Long known as “The Gateway to the Rockies”, the town of Loveland, Colo., sits at the mouth of Big Thompson Canyon, which leads travelers to the Roosevelt National Forest and the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park.
With a reported 300 sunny days per year, the Loveland-Fort Collins metropolitan area has been honored as “a Great Place to Live” by AARP the magazine, USA Today and Money Magazine. Loveland offers a laid-back lifestyle, with easy-to-live-in neighborhoods, a stable and diverse economy, and a multitude of outdoor recreational pastimes.
Loveland and Fort Collins are viewed as a single metropolitan area by the U.S. government. Fort Collins, to the north, is the county seat of Larimer County. Loveland is the second largest town in Larimer County, and the 14th largest in Colorado, with a population of 66,215. The town of Loveland is 25.5 square miles, with an elevation of 5,003 feet. It has a cold, semi-arid climate, with four distinct seasons. Loveland is listed as No. 2 of the “Top 101 cities with highest-average wind speeds.” It is in the Mountain Standard time zone and is about 50 miles north of Denver.
Loveland was founded in 1877 along the newly built line of the Colorado Central Railroad. It was named after the railroad’s president, A.H. Loveland. About one mile from Loveland stood the small settlement of St. Louis. Its buildings were promptly moved to the new town of Loveland. It was incorporated in 1881. The town’s economy relied on producing sour cherries and sugar beets. By the late-1920s, Loveland grew more than $1 million worth of cherries annually at its Spring Glade Orchard. The cherry business was ruined by droughts, blights and killing freezes. Agriculture as a primary business would die slowly throughout the remainder of the century. Toward the latter portion of that century, manufacturers such as Hewlett-Packard chose Loveland as the location in which to build new factories.
Celebrated as “The Sweetheart City,” its newspaper, the Loveland Reporter-Herald, holds a cachet contest for the romantic four lines of verse that will appear on the city’s hand-stamped postmark for its sweet tradition of Valentine re-mailing. More than 200,000 cards are re-mailed for free each year, coming from from all 50 states and 110 foreign countries. Before February 14, the city OKs red hearts with sponsored personal messages to be hung on light poles and other street fixtures in Loveland. The local paper also holds a treasure hunt with clues and hints appearing daily, to help readers win the $500 prize by discovering the location of a hidden heart-shaped keepsake.
Home to a bustling artist community, three foundries, and the Loveland Museum and Gallery, the city is known for its multimillion-dollar public art collection of bronze sculptures scattered throughout Loveland. The largest collection of public pieces can be seen at Benson Park and Sculpture Garden, which is considered to be one of the best outdoor art exhibits in the country. The Loveland Museum Gallery is the hub for cultural events in a community that refers to itself as “A Work of Art.” The restored art nouveau Rialto Theater, once built to showcase silent films and vaudeville acts, now hosts theater and choral groups, business seminars, nationally celebrated touring performers, local bands, children’s theater, independent films, and, once again, silent films. In nearby Fort Collins, Bill Swets, creator of “Swetsville Zoo,” repurposes old car parts, farm machinery and scrap metal into a whimsical menagerie.
Loveland's Budweiser Events Center at The Ranch is a “7,200-seat multi-purpose venue.” It is home to the Colorado Eagles of the Central Hockey League, and to the Colorado Ice of the United Indoor Football League. The center “can host almost any event,” from rodeos to trade shows, from concerts to basketball.
The Promenade Shops at the Centerra mall offer well-known chain brands such as the Gap, Macy’s, and Banana Republic. And there’s an ice rink for kids. All stores are dog-friendly.