Northern Colorado is booming, as is the rest of Colorado, but perhaps even more so.

Housing prices, while steep, are still lower than Denver’s in most cases. And as you drive through the Denver suburbs, Northern Colorado seems to offer something that those cities can’t: variety.

Fort Collins, for example, is different than Loveland, and Windsor seems to be somewhere in the middle. Greeley is different from all of them, and all the small towns in between have their own personalities.

That’s why we’re presenting a guide to Northern Colorado cities and towns. If some are more complete than others, that means the city provided more information to us, or it’s a bigger city and there’s a lot more going on. Or it’s both.

We did our best to honor every city’s culture as well as share more traditional yardsticks, such as housing prices.

We also tried to spice up the categories with politics, but no city wanted to comply. “I don’t want to characterize or mischaracterize what we are,” said Justine Bruno, assistant to the city manager in Loveland. That was basically how every city answered, although some weren’t as eloquent as Bruno about it. Hey, we get it.We did our best to gather relevant information as a guide for you to pick the town or city that’s right for you. It’s sort of a Choose Your Own Adventure for Northern Colorado.

 

FORT COLLINS

Population: 174,871

Median Age: 29

Median Household Income: $62,132

Average Home Cost: $560,000

Upcoming developments and their traits:

Northfield: This is a residential project on 55.3 acres of vacant farmland located west of N. Lemay Ave. and north of Alta Vista. As proposed, there would be 442 dwelling units divided among four housing types and distributed across 57 buildings. The project includes a small commercial building with two apartments above and a clubhouse with amenities.

Johnson Drive Apartments: This will be a 6-story mixed-use development on 2.5 acres containing student-oriented housing and commercial space, along with a 318-space parking garage on the first two levels. 193 multifamily dwellings will be provided. The site is located along the south side of Johnson Drive and west of Spring Court.

Hansen Farm: This is a residential project on the Hansen Farm property located at the west side of S. Timberline Road at Zephyr Road. This neighborhood will include 178 dwelling units (116 single-family detached and 62 single-family attached) and a future park on a total of 55.2 acres.

Best places outdoors:

This is Fort Collins, so there are almost too many choices. Let’s assume you know the obvious ones by now, including Horsetooth Reservoir and its nearby Horsetooth Mountain Open Space, Lory State Park, the Poudre Canyon and the Poudre River, and City Park. Even if we removed those, Fort Collins would have a ridiculous number of options, and we aren’t even mentioning Twin Silo Community Park, Spring Canyon Park or Fossil Creek Park.

The Poudre Trail: Efforts are now underway to complete the entire Poudre Trail from Bellvue to Greeley.

The Farm at Lee Martinez Park: The farm serves as a way to teach Fort Collins residents about life on a farm. Guests spend time with pigs, cows, sheep, goats, ponies, chickens and more. In spring and summer, visitors also get to experience babies in the barnyard.

Poudre River Whitewater Park: Just north of Old Town, the city’s first and newest water feature takes most of its power from a restoration of the Poudre River. The flows are higher in some months, like spring and possibly early summer, and there’s enough power there to make it briefly fun for kayaks and rafts, but it’s still kid friendly as well.

Look for the upcoming 9/11 Memorial at Spring Park and improvements to City Park, as well as Traverse Park in the Trail Head neighborhood, with multi-use turf fields, walking trails and a playground.

Three fun traits that make Fort Collins unique:

More than 20 local breweries, including New Belgium, one of the very first microbreweries that kicked off the craze that continues to this day.

Disneyland’s Main Street USA was inspired, in part, by Old Town Fort Collins. Harper Goff, who designed and created Main Street USA with Walt Disney, grew up in Fort Collins. His father owned the Fort Collins Express Courier newspaper. Old Town is a cool place even without that fun fact. Old Town also features the huge Bohemian Nights at New West Fest, which attracts national acts.

Colorado State University is a big-time college in the medium-sized Mountain West conference, meaning it gives the town a college feel without dominating it.

LOVELAND

Population: 79,150

Median Age: 38

Median Household Income:$87,200

Average Home Cost:$409,236

Upcoming developments and their traits:

There’s a significant increase in residential development on the way, with 2,876 building permits issued in 2020; 95 percent of those were residential, and Loveland hasn’t had that many permits pulled since 2016. A significant portion of that is occurring on the city’s east side around the Centerra area. Apartments and townhomes are cropping up in the northwest part, and the city expects to see more industrial development along the Colo. 402 corridor, which includes land that surrounds I-25 and U.S. 287.

Best places outdoors: The most well-known spots are Boyd Lake State Park, Carter Lake and Devil’s Backbone, in addition to being a short drive from the Big Thompson Canyon, which leads to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. “It’s an outdoor paradise, basically, just like most of Northern Colorado,” said Bruno.

The Prairie Ridge Natural Area is a regional trail that connects Loveland to Fort Collins.

The Viestenz-Smith Mountain Park features the Round Mountain trail system and other historic features. The park was destroyed in the Flood of 2013 but reopened five years later after a restoration and repairs were made.

Three fun traits that make Loveland unique:

Benson Sculpture Garden: The park features dozens of sculptures along an extensive walking trail. Loveland is home to about 540 unique pieces of public art thanks to its 1 Percent to the Arts program, which puts one percent of any significant (more than $50,000) project’s cost into the city’s fund for the purchase of art. Those programs are common now, but Loveland believes it was the first city to do that.

Valentine re-mailing program: The largest in the country, volunteers handstamp a collector’s mark and postmark onto each individual valentine that comes through the city. The program celebrated its 75th anniversary this year, which goes along with its Sweetheart City designation.

The city has many unique events, including the Cherry Pie Festival, Corn Roast Festival, the Winter Wonderlights and Hot Metal/Cold Brews that celebrate the town’s history and arts focus, as well as its desire to have fun.

 

WINDSOR

Population: 36,697

Median Age: 39

Median Household Income: $100,000

Average Home Cost: $406,000

Upcoming developments and their traits:

The future Legends Sports Complex promises to be an elite sports facility for players of all abilities, with a 118-acre opportunity to play athletic competitions. Windsor has also processed an average of 100 single-family home permits per month, including RainDance, the new community that is adding 2,800 homes to the area with its own mini farm, water park, trails and a golf course. Water Valley continues to act as a centerpiece to Windsor.

Best places outdoors:

The brand-new Eastman Park River Experience off 7th Street and Eastman Park Drive gives residents a chance to float a mile or play in the Poudre River in addition to a large community park and fishing pond, skatepark and paved trails.

Windsor Lake has a sand beach with kayak and float rentals. Many of the downtown’s community events take place at Windsor Lake.

The Poudre Trail also winds through Windsor, acting as a connection point between Fort Collins and Greeley, but by the end of the year, cyclists will be able to start at the Great Western Trail and follow trails all the way to the edge of the Poudre Trail.

Three fun traits that make Windsor unique:

The city’s annual Summer Concert Series gives residents a chance to hear live music next to the swim beach.

Windsor’s Harvest Festival features a parade, a garden show and the highlight, a hot air balloon display that lasts the entire Labor Day weekend.

The Chimney Park Restaurant on Main Street is continually ranked as one of the top 100 restaurants in America.

 

JOHNSTOWN

Population:17,382

Median Age:37

Median Household Income:$93,462

Average Home Cost:$373,000

Upcoming developments and their traits:

Thompson River Ranch, with 32 residential permits pulled and Johnstown Village, with 21 building permits pulled. Two additional large mixed-residential permits are going through the planning process right now.

Best places outdoors: Johnstown Reservoir, Eddie Aragon Park, and downtown’s Parish Park

Three fun traits that make Johnstown unique: Every Friday in August, farmers sell their wares on Johnstown’s Parish Street; the Historic Parish House and Museum; and a new Pioneer Ridge Disc Golf Course opened in June.

 

GREELEY

Population:108,892

Median Age:32

Median Household Income:$57,586

Average Home Cost: $318,000

Upcoming developments and their traits:

Planners a few years ago practically begged for multi-family developments such as apartments. Now they are popping up in droves. Even so, some residential mixed-use and single-family housing developments are also cropping up, with the potential for an additional 15,000 homes in the next decade.

Best places outdoors:

Greeley has more than 40 parks. Glenmere Park is perhaps the most well-known and beautiful, rich with history and wildlife. Aven’s Village in Island Grove Regional Park features Greeley’s first adaptive playground. Lincoln Park gets lit every Christmas and is the city’s downtown park, with places to walk as well as play. The more outdoorsy should visit Josephine Jones, with a mile-and-a-half soft walking trail; the city’s two new soft trails around the so-called Red Barn Poudre Trail trailhead at 71st Avenue and halfway between 71st Avenue and 59th Avenue; and the city’s Poudre Trail.

Three fun traits that make Greeley unique:

The University of Northern Colorado features award-winning music and theater programs.

Greeley was the first to do a Go-Cup area in its revived downtown, with a Friday Fest every summer that features live music and the chance to take a cup of alcohol outside.

The city also features the Blues Jam, the UNC/Greeley Jazz Festival and the Arts Picnic, all world-renowned events. And two nationally-known breweries sit within a half-mile of each other: Wiley Roots and Weld Werks give people a place to go for a drink after seeing downtown murals, productions and exploring its history at the museum.

TIMNATH

Population: About 3,500

Median Age:35

Median Household Income:$122,000

Average Home Cost:$494,000

Upcoming developments and their traits: Ongoing developments include the Timnath Ranch, Willis Farm and Timnath Landing neighborhoods.

Best places outdoors: Timnath Reservoir, Timnath Community Park and Gateway Park. The town is next to the Arapaho Bend Natural Area.

BERTHOUD

Population:9,000

Median Age: 41

Median Household Income: $72,849

Average Home Cost: $459,450

Upcoming developments and their traits:

More than 505 residential permits were issued in 2020, and the town looked to be at that pace in 2021. The city has had at least 400 issued a year since 2017, which is significant given that there were 111 issued in 2015. Some of the largest home developments include Vantage, Heritage Ridge and The Farmstead, and mixed developments include Heron Lakes, Prairie Star and Hammond.

Best places outdoors:

The TPC Colorado Golf is one of the town’s premier attractions. The city recently made significant improvements to Berthoud Reservoir. Berthoud Park has a classic small-town park feel to it with a swimming pool. Waggener Farm Park and the opening of the new recreation center gives residents something to look forward to this fall.

Three fun traits that make Berthoud unique:

The Little Thompson Valley Pioneer Museum gives visitors a taste of the area’s rich heritage.

The Little Thompson Observatory lets people stare into space with public events on the third Friday of each month, with virtual visits offered on a limited basis and the expectation of getting its suspended services up and going after July of this year. The pioneer museum also has an observatory, meaning Berthoud is one of the only towns in the country to have two.

On Berthoud Day, held in June, the town hosts an old-time vintage baseball game, when players dress in old uniforms and try to abide by the rules followed during the Civil War. Finally, the town features many community gardens, including an angel garden, fairy garden and secret garden by the community library.