A tech innovation hub, one of the most educated cities in the West, all cozied up inside one of the most fandom-friendly states in the nation? Welcome to nerd Nirvana. Here are the best places to let your geek flag fly.
The specially designed music suite at The Elizabeth in Fort Collins hits all the high notes for music lovers. The rhythm-and piano-themed design complements the main feature: your private baby grand piano. For inspiration, put some vinyl on the in-suite phonograph (the lobby has a full library) and peruse a private collection of books on the design and evolution of instruments. Head on downstairs to the guitar lending library to pick up a fine stringed instrument—including mandolins and ukuleles—amps and accessories and pluck your heart away. theelizabethcolorado.com
Getting locked in a windowless room may seem silly on the surface, but it quickly becomes an interesting proposition. Perfect for friends and family, you’ll be cracking codes and deciphering picture puzzles to beat the timer for your escape. There are a least a dozen in the area to keep you busy:
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Geek Girls Brunch
If you are a woman who geeks, join this inclusive group to brunch, game and cosplay. The Fort Collins chapter of the national group was formed three years ago as safe place to for women to be geeky and now has more than 300 members. Themed lunches revolve around fandoms, including DC Comics, Harry Potter and Stranger Things. For a recent Stephen King-themed brunch, the ladies accessorized their blood-drenched costumes with toy axes and brunched at the Stanley Hotel. Join in at the group’s Facebook page or visit geekgirlbrunch.com.
Fort Collins Comic Con
All dressed up as Captain Picard, Sailor Moon or Asoka and nowhere to go? Head on down to the the Fort Collins Comic Con and get your fandom fix. It features more than 150 artists, creators and authors, a retro videogame lounge, Star Trek and Star Wars photo ops, cosplay workshops, a superheroes concert and a tabletop gaming room and demos. Don’t miss the multiplayer Minecraft gaming setup and virtual reality experience lounge. Since it launched in 2014, the con has raised $75,000 for the Poudre River Public Library District. August 16-18, Fort Collins Convention Center; fococomicon.com
Fun fact: Colorado is second only to New York in the number of ghost-hunting organizations. For a spirited walking tour through the history and rarely-seen underground tunnels of Fort Collins, sign up for one of the ghost tours (including kid-friendly options) in Old Town Fort Collins, run by Lori Juszak, author of Ghosts of Fort Collins. If you have a deeper interest in hauntings, Bryan Bonner of the Rocky Mountain Paranormal Research Society offers workshops and private talks. The group uses a scientific method and forensic equipment to investigate reports of ghost activity, going so far as to do geological soil studies under the Stanley Hotel.$17, fortcollinstours.com; rockymountainparanormal.com
Dungeons & Drafts
Whether you are a bard, wizard, elf or basher, you’ll find yourself completely at home at this tavern. Grab some grub and grog, including everyone’s favorite Harry Potter-inspired butterbeer. Cosplay is encouraged—you get 10 percent off for family-friendly costumes—and small foam weapons are welcome. (Call ahead to vet any large foam or wooden items, but leave your metal weapons in your armory.) The game library is to die for and you can join in on role-playing games, trivia nights, karaoke and bingo. dungeonsanddrafts.com.
Colorado Medieval Festival
Hear ye, hear ye! Whether knight or peasant, immerse yourself in this three-day gathering and be regaled by the tales of old, get into character (complete with costumes), listen to live music, enjoy historic dancing and partake in the excellent artisan mead. Head on down to watch the Highland Games, a famous Scottish-styled tournament that includes activities such as sheaf tossing (grab your pitchfork), hammer throwing and a tug of war. If the clash of metal is what you’re looking for, stay around to watch the live jousting and full-gear infantry combat. June 7-9; coloradocastle.com.
Whether you are a pinball wizard or haven’t played for years, take a trip to this arcade bar, which has two locations in Fort Collins. You can grab an adult beverage and play dozens of pinball and arcade games, some dating from the seventies. There’s also pool, skee-ball and air hockey. You’ll need quarters. pinballjones.com
Get Your Game On:
Gryphon Games and Comics
The shop stocks hard-to-find titles for the diehard collector, which you can enjoy with a butter beer or Hobbit hot chocolate at The Purple Cup coffee shop, which surrounds the store. You’ll find a game library and rooms where you can join tournaments like Magic the Gathering.
Haunted Game Café
This full-service cafe has more than 100 games, can accommodate large groups and features games nearly every night of the week. You can also adjourn to the retail space to load up on miniature war games, M, Star Wars X-Wing and more. hauntedgamecafe.com
Heroes and Horrors Games and Comics
Looking for a killer card to add to your MTG deck? You’ll find the largest collection of singles for sale in Northern Colorado. With a game room that seats 24 and a library of more than 160 -games, here you can also purchase collectible figures, comics, manga, graphic novels and sci-fi and fantasy books. heroesandhorrorsgames.com
Buy Back Games
This blast from the past was established in 1988, so it’s authentically retro. Find old-school games, consoles and accessories for Nintendo, Atari, Sega and more, as well as stuff for more current consoles and even Arsenal, Hyperkin and Yobo. mobile.buybackgames.comcastbiz.net
E-Team Hobbyplex Store
Get engines running at this store, which caters to RC lovers from beginners to pros. In addition to a sweet selection of RC vehicles and other hobby products, the store features a huge indoor RC racetrack. The store has its own racing club and features races four days a week, as well as one day for practice. Be sure to catch the drone races on Tuesday. e-teamhobbyplex.com
Avery House and Water Works
If you love a blueprint or figuring out how things work, you’ll be stoked to learn more about Fort Collin’s early engineering genius, Franklin Avery. He was responsible for the creation of the wide roads in Fort Collins. He also founded the Larimer County Bank, which later became First National Bank, and helped design and construct the town’s opera house and was the brain behind the city’s first public works project, the famous 1883 Water Works. The Waterworks is open for guided tours and you can also tour his house, which was built in 1879. Avery House, 328 West Mountain Avenue, Fort Collins; 1883 Water Works, 2005 North Overland Trail, Fort Collins
Fort Collins Museum of Discovery
If the OtterBox Digital Dome Theater doesn’t knock your nerdy socks off, we don’t know what will. Its astronomical 35-foot-diameter dome screen—known for its crystal clarity—will practically propel you into the galaxy. In addition to visual forays into our solar system, you can enjoy LaserDome concerts (LaserDome Lady Gaga sold out fast) and fulldome films that span the cosmos. fcmod.org.
LARP (Live Action Role Play)
Combine theater, combat, creativity, period costume and accessories and you get LARP, or Live Action Role Play. You can hardly swing a sword in Fort Collins without hitting a LARP group and the community is thick as thieves, though you have several places to join. Beginners will want to join Amtgard, which is an inclusive, friendly group that emphasizes role play and employs fun-and-furious sword fighting using padded weapons. Every six months, Amtgard enters a new reign, with new officers. It’s free to join; just walk up to the group at City Park and introduce yourself. Teens 14 to 17 need a parental waiver to participate. Sundays, 1 to 6 p.m., City Park, Fort Collins; amtgard.com or visit The Northern Holdfast on Facebook.
Dress The Part:
Wear it Again, Sam
If you yearn for the styles of yesteryear, this vintage clothing store has you covered. You can peruse the stock of vintage consignments for some fabulous finds, or rent costumes. wearitagainsamfoco.com
The Life of the Party
This comprehensive local costume shop is the nation’s only licensed retailer of Cosplayflex, which is a nontoxic, heatable, pliable material for costuming and prop needs. lifeofthepartystore.com
Misty Thicket Clothing
Grab your geek garb at this online costume design store (formerly brick and mortar, in Fort Collins) specializing in in handmade historical clothing, including Renaissance, medieval, and Celtic period clothing as well as costumes for LARPing and cosplay.
Old Firehouse Books
Make your escape with a few like-minded souls at this historic fire station, which now houses the largest independent bookstore in Fort Collins. Tamora Pierce and Neil Gaiman himself have done book signings here. Join a book club—we recommend the Swords and Lasers sci-fi and fantasy one—and get 20 percent off selections. oldfirehousebooks.com
Geeks Who Drink
This popular pub quiz pits teams against each other to answer 64 mind-bending multimedia questions in eight riveting rounds. The crowd is congenial and the trivia, terrific: a culturally diverse editorial team meets daily to vet the questions. While television and movie questions rule, there are rounds for every fandom, including music, current events, geography and history. Obsessed with Game of Thrones, Gilmore Girls, Harry Potter, Star Trek, Star Wars or even Brooklyn 99? Catch a theme night and dress the part. There are 12 weekly Geeks Who Drink events in Fort Collins, four in Loveland and two in Greeley. For those who want to level up their trivia skills, there’s an annual Geek Bowl, sometimes dubbed the “Superbowl of Trivia.”—geekswhodrink.com
It all started with Pickachu but you quickly grew to love Fullmetal Alchemist, Attack on Titan and Sword Art Online. You’ll find your tribe at the annual AnimeCon, which features contests, workshops, games. You’ll join in on all things Japanese and geek out over your favorite anime and manga titles. Every June at the Old Town library, 201 Peterson Street, Fort Collins.
The Gorehounds Playground
Get all the chills in this little shop and movie theater of horrors, where horror, fantasy and sci-fi fans can buy or rent new and used movies and peruse a large selection of unique collectibles and independent and local art. Friday nights feature horror movie screenings and the first Wednesday of each month brings in a filmmakers networking group. gorehoundsplayground.com
Swampgas & Gossamer Lost and Found Emporium
Stranger Things has nothing on this little shop of curiosities, curated by artist Les Sunde. An inscription on the window reads: “Strange things for strange people, strangers welcome.” Step inside and find a place packed with sculptures and stuff. Some of the collection is steampunk, some of it has an industrial vibe, some of it works and some of it moves. None of it is for sale. Be sure to sign the guestbook. 218 Pine Street, Fort Collins
High Plains Chautauqua
Every August, actors assume the persona of an historic character and give a performance based on immersive study. Last year’s performers played Walter Cronkite, Maya Angelou, George Wallace, Rachel Carson, Robert F. Kennedy, Erma Bombeck and more. Young history enthusiasts can get in on the act by signing up for the Young Chautauquans program. Free. highplainschautauqua.org.