed than New Belgium, and it was already getting to be late in the day, so we left to bike back for dinner.
FortCollins16_OdellBrewing

For dinner, we used our $12 for $20 worth of food/drink at The Lost Cajun and greatly enjoyed our meals. They gave us free gumbo tastings, and then I ordered the Cajun Stir Fry Shrimp and a Hurricane (at a happy hour price!), while Matthew had the Fried Catfish Plate and the great happy hour deal of 4 Abita beers for $8.

Afterwards, we walked around the downtown area of Fort Collins, got some dessert at Mary’s Mountain Cookies (unfortunately not pictured) and browsed through the unique shops.

Night came quickly, and we still wanted to check out Horsetooth Reservoir. So, we drove over to see the humongous body of water and were able to see for ourselves why Foursquare had ranked it as the third best lake in America.
FortCollins2_HorsetoothReservoirE
By the end of our random day, we had done nearly everything we had wanted to do during our first visit to Fort Collins. We definitely plan to go back during the summertime to do a bit more biking along the river and through the town, along with hiking the scenic trails in the area.

In the end, Matthew and I would have to agree that Fort Collins is SWEET ~ and has plenty of outdoorsy, fun, and frugal activities to choose from 🙂

frugal and free,
Claire

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