Whether you’re making a side trip from Denver, visiting a student at the University of Colorado Boulder, or just need a couple of days out of the mountains, the People’s Republic of Boulder is the perfect place to recreate and recharge.
This university town is bustling with activity year-round, from shopping and entertainment to world-renowned outdoor activities and events.
Day 1: Afternoon
Stretch your legs with a walk across the idyllic University of Colorado Boulder campus and admire breathtaking views of the famous Flatiron Mountains. Soak up the sun on Norlin Quad, romance your date at Varsity Pond or take in some history at the campus’ elegant Old Main building, home to the CU Heritage Center.
Day 1: Evening
Once you’ve worked up a thirst, cross Broadway to The Hill for happy hour. If you’re in the mood for tapas, head to Café Aion, or if beer, burgers and pizza are more your style, you can’t go wrong at The Sink. This graffiti-covered (on the inside) Boulder landmark offers daily drink specials, sliders and other favorites like bacon-stuffed jalapenos — perfect for fueling up before a show at the Fox Theatre.
If you’re in town on a Thursday, you can rent a bike at Boulder Bikesmith or one of 40 bike-share stations and join the Boulder Cruiser Ride. No matter where you end up, don’t stay out too late — you’ve got a busy day ahead of you!
Day 2: Morning
The action starts early in Boulder, whether you’re heading up the canyon for a day of skiing at Eldora, lacing up your runners for the annual BolderBOULDER 10K or just want to enjoy all the mountains have to offer.
The Village Coffee Shop is a Boulder breakfast institution with reasonable prices and quick(ish) service. For an even quicker breakfast, stop by Moe’s Broadway Bagel. This local family-owned chain is a favorite with Boulderites. Try the Spicy Buff breakfast bagel.
Day 2: Midmorning
Now that you’re fueled, it’s time to hit the trail. Chautauqua Park is the starting point for miles of hiking trails for all ability levels. On a road bike? Flagstaff Road and Left Hand Canyon offer thigh-burning climbs and blazing descents.
You’ll also find plenty of mountain biking (try Betasso Preserve or Walker Ranch), and kayakers will enjoy the whitewater course on Boulder Creek at the top end of Eben G. Fine Park.
Day 2: Afternoon
After an Illegal Pete’s burrito and a power nap, herbal tea lovers will enjoy the Celestial Seasonings factory, where free tours are available daily until 4 p.m. (3 p.m. on Sundays). Stuffed up? The Peppermint Room is sure to clear your sinuses.
Day 2: Evening
Hop on the Hop, one of Boulder’s aptly named local buses, and head to the Pearl Street Mall to shop, people watch and generally take in the atmosphere. Readers will want to get lost for an hour (or several) in the Boulder Book Store, Martha Stewart wannabes will love Peppercorn, and the Boulder Arts & Crafts Gallery has the perfect souvenir for just about everyone.
There’s no shortage of bars and restaurants along Pearl Street. Your only problem will be choosing which to visit. The West End Tavern has been a locals’ favorite for more than three decades, and the building dates to at least 1906.
Foodies will salivate over the “farm to fork” fare at SALT the Bistro, housed in yet another Boulder landmark building. Chef Bradford Heap serves Colorado cuisine influenced by classic French and Italian cooking.
Day 3: Morning
Work off last night’s calories with a relaxing morning walk or jog up the Boulder Creek Path. Breakfast or brunch will be at the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse, where simply entering the door is an experience in itself. Skip the coffee and order a cup of their famous house-made chai and the Lapsang Souchong Benedict.
If you’ve got a few more minutes before it’s time to burst the Boulder bubble, the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art next door to the teahouse features a surprising and eclectic calendar of revolving exhibitions.