Johnstown is a small community of about 11,000 residents located in both Weld and Larimer Counties in Colorado’s north-central portion, between Denver to the south and Fort Collins to the north.
Due to its rural nature and small geographic area, there aren’t many attractions within town limits, but for those who don’t mind hitting the open road, there are a variety of unique attractions in neighboring towns and cities, like Loveland, Greeley, and Fort Collins.
To the west of Johnstown, there is an abundance of state and national parks, and some of the best ski resorts in North America as well.
Below are 15 things to do in and around Johnstown.
1. B’s Coffee
B’s Coffee is located on Johnston Center Drive in town. In addition to their variety of hot and cold coffee options, B’s offers smoothies, shakes, tea, and fresh baked goods like cookies, pastries, and brownies.
They also offer a number of delectable hot chocolates, as well as almond and soy milk for the lactose intolerant, and protein powder for those in dire need of muscle mass.
Regulars appreciate B’s cozy and contemporary interior, attentive staff, and free Wi-Fi. It’s the perfect early morning stop for visitors looking for caffeine and sustenance before setting out to explore the Rocky Mountain State.
2. Mad Russian Golf Course
More than once, the Mad Russian Golf Course in nearby Milliken has been voted number one in the most unique name category of American courses.
It’s an 18-hole, par-71 course that plays between 5,400 and 5,900 yards, depending on which tees you choose to play from.
That’s slightly shorter than most courses, which makes it the perfect place to squeeze in a round while leaving plenty of time left for other activities.
Gently rolling hills, strategically placed sand and water hazards, and fast greens make the course both fun and challenging, and greens fees are very reasonable by Colorado golf standards.
3. Devil’s Backbone Open Space
Colorado is full of majestic mountains, amazing vistas, and local, state, and national parks that offer locals and visitors an abundance of outdoor activity options.
Devil’s Backbone Open Space is just a short drive from Johnston in Loveland and is a magnet for outdoorsy types interested in hiking, biking, and bird watching.
The open space is comprised of more than 2,000 acres and features more than a dozen miles of multi-use trails that have a way of making visitors feel like they’re much farther away from civilization than they really are.
The park is free to visit and is open every day from sunrise to sunset.
4. The Loveland Museum and Gallery
The Loveland Museum and Gallery have been around since the ‘30s and were the brainchild of a local man who was an author, historian, and professional guide.
The man’s name was Harold Dunning, and though the museum and gallery’s collection started small, they’ve grown over the years to include both art and historically significant artifacts and memorabilia.
The area’s Native American cultures, as well as the settler and gold rush eras, are heavily represented, as is local and regional art done in a variety of mediums.
The facility also periodically offers entertaining and instructional programs for both adults and children.
5. Sweet Heart Winery
When it comes to intoxicating adult beverages in Colorado, beer is the undisputed king, but both wine and distilled spirits have been making big waves in recent years as well.
Sweet Heart Winery is located in Loveland at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. They offer regular tours and samplings in their beautiful tasting room that features impressive river and mountain views.
Sweet Heart sports many distinct wines – red, white, and in between – and many of them have won coveted regional and national awards.
Portions of the facility are rentable for special occasions like weddings, family reunions, and corporate outings.
6. Rialto Theater
The Rialto Theater has been a local entertainment icon for nearly a century.
When it first opened in 1920, shows cost just a few nickels and dimes, and black and white westerns were the big draws.
Over the years, the historic theater has seen its fair share of both ups and downs, and in recent years, it has undergone significant renovations to add more contemporary seats and world-class sound and lighting systems.
The theater now seats nearly 500 and primarily shows vintage and independent movies that you won’t find at big chain cinemas. There are a variety of live performances throughout the year as well.
7. Fort Collins Museum of Discovery
For much of the year, the weather in Colorado can be pretty inhospitable, and during the winter months, having a few indoor activity options in your back pocket is especially important for those traveling with kids.
The Fort Collins Museum of Discovery was established in 1941 under another name. Since then, it has changed its location and amassed an impressive permanent collection that includes tens of thousands of individual pieces.
The museum is largely focused on preserving the history of the Native Americans and settlers who lived in the Cache La Poudre River area hundreds of years ago, and its grounds also include historic buildings.
8. Kress Cinema & Lounge
For much of the early and mid-20th century, small towns all over the country were home to small independent theaters. Though many of them have been boarded up for ages, some have been returned to their former glory in recent years.
The Kress Cinema & Lounge is located in Greeley. In addition to being an independent movie house, it also boasts a full-service restaurant and a speakeasy-style bar in the basement that’s known for its abundant beer and wine selection, as well as craft-made cocktails, many of which use locally produced spirits.
It’s a fun and unique option for date nights and romantic evenings for childless travelers.
9. Fort Collins Municipal Railway
The city of Fort Collins’ public transportation system once consisted of traditional streetcars that operated for more than four decades between the early and middle parts of the 20th century.
The Fort Collins Municipal Railway is located on West Mountain Avenue in town and still operates a few renovated streetcars for tours on the weekends in the summer.
For those interested in taking a giant step back in time and seeing the city from a unique perspective, tours are great ways to spend 30 minutes, and they’re especially popular with kids.
The season lasts between May and September, so consider visiting then if you’ve got some open time on your itinerary.
10. Benson Park Sculpture Garden
The Benson Park Sculpture Garden traces its roots back to the mid-‘80s when a group of local sculptors formed a partnership with the chamber of commerce to provide a unique artistic attraction.
The park and garden hosted its first annual art show in 1984, which included dozens of artists who ended up selling tens of thousands of dollars of art.
Since then, the sculpture garden has grown to include many impressive sculptures done in everything from wood and glass to bronze, stone, and ceramics.
The park’s distinct areas are connected via paved paths, making it a good sunny day activity option.
11. Big Beaver Brewing Company
Located on West Eisenhower Boulevard in Loveland, Big Beaver Brewing Company features more than a dozen rotating beer options; many of them have names that are plays on particular parts of the human anatomy.
The owners and brewers at Big Beaver rely heavily on science to make great beer, and they use only the highest quality ingredients, many of which are sourced locally.
Big Beaver is open daily from the early afternoon until 9 or 10 at night and is the perfect place for traveling beer lovers to rub elbows with locals, who are usually great resources for those unfamiliar with the area.
12. Avery House
Fort Collins’ Avery House was originally built in the 1870s by a prominent local man who founded the First National Bank of Fort Collins.
Avery House was his family’s home for generations, and in addition to his role as a prominent banker, Mr. Avery was also integral in community development, including modern roads, parks, and water infrastructure.
The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and features unique architectural design elements like a Victorian tower, a fountain, and an ornate gazebo.
Guided tours featuring knowledgeable and enthusiastic local docents wearing period garb are the perfect way to enjoy this unique historical attraction.
13. Gardens on Spring Creek
Comprised of nearly 20 acres along Center Avenue in Fort Collins, the Gardens on Spring Creek is a community resource that’s usually overlooked by those more interested in more commercial attractions.
The gardens’ location along the Rocky’s Front Range makes for incredible vistas year-round. In addition to a variety of distinctly themed cultivated areas, the garden hosts several annual events, including art walks, holiday celebrations, and historic tours.
There is also a children’s garden where little ones are encouraged to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty, as well as culinary and botanical workshops for adults.
14. White-Plumb Farm Learning Center
The White-Plumb farm was owned and managed by the same family for more than a century before it was deeded to the city of Greeley.
The farm was officially settled in the 1880s by a returning Civil War Veteran. Though it’s undergone a number of renovations over the years, it still maintains much of its original historic charm.
The interactive learning center offers visitors of all ages a variety of historical and cultural exhibits that give them unique insights into the lives of those who lived in the area nearly 150 years ago. It usually ends up being one of the most engaging and educational stops for many traveling families.
15. Greeley History Museum
The Greeley History Museum features several permanent exhibits mainly focusing on the area’s pioneer-era history that stretches back to the days when the western plains underwent a massive agricultural transformation that led to the famed Dust Bowl in the early part of the 20th century.
The museum’s collection includes farm implements, clothes, housewares, photographs, and first-hand accounts. They also offer temporary exhibits on loan from other institutions and private collections throughout the year.
Much of what you’ll see is interactive by nature, which generally makes for a more meaningful experience than more traditional museums with static exhibits.