Welcome to Cvent's Meeting and Event Planning Guide to Fort Collins – a city guide for meeting planners. Bursting with world-class outdoor recreation, cultural attractions, a historic downtown and vibrant nightlife, Fort Collins has been coined the Napa Valley of beer. The town produces 70 percent of Colorado's craft beer and 7 percent of the country's craft beer, thanks to its 12 award-winning craft breweries, including New Belgium Brewery (as well as an Anheuser Busch production facility). Fort Collins is also home to Colorado State University and features a variety of unique venues perfect for group gatherings and events, as well as a beautiful historic downtown and thrilling after-meeting options for both those seeking adventure and those in search of serenity.
Situated at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Fort Collins is just 60 miles from Denver and 130 miles from Colorado Springs, making it an ideal base for exploring southern Wyoming, Rocky Mountain National Park and Pawnee National Grasslands. Meeting delegates traveling to Fort Collins can fly into Denver International Airport, which is located about an hour outside of Fort Collins. One of the world's greenest airports, Denver International is the fifth busiest airport in the U.S. and accommodates nonstop service to more than 170 destinations worldwide. A number of airport shuttles, including Green Ride Colorado and SuperShuttle Airport Shuttle, offer several daily trips between the airport and Fort Collins. Once in Fort Collins, meeting participants can hop aboard Transfort buses, which run along 18 routes throughout downtown Fort Collins, the Colorado State University campus and the surrounding area. Transfort also connects to Denver's transit system via transfer. Set to be unveiled in May 2014, Transfort's MAX bus rapid transit line will operate along the five-mile Mason Corridor, providing service from Cherry Street in downtown Fort Collins to south of Harmony Road, with service to Colorado State University.
A Carnegie Class-I research institute and university with nearly 29,000 students, Colorado State University serves as the city's largest employer, as well as a venue for holding group events. There are no dedicated convention centers in Fort Collins, but CSU offers a number of versatile meeting and conference venues within its square-mile campus. Groups can meet in the university's more than 100 classrooms, over 23,000 square feet of state-of-the-art hall space and residence hall meeting facilities for 10 to 500 people. The Lory Student Center, which will soon unveil 40,000 new square feet of meeting space, accommodates up to 1,200 people in its current ballroom, meeting rooms and conference rooms, as well as its 500-person theater. Groups can also gather in the university's 6,000-person Moby Arena, newly renovated Durrell Center and University House on Remington, which features indoor and outdoor event space. Groups meeting in the summer have access to 5,000 on-campus beds, and residential conference packages include a meal plan in one of four dining centers.
Aside from the several event spaces at Colorado State University, Fort Collins is home to a number of cultural venues, museums and other attractions that double as fantastic unique venues for group events. One of Colorado's largest and most diverse cultural centers, the Lincoln Center offers eight rental facilities, including its 1,180-seat performance hall, 220-seat theater, two ballrooms, rooftop deck, gallery space and terrace, among other options. The 380-seat Candlelight Dinner Playhouse showcases live, year-round entertainment and gourmet table service dining and offers group rentals in its seven-tiered auditorium, lobby and private balcony. The nonprofit Center for Fine Art Photography promotes established and emerging photographers through its solo artist and juried international fine-art photography exhibitions. Groups can gather amid the center's 3,000 square feet of rental space, spanning three separate but contiguous rooms, a food preparation area and a courtyard. When it comes to museums, the Fort Collins Museum of Art, housed in a historic Second Renaissance Revival structure in downtown Fort Collins houses the 400-square-foot Gallery 101 and 1,800-square-foot Main Floor for event rentals. The interactive, engaging Fort Collins Museum of Discovery marries science and history in its exhibits, as well as features a number of event spaces, a few of which including its 550-person Main Exhibition Gallery, 250-person Big Back Yard, 200-person Lobby and Griffin Piano Lounge, and its 360-degree, 79-person OtterBox Digital Dome Theater.
A Colorado mountain destination within easy reach of Denver, Fort Collins offers a charm that draws people in; in fact, its historic downtown district served as the model for Disneyland's Main Street USA. As an outdoor recreation paradise home to 50 parks, nearly 300 miles of trails, three public golf courses and world-class whitewater rafting, and set within easy reach of Rocky Mountain National Park, it's a good thing that Fort Collins can quench its visitors' thirst. Known as the Napa Valley of beer, Fort Collins is home to 11 award-winning craft beer breweries, each with its own distinctive style. Visitors frequent the city's annual Colorado Brewers Festival every June to enjoy a number of craft beer tastings; open solely to Colorado breweries, this downtown event is the oldest annual brewfest in Colorado. The city's Anheuser-Busch Tour Center – home to the world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales West Coast Team –offers complimentary tours showing guests how beer is crafted, as well as features a behind-the-scenes Beermaster Tour and class on beer styles, ingredients, proper pouring techniques and food pairing suggestions. New Belgium Brewery's free and vibrant, yet informative, 90-minute tours are open to all ages. Taking guests throughout the popular brewery, the tours also incorporate craft beer sampling, as well as a chance to fill growlers at the Liquid Center. Fort Collins also quenches the thirst of those seeking arts and entertainment: Regarded as the cultural capital of northern Colorado, Fort Collins features live theater, a symphony orchestra, ballet troupe, opera company and chorale ensembles, as well as a number of galleries and museums, and the 360-degree OtterBox Digital Dome Theater at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, among many other entertainment choices.
Before its advent as a cultural capital and beer mecca, Fort Collins was Camp Collins, built by the 9th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry in 1862 to protect travelers and settlers along the Colorado branch of the Overland Trail. A flood in 1864 sent the soldiers to higher ground near present-day downtown Fort Collins, and the city developed from there. The Colorado Central Railroad arrived in 1877 and with it helped Fort Collins become a thriving agricultural center, and in 1879 the Colorado Agricultural & Mining College built its first classroom building and then became Colorado State University in 1957. Today's visitors to Fort Collins can step back in time in historic downtown Fort Collins, a well-preserved district of 23 historical buildings that's listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors can stroll along historic downtown streets lined with antique, retail and confectionary shops, as well as more than 80 restaurants and the only original trolley car west of the Mississippi.
When it comes to outdoor recreation options, the Fort Collins region does not disappoint, especially when it comes to its proximity to Rocky Mountain National Park. Located just 35 miles from Fort Collins, the 415-square-mile Rocky Mountain National Park is home to the 14,255-foot-high Longs Peak, 18 names peaks soaring above 13,000 feet, 150 named lakes and Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuously paved highway in the United States. Located within minutes of Fort Collins, the 6.5-mile Horsetooth Reservoir is surrounded by 1,900 acres of public lands and welcomes visitors to enjoy miles of hiking and biking trails, boat rentals, fishing, water sports and much more. The nearby Poudre Canyon is a recreational area and hidden treasure home to class III-IV whitewater rapids, as well as kayaking, hiking, biking, fishing and winter sport options.
Fort Collins' variety of fine restaurants and local eateries satisfy the appetite of any outdoor enthusiast or visitor enjoying the many other highlights Fort Collins has to offer; many of its restaurants also offer private group dining and event space. Austin's American Grill offers downtown and Harmony locations, both serving up home-style American comfort food and cocktails with fresh squeezed juice. A Fort Collins landmark, The Moot House is an English pub serving only wholesome, sustainable food that reflects the seasons, while The MainLine specializes in contemporary American fare with a Southern influence created with locally grown ingredients. Jay's Bistro in downtown Fort Collins serves contemporary American fare to the soundtrack of live jazz, while Bisetti's Ristorante is an award-winning Italian restaurant crafting its menu from three generations of homemade recipes. Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar flies in fresh fish daily, as well as showcases local and regional products best enjoyed with award-winning martinis, while Gravity 1020 Modern Tavern inside the Fort Collins Brewery takes an innovative, handcrafted approach to comfort food classics. Last but certainly not least, the legendary Coopersmith's Pub & Brewery in downtown Fort Collins is two restaurants and one brewery in one, complete with outdoor dining, billiards tables and more.
All average costs based on U.S. Government Per Diem rates as published by the U.S. General Services Administration.
Fort Collins boasts a four-season climate with more than 300 days of sunshine each year and an average year-round high of 64°F and low of 36°F. With an average high of 40°F and low of 13°, January serves as the city's coldest month, while July brings its warmest temperatures, with an average high of 85°F and low of 56°F. Fort Collins gets an average 16 inches of precipitation per year, as well as an average 54 inches of snow, with most snowfall occurring in March.
Fort Collins Lovelan Municipal Airport (FNL)
Approximate taxi fare: $40 USD
Denver International Airport (DEN)
Approximate taxi fare: $188 USD
Situated about one hour outside of Fort Collins, Denver International Airport enjoys its reputation as one of the world's greenest airports, boasting a roof made out of Teflon-coated fiberglass material that's as thin as a credit card. Easily distinguished by its peaked roof reflective of snow capped mountains or teepees, Denver International is the fifth busiest airport in the United States, as well as the largest airport site in North America and the second largest airport site in the world. Denver International accommodates nonstop services to more than 170 destinations worldwide, including major markets in the U.S., Germany, Iceland, the UK, Canada, Mexico and Costa Rica. Passenger amenities include a variety of food and beverage options, 50 shops, free Wi-Fi and a spectacular art program. The airport features more than 40,000 parking spaces with garage, valet, short-term, economy and shuttle parking options.
Airline carriers serving Denver International Airport:
The regional Transfort bus service runs 18 routes throughout the Fort Collins area, serving downtown Fort Collins and the Colorado State University campus, as well as connecting Fort Collins, Loveland and Berthoud with transfers to Denver's transit system. Transfort's hours of operation vary by route, but must routes generally run Monday through Saturday from 6:30 AM to 6:30 PM. Two late night routes that serve downtown Fort Collins run Friday and Saturday nights from 10:30 PM to 2:30 PM. There is no Sunday service. Transfort fare is $1.25 per ride; late night service is $1 per ride. Passengers ages 17 and younger ride free. Transfort will be unveiling MAX service – the first bus rapid transit system in Front Range – by May 2014. MAX will operate along the Mason Corridor, a five-mile north-south byway that extends from Cherry Street in downtown Fort Collins to south of Harmony Road. MAX will run Monday through Saturday from 5 AM to midnight. One-way fare will be $1.25 for adults and free for children under 18 years old.
Visitors to Fort Collins can catch a ride from Denver International Airport via a number of airport shuttle service providers, including Green Ride Colorado and SuperShuttle Airport Shuttle. Green Ride Colorado offers shared-ride airport service between Fort Collins and Denver International Airport, while SuperShuttle Airport Shuttle offers shuttle, taxi, motorcoach and chauffered car service between Denver International Airport, Fort Collins, Cheyenne, Loveland, Greeley, Longmont and Estes Park. Both companies offer several daily trips; fares vary by destination and number of passengers.
Denver International Airport houses rental car counters for Advantage, Alamo, Avis, Budget, Collar, E-Z, Enterprise, Fox, Hertz, National, Payless and Thrifty.
Visitors traveling to Fort Collins via Denver International Airport should expect to pay approximately $190 in taxi fare.
Photo Credit: Ryan Burke
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