Finding Serenity in Fort Collins: A Guide to Colorado’s Most Peaceful Getaway

According to a recent report and an article from Travel + Leisure, Fort Collins is having a well-deserved moment in the spotlight and has been named America’s “Most Peaceful Place to Live.” An hour north of Denver, this charming town has long been beloved by locals for its perfect balance of outdoor adventures, cultural attractions and a vibrant yet laidback atmosphere. Now travelers are catching on to Fort Collins’ tranquil charms as Colorado’s most peaceful getaway and an ideal destination for relaxation and recharging. 

Whether you’re seeking a quiet weekend escape from urban stresses or want to introduce some serenity into your Colorado vacation, Fort Collins offers an abundance of blissful ways to treat yourself to a peaceful escape. The city’s reverence for nature, conservation and community connectedness provides the ideal environment for easy Zen. Here’s how to find your moment of calm in Fort Collins.

Commune with Nature  

stargazing in Fort Collins, Colorado's most peaceful getaway

Stargazing near Fort Collins at Fossil Creek Reservoir. Photo by Jeremy White.

Research has proven that spending time outside can lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety and boost your mood. Fort Collins is the ideal place to do just that with over 50 parks and hundreds of scenic hiking and biking trails. Getting out into Fort Collins’ expanse of parks, trails and open spaces is perhaps the fastest way to hit your reset button.

Start by attending one of the free public “Skygazing” events held monthly at Fossil Creek Reservoir Regional Park. Volunteers from the Northern Colorado Astronomical Society provide telescopes and guide attendees on an awe-inspiring tour of the night sky’s planets, stars and galaxies. With minimal light pollution, the views are spectacular.

For a daylight nature immersion, explore the city’s growing list of protected Natural Areas. The brand-new Kestrel Fields Natural Area spans 73 acres with 1.4 miles of soft trails winding through habitat restoration areas. Keep your eyes peeled for sightings of American kestrels, bluebirds and other feathered friends. At the Riverbend Ponds area, three miles of paths encircle scenic wetlands, ponds and the Cache la Poudre River, teeming with birds, beavers, deer and other wildlife. 

Gardens on Spring Creek, Fort Collins

Gardens on Spring Creek in Fort Collins. Photo provided by Visit Fort Collins.

Or take a mindful, therapeutic walk along the Poudre River using the Environmental Learning Center’s self-guided tour, designed to help you practice being present while taking in the sights, sounds and smells of your surroundings. 

Any time of year, the city’s Gardens on Spring Creek provide a tranquil refuge with miles of quiet trails and the showstopping Butterfly House. This 1,500-square-foot glass enclosure is home to 400 free-flying North American butterflies that may even land on your shoulder as you wander through in awe.

Yoga, Outdoors & Retreats  

Seven Utes Yurt, Colorado's most peaceful getaway

Seven Utes Yurt. Photo by Colorado Mountain School.

With its deep embrace of wellness and outdoor pursuits, it’s no surprise that Fort Collins is a haven for yogis and others craving active yet restorative experiences. Shop local at She’s Fly, a women-owned fly fishing store that elevates the sport as “meditation in motion.” Book a guided lesson or women’s-only class to learn this contemplative yet thrilling skill of casting flies on the region’s pristine rivers and streams. 

Throughout spring, summer and fall, local studio Sun Breath Yoga offers outdoor classes like yoga hikes at Running Deer Natural Area and SUP (stand-up paddleboard) yoga sessions floating on Horsetooth Reservoir. Their signature experience is an immersive Reawaken to Nature Yoga Retreat held May 3 – 5, 2024 at Buckhorn Camp’s serene retreat center in Bellvue. Spend a long weekend reconnecting with nature through yoga, hiking, meditation and wildlife watching.

For a more remote adventure, head about an hour north of town to the recently opened Seven Utes Yurt at the base of Cameron Pass. This cozy, solar-powered 40-foot yurt from the Colorado Mountain School serves as a picturesque basecamp for exploring the rugged wilderness of State Forest State Park. With 360-degree mountain views from the deck, a wood-burning stove and space for up to 16 guests, it provides the ultimate off-grid retreat to bask in nature.

For the ultimate retreat and healing center in Colorado’s most peaceful getaway, spend a day or stay for one of their many retreats at the Drala Mountain Center. Located about 40 miles from Fort Collins, nestled in the Red Feather Lakes area, the Drala Mountain Center is one of just 100 Shambhala meditation centers across the globe. This 600-acre retreat immerses you in a breathtaking mountain valley sanctuary encircled by dense forests, wildflower meadows and craggy peaks.

Drala Mountain Center, Colorado's most peaceful getaway

The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya at Drala Mountain Center. Photo by Jessica Hughes.

The center’s crown jewel is the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya, a magnificent example of sacred architecture renowned as one of the most significant stupas in the world. The stupa took 13 years to build, using a special concrete mix to ensure it stands for nearly 1,000 years. Open to the public, anyone may step inside and be instantly amazed at the decorative details and the larger-than-life Buddha at its center. Submit your offerings, say your prayers and take a moment to meditate in pure silence – whatever speaks to you.

great buddha at Drala mountain center

Buddha statue sits front and center inside the Great Stupa. Photo by Jessica Hughes.

In addition to the immersive beauty of its natural setting, Drala Mountain Center offers a wide range of online and in-person experiences focused on Buddhist meditation, yoga and other contemplative practices designed to cultivate mindfulness and presence. Whether you attend an insightful seminar or simply want to bask in the serenity of this inspirational place, a visit to Drala is the centerpiece of your experience of Colorado’s most peaceful getaway. 

Drala mountain center, Colorado's most peaceful city

Yoga and meditation spaces at the Drala Mountain Center. Photo by Jessica Hughes.

Peaceful Indulgences

Of course, achieving ultimate serenity in Colorado’s most peaceful getaway involves treating yourself to some indulgences. In Fort Collins, those moments of pampering go hand-in-hand with mindfulness. Start your day by grabbing a warm beverage from one of the city’s top craft coffee roasters like Bindle Coffee, Harbinger Coffee or the new Breadfellow cafe in the historic Old Town district. Then find your favorite scenic spot—a park bench along the Poudre River Trail, an overlook at Horsetooth Reservoir or the charming Gardens on Spring Creek to slowly sip and savor the moment. 

Samana Float Center, Fort Collins

Float Pod at Samana Float Center. Photo credit Samana Float Center.

For deeper relaxation, book a float therapy session at Samana Float Center, where you’ll spend 90 weightless minutes floating in a warm pod of salt water. The sensory deprivation experience is praised for lowering cortisol levels and enhancing your sense of tranquility. You can combine it with time in Samana’s infrared sauna and cold plunge tank for a comprehensive self-care session.

Another therapeutic hands-on experience can be found at the unique Stem & Roots plant boutique. Sign up for a workshop covering skills like terrarium building, plant propagation or stained glass making. Stem & Roots also hosts regular plant swaps and features work by 10+ local artists.

Embrace Hands-On Creativity

Colorado Shoe School, Fort Collins

Colorado Shoe School. Photo credit Colorado Shoe School.

For a therapeutic artistic experience, sign up for a crafting class at the Blue Moose Art Gallery. Beginners can try their hand at watercolor painting or needle felting, while other offerings include calligraphy, pottery and more. The nearby town of Bellvue is also home to the unique Colorado Shoe School, where you can design and construct your own custom shoes, sandals or even a fanny pack out of repurposed leathers and recycled soles.

Laid-Back Libations   

While Colorado’s most peaceful getaway has rightly gained fame for its buzzing craft brewery scene, the city still offers some wonderfully laid-back taprooms to peacefully sip excellent beers. One local favorite is Equinox Brewing in Old Town, an intimate spot with just 18 taps pouring brews like their aptly named “Serenity Now” brown ale. Curl up by the fireplace and lose track of time as you watch the flames crackle.

For both top-notch beer and fantastic food, don’t miss Obstacle Brewing on the Harmony Corridor. This chill brewery doubles as a grill with tasty fare and has an additional mission of giving back to important local causes. On Mondays, a portion of sales are donated to Northern Colorado organizations, while on Tuesdays you’ll receive $1 off your bill for bringing in canned food donations.

A Wellness-Inspired Stay

elizabeth hotel in fort collins, Colorado's most peaceful getaway

The elegant and luxurious Elizabeth Hotel. Photo by Jessica Hughes.

Fully lean into a mindset of self-care and rejuvenation in Colorado’s most peaceful getaway by booking the “Wellness Package” at The Elizabeth Hotel in Old Town Fort Collins. This upscale music-themed boutique property celebrates the city’s legendary music scene through special amenities like guest room Victrola record players and a vinyl lending library. 

the elizabeth hotel

Find serene surroundings at the Sunset Lounge. Photo by Jessica Hughes.

The Wellness Package treats you to a 50-minute massage at the hotel’s Woodhouse Spa, as well as a $20 discount for classes at the trendy F45 fitness studio downtown. After your pampering sessions, unwind at the hotel’s lively rooftop Sunset Lounge with live jazz and craft cocktails overlooking the city.