By Jared Fiel

Places all around NOCO are offering up activities alongside your cocktail

There was a time when, if you wanted to go out for a drink, the most activity you would get might be a game of pool or darts. But, today, throughout Northern Colorado, you can enjoy all kinds of fun while sipping on your favorite adult beverage.

You could argue that bowling alleys have been offering fun and suds for years, and movie theaters have started getting into the game recently, too. Today, however, you can wander escape rooms, get your nails done, play mini-golf and lots more with a tasty cocktail in tow.

“The idea was to have a wide variety of activities to offer and focus on creating an overall fun atmosphere for adults,” says Dana Snell, owner of Old Town Putt in Fort Collins, a mini-golf and fun center, located in the open-air plaza The Exchange. “Alcohol is something that many adults enjoy, but all the activities provide something for everyone whether they choose to drink alcohol or not.”

Old Town Putt has eight local beers on tap, a full selection of spirits and unique frozen cocktails to go with the outdoor ping pong, an arcade and the challenging 9-hole mini-golf course.

“We get a lot of first dates and can usually spot them as soon as they walk in,” Snell says. “It’s funny to see how poorly some of them go when competition gets involved. Every once in a while, the date ends before they even get through nine holes.”

While not new to the area, Paddler’s Pub in north Fort Collins features sand volleyball and other activities and was opened at the request of rafting customers from Mountain Whitewater, which operates its storefront in the same location.

“For years, our customers would get done with our rafting trip and claim it was the ‘best day of their life,’ and what would complete the circuit is if they could sit back and have a beer,” says owner Lindsey Modesitt.

So, the Modesitts applied for a liquor license in 2009, and it was granted a year later. Paddler’s Pub sits on more than 12 acres of yard games and wide-open spaces.

“The sunsets from the Paddler’s Pub cannot be beat,” Modesitt says. The pub features local beer, wine, cider and seltzers.

If you have ever had a few drinks at a bar and can’t find the exit, you are going to be right at home at Looking Glass Escape Lounge in Fort Collins and Loveland.

“Our other escape room locations are traditional one-hour experiences, but we found our unique half-hour escape rooms are perfect for a casual audience,” said Nathan Hawthorne of Looking Glass. “They’re challenging enough for veteran escape room players but still easy enough to get into for people who have never experienced one before.”

Of course, sometimes the fake reality of an escape room can be a bit much for some. “Hotel Hellen is a scary haunted hotel escape room. One time, a group of guests went in and made it to the first scare (which I won’t give away), then screamed and proceeded to run out of the escape room,” Hawthorne says.

If you are looking for more than a hangover as a souvenir of your night, you might want to check out Extra Arts & Drafts in Fort Collins. While there are now a number of places in the area to learn to paint while sipping, Extra has a little … well, extra. 

“We’re a hands-on studio where people create do-it-yourself art projects while enjoying drinks. We provide all the tools, supplies, designs and instructions for each project. You choose any project from the menu, any time,” says Jeff White, who owns the business with his wife Amy.

Extra offers a variety of beers, wines, ciders and seltzers as well as non-alcoholic drinks for folks to enjoy while doing crafts that can take about 90 minutes to complete.

“One of our marketing campaigns is called ‘Drink AND…’ which is an appeal to people who like to drink or go to bars,” Jeff says. “They can come to Extra to drink AND do a fun project.”

Sometimes you would rather find a way to get rid of a little stress. Axe and Ale in Fort Collins has the cure with drinks (“we have more Weldwerks than Weldwerks,” says co-owner Ross Ericksen) as well as axe-throwing, giant Jenga, cornhole and Hammerschlagen, a competition in which participants compete against each other to drive nails into a wooden beam.

“We have helped provide catharsis for those frustrated by COVID, a woman left at the altar, and a young woman who came straight from divorce court. Whether you’re interested in having fun or relieving frustration, we can help you out,” Ericksen says.

Ericksen thinks more places like his will continue to expand what you can do with a cocktail. “I believe that more and more bar-goers are looking for activities to do while they drink. The old-school bar approach of ‘come and mingle and chat’ isn’t interesting anymore,” he says. “I think people want to do something while they’re out on the town.”

Like Fort Fun in Fort Collins, Loveland Laser Tag has been offering adult beverages for parents bringing kids to their activities or adults who want to be kids themselves. Owner Jeff Willy says, “While our younger audience has no problem playing game after game of laser tag, we find that adults are more inclined to have a great time if they have the opportunity to enjoy a craft beer.

“Before we added beer and wine, most parents would drop their kids off at parties, but now more parents are sticking around to get in on the fun.”