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Fort Collins summer fun on a student budget

Money cannot buy happiness, but a bit of it can rent a sweet hydro bike to ride around Horsetooth Reservoir.

Living on a limited budget is a common practice amongst college students. Not having a whole lot of surplus income is something that many have become quite accustomed to.


Dwindling funds do not necessarily limit one’s options to staying home all summer watching Netflix – there are plenty of affordable activities out there, they are just a bit harder to find.

For anyone living on a budget or just looking to stretch their dollars, the following list of wallet-friendly activities and recipes will help ensure an enjoyable summer.


English: Category:Images of Colorado
Downtown Fort Collins (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Holiday Twin Drive-In, 2206 S. Overland Dr.

The Holiday Twin Drive-In is only one of 339 drive-in movie theaters left in the United States, and updates their showings every week. For just $8, less than the ticket price at most multiplex cinemas, movie lovers of all ages can view two different films from the comfort of their car.

Pinball Jones, 107 Linden St.
Pinball Jones is an arcade that specializes in (as one might guess) pinball machines. Patrons can test their skills on over a dozen different pinball machines — at just $0.50 a play, why not give it a shot?

Brewery Tours
Considering Fort Collins is home to more craft breweries per capita than anywhere else in Colorado, taking advantage of the free daily tours offered by local breweries is a must.

Cartoons at the Lyric, 300 E. Mountain Ave.
Every day of the week, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., the Lyric Cinema Cafe airs free cartoon classics.

Free Tacos at Match Ups on Fridays, 625 S. Mason St.
Every Friday afternoon, from 4 to 6 p.m., Match Ups offers free tacos. That’s right, the F-word: “Free.”


C.B. & Potts on Sunday nights, 1415 W. Elizabeth St.
Every Sunday, from 9 p.m. to close, everything on the menu, including drinks, is half off.

Shambhala Meditation Sit-ins, 126A W. Mountain Ave.
Tucked down the alley between Austin’s American Grill and Enzio’s on Mountain Avenue is the Fort Collins Shambhala Meditation Center. For anyone not ready to dive headfirst into meditation, the center offers free sit-ins to the public every Tuesday from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m., Wednesday from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.


Horsetooth (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Horsetooth Reservoir

Swimming in Horsetooth Reservoir has always been a summer favorite, with the Inlet Bay Marina renting out water equipment.
Cruise around the shore in style:

  • Canoes – $10/hour
  • Kayaks – $20/hour
  • Paddle Boards – $20/hour (2 hour min.)
  • Hydro Bikes – $25/hour (2 hour min.)

Camp at the Poudre
The Cache la Poudre Canyon is home to some of the best scenery Northern Colorado has to offer. A handful of designated pay-to-use campgrounds embrace the river. For anyone looking to get off of the beaten path, it is free to hike and choose where to camp, so long as the location is at least half a mile from the river.

Go play frolf!
Anyone who has not been disc golfing yet has not lived. It’s an absolute blast.
The Fort Collins area is home to five different frolf courses:
1.) Edora Park
2.) Cache La Poudre High School
3.) Fort Collins High School
4.) Boltz Jr. High School
5.) Aggie Greens near Hughes Stadium

Stop by a skate park
There are four different skateparks around the area:
1.) Fossil Creek, 5821 S. Lemay Ave. – A plaza style course packed with stairs, ledges and boxes.
2.) Spring Canyon Park, 2626 W. Horsetooth Rd. – The smallest of the four, Spring Canyon Park features a steep pool, a spine and a plethora of open space to practice.
3.) Edora Park, 1420 E. Stuart St. – This cement skatepark is known for its deep bowls and smooth transitions.
4.) Northside Aztlan, 112 Willow St. – This park has a DIY feel to it; it’s got everything.

Tube the Poudre!
There’s no better time than now to hop in an inner tube and float down the Cache la Poudre River. As of June 13, Fort Collins officials have lifted the ban on tubing the river.

For a nice, breezy trip, enter the Poudre near Shields Street and float down to Legacy Park. Standard rubber tire tubes typically cost $15 or less and can be purchased at various sporting goods stores around town.

Hike Horsetooth Rock or Horsetooth Falls
Climbing up to Horsetooth Rock is an absolute must for any outdoors enthusiast, and the view at the top is worth the workout. For those not really looking to hike over three miles up the peak of Horsetooth Rock, the easier trek to Horsetooth Falls can be just as rewarding. Cost: $6 to park.


Campfire (Photo credit: Doug Beckers)


College student or not, the following campfire recipes are sure to satisfy anyone’s tastebuds and budgets.

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers

Wrapping foods with bacon is never a bad choice, especially when it comes to these flame grilled jalapeño poppers.

Ingredients: bacon, jalapeños and cream cheese.

1.) Wrap the underside of the cooking grate with foil to prevent grease from dripping into the fire.
2.) Cut the jalapeños in half, down the length of the pepper.
3.) Scoop out the seeds.
4.) Smear cream cheese on the inside of each jalapeño half.
5.) Cut the slices of bacon in thirds.
6.) Wrap bacon around each pepper, poke toothpicks through to keep them together.
7.) Place each popper on the grate and allow them to cook to perfection!

Campfire Doughnuts
Whether they’re for a nighttime treat or a breakfast snack, campfire doughnuts are an easy to make favorite.
Ingredients: a can of buttermilk biscuits (i.e. Pillsbury Grands), about a cup of sugar, vegetable oil, a bit of cinnamon and a large pot.
1.) Using the fire, heat about 2 inches of oil in the pot.
2.) Combine sugar and preferred amount of cinnamon in a plastic bag.
3.) Separate the biscuits and cut a hole in the center of each (a bottle cap works).
4.) Fry both sides of the doughnuts until they are golden.
5.) Drop the doughnuts into the bag of sugar and shake it up.
6.) Enjoy!

Orange Peel Muffin
These little treats make for a delicious and efficient snack.
Ingredients: Water, a few oranges, some “just add water” muffin mix and some cooking spray.
1.) Cut the oranges in half and hollow them out.
2.) Create the batter and fill the peels to the brim with it.
4.) Spray squares of tin foil with cooking oil and wrap those little guys up.
5.) Poke a few holes through the top of the foil and put them on a grate over a fire.
6.) Bake those muffins!
7.) Pull them off when muffin mix leaks out of the poked holes and enjoy!

Make the most out of this summer. It won’t be long before everyone is back on campus, wishing they had done more.

Collegian Staff Reporter Erick Plattner can be reached at

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