Fort Collins, Colorado
Credit: Craig F. Walker / The Denver Post / Getty Images

Long considered a part of Denver's beer sphere, Fort Collins deserves its own orbit. The laid-back college town is overflowing with people riding beach cruiser bikes in the summer and brewers pumping out vast quantities of beer year-round. This is the kind of town where you can receive a top-notch beer education by spending time at high-profile craft breweries, where the coursework includes brewery tours and sample trays.

Best Brews, Breweries, and Bars
At O'Dell Brewing Company, the taproom is the place to try experimental beers from a pro-style tasting tray. Don't miss O'Dell IPA, a standard-setting resinous IPA with depth and bitterness. Within walking distance is New Belgium, the third largest craft brewer in the country. Sure, there's the beer that put them on the map – Fat Tire Amber Ale – but branch out to La Folie, a blended sour beer aged in oak that's part of the brewery's extensive barrel aging program. Don't leave town without hitting Funkwerks, a three-year-old brewery that cranks out unique saisons. Try 'em all in the modest taproom, where every beer is served in a snifter.

About 30 miles south of town, Left Hand Brewing Co has a taproom serving the brewery's own beers, including the stellar Left Hand Milk Stout. Longmont neighbor Oskar Blues has become famous for its canned beers. It brews in Longmont and runs a restaurant and taproom with 40-plus beers on tap, heavy on Colorado beers but also with a smattering of beers from the East and West coasts.